The Strategy Wonk Blog
Posted on: May 01, 2013
by Frani Halperin, CEO— Chief eMagination Officer and Tom DeSanto, Strategy Wonk
Recently, a new client shared her company's eMail newsletter and asked my opinion. I began my response by asking her about open rates and click-throughs.
An uneasy quiet ensued. There was no story to tell. The client had no data.
While I appreciated the request for advice, the audience's opinion is the one that matters most, not mine. Newsletter recipients will express their approval through clicks and taps and shares.
We all put a lot of effort into making communications the best they can be. Often we focus more on how a newsletter or website looks, instead of how well it does. The truth is that we really can't know if tactics are succeeding unless we take a close look at metrics. Aggregating results over time helps us see what works and what doesn't.
When I asked the new client about marketing strategy, I was pleased to learn that the company had developed a marketing plan. I was distressed to find out however, that it was residing in a file drawer, and seldom saw the light of day.
Solid strategies are crafted from business goals and objectives, and result in a narrative that resonates with target audiences. To be effective, strategies serve as the foundation for design, user experience, messaging and social media that engages visitors. When you put all that together, you hear something quite different.
When strategy and design come together, great things happen. People respond. Just like bees to honey.
Posted on: February 07, 2013
by Frani Halperin, CEO— Chief eMagination Officer
We know you're out there. You— the business owner or marketing director trying to promote your company. You're thinking about creating a new website, designing a new logo or maybe developing your own app. You're really excited about your ideas, competition is nipping at your heels, so you want to get them to market as soon as humanly possible. That, and you're really, really, really, really, really, really busy so you jump in and start building.
The result? Confused hieroglyphics. Plain vanilla, maybe. Something cookie cutter, possibly. A flash in the pan. Any of these.
Worse? You might have done your brand some serious damage. In other words, you blew it.
How could this have been avoided? One word: strategy.
Strategy doesn't mean composing an opus. It can be a single page, but it has to explain how you are going to get the right message to the right person who needs to hear it and will act on it. Then your communications will sing.
Our upcoming series will show how strategy before execution is the best way to success.
Posted on: October 17, 2012
by Tom DeSanto, Strategy Wonk
In homage to David Letterman— here's the top ten:
1. Align with your business plan and marketing objectives, reflect both short-term and long-term goals
2. Base on comprehensive and accurate research of your market, audiences, industry trends, competitors and other key factors
3. Design to provide points of measurement, both qualitative and quantitative
4. Target to reach optimal audiences through demographics and psychographics
5. Segment and deliver to engage all audiences and motivate response
6. Create with a positioning and brand, based on your culture and performance, that will differentiate your company and its services from competitors
7. Write and design with messages that truthfully promote unique benefits that your company provides and your prospective/current customers desire
8. Plan to maximize marketing investment by integrating messages so they work synergistically
9. Engineer to work seamlessly with operations to provide customer experiences that reflect branded communications and build loyalty
10. Review and analyze regularly to enable adjustments to be made and to provide time for developing additional strategies to reflect the changing environment
Posted on: October 09, 2012
by Frani Halperin, Chief eMagination Officer
This past weekend I went to a volunteer appreciation banquet for our local humane society at which my daughter is a volunteer. The Denver Dumb Friends League (DDFL) boasts over 1,200 volunteers, 200 staff and a fan base that would make a rock star green with envy. No more evident was this enthusiasm than through the frenzied shouts and applause as images of smiling volunteers cuddling cats, dogs and even rats rotated on large screens in the banquet hall.
I wondered. What created this passion and devotion? Would an organization for the homeless evoke such dedication from its volunteers? Did the DDFL treat its volunteers to special perks? (The dinner we were served said no.) Did they give them great swag? Or was it the "cute" factor of working with horses, guinea pigs and kittens?
There are plenty of nonprofits with which people feel an emotional attachment and in many cases, fervor. Think Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace or Save the Children. I imagine those volunteers are dedicated and passionate, too.
But this was different.
I wondered then, if volunteering with animals had its own intrinsic reward. Many studies have established the psychological benefits of having pets as companions, as well as the physiological benefits of touch. Beyond the gratification that comes from volunteering in general, DDFL volunteers might well be getting an additional lift that makes them willing to give thousands of hours, (millions if you're counting in dog years) over decades. These volunteers were not only connecting with the brand, they were living it by carrying out the DDFL mission to "enhance the bond between animals and people."
Volunteers were simultaneously benefactors and beneficiaries.
Undoubtedly volunteers are a huge brand asset to any organization, and their care & nurturing can help build and sustain a nonprofit. In the case of the DDFL, it seemed that "man's best friend" was also serving to be a brand's best friend.
Posted on: June 27, 2012
by Tom DeSanto, Strategy Wonk
Brands are ubiquitous and powerful. They conjure up immediate cognitive and emotional reactions.
Some brands elicit a similar response among the majority of a group or culture. Examples familiar to us include:
Inherently positive: Mother Teresa, Olympics, Red Cross
Inherently negative: Bernie Madoff, Al-Qaeda, KKK
Inherently controversial: Barack Obama, gay marriage, ACLU.
Of course, the regard we have for brands rises and falls based on circumstance, such as Exxon (Valdez oil spill) or Toyota (safety recalls) or John Edwards (impropriety).
Some errant brands earn back our trust by performance and carefully planned communications. Others simply cannot.
Globally, one culture’s pet brand can be another’s pariah.
Some inherently negative brands attempt to change status by rebranding. Without dramatic shifts in mission, values and performance, this can be nearly impossible.
For instance, recent releases of documents disclosed that Osama Bin Laden considered rebranding Al-Qaeda by changing its name and having greater control over the actions of its affiliates.
Closer to home, the KKK took a stab at rebranding. It applied to participate in Georgia’s “Adopt a Highway” clean-up program and was denied permission. Hours ago, the ACLU agreed to defend the KKK’s first-amendment rights.
The ACLU brand remains consistently strong because it is steadfast in defending anyone’s rights (whether we agree or not).
Win or lose in court, the KKK won’t create positive brand perceptions. Offering to pick up garbage and being defended by the ACLU just can’t erase the KKK’s long history of racism.
Posted on: May 15, 2012
by Tom DeSanto, Strategy Wonk
When my weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal arrives, I know it’s loaded with an extra dose of well-written, insightful articles on arts and culture. The masthead is branded WSJ in big letters to tell me it’s time to relax with the newspaper.
As I leaf down through the sections, the creative depth of WSJ makes me marvel. That is, until I reach the bottom. I’d say rock bottom because I discover a coupon section.
It has to be a mistake. Coupon sections come in junk mail, freebie rags and dying big-city papers desperate to boost circulation. Not the Wall Street Journal.
Believe me, I’m not all business. But I’ve come to believe that the Wall Street Journal brand, including WSJ, speaks to commerce at a far higher level than money-saving coupons.
Maybe my home-delivery person gets a cut for adding an extra section. Maybe I’m being punked by my neighbors. Does your WSJ come with a coupon section?
Please let me know. Until then, I refuse to believe it.
A brand is a brand and I know where I stand.
Chirps vs. Buzz - 05/01/2013
Don't Blow It. - 02/07/2013
Ten Pillars for Developing Effective Creative Strategy - 10/17/2012
The Care & Nurturing of Volunteers - 10/09/2012
The ACLU, KKK and You - 06/27/2012
WSJ. WTF? - 05/15/2012
Understanding Earth Day - 04/20/2012
The IRS: Looking for Love - 04/17/2012
Branding is Believing - 03/14/2012
Happy Birthday to One Smart Cookie - 03/06/2012
Look Before You Leap. (No Bull) - 02/29/2012
Food for Thought: Organically Grown vs. Processed Reputations - 02/22/2012
Bitter Branding - 02/14/2012
Misdirected Messaging Bites Back - 02/09/2012
The Super Hole - 02/08/2012
Ten Pillars for Developing Effective Creative Strategy
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