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Monday, September 28, 2015

How Brands Can Use Celebrity Endorsements to Connect With Customers Online

How Brands Can Use Celebrity Endorsements to Connect With Customers Online
May 27, 2015 By Alex Cotraviwat

Celebrity endorsements need to be approached carefully, manipulated thoroughly and utilized effectively in order to reap the full benefits. When looking for a celebrity to represent a brand, it's important to know what the expectations of having that celebrity endorsement are. Does the brand hope to connect to a larger audience? Does the brand lack an identity? Is the brand reinventing itself? Whatever the reason for seeking out a celebrity endorser, a brand should approach the situation with a specific goal in mind. Even then, choosing a celebrity to endorse an entire brand can be complicated. Not all celebrities are equal.

Different celebrities will accomplish different things for a brand as an endorser. Instinct would have us choose the celebrity with the most fans because more fans mean more customers. While this strategy works in some situations, it's not necessarily the best plan of action. There has to be some sort of collaboration or connection between celebrity and brand. A brand's ambassador or endorser shouldn't be some random celebrity.

Even if a celebrity has millions of fans, if there's no synergy or relation between the brand and celebrity, those millions of fans will only care about the brand as long as the celebrity is involved. Unless there's a reason for a fan to like a brand beyond the fact that his or her favorite celebrity is on its billboard, then that brand can kiss those fans goodbye if it ever decides to use another celebrity.

Social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are great resources for finding what and who is currently trending. Look for users similar to your brand's target audience. Learn their likes and dislikes and essentially "stalk" their social media profiles. If those users don't outright mention their favorite celebrities, then at least there will be plenty to go off of in order to choose a worthy alternative.

Take advantage of existing connections and fan bases, too. Celebrities serve as channels between buyer and seller. If your brand is seeking an audience that happens to follow a certain celebrity, then it should have that particular celebrity endorse its products. Endorsements are most effective when the celebrity's audience already overlaps with the brand's desired audience.

Another factor to consider is the type of advertising that the brand typically uses. Today there are so many resources available for marketing. There are traditional mediums like billboards and TV commercials, but also newer digital mediums like social media and text messaging. While most celebrities use social media and digital communication, there are celebrities who avoid it. Look for celebrities that already engage and connect with fans via your brand's preferred method of marketing.   

The benefits of celebrity endorsements are extensive, but there can be drawbacks as well. For one, celebrity endorsements can be expensive. In addition to merchandise, celebrities demand millions of dollars to endorse a product or brand. Celebrity endorsements can be risky, too. Like all humans, celebrities sometimes get in trouble. When a celebrity gets in trouble, though, the whole world knows about it. If that celebrity happens to endorse a specific brand, that brand is now "criminal" by association and could potentially lose followers as a result.

In the marketing world, a celebrity is only as valuable as his or her public image, and if that image becomes tarnished in any way, it's usually bad for business. Just as a celebrity has the power to attract individuals to a brand, he or she has the power to deter individuals all the same.

Alex Cotraviwat is the founder and CEO of The Marendo Group, a full-service creative, marketing and branding company in Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

An open letter to outsourcing service providers

An open letter to outsourcing service providers

Esteban Herrera | Sept. 9, 2015

Dear Service Providers,

I'm worried about you. I realize that, as an industry, you keep growing, and you have bazillions of employees. You invest heavily in enterprise technology, and you often know what you are talking about, even if you are not the best at articulating it. You work very hard to win new business, and you are good at expanding your presence once you do. Many of you even genuinely care about your clients' success.

And yet, I am deeply concerned for your future as a whole. And that means I am concerned for mine, since without you, I don't get a paycheck. It has been more than 12 years since I was in your shoes, so I am not going to tell you how to run your business, but I am going to tell you what it looks like from this jaded advisors' point of view:

You all sound alike. 
For the love of capitalism and all that we hold dear, please differentiate! I know it's difficult. I know your pitches are nuanced, but trust me, only you can find that nuance. Your new challenge is to express competence in a way that gets noticed. Sitting through service provider presentations is like going down the cereal aisle with my son: all the choices look the same, and I just want him to pick one so we can get out of there.

You have forgotten the golden rule. 
Ours is stilla human business. Many of you owe your successful ascent to mastering the art of the business relationship: putting genuinely likeable, smart, committed people in front of clients. Where have all those people gone?

You are overconfident. 
Did you know that more than 50 percent of incumbent business is now changing hands?  Well, now you do. Acting like incumbency gives you leverage is a losing proposition. You need to build a culture in which all of your employees behave as if every day they go to work is a chance to win the business again.

Your buyer is changing. 
If you stick to a technical sale, you can expect to keep being pushed down the organizational pyramid. But if you build relationships with the new buyer, you very well may multiply your business. Lead with the vertical knowledge you've been investing in for at least a decade instead of bits and bytes, and watch your business soar!

You don't always do what you say. 
Every time you miss a commitment to a client you tarnish your brand. That one point of margin you saved on Account XYZ could cost you upwards of $10 million in new business. Your senior executives are not adequately managing reputational risk. And—trust me—it's costing you millions in revenue—not to mention bonuses.

You need to take some risk. 
Sometimes you sound more like actuaries than service providers. For crying out loud, you are the experts! Show us your expertise by taking some risk. Once you gain the trust of your clients, they will expect you to lead them on the digital journey, which will require different thinking and may feel uncomfortable. If you play it too safe, the trust you worked to gain will quickly erode, and your clients will look to a competitor within a matter of months.

Quit treating your people like robots. 
Let them create robots instead! Science proves that smart people are most productive when they have autonomy, mastery and purpose. Instead of asking them to repeat a task until they become automatons, why not ask them to harness their passion to change the world?

I realize I may be overgeneralizing. Many of you achieve admirable accomplishments for your clients every day. But, as an industry, this is how you look. You can do better. You must do better. I hope you will join me in a dialogue about how we can change the course of our industry.