Trending from G/L: Modern Family gets smart with REALTORS brand integration

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Modern Family gets smart with REALTORS brand integration

With the value of paid advertising on traditional platforms continuing to decrease, opportunities for brands to find new ways to reach their target are becoming commonplace. One of the big trends over the past year has been the rise of sponsored content and native advertising. Integrating your brand into the content of a media form as the role of digital media has evolved will most certainly continue to rise.

In both news and entertainment programming, brand-crafted messaging is now commonplace. But doing it well isn’t as simple as just creating an ad. It requires the brand itself and the content vehicle working together towards seamless integration. It requires the brand to relinquish control and allow a different set of decision-makers to take the reigns.

A recent integration on the ABC smash hit Modern Family was relatively subtle, but in a good way. The National Association of REALTORS® partnered with the show’s writers to craft the episode’s messaging, and did so without compromising the show’s entertainment value. You can view a clip from the episode here.

While the clip is a minute long, the REALTORS brand doesn’t get mentioned until the very end, and even in doing so, it’s essentially mocked by Sofia Vergara’s Modern Family character. Those are the kind of moments that internal marketing managers have traditionally been horrified of, but it works due to the connection with one of the show’s main protagonists:

With Dunphy, portrayed by actor Ty Burrell, the group sensed an opportunity: a main character on one of television’s most popular comedies who sells real estate.

“He’s now one of America’s best-loved Realtors,” said Elizabeth Mendenhall, incoming president of the association.

As Adweek points out, brand integrations aren’t a new thing, but since this one didn’t focus on a consumer product in particular and more on an organization, it definitely stood out:

“Phil Dunphy is a Realtor—he was written that way by the show’s creators,” which makes the integration seem natural, said Sean McBride, executive vice president, executive creative director at Arnold. “And the amazing character they’ve developed already embodies many of the attributes that are important in a Realtor: He’s honest, he’s helpful, he’s sincere.”

The Modern Family actor himself had this to add:

“I’ve always admired a company that allows themselves to be seen in an imperfect light or allows themselves to be poked fun at,” he said. “That’s the strongest play.”

Overall, well done. One of the big fears about sponsored content is that it will interfere with the programming and it seems like that was avoided here.

Have any questions about helping your brand stand out? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to chat.

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Winning Habits of B2B Brands

The Blog

Dave Geile
Creative Director Managing Partner

Winning Habits of B2B Brands

In B2B it isn’t always about price to your customers. You need more. In a Buyersphere Report I read recently, it cited several of the strongest attributes of B2B brands and suppliers that win business, and why customers bought from them. I cherry picked the ones we believe strongly in and apply to our own potential new business customers. Here are a few results from the study and my thoughts behind them.

Awareness

The biggest and strongest attribute was simply, “I heard of them.”  Two thirds of buyers polled said they had previous knowledge of the company selected. So get your company out there, and be seen in the right places and in front of the right people. For B2B brands, more than 75% of industrial buyers go to search engines or directly to supplier websites for information. Frankly, I found that number to be surprisingly low. But remember, not every communication you put out needs to sell something. Get people aware of your company philosophy, and tell them “why” you do what you do, not just what and how. Our company operates under a philosophy created by Simon Sinek. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” You need to give yourself some greater value-added.

Location

Don’t sweat it, nearly 50% of B2B buyers said location was not an issue in their decision to purchase. B2B products are not location dependent. But you be the judge. After pointing that out, it was interesting the study pointed out that nearly 20% of buyers ended up buying from a supplier within a distance of about thirty miles. This may be in support of my last point below, but we try to go see clients on a regular basis, no matter where they are. For me, our product is easy to ship anywhere. We are a brand driven strategic marketing firm. An “Idea Factory” if you will, and those ideas ship nicely in a handy little zip file. But don’t let location get in the way of personal contact.

Quality

The study said that 65% agreed that their chosen supplier simply had the best product or service. Pricing was less of an issue, with nearly 50% agreeing their selected supplier did offer the lowest price. But my marketing experience of the past tells me, you don’t want to be the lowest price. If customers are always shopping you on cost alone, you are just a commodity. You need to have added value, a unique selling proposition, a strong brand and employees who deliver on the brand. Then you can offer the highest value, not the lowest price.

Understanding

This was the fourth most cited reason for awarding business. The study said nearly 60% of buyers said the final selection of the winning supplier was because they understood their needs, and their business, better than the others. So do your homework. Go in with a full grasp and understanding of what your potential customers “pain” is, then take a look at what you have in your portfolio that will fix the problem for them. We have worked in many distribution channels of all types, done new product naming and launching, corporate images and market brand positioning. We have made huge efforts to go deep into B2B brands to find their “why” and their unique selling position.  But even after all this, we will never know our clients business as well as they do, so we don’t act like it. But we do know marketing and brand positioning, and these basic principles apply to most any B2B business.

The human touch

Don’t underestimate it. In a world of digital communication, it can make all the difference. The Buyersphere Study asked respondents about what their most memorable communication during the buying process was. For 88% that communication came from the winning supplier, and most mentioned personal contact even if it was by phone.

Want to help your B2B brands get to the next level? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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The Value of a Strong Brand

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

The Value of a Strong Brand

As we continually tell clients: Even the best products and services often get lost in a crowded marketplace. Trends come and go but a strong brand plays a vital role in a company’s long-term success.

But what is the value of a strong brand?

We who work in marketing already know that companies that work to build a distinct and strong brand enjoy many benefits. These include how customers feel about the organization, reasons why the company’s products/services are distinct from the competition, and even how it affects employee morale. But these are intangible benefits and their values are often hard to measure.

However, there are tangible values associated with a strong brand, according Trevor Hulett, Managing Director of Investment Banking for R.L. Hulett, a well-established financial services firm that offers a variety of services including assistance with mergers and acquisitions. Simply put, Trevor says a stronger brand leads to a higher gross margin on sales of products/services which equates to a higher valuation of an enterprise.

For example, to determine the value of a business to sell or purchase, Hulett considers the enterprise value. The enterprise value includes asset value (tangible values) plus working/current liabilities and all intangible goodwill, which may include its brand, a strong management team, unique technologies or innovations. A major aspect of goodwill comes from its brand.

Hulett says that a company’s enterprise value is increased through a strong brand, as well as its value in attracting potential investors or buyers. These investors and buyers are willing to pay more for a company with a strong brand because after all, a strong brand leads to: better name recognition that breaks through a cluttered market; “word of mouth” endorsements; better customer loyalty; and an engaged and excited workforce. These benefits add to a company’s success and therefore, the overall value.

Companies, regardless of size and industry, that have services or products that are perceived as being higher in the value chain in terms of strong brand, can charge more. That enhances the gross margin, according to Hulett. Strong brands are good for ongoing business, therefore, but they are also advantageous when it attracting and negotiating with investors, he explains.

Brand is a major aspect of the goodwill or “multiples” that can be assigned to company’s worth in addition to the EBITA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation amortization). A higher gross margin attracts more potential buyers, which will drive a higher multiple on the earnings and a higher purchase price.

Companies who can position themselves better than their competitors will benefit from better pricing leverage. And, as buyers conduct their due diligence with customers, good brand feedback can drive up the multiple on a higher EBITA.

While having a strong brand can add to a company’s value, it is important that be “institutionalized” and not too dependent on the founder or other individuals, so that it can be transferred to new owners with minimum interference.

Hulett cites the importance of companies partnering with strategic marketers who can help to create and shape their brands so that they can be leveraged to grow and enter new markets and new relationships. Successful brands should be clearly defined and well communicated, he says, but also should be “scalable” so that a local brand can grow nationally, or a national brand can become a global brand.

And, like tangible assets, brands must be continually monitored and maintained. They are dynamic, not static. If the opinions of industry leaders and customers change in a negative way, the value of a brand can be reduced.

If you are considering selling, purchasing or investing in a company, I’m sure Trevor Hulett could offer you some good advice. He can be reached at 314.721.0607.

And if your company has the best products and services but is lost in a crowded marketplace, we’d be happy to share our approach to building strong brands. Give me a call at 314.727-5850 or fill out the form below.

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Real Price Transparency in Healthcare – I’ve seen it!

The Blog

Tim Leon
President/Brand Strategist

Real Price Transparency in Healthcare – I’ve seen it!

A recent blog article from The Advisory Board summed up the conundrum healthcare organizations face when it comes to price transparency:

When patients search for the cost of an upcoming procedure, they typically find the average price for the service. Unfortunately, this information fails to reflect the actual patient obligation. This type of inaccurate estimate can decrease volumes and patient satisfaction.

Like it or not, as marketers, we have to take the confusion out of healthcare pricing, especially non-emergency procedures. It’s stressful enough for consumers to navigate the healthcare waters. There’s a tremendous opportunity to make price transparency real for patients and offer valuable information that helps them make informed healthcare decisions – while providing them much-needed peace of mind.

Slowly, healthcare organizations are introducing more patient-centric price transparency with easy-to-understand pricing information, so patients see their true financial obligation. Like it or not, that is becoming more important as high-deductible insurance becomes the norm for many healthcare plans.

I’ve seen the power of real price transparency first hand with Geile/Leon’s diagnostic imaging client Metro Imaging, who recently introduced an online pricing tool that provides patients an estimated exam cost taking into account the patient’s insurance coverage. It took me less than a minute to get my price information in a secure, private online environment. And if the patient needs what their out of pocket obligation will be, all you do is call Metro Imaging and they will calculate that expense for you.

As you can imagine, it’s exciting to have something unique and valuable to market to consumers. The television spot we developed for Metro’s upfront pricing is not over the top and the theme is simple “Clarity in Healthcare”. The message speaks for itself, so we didn’t hide it with a bunch of jargon and eye candy. It’s not necessary when you have such an impactful message and point of difference!

As a healthcare marketer, it’s been so gratifying to see what I think is the beginning of real price transparency in healthcare. And for those organizations that can develop the technology and operational changes required to offer patient-centric priding, it will be a true competitive advantage and result in overall better patient satisfaction. If you have other examples of real price transparency in healthcare, I’d love to hear from you.

Also, don’t forget to check out our brand-new healthcare white paper HERE or by filling out the form below:

Healthcare Trends

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Trending from G/L: A Report On Millennials that stands out

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: A Report On Millennials that stands out

Articles about millennials are truly a dime a dozen. If you do a Google search for “millennials” and just limit so you only get results from the past week, you’ll still see a lot of immediate bold proclamations:

“For Millennials, (Bernie) Sanders is a grandpa who gets them”

“Millennials Avoid Taking Care of Sick Relatives”

“Three Ways to Get Inside the Head of Millennials”

And that’s just page one. Lots of generalizations, lots of simplifications and a whole lot of blanket statements posed as facts. It’s head-spinning stuff.

So when our team gets “insights” about Millennials behavior, we tend to be a bit skeptical. A recent report by Goldman Sachs tells a much richer story backed by data, useful categorical info and enlightening takeaways.

Instead of one large thought-piece from one person’s perspective, the interactive guide shows key touchpoints on how millennials were raised and why they view the world the way they do.

Digital Natives

One of the narratives that gets thrown around frequently for millennials is that they’re more socially connected than Generation X and Baby Boomers. While that may be true, the gap is closing rapidly:

Social Millennials

Some platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter in particular, are seeing incredible usage jumps from Gen X and Boomers as Millennials move onto newer portals. So while millennials may be ahead of the curve on this trend, they’re not running away with it. It’s ideas and data like this that cut through the clutter and provide newer insights.

Love and Marriage

Another intriguing one:

Millennials Marriage

It’s an interesting nugget or information on its own. But the report dives deeper into the reasons behind it, including job mobility, home ownership and financial standing. Instead of simply saying something like. “millennials must hate commitment,” the information provides a story that highlights what’s important to people in this age range.

Brands and Retail

Another good section highlighting the ways different groups feel about the brands they use and the way they make purchases. Certainly, millennials seem to be leading some of the charge with regards to online retailing, but we also see growth from other segments in a short period of time. Also, learning why millennials buy what they do is a strong indicator of what kind of products will succeed.

Millennials Buying

All around, it’s a fascinating read that’s definitely worth your time to explore more in-depth. If you have any questions or would like to hear more of our insights from the info presented, contact us using the form below and we’ll get back to you.

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Trending from G/L: New Color Insights…by listening?

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: New Color Insights…by listening?

Take a moment to imagine living in a world with no color.

Or rather, imagine never even knowing color.

For Neil Harbisson, our world in black and white was all he ever knew. He was born with achromatopsia—a condition that makes him completely colorblind. That was his life until he convinced his doctors to turn him into a cyborg…

Yes, a cyborg—the world’s first cyborg. Neil has an antenna and color sensor chip implanted into his head. This antenna picks up light frequencies of colors; the light frequencies are then transposed into a sound frequency.

This allows Neil to HEAR COLOR. Each color has a unique sound, which has color insights he has memorized.

This technology now allows him to experience the world in a new way. While he still doesn’t see color like most people, his new sense at least allows him to know color.

This guy really got the Geile/Leon team talking. Some couldn’t get over the weird factor, yet others were amazed at the technology.

I find Neil’s situation very interesting. Technology is changing people’s lives and becoming apart of them—literally in his case.

Other than the technology aspect of Neil’s story, I think one of the main things I started thinking about is how we take advantage of color. Color is just there. The sky is blue, bananas are yellow—this is how the world looks. We don’t dive any deeper into the color insights that are all around us.

As a creative, I’m envious of Neil’s new sense. He gets to experience color insights on a whole new level. In the video he talks about how almost nothing is gray—everything has some kind of hue. He talks about how people are actually all orange—just different shades. He is “seeing” his environment on a level that people with no colorblindness will ever achieve.

Pretty awesome.

Be sure to check out the video and share your thoughts about Neil and his ability to hear color with us.

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Trending from G/L: Does Lily make high tech camera technology accessible?

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Does Lily make high tech camera technology accessible?

Camera technology has advanced at such a rapid pace in the last decade that many people probably don’t even remember what a standalone camera looks like. Apple has been advertising that the quality of their iPhone camera is as good as professional photo equipment. The photo section at your local Walgreens might as well double as a graveyard.

So I might be a bit apathetic about new camera technology at this point. But then, in our status meeting this morning, Dave Geile brought this video to share:

(Yeah, that’s how you grab attention after a multi-week vacation, Dave. Welcome back!)

But yeah, Lily is a true attention-grabber. But what is it exactly?

The Lily Camera is not a drone – it’s a camera. It requires no controller. Instead, it follows whoever is wearing the Lily GPS bracelet. The Lily flying camera has an accelerometer, barometer, GPS and a front/bottom-facing camera. There are several vantage points offered by the completely waterproof camera.

The device certainly isn’t perfect yet. The battery time is only 20 minutes, so you’ll basically have to make sure it’s fully charged before every time you use it (imagine dropping it with no battery left – major sad face). But, for aerial shots at a relatively affordable price point ($499 for pre-order), it seems like it could be a breakthrough product. Also noted is that Lily doesn’t qualify as a drone since it flies no higher than 400 feet in the air.

We asked our team what would be the first thing they would do if they got a Lily:

Camera Technology

Dave: Document photo shoots for clients and on-site client locations. Also, use for company events and picnics.

Tim: Use it on the fishing boat

Anne-Marie: Use it while hiking in Montana

Luke: Use it while mountain biking in Vermont

James: Soccer tailgate and match

Mary: It’d be perfect for family gatherings

Meg and Randy (independent of each other): Good for vacations on the beach

Feel free to tell us what you would use our Lily for!

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ProductCamp 2015 – Consumer Insight, Product Launches and Outsourced Manufacturing

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

ProductCamp 2015 – Consumer Insight, Product Launches and Outsourced Manufacturing

productcamp_featured

The Event

I recently attended ProductCamp 2015, organized by the St. Louis Product Management Group, a not-for-profit organization based in Saint Louis that coordinates regular in-person meetings and events focused on product management among other product related topics. Out of hundreds of attendees, most of the ones I met are involved in product management.

The Twist

Attendees selected which presentations would be included by casting votes for four of the forty-six proposed presentations. The top thirty made it on the schedule. Of these, I attended several presentations and have several key points to share.

The Takeaways

1. Win Or Lose, You Can Still Get Valuable Consumer Insight

Product managers can still reap value even when their products/services are not the winners in a sales effort.

Shelly Azar, principal of Insight Researchers, presented her approach to Win/Loss Analysis and showed how, if done correctly, product managers can get insights into the minds of B2B customers. By having a process to consistently survey customers after a win or loss, companies can measure how their products are comparing to the competitors’, what is important to the buyer, how decisions are made, etc.

For Example:

  • One of the questions she often includes in her surveys determines how far removed the main contact at the prospect’s organization is from the final decision-maker. This will tell you if your sales efforts are targeting the best level instead of some lower level function.
  • Another recommendation was that someone other than sales should conduct the interviews to remove any bias. Interviewees may not be as forthcoming with important information when they are talking to the sales person.

After seeing Shelly’s methodical approach to data collection, I’m convinced that companies should work with a trained researcher to help them determine what information to collect, conduct the interviews and report the findings. This should be an ongoing process to look for trends and make any adjustments needed.

2. Not All Product Launches Are the Same

Jeff Lash, Director of the Product Management advisory service at SiriusDecisions, gave a presentation I think all product managers should see: B2B Product Launch — You’re Doing It Wrong. His company has a very organized approach to helping project managers plan and execute product launches and they present it in a detailed way that would impress any technically minded person.

One take-away is to establish a formal set of tiers for product launches. Launches in lower tiers may not need the full product launch process, while upper tiers would require the full support of the organization. Jeff recommends establishing criteria for the tiers and then deciding the steps for each tier even before a revised or new product is proposed. This could help shorten the time to launch because now a process is established and procedures are in place for strategy, execution and growth.

Another suggestion is to view the goal of the launch in terms of what outcomes are needed. Jeff recommends assembling a cross-functional team to brainstorm the desired outcomes. The main goal is not just simply to introduce a product but instead, to accomplish a set of outcomes. Outcomes should be metrics that relate or contribute to how you define commercial success such as the number of distributors needed to carry the product, or how many end-user demonstrations need to be presented, etc. – these are small steps to accomplish the ultimate goal of increased sales.

Since research shows that peer-to-peer reviews are often the number one influence on the buying decision, Jeff stresses the importance of including a process to ensure your customers’ influencers are included in the launch package.

SiriusDecisions has many free resources relating to product launches, including this helpful article: Leveraging Buyer Insight to Impact Launch

3. Beware of Outsourced Manufacturing

Steve Matthews, IP attorney at Matthews Edwards, presented a very thorough set of concerns and safeguards when dealing with Asian outsourced manufacturing. I’ve sat in many meetings with clients who manufacture products and a common concern is that inexpensive, imported knock-offs are digging into their market share. This presentation really helped me to understand how difficult and problematic it can be for our clients.

Outsourced manufacturing to Asia can lower costs, but there are many factors to consider to protect against fraud. Most companies have a Manufacturing Agreement, however, often these offer little protection. Once the product is in the shipping container it is owned by the purchaser so it is imperative to have a systematic way to make sure the products are manufactured to spec before accepting them.

Steve recommends that before entering into an agreement, you should first find a Buyer’s Agent who is knowledgeable about the customs, laws and manufacturing facilities in the source country. He also warns manufacturers to carefully scrutinize the agent and take legal steps to ensure the agent is responsible for all aspects including product quality.

Other steps can and should be taken to help prevent production for fraudulent buyers:

  • Patent and trademark the product, not only in your country of origin, but in the source country as well.
    This provides a course for legal action against the counterfeiter, whether duplicating your product or using the trademark on other goods. While this may not prevent fraud, it ensures legal action can be taken if fraudulent behavior occurs to halt the sales of the offending goods.
  • Monitor the manufacturing.
    A fellow attendee’s company assigns its U.S. based engineers to live in the source country and visit the plant every day to monitor the manufacturing. They also take some of the dies back to their hotel room each night to protect against having the product unscrupulously made. These engineers rotate on a three-week basis, which provides a way to consistently monitor production while keeping the engineers based in the U.S.

After hearing many horror stories about issues associated with manufacturing in Asia, I believe that though not every manufacturer is corrupt, it is always a best practice to invest in the safety of your products before entering into a manufacturing agreement. A good way to do this is by speaking with an attorney, or, if you want to speak with Steve, please contact me and I can provide his information.

It is important for communication agencies to understand the way a client’s product management process works. To advise our clients to the best of our ability, and ultimately assist in increasing sales, we must know the ins and outs of a successful process.

If you have any questions or comments about my key takeaways, about any of the speakers or the St. Louis Product Management Group, please fill out the form below and I will be sure to connect with you.

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