Spark Something in YOUR Marketing

Spark Something. Seriously. Ep.1: “So you do marketing??”

We help our clients create strong marketing elevator pitches. But, paring down marketing services into a 30 second elevator speech is not necessarily the best — or at least not the easiest — idea. Oh, don’t get us wrong — we have a number of elevator phrases our market understands like:

“Creative marketing for high-tech business.”

“You know tech, we know tech marketing”

“We turn ‘geek’ into ‘human-speak.’ “

And one that usually drives it home:

“What we do is not rocket science, but no rocket scientist can do it.”

But we are three key things as professional marketers. We are strategic, creative and comprehensive.

So, in the edict of the elevator pitch, we can clearly define strategic and creative marketing in a sentence or three.

  • Strategic marketing: Understand the nature of your product or service. Define who it serves and how the features of that product or service offer customers great gains or solve great pains. Identify, narrow and target those customers and get in front of those customers using memorable messages that appeal to them.
  • Creative marketing: Understanding the strategy above, add the magic of the right emotional appeal — via humor, passion, whimsy, love, anger and more — in a powerful, moving and memorable way across multiple channels.

So strategic and creative — easily understood.

It that “comprehensive” word that gets us into trouble! Because it’s the one that begets the question “But really, what do you do?” To which we can really only answer “it depends.”

It probably what gets you in trouble as an entrepreneur too when it comes to your marketing. It can be overwhelming to see all the things you COULD be doing! It’s much harder to determine what you SHOULD be doing.

So, over the next weeks, we’re launching “Spark Something, Seriously.” In this series we will be addressing the “comprehensive” pieces of our marketing so you better understand the vast options available to your company, and what to ask for from any marketing firm you choose to hire.

The articles will address:

Branding

Your brand is your identity to the world and, more than just a name and logo, has to answer in words and imagery:

  • Who you are?
  • What is your product or service?
  • Who do you serve?
  • What do they like, what do you like and where do those likes dovetail — that’s the brand sweet spot.

Content

Look, if we hear “content is king” one more time, we may scream too. But, in a world where we receive over 6,500 marketing messages a day, you must be a part of filling that pipeline with content. Your content tells:

  • What you’re about
  • What you believe
  • How you help your customers lives
  • Your acts of service and education to your market — a necessity in the new millennium
  • And lastly, your product’s features

Offline Marketing Channels

Offline channels are the stalwarts of effective marketing. They cover any message not received solely via a computer or mobile device (yes, there is some crossover) like:

Press Relations

  • News
  • Events
  • Pitching

Public Relations

  • Speakers, influencers and boards
  • Corporate social responsibility

Promotions

  • Advertising via non-digital means
  • Cool stuff and giveaways!

Tradeshows and events

  • Pre-show
  • Onsite
  • Post-show
  • Paid sponsorships
  • Booth draws
  • Speaking

Guerrilla

  • Outrageous, unexpected, stealth or often sneaky!
  • News-generating
  • Viral-generating

Digital Marketing Channels

These are the methods of marketing you create and deliver to your customer via computer or mobile device and include:

  • Influencer relations (bloggers, Instagrammers, Verified Twitter accounts)
  • Social media engagement with customers
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • SEO & digital advertising
  • Podcasting
  • Video content

These digital channels often feature messaging and creative elements that arise as you create your offline strategy. It’s important not to put the digital cart before the offline horse!

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Someone asked us if this blog series will replace “No F**ks left Fridays!”

Naaaah.

After all, we’re all about leaving it all on the floor, being outrageous and using sparky little ideas to have out of this world impact. So, forgive us this serious series. But we hope it helps you Spark Something. Seriously.
Till our next installment, happy marketing.

PR & Politics on No F***s Left Friday

In this highly charged U.S. political climate, we see many brands staying away from the PR & politics fray and many diving in.

 

So the question becomes: in PR & politics, do you tie your brand to a political side or not. Is there an advantage to choosing that outweighs the risk?

 

We are going so say a resounding “yes!” It is important that you pick a political side. We also believe that picking a political side has become more important not only because of the current political climate, but also due to the rise of millennial generation buying habits.

My company!PR & Politics is (now) good marketing

So why do we advocate this choice to pick a side? Because it dovetails with our belief that when you market to everyone, you market to no one. But also, because at the end of the day, if you own, run and value your business and its impact on the world, you have to live with yourself.

 

Luckily, the millennial generation has called companies who take a stand on social responsibility and political values to the attention of all age groups. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a much larger factor in buying choices since companies supported at first by millennials (Toms shoes being the quintessential example) have found outstanding success by embracing social marketing. Now you may say “Well, Toms is apolitical — who wouldn’t support sending a free pair of shoes to the needy.” But Toms is no exception to controversy.

 

Want to talk political choices? Then take a look at Penzey’s spices. Penzey’s has often taken a stance in politics, with stories supporting values they believe in and encouraging cooks to vote! But Penzey’s bold and repeated condemnation of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency solidified their position “bigly.” Penzey’s even posted a little about the immediate results. We’ve reached out to Bill Penzey for further comment, but their receptionist assured us that from HER seat, the call volume is way up. And they’ve gone on to support the women’s marches in ways that can only be called huuuuuuge.

 

So, what did controversy do for Toms and for Penzey’s? Controversy created a conversation. And as long as you have a well-thought out principle-based public relations strategy for managing controversy, you not only win the marketing game, but you get to stand on the principles and values of your company while you do so!

 

What about those who disagree with us?

One answer: f**k em. (Okay — the team won’t let me just leave it at that, ADK).

 

The longer explanation is the same one we tell you when building a brand. “If you market to everyone you market to no one!” And that in itself may seem an oversimplification. But it truly is that simple. You have a targeted audience and, believe it or not, it has leanings. And you should know what they are. And, if you are very lucky, they will be leaning the way your personal value system leans.

 

And yes, that works in B2B marketing. Selling new energy products? You know that there will be a clear uphill battle to move purchasers who love the GOP your way. Selling a cloud-connected two-ton fleet truck? You’re not going to convince a logistics guy wearing Birkenstocks who moves granola to even test drive it (unless he goes all Greenpeace on you and decides to run it into a wall — and by saying that, we are not advocating it, okay?).

 

So don’t worry about the sales (or lack of) to those who disagree. Stir the hell outta’ the pot of people who already believe the way you do — or that your company culture does. Your corporate values really should align with what your product does for the world anyway (if not, we fear for your soul and encourage you to seek a new job, start a new start up or find a home in a country where you can start a blog and live largely on a few hundred bucks a year).

 

Bottom line — there are plenty of customers in your pot, believe me. Don’t worry about those who don’t agree with your politics.

The strategy of the PR & Politics message

This is the place where all of your “but, but, buts…” can be asked about using PR & Politics. Choosing a political side doesn’t mean that you must pick “Hi, we’re XtraBotics Turbo Drones and we vote Right!” as your corporate tagline because well, first of all, it would really s*ck as a corporate tagline. But second, you don’t have to be in everyone’s face about your political leanings. What you have to do is decide when you’re going to not shy away from it.

 

There are a few places you do that. Think about your organizational values when you decide what charity your employees will support at Christmas, what fun run you all decide to participate in over the summer, any donations you may give for certain levels of sales or for referrals. And also, keep it in mind when you fill out your boards of directors, reach out to others for third party endorsements, even selecting your bloggers and influencer outreach partners. And, it probably goes without saying that social engagement is a place you can choose to showcase your political values — let us help you decide if you want to.

 

What’s that exception you mentioned?

We have many clients who are GSA certified and have to satisfy requirements to maintain their ability to compete effectively for federal contracts. You, dear clients, and any others who are currently selling exclusively to government are allowed to be an exception to PR & Politics, though we would say if your entire business development plan is about government contracts, you may want to ask us about your biz dev plans! But for that type of marketing, we know those rules and can help you out. But you are the exception (hey, kind cool being the exception, no?)

 

Putting our money where our mouth is: SparkLeftSparkLeft

So we have to say, we’re testing this PR & Politics theory ourselves. Partly because of passion. Partly because we truly believe that there are start-up technology firms that believe in the values that drive Spark Rocket Marketing’s love of technology. Those firms are concerned about job creation and really helpful training for job seekers in a world less dependent on blue-collar laborers. The firms we love believe that they can create jobs by developing not only new software tech, but also manufacturing products that will change how we use our home appliances, how we access doors, how we shore up crumbling infrastructure, how we save precious resources like water and clean air and how we move, heat and cool the world’s inhabitants.

 

We believe they will respect our choice to dive into PR & Politics with the launch of our new platform in support of a division of our company committed to creating winning messaging for liberal candidates. We also believe that we’re going to teach candidates to be more passionate about their messaging and reaching out to their base, just like we teach our tech clients to do! So we’re introducing Spark Rocket Marketing readers to “SparkLeft…a launchpad for liberal women.”

 

(P.S., We also believe that really smart companies like to be challenged by those who may not agree with them. Just because we lean left, doesn’t mean we can’t be incredibly valuable as a fresh messaging eye to those who disagree with our politics. And if they can’t, well I’m sure you know our thoughts on that…)

 

(P.P.S., No F***s Left Friday is our semi-regular series of in your face marketing posts. Because we believe marketing has to be a little in your face. We usually write them before we all head out for martinis — so come join us (check out other NFLF posts for other places we frequent) Because if we are going to claim to be audacious in what we do for our clients, we have to be audacious ourselves! You may not agree with us so we encourage respectful comments)

ROCKET-FUELED READ: Online is nothing without offline

We believe that in B2B marketing, elements of offline marketing like corporate social responsibility, speaking engagements, events, promotional items and even old-fashioned direct mail give your online campaigns depth, soul & dimension. We call it integrated marketing, meaning that each campaign we craft strategically taps the right mix of channels. We think offline and online , not just relying on digital!

We think this read from Clair Jones at Relevance, who says:

“In a perfect marketing world, online and offline marketing should work hand in hand, each driving traffic to the other symbiotically.”

does a great job showcasing campaigns from companies who garner specific benefits using offline marketing tactics. We couldn’t have said it better, so we won’t try!

Enjoy!

 

ROCKET-FUELED READ OF THE WEEK!

We like the following post from Heidi Cohen. We’re planning a future post to help technology business builders by providing our view on the differences between marketing, marketing communications and the many marketing sub-categories. We think it can be incredibly challenging to know the difference when your day-to-day revolves around inventing and building advanced technologies. But if building your advanced technology into a viable business is important, you’re going to want a foundation in the terms so you can best select the marketing resources and activities–like content marketing, branding, promotions and public relations–that you need!

We think this article is a pretty good pre-tutorial to that, so it’s our Rocket-Fueled Read of the Week! Thanks Heidi!

What Marketing Is NOT – Heidi Cohen

My recent post of marketing definitions with contributions from seventy-two different sources generated a lo . . .http://heidicohen.com/what-marketing-is-not/

Copyright © 2015 by Heidi Cohen, some rights reserved.