Word of Mouth – December 8, 2011 – Personal Branding

December 8, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – December 8, 2011

Personal Branding

On our recent whirlwind tour of the United States, we met with an established company to explore their marketing expansion needs. But they really needed our help more than a year ago – when they weren’t in the cross hairs of a takeover by a larger company looking to expand its own reach.
 
The smaller business, full of energy and entrepreneurialism, had grown beyond it’s two founding partners in ways neither had expected. Now in its 11th year, the company faced a crisis that should have been addressed months, if not years earlier. Ramping up outreach and marketing efforts now didn’t make any sense for them in the face of an attractive offer (aka: no other options) from an organization whose social media, traditional marketing and messaging machine is well oiled and steaming along.
 
They came to us too late. Perhaps our earlier assistance would have propelled them into the same league as their devourer. Perhaps we could have turned them into the ones doing the acquisition. Instead, a larger company with the foresight to turn its resources to expansion saw them as an attractive morsel. And despite everyone’s good intentions, no one can guarantee that vision of the two partners will survive the consolidation. Or whether the two partners and/or the staff will have a place in the new venture.
 
Marketing and branding isn’t just about growing your business. It’s about keeping your company on track and alive in the face of competition. It’s about bringing out the flavor of your personality to promote your service or product. It’s about enhancing your ability to, and creating strategies and channels for, facing and outpacing your competition.

Could your brand withstand a possible buy out by a larger company who sees your potential? How would you or your employees brand themselves when the business no longer exists or is swallowed up by a different one? Is your identity tied into a business that no longer exists? What have you done to separate yourself and your brand from the crowd?
 
Fortunately, Hamptons Creative Group is your co-creator in success. We recently saw a segment on 60 Minutes about how “alchemists” develop flavors that mimic, produce and promote products to a level that captures attention. That’s what we do in telling your personal and business story so that it resonates with your customers.

We explore and identify opportunities, then guide you through them systematically with strategy sessions, project management, full time marketing and branding guidance – just what you need to propel your business to success.
 
Let’s begin our co-creativeship today. You now have support from a planet-wide company of experts with your Marketing Partnership and Hamptons Creative Group.
 
Fill out our easy, no obligation enrollment form.


Read all this week’s blog posts:

Got a Book? Why Not? 
Are You Still Questioning Facebook?

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Word of Mouth Daily – November 21, 2011 – Wolfgang’s Over-Branding

November 21, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth Daily – November 21, 2011

Wolfgang’s Over-Branding

On our multi-city tour last week, we got a chance to look at branding in a confined space: the airport. Once you’re past security, you’re trapped. Conversely, businesses in the terminals have to ferociously differentiate from each other.

We’re not going to belabor this issue (in this post at least) but instead look at a specific example. “Wolfgang Puck Express” is a breakout of chef Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant empire. The “express” part refers to the availability of wrapped sandwiches for purchase, along with apples, commercially available bottled juices, and bagged potato chips found at every 7-11. “Express” also refers to the short menu of fresh items that are prepared to order, such as pizzas, sandwiches, and breakfast combos.

Wolfgang Puck is a well-known brand. It comes with an understanding of “gourmet.” The Express franchise is aimed at those with a respectable palate but a Burger King budget. Notably, most of the franchises are located inside airports. But what makes the Wolfgang Puck Express in the Denver airport so over-branded is the images of the food hanging on the wall.

Large, professional photo prints in refined wood frames decorate the restaurant’s interior. What’s most interesting is that the pictures depict food that isn’t on the Express menu!

“I’ll have the grilled salmon, please.”
“Sorry, we don’t have that.”
“But it’s right there.”
“Yeah, it’s just a corporate decoration.”

This was an actual exchange between a patron and an employee. “Decoration” is a segment of branding. So, is it possible to over-brand? If it makes your business confusing or deceptive, it certainly is.

Looking to correctly brand your business? Just ask, and Hamptons Creative Group will be there for you.

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Word of Mouth – October 6, 2011 – Trick or Tweet Guide to Twitter

October 6, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – October 6, 2011

Trick or Tweet Guide to Twitter

 
Trick or Tweet! No, we’re not suffering from a writing impediment. We’re excited that it’s October and the time for vanquishing our scary monsters. As defined in marketing terms, that is.
 
Scary marketing monster #1: Branding. Are you wearing the appropriate costume to ensure treats? Or is your image frightening your customers away?
 
Scary marketing monster #2: Silence. Do your clients shiver with delight at your magic words and messages? Or are you playing a nasty trick by saying nothing to them at all?
 
Scary marketing monster #3: Same house, same candy. Some marketing tools are like candy to portions of your customer base, and like poison to others. Are you up to date on the benefits and drawbacks of each of the marketing tools at your disposal? Are you afraid of a simple, quick and exciting option like Twitter?
 
Hamptons Creative Group is here to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid of using Twitter (or any marketing tool) for your business. And if you’d like to know how to apply the rules of Trick or Tweeting to your own marketing, there’s no better time or place than now because we’ve got a guide that shows you what to do quickly, simply and easily.
 

Now click here to fill in your information and your free Guide to Twitter for Marketing Managers and Small Businesses will land in your inbox like the sweetest Halloween treat of all!

And be sure to follow Hamptons Creative Group on Twitter @HamptonsCG

 

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Word of Mouth – September 29, 2011 – Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

September 29, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – September 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

 

This month’s guest blogger is Sharon Wolf, Managing Director of QualiData Research, Inc. Sharon has shared so much valuable advice that it’s going to take two posts to cover it all!

Here’s Part One of her generous contribution.


Seven Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget – Part 1
 

Getting Started
It is a mistake to invest any time or money in marketing before you have created a strong brand image that separates your products and/or services from your competition. Your brand image combines all of these elements:

  • Your product or services offering – its features and benefits
  • The company’s unique selling proposition
  • The firm’s logo design and all print and online marketing materials
  • Customer experiences with every aspect of your product or service – from product performance, to solving customers’ problems, to billing procedures, to follow-up customer communications, etc

Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Once you have clearly defined and created a written description of the brand image you want customers to think of when they see your logo, marketing materials and when they visit your website, for example, you are ready to plan marketing activities.

Here are the first three low-cost but high impact ideas:

1. Write articles for a trade press and volunteer for speaking engagements at professional conferences and seminars. These activities position you and your company or firm as experts and leaders in your profession or industry. The only cost is the time you’ll need to invest in preparing articles and conference presentations. If you publish articles, post them for downloading on your website, send them to clients and prospects and also post these publications on your business’ Facebook page. (see #3)

2. Review all of your marketing materials to be sure that they all communicate a consistent and strong brand image for your company. Invite a graphic designer to evaluate your existing logo, business cards, website, brochures and all other marketing materials against your brand positioning statement. Under the guidance of a professional graphic designer, revise and update marketing materials and graphics, as needed. For advice about graphic designers, contact Hampton Creative Group’s Mission Controller Matthew Iscoe.

This is the only step of the seven steps described here that is likely to involve a financial investment. This investment, however, is critical to the updating of your brand image and is one that typically offers a great deal of value-added to your marketing efforts.

3. Consider setting-up a business Facebook page so that you can invite your customers and important prospects to become “friends” of your company. One caveat – don’t waste your time setting up a Facebook page unless you have the time and people resources to post useful content on a consistent basis or work with a company that can do it for you.

Meaningful Facebook content can include postings of such information as:

  • Industry trend tidbits
  • Brief case studies about ways you helped customers or clients
  • “How-to” advice of interest to your customers – for example, restaurateurs can post recipes, attorneys can discuss popular legal issues, physicians can offer health advice, etc.

The goal of a Facebook presence is to keep your customers and prospects involved with your brand and your company – it’s a relationship-building and relationship maintenance strategy. The same rules for meaningful content apply to the use of Twitter for brand-building.
 


Look for Part Two of Sharon’s Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget in next month’s Word Of Mouth Guest Blog post.

Sharon Wolf, M.A., M.S. is a brand and product innovation consultant at QualiData Research Inc., a consultancy that provides growing companies with business-building advice grounded in marketing research findings. Sharon and her partner, Hy Mariampolski, Ph.D., operate QualiData from East Hampton, San Francisco and Park Slope. QualiData and Hamptons Creative Group often collaborate on behalf of mutual clients.

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Drastic Facebook Changes You Must Know About – Special Tuesday Word of Mouth – September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Special Tuesday Word of Mouth – September 27, 2011

Drastic Facebook Changes You Must Know About

Phew! The recent changes to Facebook came fast and furious. This might be the most radical overhaul of the social site since it expanded beyond the Harvard campus community.

While many in the marketing field knew changes like this were scheduled, no one outside of Facebook would have predicted such a monumental shift all at once.

In fact, the biggest change is scheduled to start appearing for some on Thursday, September 29th, with the rollout of Facebook’s new “Timeline” now in beta. In addition to the new “Ticker,” Wall feed, verb options, 3rd party application protocols, and privacy setting options, Facebook has adjusted the rules on Business Page interactions. If there was ever a better time to have a professional provider manage your business and brand on Facebook it’s not coming to mind.

The new changes will force businesses to interact, target, and service people who may not even “Like” you on Facebook. Businesses and brands will have to be more diligent about monitoring for spam, negative comments, requests for customer service, and feedback – even the positive stuff! Furthermore, the new Facebook changes will enable more outside content to be consumed through (aka inside) the Facebook interface, making it difficult for businesses and brands to standout or drive visitors to other sites such as squeeze pages, online shopping carts, and company web sites.

It’s important to mention that these changes have been made with two intentions: 1) return Facebook to a “profile” driven site opposed to a constantly updating wall stream, and 2)encourage more 3rd party applications, which will increase the amount of data Facebook can collect from users about behaviors, trends, location, and more.

This brings about a slew of privacy concerns, but it’s nothing new. Facebook has tried to get ahead of this issue (finally) by adding more upfront sharing controls. However, these do not prevent Facebook from tracking your movement and activity on the site. The reason Facebook has made so many changes is to attempt to thwart off the growth of Google+, which is another new social media site now available to the public.

However, with less the 50 million Google+ users, Facebook is still king. The fraction of defectors away from Facebook (and there are some) is pithy compared to its remaining 700 million strong. (You may not like the government, but you haven’t left the country. Same applies to Facebook, where the cost to uproot and seek new beginnings – while abandoning your followers – is much too high.)

In summary, the Facebook changes are going to affect your business and brand whether you are a Facebook novice, elite user, or not even a member. Because so much of what goes on online happens in the space of Facebook (80% of web use in the US is for social media and blogs) it’s impossible to escape it.

The best move now is to accept its value in doing business, and in lieu of becoming an expert on the ins and outs of how it works, trust a professional to navigate your business through the Facebook landscape. You’d want a plumber to fix your pipes, a carpenter to build your deck, and a mechanic to tune your car’s motor.

Why would you want fate to manage your business on Facebook?

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Word of Mouth – September 1, 2011 – Back to School Redux

September 1, 2011 at 10:50 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – September 1, 2011


Back to School Redux

It’s time for Back to School! Got your supplies and backpack ready?

Everyone else is studiously planning their marketing efforts for the fall and even 2012. What, your business doesn’t have its backpack stuffed with great marketing ideas and tools?
 
Perhaps you’re stuck in last year’s messaging rut. Would your business get an A for effort but a C+ for results?

Maybe it’s time for a makeover?
 
Let everyone else go “back to school” this season. Hamptons Creative Group skips you grades ahead, like Marketing Makeover recipient Julia R., who told us, “After going page by page through my Marketing Makeover I was able to take my social media and my traditional marketing to new places I hadn’t even considered.”
 
Julia skipped to the head of the class with her Marketing Makeover Ultimate. It contained all the tools she needed to be the BMOC – Business Magnate on Campus! This makeover is perfect for any grade in business, from concept kindergarten to graduate school for the established, and ensures your business, branding, and message are properly positioned and strategically aligned to meet growth objectives, making a difference to the bottom line.
 
With the Hamptons Creative Group Marketing Makeover Ultimate, you’ll graduate to a better marketing plan this fall and into 2012. The first 50 enrollees this month will receive a $550 credit toward a new Marketing Makeover Ultimate!

Don’t be late, or you’ll be sent to detention where lost sales, unhappy customers and delinquent opportunities spend their time.

Register now before classes are full!
 

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Word of Mouth – August 25, 2011 – Guest Blogger Neil Brownlee

August 25, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – August 25, 2011


Guest Blogger Neil Brownlee

This week’s guest blogger is Neil Brownlee, an advertising copywriter and creative director who had made a successful career by branding new businesses and re-branding existing products and services. He has received a Telly, Clio and other advertising awards.


“In This Economy?”

Being a Creative Director for an advertising agency, I regularly make advertising and marketing presentations to clients so they can ignite their sales, make customers happy, get rich, and retire early. Sounds like fun, huh?

So what can go wrong?

Sometimes I’m asked: what’s the key to a successful presentation? First, you have to believe in what you are presenting. Nothing falls on its face faster than a tepid, your-heart-ain’t-in-it pitch.  If you don’t get a client all pepped up then you’re dead in the water because clients get cold from 

snow jobs mighty fast.

So what does this have to do with the economy? Just think about what is going on daily. The stock market plummets, then climbs, and people can’t decide whether to take a Xanax or hide in the closet.

Unemployment sits and stagnates and no one has a clue how to get things moving again. One statistic I recently read made me stop and think – 75% of American consumers make 95% of the purchases. So you have a huge audience. But here’s the catch: That 75% either doesn’t have any spending money or they’re just afraid to spend it, preferring to hide their cash under the mattress, save it or, if they have real chutzpah and like roller coasters, invest it in the stock market.

So along comes Mr. Creative Director with his plans to storm the market and seize market share with the ferocity of Viking pillagers and plunderers. You stand there and pour your heart into the pitch. You generate so much energy that the air in the conference room tingles with electricity. Your client starts to sweat and just can’t wait to get your creative efforts on TV, the internet, the radio, in the newspapers or in magazines. The client even starts preparing his bragging speech for his golf course buddies.

You stand there knowing that you’ve just knocked ‘em dead and the deal is done. Then the client asks the dreaded question, “Great work. Terrific. So how much will all this genius cost me?”  

You take a deep breath and give the client the dollar amount. The client takes a deep breath, looks at you and says, “You expect me to spend that in this economy?”

Today, more than ever, advertising and marketing people have to be conscious of budgets and more creative than ever in how that money is spent. With less dollars being spent that means the selling message has to be more provocative and persuasive than ever.

What advice do I give to clients and marketing people? They have to think of each and every marketing message as a one-time proposition. You have one shot at making a sale and it had better be good. So do your homework, find the need that the target market craves to have satisfied and show them how your product or service satisfies it.

Getting someone to open their wallet and spend money is the #1 challenge facing businesses today. In order to be up to it you have to know the market, the product, and the media where the message is appearing and make sure that message is more than just some catchy, cutesy phrase.  

Do that and the electricity will flow from the presentation right to the customer.



Neil Brownlee is the Creative Director at Avalanche Creative Services as well as an Adjunct Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He oversees the development of strategy and creation, in addition to the writing and production of advertising materials in all media formats — TV, radio, print, and online. Neil works with clients on a daily basis to ensure the highest quality and most effective creative product. His mantra is: I believe in results for clients. Anything else is simply conversation.
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There are only a few days remaining in the month. After that, our Comprehensive Guide to LinkedIn will no longer be available without cost. In “this economy” why not get yours now?

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Word of Mouth April 7, 2011 Collaboration

April 7, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – April 7, 2011

 

Collaboration

You know how crucial collaboration and connection is . For Hamptons Creative Group, connecting is the only way we know to create meaningful relationships – whether personal or business. In fact, Linda just submitted a chapter to a new ebook by last week’s guest blogger about collaboration from the heart.

The chapter talks about how connecting is not self promotional, though it may eventually lead to business transactions. And about how too many people think that in order to succeed in business, they must quash the very quirky, unusual, amazing and different aspects of themselves that make them unique. Their website, blog, and other marketing materials are thus downright boring. That’s too bad, because their personality is going to make them successful.

Connecting from the Heart

Hamptons Creative Group makes connections from the heartWe cultivate the trait of connecting from the heart – one that comes naturally for others and me. How we do it isn’t a secret. We show our true personality. And the more you tell people about yourself in your own way – through the questions you ask, the stories you tell, your on and offline presence – the more likely they are to relate to you and your brand.

We find connections and spark our creativity in many places, including talking with people in person, via email and online in places like the Hamptons Water Cooler. Our collaborative community is full of creative individuals – guest bloggers, ad hoc designers, editors and subject experts – who spark our inspiration and refresh our thinking.

Who do you turn to when you need help sparking your creativity? Hamptons Creative Group loves to collaborate to jump-start our client’s brand inspiration. We’re doing that by offering our exclusive Goal Focus Sheet. With this powerful tool, you can finally turn your marketing efforts into a success story. If your success story is still waiting to be written, don’t let any more time go by.
Hit the target with Hamptons Creative GroupThe Goal Focus Sheet is the first step you can take today to reach your goals. There’s still time remaining to make 2011 a banner year. Businesses and solo-preneurs can get sidetracked, missing out on the important opportunities and trends that enable some to stand apart from the competition.

Why be left out? Why settle for the same outcomes as last year? Why not start using the tools that make a difference – to you, to your customers, to your bottom line?

Are you ready to collaborate on your success story?

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Hamptons Creative Group

 

Word of Mouth Feb 17, 2011 Rear View Mirror

February 17, 2011 at 6:01 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – February 17, 2011

Road Trip Month, Week 4

We’ve arrived at Road Trip Month Week 4, so it’s time to take a look in the rear view mirror to see where we’ve been on our trip through branding, social media and marketing.
A Look In The Rear View Mirror
By looking backwards, we mean measuring and evaluating the results of your efforts. Have you seen an uptick in your blog traffic? An increase in comments on your social networking sites? Did you conduct a client survey to get feedback on your promotions, products or services? Do you even know where to begin this kind of metric analysis?

The Gadgets on the Dashboard

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert recently had an excellent article on the six social media success metrics you should be tracking and the ways to measure them. There’s a new tool that just debuted, too, called Export.ly. This new service makes it easy to get useful Twitter, Facebook, and social media data in one spreadsheet. With all of these ways to analyze your efforts, you’ll be able to see what’s successful and adapt your branding and social media marketing accordingly.

Asking for Directions

Another way to measure your success in marketing is to ask your customers how they like the road you’re driving down. Yep, it’s that easy. If you use a web-based software program to manage your email marketing and newsletters, you likely have a built in survey tool to query your customers. If you don’t use one of these programs, Survey Monkey is a great  way to get the feedback you need. Remember, everyone likes being asked for an opinion – so ask!


A Clean Windshield
We use many of these tools and more at Hamptons Creative Group to analyze how the world views our clients’ branding and marketing messages. Taking a look in the rear view mirror is critical to adjusting the course ahead. How do you know where you’re going when you don’t know where you’ve been?
We hope you’ve enjoyed the road trip with us this month.

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Word of Mouth Feb 10, 2011 Many Modes of Delivery

February 10, 2011 at 6:02 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – February 10, 2011

Road Trip Month, Week 3

We’ve arrived at Road Trip Month Week 3 and we’re enjoying road tripping through branding, social media and marketing.

Many Roads, One Focus

Thinking lately about our far reaching pit crew, their work isn’t performed solely in our office on Main Street in Southampton. Our team members work their magic in far-flung places! Donna inspires possibilities from Cincinnati. Jim, the Venture Virtuoso, conveys his insights this winter from Florida. Kelly, the Sorceress of Syntax, transmits her words over electronic media from Albuquerque.

In fact, when the Hamptons-based individuals come together physically, they represent the reaches of Long Island all the way out to Montauk! Our teamwork keeps us all driving toward the same goals, though we’re on different byways to get there.

Whatever road the mind of your customer drives down, that’s how we deliver the message, too – using the modes of the web and email, video and social media, as well as traditional distribution methods like newspaper, magazines, TV and radio advertising.

Our Clients at the Wheel

One of our clients is overhauling her message engine to come nose to nose with the way she delivers her service. Southampton Limousine, Ltd. (the oldest and largest limousine service in the Hamptons, with locations in Palm Beach and Los Angeles) has long transported clients by car, by plane and by helicopter. Their name doesn’t convey that message, though. So, in addition to providing convenience and a stellar experience, they’re emphasizing the many modes of their service with a name change to Southampton Transportation.


A Full Fleet of Vehicles
Hamptons Creative Group

Whatever special delivery method we’re using — email, fax, Skype, telephone, or web-based collaborative workflow software — Hamptons Creative Group’s compass always points to the true north of our clients’ destination: branding success and high-octane awareness.

Make way, we’re in the fast lane.

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