Monday, June 1, 2015

Why The World Loves the Apple Brand and Can You Follow Their Lead?




Apple is by far the number one brand in the world. New research from Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2015/05/13/apple-and-microsoft-head-the-worlds-most-valuable-brands-2015/, reveals the company has a brand worth of $145.3 billion, up some 17% over 2014.

The brand ranks on top of Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands for the fifth straight time. According to the publication, it is worth twice as much as any other brand on the planet.

What makes the brand so valuable and are there lessons to be learned for your firm?

1. Apple is the technology innovator and leader. It is able to create an ongoing series of products that can only be copied and modified by its competitors. Think the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes. 

Does your firm offer products or services that are leading edge and do you maintain a leadership position in your industry or marketing segment?

2. People buy Apple products and lots of them. The company sells millions and millions of devices worldwide. Revenue alone for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $74.6 billion according to Apple, easily beating Google’s sales for all of 2014 of $66 billion.

Do your products stack up nicely against your competition and are you able to increase sales on an annual basis?

3. Apple has developed a near cult following. Its products are perceived as quirky, fun and easy to use. Millions of Apple users would never think of using an Android type phone or device. They are loyal and dedicated to the brand. Most are willing to pay a premium price to enjoy the high-end quality Apple is known for.

Do or would your customers pay a premium for your product or service? Are your customers loyal and dedicated or do they migrate to any competitor with a lower price?

4. Apple has the eyes and the ears of the media. Former CEO Steve Jobs perfected the introduction of a new product with special launch events. The exact products and details were kept under wraps until the day of the event. Selected members of the media were invited to attend and tried to project in advance what Apple could be showcasing. 

These events have, over time, taken on a life of their own. Some hand-picked journalists even get devices to test in advance. Due to the success of the company, its gyrating stock price, and its ground breaking products, hundreds of journalists are fixated on the firm, trying to prognosticate on what the company will do next. This fixation produces a top of mind awareness that cannot be duplicated by any other company in any industry.

Does your company enjoy a high share of voice within your industry? Have you established solid relationships with journalists who cover your space? Are you able to easily generate articles about your business in trade journals and key publications? 

Taking a small bite out of Apple's brand approach can result in larger growth for nearly any size business.

For more on branding visit http://www.solomonturner.com





Thursday, March 12, 2015

5 Ways to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentation




Nearly every business uses a PowerPoint presentation as part of the marketing and sales process.

The stack of digital slides has become synonymous with sales calls, group presentations and speaking engagements.

While many companies use a PowerPoint to highlight revenue goals, product information and offer a glance at company history, they often miss some key messaging opportunities. Messages that can help “humanize” their brand and bring some marketing value to the monotony of graphs, pie charts and endless bullet points.

Here are five ways to get more marketing value and clarity from your PowerPoint presentation…

1.  Tell a Story. Capture the audience’s interest with a little storytelling about your brand. Start with a strong beginning. Continue through with good support information in the middle and, like a good book, finish it off with a solid ending.

2. Limit the use of graphics. Your audience can only absorb one idea at a time. Overloading them with too many charts, tables and clip art only adds to the confusion. You can place a sentence or two, or one intriguing photo on each slide, and explain it audibly.

3. Limit slide clutter. In addition to keeping graphics to a minimum, keep your slides clean and neat by reducing the overuse of logos and background images. An oversized corporate logo doesn’t need to be on each slide. Photos of clouds, skylines and production lines also need not be overused as backstage props throughout the presentation. Trying to overwrite key information over a busy image can make your slide confusing and difficult to read.

4. Use a consistent type style. The type should be large enough to see and easy to read. It should also be consistent on each slide. Switching fonts and styles can confuse the audience and appear as though your presentation is disorganized.

5. Minimize the number of slides.
Unless you are presenting at a 2 hour symposium you probably won’t need 50 slides to state your case. Time your presentation so you can interact with the audience and emphasize key information. It is always better to avoid dragging your group into information overload and leave them begging for more.

Photo courtesy Microsoft Office

Solomon/Turner provides a variety of multimedia marketing tools for businesses.For more visit www.solomonturner.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Marketing Mistakes Never to Make on Shark Tank or Anywhere Else





Admittedly I am big fan of the TV program Shark Tank.

The program focuses on aspiring entrepreneurs who seek to secure investments and partnerships with one or more of the “Sharks”, billionaires and millionaires who seek to grow their fortunes by investing in companies with high growth potential.

Over time I have watched nearly every episode. In nearly all cases it’s easy to predict who will get a check and who will not.

Here are five marketing mistakes small companies make that prevent them from getting a deal on Shark Tank and, for that matter, probably anywhere else.

1. Failure to construct a clear, concise business presentation.

Many of the Shark Tank contestants seek to be creative. Some downright funny. Others are extremely nervous, barely able to get the words out of their mouth.

No matter how entertaining, those who appear disorganized and unable to state their case are usually sent home without funding.

In many ways the same holds true for those seeking to build relationships at networking events, trade shows and on sales calls. They lack the approach or the skills necessary to get a prospective buyer to the “tell me more” stage of the presentation.

2. Failure to know your numbers.

Entrepreneurs must know their revenue figures and be able to communicate them to the Sharks. This includes specific numbers for the last three years, last year, even last month.

Beyond the numbers they want to know why sales are increasing or decreasing, and if any major orders are pending. Perhaps there is a logical explanation of how the company will grow over time.

Lack of hard numbers will usually send the entrepreneur packing.

Those seeking funding from an investor or lending institution must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of their pro forma. Even in a selling environment prospects like to know they are doing business with a growing firm as to one heading in the wrong direction.

3. Failure to know the competition.

As Shark Tank’s “Mr. Nice Guy”, Kevin O’ Leary often says “Why should I invest in you when a multi-billion dollar corporation can make the same thing and squash you like a cockroach.”

Business owners should study their competition and ensure their product or service provides them with a competitive advantage, something difficult to duplicate.

Companies lacking differentiation are usually shown the door. The same holds true in the marketplace where it can be difficult to gain share against older, more established competitors.

4. Failure to understand customer acquisition.

A recurring question is, “How much does it cost for you to acquire a customer?” Some entrepreneurs know the number, some do not.

The figure of course varies depending on the type of customer (business or consumer) and length of selling cycle.

Those with unintelligible or extremely high numbers send the sharks swimming.

A business owner should study this number, make attempts to lower costs, and offer customers more competitive pricing. Adjustments can be made as needed to stay a step ahead of the competition.

5. Failure to highlight strengths, hide weaknesses.

Potential "investees" often get hung up when a Shark brings up a negative but minor point.

The entrepreneur can get flustered even argumentative. Suddenly a non-issue becomes a major concern.

The discussion shifts quickly away from the product and focuses on the credibility of the individual. Fearing a personality clash the sharks shy away. What appeared to be a good investment a minute ago suddenly gets water logged.  

Instead of dwelling on the negative, business owners should focus on all the positive problem solving aspects their product provides. The minor irritants can be swept away with solid facts, figures and case studies, easily demonstrating that they are a great company. Ready to swim with the sharks.

For more information visit Solomon Turner PR

photo courtesy of RenewCancelTV.com
  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 For 15: Hot PR Tips for the New Year

2015 is here. Time to fine tune your public relations and marketing strategy and set a direction for business growth in the new year.

Five marketing trends stand out that will help you better connect with your targeted audience, confirm or change perceptions with stakeholders and clients, and convert more prospects into customers.

1. Focus on visual storytelling.  




















The growth and use of mobile devices is requiring marketers to become more creative and more precise as they communicate with potential customers. This includes formulating messages that are not only interesting but also digestible in the smaller platform.

One way to achieve this goal is to use more graphics, more photos and more videos as opposed to long form text.

Instead of a three page blog or email, focus on telling your story creatively. Like any good book, generate a beginning with a thought provoking ending.

Use visual mediums to deliver the message. The end result will be better viewership, better readership, and an increase in customer engagement.

2. Use More Video.


A 2014 trend continues. In a recent study by Sharaholic.com an analysis focused on various levels of engagement from different social sites. The site with the longest time of engagement, average pages per visit, and lowest bounce rate was YouTube.

Google+ was second and LinkedIn third. Interestingly Twitter and Facebook were well behind toward the end of the pack.

By its nature, video is entertaining and engaging. It lends itself perfectly to visual storytelling. Therefore if you use any of these social sites for marketing purposes, think video first.

3. Content Marketing is Still King.


 Those companies that consistently create valuable content will gain a giant step on their competition. This includes reaching customers through a variety of channels.

The goal is to provide insight to your audience. When done correctly you can build rapport with your targeted demographic and build a loyal following.

Focus on social media, articles on your website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos, and sharing articles from other pertinent websites.

4. Develop Mobile Friendly Content.



As mentioned earlier, the growing use of mobile devices is going to demand content that is easily accessible on smaller devices.

According to Forbes, 87% of connected device sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones.
Businesses can create an alternate mobile version of a website or utilize web design that is more responsive to the smaller format.

Those companies failing to adapt to this trend will fall behind competitors adapting to these newer platforms.


5. Leverage Earned Media with Social Media.



In 2015, content may be king but quality content will rule. Businesses should utilize their PR and spread it across multiple platforms. Articles, interviews and even award lists are considered quality content not only by customers but also by search engines.

When published by a credible media organization, these placements not only help build corporate reputation but also boost your ranking on Google, Bing and others.

The end result will help your business rise above the noise and gain a leg up on the competition.

For more on how to create a marketing and PR campaign contact Solomon Turner

All photos and images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net





Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marketing Lessons Learned from Taylor Swift and How to Apply Them to Your Business



Many know Taylor Swift as a music star and international personality.
                                
When she speaks young people listen. Then they buy her music, in droves.

Her latest album, 1989, sold over 1 million copies in its first week. It is the top selling album of 2014.

What many don’t know is the marketing genius behind the Taylor Swift “brand”. Ms. Swift may be as good a marketer as a she is a singer, and that is saying a lot.

The strategy behind the release of 1989 provides an outstanding case study of marketing techniques.

Many can be applied to nearly any business wishing to build a public relations campaign that creates awareness, builds momentum and separates them from the competition.

These include…

1. “Influencing the Influencers”. Ms. Swift told David Letterman that she held private parties at her residences in advance of the album release. The goal was to let some true fans hear the music  gain some feedback, and create pre-release buzz.

This technique has been used by large innovative companies such as Apple that have been known for sending laptops, iPhones and other devices to the media and other influential individuals in advance of their public launch.

Almost any business can do the same. They can send their products to key well-known clients, the media and even influential bloggers. The result can build excitement for your product and a lot of chatter about your company.

2. Spread your message creatively across a variety of social media channels. Swift is said to handle her own social media posting. This includes connecting with fans on a personal level with individualized messages as well as using different channels for different purposes, all reaching a variety of audiences in a variety of ways.

 Creating one message and putting the same thing on a pre-planned board that hits five outlets with exactly the same thing is not the answer. Instead create a video specifically for YouTube, create an Infographic for LinkedIn, generate an engaging photo for Twitter, and post other more personal photos on Facebook. Generate comments and respond to feedback.  Business should take some time to understand their audience, analyze how their clients use social media, and determine the best channels to reach them in the most creative way possible.

3. “Partner Up”. It helps to have friends in high places and Swift’s friends Lena Dunham (HBO Star), Lorde (music star) and other A list type celebs used their social channels to talk about the album. One would expect the favor to no doubt be returned.

A business could do something similar by hosting an event with a company(s) that provides complimentary product offerings. All firms could work their list and invite their customers to attend. At the same time, all could use social media to not only send out information about the happening but also promote their partners’ products as well.

The end result raises the awareness level for all concerned while at the same time helps each firm reach new potential groups of clients.

4. Utilize all facets of traditional media. As an international celebrity, Swift was easily able to appear on every national talk show and sing highlights from the new album. While most businesses can never pursue this type of exposure, nor, in most cases, should they, even small businesses can obtain media coverage in a daily newspaper, business journal or trade publication.

Many firms have products or services well suited for TV news coverage or radio interviews. As you send out email newsletters, marketing pieces, and attend trade shows, keep in mind the power of the press and the value of a few well placed articles that can reach hundreds if not thousands of key prospects.

5. Focus, engage and execute. Once Swift launched her album, she seemed to appear everywhere. As mentioned earlier she was a guest on network talk shows, day and night, and featured in newspapers and magazines. This was in addition to constant connections with her fans on social media. She even put together a deal with Target for additional exposure.

When launching a new key product or service, a business should muster all their marketing muscle and deliver the message across all pertinent channels, all at the same time. Whether it involves email, newspaper coverage, or special events, running these efforts concurrently will help your business reach greater levels of awareness and speed the effort to reach your marketing and sales objective.

For more information visit Solomon Turner Solomon Turner PR or call 314-205-0800




Monday, September 29, 2014

Could Your Firm Create a Viral Event like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?



              President Bush Takes The Challenge-USA Today


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a PR campaign for the ages.

By now you have participated in your own challenge or at least seen one on video.

The Challenge consists of a friend, associate or colleague asking you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head within the next 24 hours or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.

Many who take the challenge also donate to the charity. What started out as a small idea has turned into a nationwide movement. Everyone from a-list celebrities to former presidents to corporate executives has endured the ice bucket dump.

Most have even taped their challenge and posted it for viewing on YouTube, Facebook and other social media outlets.

The campaign has reached unparalleled levels of success.

Over 3 million have donated since the campaign was launched and over $100 million has been raised to combat ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

From a marketing and PR perspective, this is probably one of the great campaigns of the last 20 years.

Here’s why this worked…

A short analysis indicates the Challenge had five key elements that all worked seamlessly together.
1. It benefits a worthy cause, even if many never heard of Lou Gehrig or ALS.
2. Timing was perfect. It took place during the hot summer months when people are looking to cool off.
3. It’s easy to execute. Dumping an ice bucket on your head is an easy task that nearly everyone can do.
4. It’s fun. Sure you get a jolt from the icy water but everyone gets a good laugh watching you get soaked.
5. It’s visual. Perfect for social media, and, in the case of celebrities, television news. The high visibility enabled the Challenge to gain momentum and generate a life of its own.



Business owners and marketing executives would love nothing more to create a virtual event on-par with the ALS effort, and surely many are spending numerous hours thinking about something they can create that can go viral. Yet, the chances of developing something with this type of reach and momentum is extremely rare.

Instead, businesses wishing to create a highly memorable campaign should utilize their time more efficiently by focusing on their core audience. What it is that truly inspires their customers?

Once you have ascertained what it is that drives your customers to do business with you and your firm, you can plug-in the five key elements that made the ALS Challenge a success.

Your campaign should focus on…

1. Who will benefit? It should be something of value that helps your customers know that their participation contributes to the greater good.

2. Timing is everything. Schedule your campaign during peak buying times and when awareness is heightened. After all, would the Ice Bucket Challenge have worked in the winter?

3. Keep it simple. Your customers don’t have time to go on a scavenger hunt or spend hours trying to decipher something overly complicated.

4. Make it fun. People like being challenged as long as they can attain results in a timely fashion.

5. Make it visual.  If you can create a campaign that can be taped and played out on social sites, or at the very least photographed, the chances of creating a memorable event will increase tenfold.


Steve Turner is a Principal with Solomon/Turner PR in St. Louis, a firm that specializes in media relations and publicity for businesses and organizations throughout the Midwest. For additional information visit http://www.solomonturner.com







Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are You A Marketing Lion or A Gazelle?




I recently attended a motivational seminar in St. Louis. One of the speakers featured was a fast rising motivational star, Eric Thomas.

Eric told the story of the lion and the gazelle. He recited an often quoted refrain. The original one may have be penned by Christopher McDougall in his book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”

Thomas went on to use this as a sales discourse. Paraphrasing, he said as the anointed hunter of his family the lead lion realizes his family will not eat until a gazelle is brought back to the den. The lion will chase his prey from sun up to sun down until the job is done. He does not care how hot it is, how many miles he has traveled, or how fast the pack of gazelles is running. Unless that lion can apprehend their prey, he realizes his family will starve and he will have let them down.

Meantime the gazelle’s goal is only to avoid the lion. Once the gazelle realizes he won’t be caught, he can relax. He can eat some plants, drink whatever water he can find, and spend the rest of the day lounging, waiting for the next sunrise.

Thomas related this scenario to those in the selling world. Are you a lion? Do you get out of bed early with a game plan in tact ready to pursue the next deal? Will you push away common every day obstacles and let nothing stop you in pursuit of your goal, realizing you are responsible for feeding your family?

Or… Are you a gazelle? Happy to just survive, kick back and avoid trouble to last another day. A relatively average existence.

This thought process can also apply to business owners and those responsible for building their brands and marketing their companies.

What is the difference between the marketing lion and the gazelle?

The marketing lion is the one is driven to succeed. He or she is an innovator, not afraid to step out the box, try new strategies, new tactics, and utilize out-of-the-box thinking to outpace competitors.

The marketing gazelle, on the other hand, is happy to just maintain the status quo. They do things because their company has always done them that way, with hopes they can just hang around and survive another year until the economy gets better.

Marketing lions tend to dominate their industry. Marketing gazelles tend to get eaten alive by the competition.

Which one are you?


For more information on PR and marketing trends visit Solomon/Turner PR