Ready to Win Customers for Life?

Ready | March 8, 2019

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Have you noticed yet? Stale and unimaginative e-commerce is starting to be swept aside by a smarter way to engage with customers. Increasingly, you'll need to anticipate people's wants, satisfy their curiosity in-the-moment and adapt to the subtle purchasing behaviours of every individual. But it's all within reach, thanks to Ex

Spotlight

The Mars Agency

We are The Mars Agency. A leading shopper marketing agency that designs brand experiences that create impact. Through our deep understanding of the whole person and buying experience, we deliver business growth for our Fortune 500 clients through driving consumption and impacting shopper behavior. We make our own rules because we're independently owned, and have been for over 40 years. With offices in many major markets worldwide, and a fast-paced, thriving culture, are you ready to join us and challenge the status quo?

OTHER ARTICLES

Storytelling: the must-have marketing tactic for 2021

Article | January 27, 2021

As we enter 2021 with a fresh and positive mindset, we are also entering the New Year with a brand-new set of tactics to help reach new consumers by placing brands, products and services at the forefront of desired audiences. When it comes to brand marketing, storytelling is pivotal when trying to create relationships with consumers. By utilising emotion and taking a humanistic approach in this, brands are able to provide consumers with reasons as to why they should buy into their products, without a pushy, non-emotive hard-sell. And with that in mind, Matthew Hayes, Managing Director at brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains why storytelling is a must-have tactic for the year ahead. The art of storytelling Now more than ever before, resonating with the audience on a personal level is key, and what better way to do that than through storytelling. Marketing doesn’t always have to be about a direct sales pitch, but rather a connection and relationship that has been built up over time. And with that, comes brand loyalty and customer retention. When done effectively, storytelling is truly an art within itself. Sales should equate to product education rather than direct instruction. And it is this, that makes people subconsciously realise their need or want for a product or service. Storytelling takes the customer on an educational journey, allowing them to understand the brand, what it stands for, what the benefits are to them and why its products are good value for money. This then leads customers to build strong feelings of want and desire, rather than just need. This is all part of creating a brand. Customers begin to feel something about it, which is want warrants a business or product the status of a brand. And it’s this emotional connection that differentiates you from being just a commodity seller based on price, and positions you as a recognisable ‘brand’ that people engage with on a deeper level. And research demonstrates that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable and effective than facts, which is why brand storytelling is a must-have tactic for 2021. How to tell a story Creating a compelling narrative requires a carefully devised long-term strategy. But, while this is an important element, what is perhaps the defining factor in commercial success is its ability to resonate with us, as humans. Storytelling should be powerful and filled with emotion, in whatever capacity that may be. From laughter and happiness to sadness and grief, emotion can come in a plethora of varieties. Emotion is what captures the consumer and when a story is both personable and relatable, it builds brand love and deepens the connection between the brand and the consumer. Not only that, but emotion also impacts the purchasing decisions of consumers and without it, businesses are much less likely to make that all-important sale. And if brands combine emotion with consumer needs, then they have the recipe for success. With the rapid onset of digitisation across all industry sectors fuelled by the COVID-19 crisis, the way in which a brand tells their story is having to change in order to keep up with the times and meet the newfound needs of consumers and channels. With the plethora of channels and shortening attention span of the consumers, video content is the best way to evoke emotion. Put simply, videos are more engaging and because of that, will continue to play an increasingly important role in the marketing mix throughout 2021. They are easy to understand, digest and share and typically create a deeper connection between the brand and consumer, meaning that people will resonate with it much more. Storytelling done right No one is better at brand storytelling and investing in emotions than the world-famous Disney. From its theme parks and hotels to its films, merchandise and staff, the entire brand has been built from the ability to tell a story, and consistency of delivery. For consumers to truly connect with a brand, they must implement consistency across their strategy, messaging and storytelling. And while there may be creativity in the way these messages are conveyed, the underlying messages and ethos must remain to be consistent. The Disney experience plays a pivotal role in the brand’s story. It’s narrative and essence completely come to life when consumers interact with its offerings, taking on a role within the storyline. In doing so, deeper emotional bonds are created, bringing the brand to the forefront of both people’s minds and memories. Similarly, gym-wear brand Sweaty Betty have also become well recognised thanks to its ability to tell a story. What began as a normal brand selling high-quality gym-wear that sat outside of the norm, became known worldwide for changing its narrative by becoming so much more than just a provider of gym-wear. Sweaty Betty is not only a brand for women, created by women, but a brand that listens to its consumers. It’s messaging such as ‘respect your sweat’ and ‘empowering women through fitness and beyond’ is reflective of inclusivity, body positivity and raises awareness of diversity, using its brand, products and people to continue to tell that very story. A must-have tactic for 2021 In order to keep up and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds, brands need to focus their strategies on telling a story. Storytelling is as old as mankind, dating back to cave paintings and the bible. And modern-day storytelling allows brands to use the full extent of multi-channel media, applying to all of the five senses. It allows the brand to educate, taking the consumer on an educational journey rather than advertising, which can only convey one message at a time. It can build in sub plots, ethos, ethics and values, bringing the full personality of the brand as well as the people behind these brands to life, while also highlighting how these ‘personality traits’ mirror those of the consumer. It is through this 'bonding' that the consumer can feel for the brand, rather than simply seeing or knowing about it. Feeling is a pivotal part of branding, and without it, the brand and its products, are just a commodity, based on nothing more than consumer needs and cost. Brands are consumed based on a want or desire, with price being far less prevalent. Therefore, brands offer businesses far greater profit margins and a more loyal consumer base - the holy grail. And when executed effectively, the story helps build brand love through evoking a deeper, more authentic connection with its consumers. As a result, brand storytelling is priceless, and quite simply a must-have tactic for 2021 and beyond.

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How to Build Brands in a B2B Environment

Article | November 20, 2020

Often people believe that brands do not matter as much in a B2B environment as in a consumer one. In fact, the opposite is often true. In a consumer environment, the buyer is using his or her own money, so it is a major factor in the buying decision. In a B2B environment, the buyer is using the company’s money, and the key driver may be career advancement or even job protection. This means that avoiding making a mistake may be more important than making the best decision. As the old saying went, “no one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” So there are many B2B brands which have achieved and retained a status which justifies a price premium. Strong ingredient brands are among these. So Nutrasweet became a brand which justified a premium, as did Intel. However, these brands cannot simply be exploited without being nurtured. Just as with consumer brands, these brands can die or be superseded. Splenda came along and took much of the same space as Nutrasweet. The fact that it is both an ingredient and stand-alone brand gave it a stronger presence in the mind of the end-user. In B2B giving a product a name is easy, but that does not necessarily mean a brand in the customer’s mind. The key factor is whether, when we use the B2B grid, the use of the brand is compatible and enhancing to customer perception. All too often, in B2B, companies sabotage themselves. They focus on price, and in fact draw attention to it. Perhaps, if their costs are lowest, this may give the company leadership for a while. However, they end up placing themselves in the worst quadrant – the commodity segment, such as wheat or iron ore. Second worst is “service goods,” where price is the most likely distinguishing feature, but where the goods are so unimportant that the buyer may ignore price. Such examples are paper clips and cleaning supplies. Following this is the strategic goods quadrant, where price is secondary, even if high. High grade steels in the manufacture of jet aircraft are examples of this. The most envied position is to be a specialty product. An example may be a high priced additive or processing aid. Price is relatively irrelevant if it ensure top quality. When Richard Guha of Take Control Of was CMO of the enterprise software business at Remedy/BMC, he spent much time positioning the product in this way through its brand. The brand was positioned to be the only safe choice to make, but the name was not changed as change was unneeded. It was also priced so that customers could buy on an a la carte basis for modest increments or on a prix fixe basis for a complete turnkey product. In the energy business also, while more difficult, this is still the objective. When energy deregulation started, Houston Industries, the third largest combination utility was faced with the fact that it provided services well beyond Houston, and that, although its name implied it, it manufactured nothing. Thus it rebranded itself as Reliant Energy very successfully. This brand was used in consumer and B2B markets equally. The challenge which use of branding faces is to add perceived value to the product. Instead of merely “steel” a company such as Mittal Steel has to be perceived as providing some added value to the buyer. In each market, this may be different. The most extreme situations are when a product or service is “clearly” a commodity. One of the most obvious commodities is rigid metal packaging, aka, cans! Yet, can manufacturers have succeeded in differentiating themselves on the basis of service, technological innovation, and end-user sensitivity. Often, adding service to product can add perceived value. In B2B companies it should be far easier to measure and control the value of a brand. Usually, there is a direct connection to the customer. CRM systems, if well managed (another story), can identify them, and allow the company to understand the meaning of the brand, and the difference it makes to the price realized vs. an unbranded alternative. The sum of these differences is the effective Brand Value. Knowing all the levers to pull makes is possible to enhance it in far more direct ways than for a consumer brand. In short, we have seen that in B2B markets, a brand can go even further in adding value to a product or service than in a consumer market. Max Brand Equity works with corporations, turnaround managers, and private equity firms to understand and maximize the value of their brands – often the most valuable part of a business.

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How to Do Corporate Branding Right

Article | March 15, 2020

A ton of people confuse branding with a company’s logo. When they hear the word “branding,” they immediately picture designers hard at work choosing the perfect shades and template for a new logo. But although a logo is part of branding, it’s not the whole package.

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5 Link Building Strategies That Actually Work

Article | March 27, 2020

Google's algorithms are complex and constantly evolving, but backlinks remain an important factor in how search engines determine which sites will earn ranking positions. While link building is often recognized as one of the most difficult and time-consuming SEO tactics, it can help your site rank higher, bring you more traffic and grow your business significantly. If you’re not including link building in your overall SEO strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for your business. In this article, we’ll show you five effective link building strategies you can start implementing today.

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Spotlight

The Mars Agency

We are The Mars Agency. A leading shopper marketing agency that designs brand experiences that create impact. Through our deep understanding of the whole person and buying experience, we deliver business growth for our Fortune 500 clients through driving consumption and impacting shopper behavior. We make our own rules because we're independently owned, and have been for over 40 years. With offices in many major markets worldwide, and a fast-paced, thriving culture, are you ready to join us and challenge the status quo?

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