Two Faces for Facebook? How we Solved a Client’s Facebook Dilemma

When is it appropriate to show multiple brand personalities in social media? Learn more about Facebook branding strategy below.

A client had an interesting Facebook branding strategy question. Their events management business, based at a beautiful, unique location, hosts all kinds of events, from weddings to corporate meetings. They wanted our advice on one of two options. Should they create one Facebook page to build the brand? Or two separate pages which might not be as brand-centric, but would better serve the target audiences?

Opinions from digital marketing and brand marketing professionals varied. They generally had an immediate response, as though the answer were obvious, but their answers differed. Some said it should be one page, others said two.

The one-page argument pointed out that it puts everything in one place, is easier to manage for a team with limited time and budget to keep the page updated, and it would be easier to ensure optimal SEO. All practical considerations, especially for a small business. They also pointed out that with two pages, people might pigeonhole them as only a wedding venue, or only a business events venue. Viewers would miss the complete story.

The two-page advocates admitted that it added management complications and would demand additional, precious man-hours to keep the content fresh. That’s especially challenging in a small business where people already wear multiple hats. They weren’t as concerned that people would only get half of the brand offerings if they only saw one page. They pointed out that, for the ideal Facebook branding strategy, each page should reference the other.

Back to fundamentals: know your audience and speak their language.

The more complicated marketing gets, the more important it is to practice the fundamentals. In this case, that meant putting the target audiences first, and asking, “What’s important to our clients?”

An excited bride-to-be, searching for her dream wedding location, is not going to be inspired by a Facebook page that shows updates with pictures of pinstripe suited executives. Likewise, a business meeting planner will not be comfortable recommending a potential location to his boss if it looks like bridal bouquets will be flying through the air. Because these target audiences are so different, they demand a dedicated page for each segment.

Yes, this means more staff time invested in social media. But here’s the thing with social: it’s, well, social. Social settings demand certain appearances and behaviors. Most of us behave differently in an important business meeting than we do for a Saturday evening cookout. Likewise, companies participating in social media, especially a personal channel like Facebook (as opposed to a professional channel like LinkedIn), need to consider the situation and participate accordingly.

The best Facebook branding strategy: just as in real life, be socially appropriate for the situation.

Like real life, there is no perfect answer. Weigh your options, make a decision, and then monitor and measure. Remember, too, that you can always change it and try a different way. The beauty of online content is that you can test different tactics to learn what works best. You can discover the best Facebook branding strategy through simple trial-and-error.

Red Letter Marketing is a marketing agency based in Greensboro, N.C., specializing in web development, design, branding strategy, and more. 

Business Tip: Prepare for the Holidays in Summer

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Christmas in July”, a phrase used loosely to describe summer indulgences. It holds an actual function for countries in the Southern hemisphere, whose seasons are reversed. And though we find ourselves on the top half of the planet, we are thinking about the holidays even in the 90+ degree heat. A business tip we always follow: prepare for the holidays in the summer.

Business tip: A little planning now makes you smarter in December.

At Red Letter Marketing, we start holding meetings and discussing our holiday plans six months ahead of time, and we recommend you do the same. Ideally, it gets you ahead of the game—no competing for holiday resources, no employees out who are necessary to complete projects, no last minute dashes for this or that. It also simply keeps you on track, so your entire team can be less stressed out.

Starting early leaves more time for creativity.

Our recommendation comes out of experience. In the early days of our company, we scrambled. That’s not to say things don’t still get hectic, but it helps greatly when you know in what direction to panic. Brainstorming for ideas in July means they’ll be solidified by summer’s end. Then you’ve got fall for execution, when nearly all employees are in the office. Since holiday projects come secondary to actual client work, it’s good to have these projects in queue for when employees have downtime, or simply need to work on something different for a bit. You’ll be surprised how much cooking gets done on the back-burner.

It doesn’t matter what your line of work may be. Marketing or otherwise, you’re likely responsible to clients, partners, friends, or supporters of some kind. Show them your organizational prowess. Plan ahead.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

This business tip is brought to you by Red Letter Marketing. 

Do we ever say no to clients? Yes. Here’s why.

Is the client always right? Well…no. Here’s how to spot when a client is going against their own best interests, and how to say no (politely). 

How to say no to a client? And when is it appropriate to do so? Sometimes, it isn’t appropriate. For instance, consider this scenario.

Client: Shouldn’t the email blast have our logo in it somewhere?

Designer: Your logo is in it. Down there in the corner. Get closer to the screen.

Client: I guess I see it. Could we maybe . . . embiggen it a smidgen?

Designer: No. Next question.

Maybe it’s never happened exactly like that but, most of us in marketing have witnessed exchanges along those lines. The designer in that scenario has taken her advisor role to its extreme, where advice has transmogrified into unyielding command.

We don’t do that here. (If you don’t believe me, here’s what you should do: Become our client. Then you’ll see. I stand ready to receive your call at 336-676-6822.) Sometimes it’s important to learn how to say no.

We don’t like to take the money and run.

But we do say “no” sometimes. And when I tell you about a recent example, your first reaction might be something like “What kind of naïve imbecile would do that?”

There are times when I am a naïve imbecile, but this was not one of those times. What happened was, a client called and said “I’ve got some money here, and I’d like to give it to you folks. Please take it and use it to redesign our sales kit.”

So yeah, here’s the part where you go “Did you really say no to that?” And then your next question is “Can I have the phone number of that client please?” (Now I’m saying “No” to you.)

Of course there is more to the story. I didn’t just decline the funds and wish my client a good day. I reviewed her sales kit and agreed that it could stand some grooming. However, I knew that the basket of money she was waving in my face was all she had in her marketing budget for the rest of the fiscal year. Some serious prioritization was in order.

Good clients appreciate honesty.

Now, this client wasn’t asking me for financial advice. She wanted design advice. So I was indeed risking a scenario in which she picked up her basket of money and stormed out.

It was a risk worth taking. In our experience, good clients welcome all kinds of advice, even when it is counter to their original request. In a job long ago, in a galaxy far away, I had a client who had built an astonishingly successful logistics company. He was a really smart guy—smart enough to welcome challenges. I once attended a meeting in his company’s stately conference room; also in attendance was my trusted account director, Mamie. At a certain point in the meeting, the client held up an ad he had torn out of a magazine. It featured a scantily clad model draped over an outboard engine. My client asked “Why aren’t we doing stuff like this?”

The room got very quiet.

I blurted, “Because that would be the stupidest thing you could possibly do.”

The client smiled. He still liked the scantily clad model, but he liked frank advice even more. (Mamie and I expanded on that first comment, and the client saw our reasoning.)

How to say no: All’s well that ends well

Okay, back to my client with the request for a sales kit redesign. When I put the brakes on that idea, she was disappointed. She even kind of whined and begged a bit. (She was half-joking.) But when I told her that there were better uses for her remaining budget—uses more likely to trigger sales—she graciously accepted my advice.

Maybe we’ll get to redesigning the sales kit next year. Meanwhile, our client knows that if we always said “yes” to her suggestions, it would only feel good for a while. The occasional “no” may be briefly annoying, but it can be more rewarding for the client in the long run. Learning how to say no can help your client and your agency.

Remixing the Marketing Mix: Moving Beyond the 4 Ps of Marketing

The classic marketing mix is referred to as the 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. It originated in 1960, and over time marketers added additional P’s, like Packaging, People, and so on. I once worked for a corporation that used 10 P’s. (No, I can’t recite them). Whatever the number, the point was to use them as a tool to plan for successful product development, and the right placement and offerings in the marketplace. However, the evolution of marketing calls into question whether the 4 Ps of Marketing are still effective guidelines.

The 4 Ps of marketing model has evolved, as marketing has moved from a push model to a pull model.

It’s not easy to comprehend how much the world has changed since the 4 Ps of Marketing was introduced in 1960. That was the era of a push economy. Manufacturers made things, pushed them into the marketplace, and told consumers what to buy. In the digital age, that model has flipped. Consumers have the power, and they tell companies what they want (and when and where they want it). It’s true of B2B and B2C alike.

As a result, the movement evolved from the 4 Ps of marketing to the 4 Cs (shown below). Then in 2005, Chekitan Dev and Don Schultz introduced an interesting model called SIVA. That is: Solutions, Information, Value, and Access. SIVA more accurately reflects the customer-focused strategy that’s required in today’s marketplace.

SIVA

“SIVA supports and builds on the true marketing concept—finding customer needs, wants, or desires and fulfilling them at a profit to the marketing organization.”

-Chekitan Dev and Don Schultz, Marketing Management, 2005

When consulting with our clients on their brand strategy and marketing strategies, I’ve found the SIVA model to be a useful tool. It’s important to always be present for customers, and to meet on their terms. The SIVA model helps provide the discipline and structure to do that, whether working to define the brand position, planning an ecommerce site, or crafting an elevator pitch. It reminds us that marketing exists to help find, convert, and keep customers, and we must never stop seeking to understand how we can better connect with them.

(This doesn’t mean we have to throw out the 4 Ps altogether. They’re still useful for internal management, because all that customer focus doesn’t negate the need to manage a business with discipline to ensure profitability.)

If you aren’t familiar with SIVA, play with it as you plan your next marketing project.

Instead of telling customers what service or product you provide, ask yourselves and your team, “What solution are we really delivering?” I know a company that sells foam balls for industrial cleaning purposes, like the insides of boom pipes that are used to pour concrete in construction work. The customers could care less that this company has foam balls. What they care about is not causing downtime due to pipes full of dried concrete. That shift in focus makes all the difference.

Those same customers look for Value—what product will do the best job, and at what price. In fact, they chat about it on web forums, where they trade information and seek education. Companies that help them find Solutions, Information, Value, and Access (often in the form of education) will gain their favor.

Need help adding some SIVA power to your marketing? We’re just the folks to help.

Is a Short-Sighted Marketing Strategy Limiting Your Business?

The most popular definition of marketing, according to a quick Google search, is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

This definition, while practical, covers a common, but short-sighted perception of the role of marketing. By this description, companies make a product or service, and it’s the job of the marketing department to advertise and support sales efforts. But mine deeper, and you’ll discover a larger, more powerful vision–a marketing strategy that can truly help your business.

True marketing is the discipline of discovering, creating, and delivering value.

Phillip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A formally trained economist, Kotler is internationally recognized as the world’s leading expert on marketing strategy. Here is how he defines marketing:

  • “The the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.”
  • “The art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customers become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”

In short, one must understand customers’ needs, then ascertain the best way to deliver them value. Kotler believes marketing to be both science and art. Science, in the form of research, delivers the critical information necessary to shape marketing strategy. But information without insight is impotent. It must be translated into authentic connections that touch and resonate with people.

It’s the discipline that drives all other functions of business.

A great (and still relevant) giant in business management was Peter Drucker. He stated,

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Marketing, then, must lead and drive all other business activity. Here’s an example.

One of our clients is a century-old company that had enjoyed success with a traditional, push-driven manufacturing model. They made cabinets on a mass scale, then sent sales people out to sell them to builders. This was good work until imports drove basic builder products into a price point game, radically changing the marketplace. Rather than continue their manufacturing-driven business model—which would almost certainly result in the demise of the business—they took a courageous initiative to change, and adopted a marketing-driven business model.

They listened to their customers as never before. Then, they studied the marketplace and identified ways to create value that would put them in a long-term, sustainable position for success. They redesigned the product planning and manufacturing processes in order to deliver on said value. Finally, they focused on using a marketing model to drive business planning and production. Now, as it goes into its 110th year, the company is bursting with renewed energy and stability. The future looks bright.

Use marketing strategy to position your business for success.

Companies that implement a marketing-driven business model can establish competitive advantages that build long term success. By constantly seeking new ways to deliver value, they are able to innovate and align their resources appropriately. Those who treat marketing as a tactical activity, simply to feed the sales pipeline, miss out on the area’s long term power. When rapid changes occur in the marketplace, they struggle to adapt.

Remember the Drucker quote: “marketing and innovation.” Follow the true meanings of these words, and remain malleable to success.

Interested in learning more about marketing strategy and how it can drive greater success for your business? We love to talk!