The Wax Blog

If you’ve spent any time in the advertising industry, you are familiar with the use of personas. Personas have not been as popular in communications work but they should be.  If we believe Gartner Group that by the year 2020 75% of the customer experience will occur before a direct brand interaction occurs, then we all should get serious about personas. What is a persona, in the first place? A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Personas are typically based on real data about customer demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns, and values. The information used to build personas comes from surveys, online and social media analytics, past customers and plain observation. Before we get too far into how to create a persona, it’s important to understand why we use them. Personas create reference. They create a target audience representation that helps us brainstorm and vet new ideas, test messaging for alignment and predict behavior. In some cases, they can also provide the foundation for eventual advertising but this is not their primary use. Perhaps the most famous persona of all? Betty Crocker. In fact, surveys still show that about 50% of people in America think that Betty Crocker was a real person. There’s a bigger reason why personas are becoming more important and that goes back to the Gartner statistic.

Row of five friends using cellular phones smilingToday's consumer is more tech-savvy than ever before. But that doesn't mean they see themselves as programmers or developers. They are more like enlightened users. Smart businesses will recognize this bright line between comfort and expertise when engaging with customers. The burden is on sales and customer service agents to quickly understand what a customer needs and offer viable solutions.

Keep KISS Alive for Your Customers!

While we can't say if your customers are nostalgic for glam rock, we are pretty sure that the old KISS method applies more than ever today. So yes, keep it simple, sir. The definition for simple has changed quite a bit. Many customers today use tools their grandparents couldn't possibly have imagined. But we may have reached a saturation point, particularly for these consumers who have weathered the tech revolution and have had enough. They don't want to "learn" a new site tool or download an app to finish a task. It's time to stop burdening customers. Website designers are particularly sensitive to the concept of responsive design, which is the practice of ensuring a website works on all kinds of platforms and systems. "Web design and responsive design are the same thing," writes web developer John Polacek. We're almost there. Sites that rely heavily on web orders, like FTD.com for example, do themselves and their customers a huge favor by looking the same when viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone--even a nonstandard Windows phone. There's something to be said for keeping the design simple and steady. It's readable, scalable (by dragging), and easy to navigate. The only pop-ups should be for discount offers or a request to download your free app.

Technology Should Not Require More Learning

authentic blogIf you've been blogging for a while, you remember that thrilling moment when you realize someone is actually reading what you're writing. Maybe a few comments appear. Perhaps your blog URL gets retweeted by a kind friend. Or maybe yours just went viral all of a sudden. For me, blogging has been a slow burn.  Being syndicated has helped grow my blog traffic, but for me the  moment came the first time I realized I had a "fan." That's also the exact time when I began to struggle with authenticity.  I started pandering for traffic and stopped writing from the heart. I forgot my mission in the pursuit of popularity. And like all bloggers, I had to learn the ultimate lesson. Your writing has to be authentic to survive. I had lost my authentic voice. In hindsight it was a great lesson. The more I forget about pleasing people, the more popular my blog gets. When I think about it there were several signs that I missed along the road to fakiness. Hopefully you can learn from this hindsight and avoid making the same mistakes I did. Here is a checklist to make sure you're being authentic in your own work. More than a couple yes answers to these questions might be a red flag that your authenticity could be suffering: 

Grumpy Cat memeWhen it comes to the Internet, cute critters like Grumpy Cat and Boo the Pomeranian reign supreme. It's not just the adorable factor that gets the attention - and money - of legions of fans. Behind Grumpy and Boo are clever, well-orchestrated IMC campaigns that have propelled them beyond the fame of memes and viral videos to global stardom resulting in books, calendars, stuffed toys and most important, revenue.  Most Internet-famous pets come from humble beginnings, like an unassuming YouTube video, a #CatsOfInstagram Instagram account or a casual Facebook post. Some enjoy 15 minutes of fame and fade into the scenery. Others enjoy long-term success, but only with help from marketing and communications tactics. Here are the IMC secrets that have kept both Grumpy and Boo top of mind in this cluttered pet market. 1. Traditional public relations coupled with social media. Grumpy Cat would not be the sensation she is without an incredibly strong social media presence, coupled with enough PR savvy to launch a media tour including office visits at outlets like Buzzfeed. Not long after she gained popularity online, she was front page news in The Wall Street Journal and New York magazine. She's also been a star on the stage of major events like SXSW, reminding us that being "on the ground" is still an important part of the mix. Boo the Pomeranian, aka "The Cutest Dog in the World," is another great example of IMC in action. 2. Product associations.

5 reasons to use a project management tool for your next marketing campaign. http://wp.me/p61i5y-1LLOne more sign pointing to the convergence of IT and marketing is there are increasingly more communications professionals interested in project management training or even Project Manager Development Program (PMDP) certification. It’s no secret that integrated marketing involves a level of detail beyond most traditional campaigns. Multiple messaging channels, diverse audiences and the need for real-time engagement and an enhanced customer experience all contribute to a greater need for project management skills. Running a successful integrated marketing communications (IMC) project requires sophisticated planning, and implementation mechanisms are challenging, and time-consuming, to create manually. Learning and adopting a strong online project management tool into an integrated communications practice can be the difference between a good marketing campaign and a great one. Here are five reasons why project management tools make sense, particularly for integrated marketers.
  1. Project management tools require the design of a careful plan. Project management and business solution technology is what forces marketers to think about the goals that need to be accomplished during the campaign, not just at the end. These tools (and the project overall) are much more efficient if tasks are broken down into manageable increments, usually those that can be accomplished in two weeks or less. Better planning means a better campaign.
  2. Complex integration is automatic within a project management tool. With IMC, timing is everything. Synchronizing an integrated marketing campaign requires paying careful attention to the sequence of components. However, IMC is also about understanding thedependencies between those components. Examining a project from both its linear progression, as well as its interdependencies, can be a complex task if done manually. The right project management tool will handle this automatically and allow more time to test those dependencies and sequences to determine what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Online collaboration within a project management tool delivers immediate communication to team members. Project managers (and let’s face it, modern marketers are just that) need to know who’s on track with their tasks and, more importantly, those who are behind. An online project management tool enables managers to quickly track progress without having to waste time and energy chasing down status reports. This kind of early warning helps balance the task load and eliminate risk.
  4. Project management tools store the latest information. Important documents like content/frequency charts, editorial calendars and other materials can be immediately updated, shared and saved in one location. The ability to log into an online dashboard to access the latest versions can be a lifesaver and helps keep all team members on the same page – sometimes literally.
  5. Reporting is simple with a project management tool. Clients and superiors might request status updates on short notice. The ability to quantitatively report that progress easily helps provide accurate, professional status reports without a lot of spreadsheet updating or writing.  Overall status can be ascertained at a glance with a good project management tool so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.

TV ads for small businessThe average price of a Super Bowl ad swelled to $4.5 million for a 30-second ad, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. This reflects a 75 percent increase in Super Bowl ad prices over the last decade. Fortunately for small business owners, you don’t need a few million dollars to produce a quality ad. An article by Direct TV suggests you can produce and air a local commercial for under $1,000 depending on your budget, air time and goals. While there isn’t an exact science to getting started in TV advertising for small businesses, there are ways to streamline the process and stay on budget.

Identify your goals

Before calling TV stations and production studios, sit down and map out your goals. If you’re launching a business, plan an advertising campaign around announcing your services and raising brand awareness. But if you're promoting a product, you should refine your messaging, determine your target audience for the specific campaign and develop a client avatar to help envision who will see the ad and what will appeal to those viewers. Unless you need to reach a global audience, scale down to local advertising to refine your messaging and keep your budget on track. Ask your marketing team to come up with a plan for how often the ad should run to decide if consistent or periodic exposure works best for your needs and length of your promotion.

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