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BRANDE : blog archives for April 2014

April 26, 2014

Connecting the Dots from Culture to Talent Management

Every organization has values. Curating the stories about the behaviors and decisions that employees make, based on company values, is also part of employer branding. The HR department and, in particular, its internal communications component, shapes those stories.

What does it mean to be a values-based organization — and why should you strive for it?
Here are 3 very good reasons.
1. An organization that places its values first (even above profit) can form closer bonds and longer tenures with its employees.
2. Organizations that hire to their values, and promote those values to the workforce, create a common vision and a culture of shared priorities. The values guide employees’ decisions and actions, making it easier for each of them to contribute to the company’s mission.
3. Longer-tenured employees and more productive employees contribute more money to the organizations that employ them.

A values-based organization

So it’s intrinsic to an organization’s success that they link their company’s culture, talent, and people practices. To achieve this consistency, the human resources department must define the culture and employee experience as it reflects the company’s values. HR must also keep employee performance continuously aligned with strategic goals of the company. Being a values-based organization can be connected as a brand concept through HR and employee communications.

HR and internal communications are significant stakeholders in defining and promoting the culture of the organization, producing a vision and value proposition for each “center of excellence.” Moreover, they can create a line of sight from the culture to the employees that keeps them committed to achieving the business goals. The HR department has the sole ability to recruit, manage, and engage talent in a way that’s aligned with the company’s mission and culture.

Believe it or not, there are still many organizations that have no such values-based foundation upon which to build. They may have a top-down corporate culture, with management leading by directives instead of by example. There may be little sense of community, as departments operate under conflicting priorities. Employees may not be hired for their affinity to the company’s values and feel less of a connection to their employers…who then wonder why their workers aren’t contributing their fullest to the company’s success.


Good news to them — I’m offering a free webinar on this very subject — “HR Branding: Connecting the Dots from Culture to Talent Management.” It should have f
ar-reaching benefits to any human resources professional looking to articulate their company’s values so all employees travel the same road to success. The webinar will be presented on Wednesday, April 30, from 2-3 pm EDT. Sign up for this valuable online presentation here. 

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to align your company culture with the employee experience!

April 18, 2014

Inside the Agency Secrets: Integrated Content Marketing

With content-on-demand, the disappearance of prime time, and fragmented audiences accessing information from phones, phablets, and glasses (to name a few), it takes a holistic marketing approach to reach and disrupt in today’s world. The best campaigns are those that find the balance between scintillating content and 360 marketing. Today, we bring you behind the curtain and share agency secrets on how to mix it up  Brandemix-style!

Define the “product”.

This is whatever you’re promoting. It could be a product, a sale, a trip to the moon, or something more informational —  a conference, a webinar, a white paper, a newsletter, a slide show, or some other offering that has value to your audience or your business.

Determine the call to action.

What do you want your audience to do? Buy, sell, download, sign up, attend, click, share? Whatever it is, all your integrated marketing will be based on making that action happen. Some recent studies have indicated that multiple calls to action can work, but right now, I think best practice means a single, clear CTA. In the case study below, I wanted people to register for a free webinar.

A simple, direct call to action

A simple, direct call to action

 

Launch the promotional channels.

This is where the “integrated” part comes in. You need to promote the product and call to action in a consistent manner across as many channels as possible. That means using the same keywords, taglines, logos, colors, and any other distinguishing characteristic to create what I call a holistic and aligned disruption. Inconsistent messaging dilutes the messaging and causes confusion, as your audience won’t be certain if they already fulfilled the call to action. Which channels? For our webinar, we wrote a sort of “sneak preview” blog post and published it two weeks before the event. A few days later, we shot a video teaser, giving away a few “fun facts” but mostly pointing people to register:

Video promoting the webinar

Video promoting the webinar

 
We also posted the link on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. We posted it as a status update on our LinkedIn company page and in relevant LinkedIn groups that I belong to. Finally, we included a plug for the webinar and a link to register in our monthly newsletter.

Track the clicks.

This way, you’ll know what’s working. We used our email server to track clicks from the newsletter and bit.ly to track links that were posted everywhere else. When we found that Twitter was bringing more sign-ups than other social networks, we adjusted our promotion accordingly.

Bit.ly tracks clicks and referrers

Bit.ly tracks clicks and referrers

 
We included another way to analyze the traffic by asking on the registration form, “Where did you hear about us?”

Re-engage.

A new product or event is a great time to re-engage your email recipients. Every email list has “no-shows,” who never open the emails but also don’t unsubscribe. Brand Driven Digital recently conducted a case study on sending these silent spectators a final “We miss you!” email that allowed them to leave the mailing list once and for all or click a “confirm” link to stick around. Amazingly, the study found that 39% of recipients opened the email, 41% took action to stay on the list, and only 7% either actively or passively left. How many hundreds or thousands of your mailing list recipients just need a little goad like that to become more engaged?

An example of a final "We miss you!" email to re-engage recipients

An example of a final “We miss you!” email to re-engage recipients


 

Putting it all together.

Finally, of course, we held the webinar. It not only promoted the agency to a new audience but also gave me a new list of warm leads to connect with in the ensuing weeks and months. Those who registered but didn’t attend received a variation of the “We miss you” email, giving them another chance to engage with me. In a way, integrated content marketing is easy because, once you create the content, all you have to is re-purpose it. Our content was a webinar, but on Twitter, it was just one “fun fact” and a link. On Facebook, it was an infographic. On YouTube, it was a short video. But they all included the full name of the webinar, a link to register, and the keywords and search terms we wanted to capture. Clear, consistent, and compelling. As an agency that has launched successful content marketing campaigns for clients of all types and sizes, no doubt we can help you with yours. Write us.

April 12, 2014

Are You Ready for the Changes Coming to Social Media?

Maybe it’s spring cleaning? Virtually every major social network is changing its interface or functionality. If you’re using social media for a marketing, branding, or recruiting campaign, make sure you’re ready for these new features.

Twitter becomes more like Facebook

Twitter just announced that its profile pages will look a lot more like a Facebook page. Profiles will now have a large banner across the type, like Facebook, and will allow users to “pin” one tweet that visitors always see first — also like Facebook. The social site has also started showing photos and Vine videos in its timeline, so followers don’t have to click a link to see them. This makes Twitter more visual and…more like Facebook.

What does this mean for your organization? The banner photo gives you a great opportunity at branding, while the pinned tweet lets you decide what is most important to visitors, rather than being at the mercy of whatever you posted most recently. The emphasis on images and videos means you should add visual posts to your Twitter campaigns, as Facebook has already proven that photos get 53% more engagement than the average post. Twitter makes that easy, as yet another new feature lets you include up to four photos in one tweet!

Michelle Obama's new Twitter profile

Michelle Obama’s profile illustrates Twitter’s new look

Facebook may let you save articles for later

Facebook is testing a feature that will let users save any external link in their timelines to a special section of their profile, allowing them to visit the link later. A “Saved” button on the left, with the Events and Messages icons, will allow users to see all the links they’ve saved, much like a browser bookmark. Under the “Saved” heading, each link will get a headline, thumbnail image, the name of the user who originally posted the link, and a share button.

How can your organization use this new Facebook feature? A “save” feature may help users share more content, letting them come back to it later instead of feeling pressure to like, comment, or share right that moment. But will users actually return to the link and read it later? Even if they do, that raises more questions: Will Facebook track the saves? Will a user’s friends see that the user saved a link — or eventually clicked on it? How will you value a save compared to a share?

LinkedIn eliminates “Products and Services” tab

Every LinkedIn company page has three sections: Home, Products & Services, and Analytics — until today. LinkedIn is removing the Products & Services tab entirely. That means all product or service recommendations are going away, and all LinkedIn can suggest is to simply copy them and paste them into a document. The company now recommends featuring products and services on a Showcase page, which LinkedIn says are “designed for building long-term relationships with members who want to follow specific aspects of your business” and which organizations can use to highlight “a brand, business unit, or company initiative.”

What does this mean for your organization? Many marketers believe they’re losing some valuable engagement opportunities, and I agree. Organizations can no longer collect recommendations or create a strong link between a product on LinkedIn and their official websites. And a Showcase page requires more content, and more regularly updated content, than a static page that just lists product information. Then again, a Showcase page is perfect for something like employer branding, which never made sense in the Product & Services section. And the good news is that, unlike Careers tabs, Showcase pages are free.

Microsoft created a LinkedIn Showcase page for its Office product

Microsoft created a LinkedIn Showcase page for its Office product

More changes to the social media landscape

That’s what’s happening to the three biggest social sites, but others are changing as well. Pinterest has added a “Gifts” feed that shows only products that have purchase links attached them — indicating that Pinterest is serious about becoming a retail portal, which is good news for a lot of businesses.  Instagram recently let users share photos and videos with a select group of followers or even a single person. That means organizations can privately respond to questions or complaints posted by followers. Only a few weeks later, Vine added the same feature.

If your organization is having trouble keeping up with all these changes, Brandemix can help you navigate the uncharted waters of social media. Whether you want to use social channels for branding, employer branding, marketing, or recruiting, we’re happy to share our expertise. Contact me for more details.

April 8, 2014

2 Free April Webinars You Won’t Want to Miss!

On April 16th from 2pm – 3pm EDT 

Branding Pt. 1: Power Up Your Employer Brand 

Maximizing the power of your organization’s   brand must become a critical component of your Talent Management  strategy in order for your company to successfully compete in today’s  global economy.   *  Learn step-by-step how to create an employer brand and EVP   *  Learn agency secrets to leverage it within your organization and on  social networks.

Register Today   

On April 30th from 2pm – 3pm EDT

Branding Pt. 2:  HR Branding:

Connecting the Dots from Culture to Talent Management

Consistency between your company’s culture,  talent and people practices are imperative to an organization’s  success. This session is an opportunity to learn how you can define the  culture, HR and talent management experience you want to portray, and  keep employee performance continuously aligned with strategic goals of  your company.

Register Today 

April 5, 2014

Branding – The Holy Grail of ROI

You might expect a bias towards branding over marketing  from an agency named Brandemix, but we believe they’re all connected. That said, there’s a definite hierarchy. It’s simple: marketing and recruiting would be almost impossible without branding.

There’s an old joke that marketing is like a man approaching a woman in a bar and saying, “I have a great job, I work out, I’m intelligent…” and on and on. Branding, however, is like a woman approaching a man and saying, “I hear you’re a great guy.”

Branding is more than just “nice to have” or “a fun exercise”; it offers the best return to the bottom line.

Let’s look at Starbucks.

In 2011, Starbucks became the #3 food chain in America, just after McDonald’s and Subway, and ahead of Burger King and Wendy’s.

Starbucks is also famous for spending less than 1% of its annual revenues on advertising. By comparison, McDonald’s spends around 4%. Impressive? Look at the actual numbers: Starbucks spent $150 million in advertising in 2012; McDonald’s spent $957 million, more than six times as much. In fact, McDonald’s spent so much that it placed fourth on Advertising Age’s list of the biggest American advertising spenders of 2012.

Starbucks is a beloved brand

Let’s take the idea to its extreme: What if Starbucks ended all its paid advertising tomorrow, leaving only its website, social channels, and mobile app? Heck, let’s get rid of all the online communications too. What would they be left with?

20,000 stores and 70 million regular customers per week, more than any other American retailer. 

That’s the essence of brand equity: it lays a strong foundation for loyalty. So strong that marketing may not even be necessary. (Addiction to caffeine is only slightly relevant.)

Let’s look at Coca-Cola.

It may not be totally fair to compare Starbucks to McDonald’s. How about comparing Coke to Pepsi?

The products are very similar. Both were invented in the South, eight years apart, so you can’t argue that one brand has decades of legacy ahead of the other, or that regionalism plays a role. But Interbrand ranks Coca-Cola as the third- most valuable brand in the world, with Pepsi at #22. That means that if you took away all the brand’s assets — from the factories to the bottles to the actual soda itself — just the name and logo of Coke would be worth almost $80 billion. Pepsi, by contrast, would be worth less than $18 billion.

Coke I love you

Coke and Pepsi are almost the same product. So what’s the $62 billion difference? A century of branding, from connecting the brand to Santa Claus, to uplifting songs, to adorable polar bear characters who are about to get their own movie. And as you may expect, Coca-Cola isn’t anywhere on Ad Age’s list of the biggest advertisers. The company doesn’t have to advertise nearly as much because of its fantastic branding.

A brand is a promise, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product itself. Along with people who only go to Starbucks or only drink Coke, look at the “cult” of lovers of Apple — Interbrand’s #1 global brand in 2013. Once you have a strong brand, marketing becomes much easier.

You can measure the ROI in brand awareness, customer loyalty, and savings on advertising. Any way you slice, a strong brand is worth the effort.