09 July 2020
https://stgregory.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SGG_Zoom_Call_v12.mp4 Since the novel coronavirus became the story of the year, many of us have wondered how the new normal we eventually return to will be different from what we knew before. One of the lessons the great quarantine of 2020 taught us was how to use technology for remote learning or meetings, as well as for business and consumer transactions. It’s not like the technology was exactly new. There’s almost nobody in management or marketing who wouldn’t say they’d been through more than enough webinars or video presentations in their life. But when it became the normal way of communicating with your team at the office, your kid’s teachers and even the local car dealership, things got real. If you tried to upgrade your teleconference equipment in the first weeks of April, it was apparent that many of us had already begun to see video conferencing as a long-term trend—the major online players were all but completely sold out of custom-focus webcams and deep-resonance microphones. A cottage industry of downloadable custom backgrounds sprang up overnight and if you already owned a green screen … well, why, exactly? But you just about owned the weekly staff meeting. So is more common video conferencing going to be one lasting effect of COVID-19? Absolutely. People now are much more comfortable with the technology. For many, the added experience gives more confidence that we can actually drive the technology, rather than simply submit to it. That means many routine business meetings are likely to stay on video platforms, even after social distancing. But it also means that when an auto dealership or a jeweler or your financial planner invites you to a quick video demonstration, you’re more likely to be comfortable with the experience—and respond positively. The other side of that equation, of course, is that if you are operating as one of the competitors to that car dealer, jewelry store or financial adviser, you’d better be ready to do the same. Early movers will only have an advantage until other marketers catch up. This doesn’t mean that retail stores, car lots or conference rooms are going away anytime soon. As we’ve said before, personal interaction is a basic human need. But at least for the preliminaries … or the follow-up conversations … if a video chat isn’t as personal as a visit, it’s more intimate than phone call or an email. And the barriers to that technology are coming down. This post is part of a series on marketing during and after the pandemic. To read the others, follow this link.
28 May 2020
If events or sponsorships were part of your marketing strategy at the beginning of the year, chances are your plans are changing rapidly. The industries we work in at St. Gregory involve a number of event and seasonal sponsorships. Due to circumstances neither our clients nor their partners could have controlled, not all of those plans will be working out this year. If you’re experience is similar, you’re likely working out adjustments and revisions already. There will be pain. Whether that pain is going to last depends to a great degree on how you approached the sponsorship from the beginning and what you and the partner expect from the relationship. Are you just casually dating the other brand or looking for a serious commitment? A common offer from sponsorship partners is to roll over your investment to the following year. That may come with some added value thrown in or an option on the Platinum Level package at the Gold rate. Or whatever. So, should you bite? Extending sponsorship agreements to make up for cancelled events or a shortened sports season is one option, but it only makes sense if the sponsorship still fits with next year’s strategy. And that’s the key. Sponsorships are most effective when there is real alignment between the two brands in the partnership. In the best partnerships, fans or participants are attracted by some attribute that your brand shares, whether that’s adventure, competition, compassion or a love of kittens. When that alignment is there, your sponsorship partner can deliver value far greater than attendance figures and camera time. Those are relationships that increase in value over time, meaning that despite the pain you’re experiencing now, the longer-term investment just may be worth it.
19 September 2019
It’s no surprise: we all work hard to ensure our departments and companies are running as lean as possible, building flexible teams of multitaskers. The upside? The latest user-friendly technology and trends make it easier than ever to do things yourself. The technology is amazing. Things that less than a generation ago required teams of professionals or months of effort—from animation to finding a relationship—now can be programmed, automated and executed at the touch of a button. Or a swipe on a touch screen. It’s a brave new world. What a time to be alive (and all that). Less than sure about how to use all these new tricks and toys? Good news: there’s probably a video tutorial, cheat sheet or simple hack just a few keystrokes away. But is the do-it-yourself route the best thing for your company? We see the DIY urge most often in specialized disciplines, or where final results or performance expertise can be highly subjective. Why hire a professional photographer when somebody already on the team has a perfectly good camera? Who can really say that John’s homemade eggrolls aren’t as good as the caterer’s? To make do with the assets you have—they seem experienced enough, right?—is a tempting choice. But before you decide to trust an enthusiastic amateur with a professional job, consider: Are the savings worth the hidden costs? What you save upfront in professional fees may get eaten up by lost time or compatibility issues with other systems. The web design your neighbor’s friend can do on the side might look spectacular. But can it connect to your inventory system? Is the quality the same? Some basic tasks, like uploading a video or social post, are either completed or they’re not. But most projects in this business need to perform to a higher standard. A repaired computer that works but runs slowly causes inefficiency and costs you money. A product spec sheet with great copy but factual errors can cost you a sale. Or a customer. Can you count on delivery? People tend to give priority to assignments that are the most important … to them. A good product at a fair price is of no value to your operation if you don’t have it when and where you need it. There’s a story about a famous photographer at a dinner party. After the main course, her host comments, “I’ve admired your work in many magazines. You must have a terrific camera.” The photographer replies, “I enjoyed the dinner. You must have a great stove.” If there’s an app for that, maybe you technically can do anything. If there’s a friend of a relative who knows someone who can help, maybe they’re the asset you need. Maybe not. But nobody can do everything, at least not well. And not when your success—and your reputation—are on the line.
05 August 2019
Ask most business owners who their customer is and they’ll likely point to demographic characteristics or the different types of media they consume to support their answer. While these data points always are important, they’re just that—data points—without a more intimate understanding of what drives your customer to make a purchase decision, and more important, when she or he is likely to make it. It’s true … we live in a brave new data-driven world that is stunningly (frighteningly?) easy for both ecommerce companies and mass retailers to collect granular details about shopper habits. Data that they can then use to generate insights on their customers’ habits and behavioral attributes. How do you compete with that technology if you’re in one of those businesses where you can’t obtain a deep customer profiles? Or simply don’t have access to that level of in-depth detail? We encounter this data disconnect particularly with consumer or in-home services brands. Accurate information is even harder to come by in categories where the sales cycle is longer or more considered, or when purchases are driven by a specific, perhaps acute, need. This is key—because if you don’t truly know who this customer is, if you’re not targeting the type of customer appropriate for your brand, you risk losing them to a competitor who is. So are these companies destined to be left behind in the data revolution? Not if they use data for what it does best, and trust themselves to continue doing what they’ve already proved they do best. While it’s not easy to create the perfect data model of your customers, there are still ways to better understand them. The right answers start with asking the right questions: • What problem is your customer trying to solve? • What other solutions have they considered (or will they consider)? • What information do they need before choosing? • Where do they get that information? • Do they do their own research, or do they rely on referrals from family, friends or social networks? • Do they simply follow the brand they perceive to be the market leader? • Which customers are selecting your competitors over you, and why are some leaving you altogether? By answering these questions, marketers in less data-rich categories can build a better understanding of their specific customers. Even better, that puts them in a position to target the right customer with the right message—at the right time.