Why Brands Need to Choose Their Words Carefully…and Empathetically

Shawn Maher

Why Brands Need to Choose Their Words Carefully…and Empathetically

The world is changing in many ways. How we communicate is maybe one of the biggest changes we’ve seen. Not only the channels of communication, but also through drastic shifts in the tone and content of what we say and how we say it.

In turn, copywriters have to adapt, as well. That means being more empathetic than ever.

Of course, empathy has always been perhaps the most important tool in a copywriter’s arsenal. They have to take on the brand’s tone in a pitch-perfect manner, understand the problems of the audience with whom they are communicating and find a way to communicate the brand’s promise without activating the gag reflex so many consumers have when they encounter a sales pitch being shoved down their throats.

You’ve heard us talk a lot about Return on Empathy™ for brands. But personally, ROE has been a very important north star when it comes to writing copy at Geile/Leon. Today, we’re going to talk about how that is translated into the creative process and executions.

First of all, fear no longer works. Consumers are smarter than ever, and trying to motivate with fear will do more harm than good. They can seek out reviews, product specs and influencer opinions to find all the nitty gritty details that they need.

You have to act as a sales docent, leading them to the top of the mountain where the solution lies. You know what they need; all it takes is leading them to the correct path and solving their problem together.

Next, storytelling is a large part of that journey. Decisions are not made simply on logic alone. A huge dose of empathy, relatability and personality should be present throughout. You can use your story to explain how the brand empathizes with their pain and why it is so driven to solve that problem better than anyone else. For example, half the fun of a Southwest flight is the injection of the flight crew’s personality into your journey.

Finally, you not only must tell a compelling story, but it has to be communicated clearly and concisely. Don’t make your customers wade through the details, bogging them down with information that isn’t relevant or interesting to the customer. Especially in campaigns focused on generating awareness, you want to pique interest first and foremost.

Speaking of which, always keep in mind where you are on the sales funnel. When you’re in the conversion stage, you’re about to take the final step in your journey with the consumer. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It should the exciting conclusion to the story, so don’t peter out with some boring or inauthentic copy when the finish line is in sight. Make sure you finish with a flourish!

Just like every person has a story, so does every brand and every product. But it’s not enough to simply tell it. You have to make it interesting, but also relatable. Or else it’s just someone telling you about a dream that’s only interesting to the person who had it. Empathic marketing is all about telling a story where your customer is the protagonist, not your brand. That’s how you make connections that don’t just sell a product, but instead provide a solution in a way that lets the customer be in charge.

If you think your brand could use a healthy infusion of empathy (and what brand doesn’t?), then get in touch. Let’s talk. We love to talk about empathy, but what we really enjoy is listening to our clients’ stories and helping them tell them.

Has TikTok Become a Sneaky Opportunity for Online Video Marketing?

Shawn Maher

Has TikTok Become a Sneaky Opportunity for Online Video Marketing?

When we talk about online video content, we often discuss the importance of picking the right channel. Often, our clients ask about YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But what about TikTok? 

Before you dismiss it as a channel for teeny boppers without disposable income, let’s talk it out. It turns out that TikTok is a more attractive avenue for branded video content than many realize. 

Not only did a recent survey show that 30% of respondents said it was their favorite social media platform, surpassing Instagram, but it also has seen huge growth, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. And even though the platform does skew younger (although usage amongst adults 35-54 tripled during 2020), the overwhelming majority (41%) of users have household incomes of $100,000 or more. Second highest income bracket? $75,000 to $100,000. 

Of course, the third highest income bracket is less than $25,000, which illustrates the importance of fostering a deep understanding of your target audience and also what you hope to accomplish with your video content marketing. This is also important if you’re looking to buy real TikTok followers, as you’ll need to understand what you’re working with and who will need to be targeted directly to make your boost worthwhile.

So, like anything, it boils down to knowing your audience, understanding your objectives and knowing at what point on the funnel your campaign is intended. It’s one thing to create a fun video. It’s another thing to do it with a purpose and to Make It Mean Something. And that’s where we come in. 

We have three decades of experience of staying ahead of trends, understanding how they fit within a plan and basing everything upon a foundation of tried-and-true marketing fundamentals. Get in touch to see what type of online video campaign would work for your brand’s needs. 

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Shawn Maher

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Over the recent months, we have read a lot about how the labor market is in an unprecedented state of transition. While many jobs that were eliminated have returned, we have also seen many jobs, often those with poor pay and minimal benefits, remained unfilled. At the same time, skilled labor is seeing much of its workforce head to retirement as the Baby Boomer generation reaches their golden years. With that in mind, now is the perfect time for skilled labor fields like welding, machining, HVAC/R, construction, roofing and plumbing to take advantage of disillusioned service industry workers who wish to begin a real career with a brighter future. 

How can tool manufacturers help with the skilled labor shortage? 

Throughout these skilled labor industries, employers would like to see these jobs filled immediately. There’s no doubt that this is important since there is always important work that needs to get done. However, now is the perfect time to resort to more creative measures. Sure, finding experienced workers is ideal. But there is a great opportunity for contractors to fill the help they need, including non-skilled workers, while still maintaining the quality craftsmanship that their customers demand. 

Of course, tool manufacturers depend on these contractors, as well. Without workers, there is nobody to use their tools! So, let’s discuss three ways that these tool manufacturers could do to help grow the workforce in these industries that they support. 

Make tools easier to use 

In a recent article entitled Tools Tackle the Labor Shortage, Supply House Times provides several examples of manufacturers developing tools that have a lower barrier to entry for use by making them more intuitive for a less-skilled laborer. In this article, DEWALT Product Manager Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez explains, “This has provided an opportunity for innovation to come in and make these workers who are working more efficient.” 

Marketers can support these efforts by gaining an in-depth understanding of customers and keeping an open dialogue with sales teams, who spend so much time with customers that they gain a wealth of knowledge of their needs and pain points. This was the case when Geile/Leon helped Parker Hannifin launch a new product that reduced the time that HVAC/R contractors spent joining pipes by simplifying the process. Brazing pipe is a learned skill that can take many, many hours to master. But with ZoomLock, employees with minimal experience in the field can confidently join pipes together, and the skilled workers could do it faster than they ever could before. 

Curious as to how we did it? Then check out our case study here: https://geileon.com/work/sporlan-zoomlock/

Support trade school education

Thanks to the efforts of Mike Rowe, along with many companies and individuals in a variety of industries, in promoting skilled trades as a logical alternative to a four-year college degree, trade schools are steadily gaining in popularity. This is a very promising trend for companies who wish to see a larger pool of skilled labor, but there is even more potential for growth. 

Manufacturers should support these schools and take advantage of this momentum. There are many groups that help collectivize and maximize these efforts, like SkillsUSA. In addition, they could donate tools and funds to these schools. Not only will it lead to a future with a wealth of skilled employees, it will also foster brand loyalty from day one as these future employees will enjoy hands-on instruction with your products and come to recognize them as a trusted industry standard. 

Our client, Harris Products Group, is one of those future-focused companies who supports high school trade classes. In fact, they had their efforts recognized recently in a news story. We’d highly encourage you to check out this inspirational story and see how they have brightened the future of Grayson County students who are learning brazing and soldering skill training. 

Work to diversify your industry’s workforce

The Associated General Contractors of America’s Culture of Care program launched last year and is doing great work in attracting a large pool of skilled tradespeople. With an expected 10-million-person labor shortage by 2023, according to the nonprofit Bridging America’s Gap, now is a perfect time to seize an opportunity to invest in recruiting and training people of all backgrounds. Not only will this provide an opportunity those in marginalized populations who have an immense amount of talent, but it will also create a workforce that is stronger due to its inclusive nature. 

We think another really great example can be found right here from our client, Clayco, a St. Louis- and Chicago-based commercial construction firm. You can see how we helped them to brand and promote their Clayco Rising diversity and inclusion program, breaking through barriers of income, race, sexual orientation and gender. The tagline, “Clayco Rising, People Above All Else,” is a clear indication of their dedication to leading the industry to bring positive change from top to bottom, not only internally but also in their contractors and strategic partnership. 

Actions speak louder than words

Manufacturers and the industry groups that they belong to can be the catalyst that ends the current labor shortage, but that means thinking beyond traditional methodologies and recruitment strategies. When we invite everyone to participate, we not only help those who deserve an opportunity, we help our companies by unlocking potential that could have remained untapped and by creating an inclusive company culture that is a boost to morale across the board. Opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air. Those who create them are the visionaries who rise to the top of their industry. 

Ideas require action, however, and a strategic marketing partner can help you maximize these campaigns. We have a great deal of experience and success in finding unique and inclusive solutions for employee recruitment. Let’s talk about what we can do for you. Get in touch now and let’s get started!

Key Takeaways from a Year of Online Product Launches

Shawn Maher

Key Takeaways from a Year of Online Product Launches

There’s something about a really well-executed product launch event that captures our attention and our imaginations. When it really clicks, the anticipation among consumers is electric. But during the pandemic this past year, packing a giant event space full of people for a product launch simply wasn’t an option. 

Of course, necessity is the mother of invention. And if there’s anything that marketing professionals can do, it’s to use necessity to invent really, really amazing solutions. So, here’s what we learned in this past year as the product launch was reinvented.

Invest in the Building the Anticipation Before the Launch

With all the tools we have at our disposal, a well-coordinated campaign leading up to a product launch can be a well-oiled machine. And the very best are well-oiled machines with lots of horsepower. 

Use your social media platforms, mailing lists, influencers and traditional media in conjunction to unleash this power. Cleverly unveiling clues or tidbits of information not only builds anticipation for the event, but it also gets people talking. Just ask anyone who binge watched a crime show during quarantine: we all love to solve the puzzle as we watch the plot unfold.

Use Your Platforms to Make the Event Interactive

Wherever your video is streaming, your brand can engage people in ways that would never be possible at a traditional product launch. Whether it’s answering questions or just socializing, the chat section is a great place to hang out. Think of it as an opportunity to round up a few thousand of your favorite customers to kick back with them and talk shop. 

This is your chance to engage on a personal level than you could previously, fostering the type of relationship that breeds a deep customer loyalty. Just make sure to keep the conversation natural and organic. You’re making friends with your customers, not selling them a new set of steak knives.

Continue Building Engagement After the Event Ends

Your event is over and it was a huge success. You’ve built a ton of momentum, so don’t just walk away. Ride the wave! Sure, you’ve introduced your product, but today’s consumer seeks more information than ever. And what better place to get it from than you? Start digging into the features, demonstrating different uses and telling everyone where to buy it. 

Basically, use this huge level of engagement to make sure your customers have a deep understanding of your product’s selling points as well as the tools to ensure successful adoption and long-term satisfaction.

Let’s Make Your Next Launch Astronomical

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all as excited as you are to get back to the world with events that have crowds and excitement. But for marketers, this isn’t just turning lemons into lemonade. It could be turning lemons into a lemonade factory. 

However, you’ll need a strong brand and a coordinated campaign that works cohesively through every execution and touchpoint. As a full-service agency with over three decades of experience, Geile/Leon is your perfect partner for your next product launch. Get in touch and let’s get planning!

How Universities Can Make Online Grad School Exciting

Shawn Maher

How Universities Can Make Online Grad School Exciting

Many of us remember college fondly, but not necessarily for the time we spent in the classroom. The overall college experience is a big part of education marketing: the campus, clubs, sporting events, networking and more. But like anything else, many universities are finding ways to successfully adapt to the (all together now) new normal and find new ways to make the graduate school experience attractive to students.

Due to the sudden shift required as the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, many colleges were unprepared, leaving a poor perception of online education, especially from prestigious institutions that have set a high standard. However, many of these universities have been working hard to reimagine their online education experience with resources to rival their in-person offerings as they experience an average of 4% drop in enrollment.

So how do they communicate it to these skeptical students? Especially during a crucial moment when so many are considering this as an opportunity to further their education with an advanced degree.

An optimistic sign for higher education is that studies have shown no empirical evidence as to any decline in the quality of applicants. Additionally, some anecdotal evidence has demonstrated an even greater diversity in applicants.

By coordinating efforts between faculty, staff and marketing teams, universities have a chance to reach students they may not have been able to before. Colleges can not only diversify their student base, but also allow opportunities for students who are well-suited to the university’s unique offerings to flourish. And with a robust online learning program, it is an opportunity that these potential students many may not have been able to take advantage of.

However, unlike a baseball field in the Iowa cornfields, if you build a great online graduate program, that does not mean that they will come. A strong marketing communications plan is essential to getting these opportunities in front of potential students who are seeking it. We understand how to tap into this potential with our years of education experience and are well- positioned to help you take full advantage of these new opportunities. Get in touch now to get started on your plan.

Building Brand Loyalty with Construction Marketing

Shawn Maher

Building Brand Loyalty with Construction Marketing

For those in the construction industry, trust is important. From the big-picture view, it is essential to create trust in the performance of your products and your work. There aren’t many other industries where a job well done – one that is sure to last – is more important to the safety and well-being of their customers. 

Whether it’s a new line of tools or a new piece of equipment, many builders often find a brand that they trust and stick with it. When planning a new construction job, it is reassuring to know that you can trust a product’s performance. Construction jobs can be unpredictable enough, and so the peace of mind of being able to trust a brand is invaluable.

However, a recent study by Builder showed some interesting results. While it did illustrate the loyalty that many feel to brands, it also discovered that more than 65% of builders are open to trying new products and brands in their projects. 

It may seem a bit contradictory, but this is an industry that has seen quite a bit of innovation over time, leading to evolving thinking. This is a great opportunity for marketing your new service lines or building your brand – your marketing can convince them to give you a chance, while your stellar performance can keep them coming back for years and years. 

Of course, you have to get your foot in the door first and foremost, and that’s where a marketing and communications agency with proven experience in the industry can help. G/L has worked with the brands that build America’s landscapes, the ones that are trusted to create the infrastructure of the communities in which we work and live. 

Get in touch with us to see how our experience in construction marketing can help you take advantage of all the opportunities to build brand loyalty.

Now’s the time to rebuild your construction marketing efforts

Shawn Maher

Now’s the time to rebuild your construction marketing efforts


During the pandemic and all the social distancing that has come with it, many industries have been affected. However, the construction industry is particularly interesting. Not only for the boots on the ground, but because so much of the marketing efforts in the industry are people oriented.

Looking for new clients or even new vendors? Many industry professionals rely upon in-person meetings, drop-ins, industry shows and networking their tool belts off. Just thinking about it, so much of the construction industry is coordinating people and building as many relationships as actual structures, if not more.

So does this mean those in the construction industry should put an end to their marketing efforts? The answer is a simple no. In fact, now is the perfect time to lean heavily on marketing and communications expertise. And here’s why.

Marketing isn’t just about trotting out the same solution no matter what. Even if that’s what some may do. Marketing is about ideas. It’s about creativity. Problem solving. Coming up with new ideas for new problems that have never been encountered. Now is EXACTLY the type of situation where these creative solutions are needed the most.

There are answers out there. Maybe it’s time to increase your digital presence…or even create one. Blow the dust off those social media channels and not only create an engaging and informative content calendar, but also truly engage with both your existing audience and potential new leads with thought leadership. Build a website that creates value. Launch a campaign that promotes your pandemic safety measures and demonstrate exactly why your company is the right choice during these times.

Maybe even take this opportunity to rethink your brand from the ground up.

The people you want to reach are undoubtedly out there. And you can reach them. We know how to do it with proven experience in both the construction industry and the new and ever-changing landscape of marketing. Get in touch. There’s no one answer for any problem, but that’s what makes finding the perfect solution for your unique needs so exciting.

Why Brand Strategy is in Such High Demand

Shawn Maher

Why Brand Strategy is in Such High Demand

If you know G/L, you know we’ve always talked about the importance of brand strategy. It’s been central to our 30+ years. It’s why we created Distilled Thinking, our 5-step comprehensive brand discovery and development process. However, CMOs throughout the industry are realizing the importance of brand strategy as defining who they are as a brand has become more important than ever during this past year.

In a recent Gartner survey of 400 CMOs and senior marketers, a strong majority said that brand strategy was the most important factor to their success over the next 18 months. While we’ve seen the same thing, it is great to see some data to back it up since we believe so strongly in its importance. That’s why we have been creating insightful and actionable brand strategies for so long. It’s at the core of any successful marketing and communications plan.

After reviewing the Marketing Week article, of course we had no choice but to dive into the analysis. It presented three steps that brands should take to reexamine their strategy, and those three we felt were interesting thought starters.

Define Your Target

First, look before you leap. It is important to really think about how your customers see you, how the market sees you, what your strengths and weaknesses are. Sure, we all know SWOT analysis. But when’s the last time you’ve given it more than just lip service?

Decide What You Want to Stand For

Next, brand strategy is as much about what you will NOT do as what you will. You have to be deliberate with your choices as a brand. You can’t be everything to everyone. Many brands do try to use this shotgun strategy, only to dilute their brand and confuse the market as to what they are or what they stand for. Define your course and keep your focus narrow.

Define Your Strategy, then your Tactics

Finally, and this is one we hear around our office all the time, define your strategy before your tactics. Execution is not a strategy. Media buys are not a strategy. Social media posts are not a strategy. These tactics will reflect your strategy, but brands must pull back and see the forest before the trees. Or realizing the horse goes before the cart. Whatever saying you prefer, by creating your strategy first, your tactics will be more focused and much, much stronger, because they will be working together and supporting each other, not to mention speaking with one, singular voice.

Your brand is important. In the end, it is your single most important asset. So it is time to treat it as such, not just as an afterthought. That is why we would like to discuss what our three decades of brand strategy can do for yours. Get in touch, and let’s talk branding.

What Will the New Normal REALLY Look Like?

Shawn Maher

What Will the New Normal REALLY Look Like?

It seems like every time you blink, the world has changed. During the pandemic, consumer behavior has evolved more rapidly than maybe any other time in history. But is the world we live in now actually the new normal?

Recently, Dentsu Aegis Network performed a survey of CMOs in the US regarding their preparedness for the upcoming 6-12 months. One of the results that really stuck out to us was that the top challenge that they faced was determining whether changes in consumer behavior were temporary or were going to become permanent for the foreseeable future. 

Which is to say, it can be difficult to prepare for the unknown. But things are not as hopeless as they seem. Not at all. Especially for those who use empathy marketing by listening to customers and acting responsively to their needs instead of attempting to dictate the conversation. 

That is why we are so adamant that Return on Empathy™ is a metric that is not only important during the pandemic, but also for the foreseeable future. Any brand that demonstrates active listening and uses marketing communication that reflects what their customers truly are seeking, even – and especially – as the market evolves over time, will earn brand loyalty that will be unrivaled in the marketplace.

In many aspects of our lives, 2020 has been a pretty dismal year. But yet, as the year as progressed, we have discovered how essential empathy is to any brand’s marketing efforts and have seen great success employing it in a wide variety of industries. 

If you think your marketing efforts could use a dose of empathy (and we truly believe that any brand will benefit from empathy marketing), reach out and let us discuss how your brand and your customers can benefit from benefit by putting their customers’ needs at front and center. 

The Unexpected Ways Video Consumption Has Changed During the Pandemic

Shawn Maher

The Unexpected Ways Video Consumption Has Changed During the Pandemic

We know that you’ve probably heard about the death of television many times over the years, but the statistics actually show video consumption is rising. Especially during the pandemic when we’re all stuck at home.

Well, it appears that it’s not just people flipping on the boob tube, but instead consuming more and more video content than ever from smartphones, computer, TV and any other video streaming service they can get their hands on.

Recently, Marketing Charts analyzed television viewing habits by demographic using year-to-date data from 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019. Remember 2019? When we could go anywhere in the world and do anything? With all that freedom, you’d think we’d be watching way less TV. But that’s simply not the case.

The study found that television viewership (both live and time-shifted) for people aged 18-34 traditional television viewership (both live and time-shifted) declined by 15.3% year-to-year. Not only that, these consumers spend almost three times using apps and on the web on JUST their smartphones. That doesn’t even include laptops or other connected devices.

In fact, only 71% of that age bracket watches traditional TV, period. Those who do on average watch just short of two hours per day. That’s down 15 minutes from the previous year.

Overall, time watching TV declined across all demographics in 2020 compared to 2019. But as the demographic age increases, there is less and less of a decrease in viewing time. In the 65+ age group, television viewing is still holding fairly steady year-to-year. To target the older generation, advertisers can make use of such data to analyze the TV identity of consumers and optimize their campaigns accordingly. Companies like Samba TV can provide an identity graph that is said to be 90%+ accurate with identifying digital devices to a household, making marketing content more relatable to the audience.

On the other hand, the average adult watches 5 hours and 56 minutes of video total. Easy math shows us that the majority of video consumed is streaming online through apps and streaming services. That’s up to 10 minutes year-on-year due to an increase in streaming on connected TVs, computers and devices. This has become a lot easier with the pairing of the different electronic devices (like the ones VIZIO manufactures) with virtual voice controlled assistants like Google and Amazon Alexa.

And that makes it pretty easy to draw a conclusion here. If you don’t have an online video content strategy, then you aren’t reaching a huge swath of customers, especially those whose brand loyalty could last for decades into the future. Not to mention the advantages of improved and more robust targeting that allows brands to put the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

It may seem like a lot to take on, but with our in-house online video content production arm, G/L Content Studios, we work nimbly and draw from our decades of experience in marketing communications to make sure you aren’t just making online videos, but you’re Making It Mean Something. Get in touch and we can find a video content strategy made for your unique brand and your unique needs.