Archives

Signature Stories

Story telling has become an important element of branding a business and promoting products/services. These stories are often aligned with the firm’s mission and vision statements and therefore create the foundation for external, but also internal, communications.

The rationale for signature stories’ effectiveness over simply stating facts is simple: it’s part of our cultural DNA. People have been telling stories to entertain and educate for millenia, especially when there was no opportunity to preserve information via scriptures. Still, stories can create a connection between customers and businesses on an emotional level. They make it possible to experience facts in a subtle and less intrusive way and they truly make a company unique.

Internally, signature stories help employees to better understand corporate communications and strategies. They can create pride, loyalty, and improve productivity as a result. Making sure employment policies and business structures/strategies align with the signature story is vital. A business promoting fair trade and sustainability should make sure emplyees are treated fairly and the business complies to environmental standards.

There are many additional reasons why signature stories are beneficial. They can help with crisis communications, create multiplier effects, and more. Find additional arguments on this list of 14 reasons your brand needs a signature story.

According to David Aeker, American Marketing Association, signature stories need to be (1) Intruigung, (2) Authentic, (3) Involving, and (4) Strategic. This is certainly a challenge, so learn more about how to write excellent signature stories here.

Community Involvement

Whether you provide financial assistance, marketing or other services, your business contributes to strengthening the community where you live. So, we have a solid interest in being part of a thriving social and economic environment. Community involvement can accomplish exactly that, but there are other reasons why individuals, as well as businesses, should be actively involved:

Networking
Whether you participate in local Chamber events or are actively involved in the non-profit sector, community involvement is always a great opportunity to network. You would be surprised how you are connected to other individuals you’ve never met. So, introduce yourself and have a pleasant conversation.

Branding
We all know the importance of supporting local businesses, especially if you are one of them. Many potential clients can choose between a wide range of competitors providing similar services, and actively giving back to the community without expecting anything in return can make a great impression and result in business opportunities.

Hiring
Chances are good that you and your fellow volunteers share similar values and world views. This information is worth gold when it comes to adding to your team! It allows you to draw from a pool of engaged, selfless, and motivated individuals you have already worked with on a project. Who needs a reference, if you have already seen an applicant’s drive and professionalism in action?

Teambuilding
Community involvement is a great opportunity for teambuilding. Organizations like the United Way are frequently organizing events where an entire firm can participate. Assemble your coworkers and clean up downtown or dedicate a night to helping out in a soup kitchen. These activities will bring you and your team closer together than ever.

Learn more about how the Media Link Team is involved in the Quad Cities community and beyond here.

Marketing ABC’s for Small Businesses

When selling a product or service, marketing is the center point of success. From well established companies to start-ups, marketing helps you find your brand identity and establish yourself in the marketplace. There are several basic marketing strategies businesses can implement instantaneously without much effort and external support.

Establishing direct contact with your target audience is often the most effective and affordable way of advertisement.  Attend networking events with other professionals to build connections with colleagues in the industry and to inform them about what you do. Depending on your product/service, you could give out free samples to break the ice. These samples range from appetizers to brochures demonstrating your expertise. They help potential clients assess the quality of your products/services, but they can also create demand for products/services.

The virtual representation of your product is just as important as the physical. The marketing world today has taken to the internet, which means an online presence is a must-have. Having a professional webpage explaining your products/services has become an essential element and creating one has never been easier thanks to several online services. Ensuring your company’s webpage is mobile friendly is another milestone as the majority of people are now researching products and services on their phones and tablets.

Similar rules apply to your social media presence.  Creating social media pages on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is a great way to reach your audience in a beyond targeted way. Every platform has its specific characteristics and many have a rather homogenous audience when it comes to age, geography, gender, and interests. Facebook is always a good start, especially as it gives potential clients the opportunity to interact with the company online. This interaction has become the new customer service, so actively cultivating your social media presence with posts and responses is necessary.

Once this has become a daily habit you can consider paid digital advertisement, although running a SWOT analysis once a year will help you determine where you currently stand, where you want to be, and how to get there. Generally, being organized, patient, and consistent are marketing virtues to value. Start with your marketing ABC, let it work for some time, evaluate results, and then adjust piece by piece by adding the D-Z of marketing.

Brand Architecture

An organization’s brand architecture matters. It organizes the relationship between main and sub-brands and determines the perception and reputation of each product and service provided. Let’s take Audi, Bugatti, Porsche and Lamborghini. There is no doubt these brands stand for high quality and luxury, but how would you feel if the Volkswagen Group, the owner of these brands, would offer these cars under their Volkswagen or SEAT brand? The cars wouldn’t change a bit, but the initial perception hearing Volkswagen 911 Turbo S instead of Porsche 911 Turbo S would loose its glamour.

Vice versa, loyal Volkswagen customers, fans of a brand dedicated to be accessible to all people (Volk = nation; Wagen = vehicle; Volkswagen = vehicle for the people/nation), would be confused seeing $25,000 cars standing next to $260,000 cars in Volkswagen showrooms across the US. Volkswagen has actually attempted to establish a luxury sedan under the Volkswagen brand in 2002 introducing the Volkswagen Phaeton, a $70,000-$85,000 vehicle that kept the distinct Volkswagen resemblance. Sales fell beyond short of expectations and production stopped in early 2016.

 

Surprisingly, even an international corporation like the Volkswagen Group violated these basic brand architecture rule of thumbs:

A successful brand architecture…

  • Is adaptable and flexible
  • Is simple and consists of no more than two/three levels of hierarchy
  • Has a strong dominant brand
  • Creates distinctive sub-brands whose audiences do not overlap (see Volkswagen)
  • Is based on sophisticated knowledge of the market and market segments

There is not a one-model-fits all approach when it comes to brand architecture. Every entity needs a distinct strategy taking into account the product/service provided, their target audiences, but also legal restrictions, especially when it comes to financial services.

Catching media at the right time — Our Tri-Layered Approach

Here at Media Link, Inc. we take pride in the wide range of assets we offer our clients within our agency. These include, but are not limited to; communications, marketing, and public relations. This allows us to expand our services to include media outreach for our clients.

Our Senior Marketing Consultant, Ronna Walker-Johnson stated, “As a Media Coordinator, we have a process to ensure we catch the media at the right time, can pitch the right angle we need to make, as well as writing and disseminating the news release to the targeted area.”  This tri-layered approach utilizes a combination of news releases and/or e-blasts, followed by a series of direct phone calls, as well as strategic online research to additionally confirm media coverage.

This approach allows our clients to receive a significant amount of media exposure, strategically targeting prime media contacts with interest within our client’s career.  Walker-Johnson adds, “We have successfully secured a number of high profile appearances for our clients, giving them exposure to both the general public, as well as significant venues within their fields.”

Our clientele vary in the careers and occupations they possess. This serves as an opportunity to expand our strategic planning, in order to cater to the needs of our clients.  Daniel Stratman, an Illinois singer and songwriter, says, “Having just released my latest CD, “Real Life,” I chose Media Link right here in Rock Island to help promote my latest effort.  Working with Ronna Walker-Johnson, she initiated a marketing strategy and we began seeing results almost immediately.  I appreciate her years of marketing experience and the enthusiasm she possesses in working with me on my current project.”

Dan Haughey, a Teaching-Artist from the Quad Cities, says, “Media Link has more than doubled the networking capabilities and results for “danact3” through your support, guiding my business to state-of-the-art strategies and tools, yet always keeping me in control of my small business marketing decisions.”

Media Link, Inc. has a proven track record of being a strong partner for our clients and truly enjoy our part in assisting with their continued growth.

 

Networking

Networking

The internet made it possible to establish a rich net of connections all across the globe. According to the six degrees of separation, we only need a couple of people who know someone who know someone to be linked to any person on this globe.

Being linked to someone doesn’t mean you truly are connected, however. Networking on an eye-to-eye basis simply cannot be substituted. Most frequently mentioned benefits of traditional networking include:

  1. Generation of Referrals & Advice: you might be looking for a new financial adviser or mobile phone carrier – rest assured: the person standing next to you has something to say about the topic.
  1. Industry News: we are all doing our best to stay informed reading newspapers and trade publications, but talking to a person who is experiencing the news on a daily basis in invaluable.
  1. Community: networking events connect you to your area’s community and creates a strong feeling of belonging. It makes you a part of a greater good and allows you to work for a better tomorrow for everybody in the community.
  1. Raising Your Profile: many networking events provide educational components. Be part of an expert panel or have a presentation about what made you successful. Be inspirational. Become relevant.
  1. Friendship: networking is business, but it can be so much more. You meet people who went to the same college, whose kids go to the same school, or who have the same exotic hobby. A simple conversation can truly connect you to a person.

We at Media Link embrace networking for the sake of creating better business, for a stronger community and for creating friendship. Whether it’s the Network @ Noon, Executives Club, Morning Network, PR Network Events, SBA & WBDC events or others please feel free to approach us and introduce yourself if you see anyone of us. We’d love to talk to you!

Source:

Top 9 Benefits of Business Networking

Searching for Meaning – Corporate Social Responsibility

The times of “being in it for the money” are over. People are now looking for more than high salaries – people are looking for meaning in what they do. The term describing this movement is corporate social responsibility, often referred to as CSR. Many large corporations such as Wal-Mart and Walt Disney have implemented a CSR campaign. However, not only large firms, but also small businesses have identified this to be an important staple in their day-to-day operations. Corporate Social Responsibility reaches from reusing and recycling materials, to caring about excluded groups of the population, to energy saving activities.

These methods are ever more important when looking for new employees or retaining staff. This is especially important in a time in which 86 million millennials make up the largest population group in the U.S. and provide a large labor force. These young people strongly tie their personal values to their career and bring innovative ideas to a business. This is supported by the fact that seven out of ten young adults consider themselves to be social activists and state CSR to be a major factor when choosing among employers.

At the same time these young adults are consumers and are looking to do business with companies that share their passion for social causes. Consumers increasingly want to be seen as good citizens, and this desire is reflected by their buying behavior. According to Landor Associates, 77% of surveyed consumers note it to be important for companies to be socially responsible. In the digital age we are living in, customers have more information and often share this information with fellow consumers. This may be a threat to companies engaging in unethical business activities, but an opportunity for businesses having CSR fully incorporated into their business concept. Corporate Social Responsibility is what defines a business and what makes it rise above competitors.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insead/2013/11/12/corporate-social-responsibility-the-key-to-attracting-retaining-top-talent/#1ce48ffee73b

Why Companies Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Their Social Responsibilities

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140325/OPINION/140329895/corporate-social-responsibilitiy-is-millennials-new-religion

International Marketing

With globalization, companies need to adjust their marketing strategies as new challenges emerge. One major challenge is adapting to local cultures. This is of special importance when firms operate in countries culturally distant from their home country. This post will discuss global marketing with the example of China.

In China, a country with double the active internet users of the United States, social media marketing is a crucial success factor when doing business. But what do you do when the government bans Western social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter? You rely on Chinese networks. There is a great variety of networks to choose from such as WeChat or Sina Weibo. At the fast pace China is transforming, there is no doubt social media marketing in China will change incredibly quickly too.

A further crucial factor of doing business in China is being familiar with the local calendar. While in the West the Christmas season is one of the largest advertising periods of the year, this holiday is rarely celebrated in China. However, there are numerous Chinese celebrations; one of which is single’s day, on which singles buy themselves gifts. Not to leave out the most important Chinese holiday: the Chinese New Year.

The last key success factor discussed in this post is the country of origin effect. Chinese consumers are greatly influenced by the place in which the product was made. Products made in Western countries are often perceived more favorably. Moreover, products made in countries such as the United States, Germany or Switzerland are perceived as luxury products. These are only three aspects to consider when marketing in China. Make sure you consider these points and familiarize yourself with the local culture when entering into a foreign market.

For more information visit http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/oct/06/marketing-china-social-media-consumers

Branding and Communications

Marketing defines who you are and how you present yourself to potential customers. One of the most important elements of a successful marketing strategy is branding.

Branding is the long-term process of creating an experience tied to your company and consumption of products. This experience differs from person to person. It is therefore essential to define a target population based on specific demographic factors to make your branding efforts as efficient and effective as possible. Efficient branding is the creation of a positive perception of values and characters represented by the brand name that complements your target demographic. This process involves researching, developing and implementing brand names, brand marks and trade characters. But the effort is well worth it!

Benefits of Branding:

– Effective branding enables the easy and quick identification of the company and product in a sea of competitors

– Branding creates loyalty

– Branding allows the establishment of premium pricing

– Branding guides the development of new products by defining a clear-cut frame work consisting of your company’s values

– Consistent and well-executed branding increases sales

The above experience must be communicated well. Effective and efficient communication is key to reap the benefits of branding.You need to craft the messages you would like to be received and send it out to your target audience.

The brand’s character and target population refers to a specific mix of communication channels.  Choosing sub-optimal channels wastes your valuable resources, because it is a delivery of the message to people who are not receptive. Additionally, choosing channels that create a derivation from the perception of the branding can have damaging effects on your brand and your sales, because your potential and real customers will have a harder time identifying themselves with your brand and ultimately you loose that brand loyalty every strives to achieve.  Brand loyalty is what allows your company to establishing premium pricing for your products, but that kind of pricing is difficult if your customer isn’t there to support this increased pricing.

To sum up, aligning branding and communications is a challenging long-term process, but it is well worth it.

https://www.boundless.com/marketing/textbooks/boundless-marketing-textbook/branding-and-packaging-10/branding-74/value-of-branding-371-611/

 http://www.economistgroup.com/leanback/channels/brand-marketing-vs-brand-communications/

5 Deadliest Sins of Marketing

We all want to make our mark in business, and to make sure our business gets noticed. But what makes a successful message, and what is really “too much”? One very notable publication addresses these issues; and here is our highlight of that article. INC. Magazine tells us there are 5 important “sins” that businesses can commit when attempting to get their message out there:

  • Vanity; don’t make the message all about you all the time. Engage your potential customers with issues that they may feel will directly affect them.
  • Authority; avoid just presenting your business as the authority on a subject or service. Make sure that your reach out to your potential customers on a more personal level. They need to feel a connection with your business, rather than just the facts.
  • Insincerity; Stray from making promises your business cannot keep at this time. Never “cry wolf”, or your respect and trust from your customers are quickly lost, and harder to regain.
  • Puffery; Is your message based on reality? Or is it just a bunch of fluff and hype to make your business look cool? Again, if you do not honestly present your business you will lose the trust and respect necessary to grow your business.
  • Finally Gimmickery; everyone enjoys a good laugh. Just remember that trying too hard to be funny could backfire. Try to avoid making every message contain a “gag” of some kind.

These are just a few highlights of a great message at: http://www.inc.com/minds-zetlin/5-deadliest-marketing-sins.html  we invite you to read more.