Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Getting Heard above the Noise

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Narciso Tovar and Rhonda Tovar of Big Noise, and focused on the topic of: “How to be heard above the Noise” from a marketing and PR perspective.

The group discussed ways that an organization; business, etc. can stand out and make some noise without just creating more noise. Bring in some reason to the clutter and make yourself memorable.

Some of the topics discussed included:
• The definition of “noise”.
• Best practices or good examples of how companies get heard and stand out from the crowd.
• Examples of effective things that have been done in social media to stand out above the crowd.
• Tips on how to stand out at a trade or an industry event.
• Top 3 most critical things you need to have when developing messaging to ensure that you stand out above the crowd.
• Once you get the audience listening – how do you sustain the excitement and fervor?
• Tactics that would work better at a local level than a national level.
• The 5 cardinal sins of making noise/what you want to avoid.
• Guerilla Marketing – Creative ways to use this type of marketing to stand out.

Participants in our call determined that noise is basically just a lot of sound without substance much like a jack hammer in the middle of Manhattan - it is a distraction and eventually people just tune it out. No one wants their company to be tuned out so how do you make your message heard? One way is to consider targeting smaller markets with a more concentrated message if this fits with your business model. This will allow you to get a more complete or concentrated message to a specifically targeted group of potential customers. If this doesn’t fit your needs then Jeff Hazylett suggests in his book, “The Mirror Test“, to attach yourself to something positive by giving to the community in some way or helping a cause. Volunteering yourself, your employees or giving needed sponsorship support to causes that are important to you and your community is a great way to get your business’ name in front of a mass audience.

Social Media has become a prevalent buzzword in the marketing industry in the last couple of years, but with so many options and so many people and companies participating insocial media channels, how do you stand out above the crowd? One great way to get started is to think about what ads, videos or blogs stand out in your mind and that you remember. The E-Trade babies are a great example of using social media to further your message. Most everyone remembers these commercials from the Super Bowl, but since then they have gone viral on YouTube because of their creativity and catchiness. You can now even get the E-Trade babies on a personalized greeting card with your voice coming from their mouths. Their marketing tool is now a product in itself.

Another example of how to use social media is the “Will it blend” videos that can also be found on YouTube. It is an ad for a blender, but what they do is put some crazy things into the blender, destroy them by blending them, and then post the blend on YouTube. Their message is that if their blender can blend this then it can blend food even better. The videos went viral because people wanted to see everything they blended in this machine – electronic devices, cell phones, you name it. The trick is to come up with a gimmick, but then to get the gimmick to attach back to your product or service.

Creating a gimmick is crucial to help you stand out anywhere, but especially at a trade or industry event because you have to create a way to stand out in the middle of the sea of booths around you. One way of doing this is to not have a pre-made booth set up. Use just the tables and signage provided and then create a clever theme with decorations; (Power of the Pitch – baseball theme), (Rock your Marketing World – old vinyl records, etc.). Create something that makes people want to come see your booth like the old vinyl records – people don’t see those much anymore and they wanted to come by and see which records were there.

Unique sponsorship opportunities can be another powerful tool at trade events. For instance, you can become the Exhibitor Lounge sponsor and the event itself will direct people your way because your booth is the lounge area which gives you instant traffic. If you don’t have a booth space then you can create a “virtual walking booth” with a clever give away, costume, and/or message. Afterward you can then follow up with small bits of information in increments through email with those you connected with or even through other social media outlets.

Now you have their attention! They are listening and they are interested so, how do you sustain that excitement and fervor? You get personal. Stay in touch with those you met or connected with at trade events, networking events, virtually, anywhere. Continue a dialog with them as you continue forward through email, set up a lunch or coffee meeting with them. Let them get to know you. Make a personal connection because the old saying holds true today that people do business with people they know. This is especially true when you are in an industry with lots of competition. An example of this is the American Express Open Forum. American Express developed a site for a small business community to replace entrepreneur.com, but they have reached out to them as a consumer and not a business owner. You must remember that a consumer is always the one that makes the final decision. They made themselves much more appealing to a much larger audience.

There are some tactics that work better at a local level than a national level. It is harder to rise above the noise on a national level; however you are able to give that personal touch on a local level unlike when you are on the national level doing massive Super Bowl type marketing.

If you want to work your way to a national campaign, do them in 3 part phases. You start with analysts, move to the local arena, then go for national. This gives you more credibility once you get to the national level. Make sure you hone in on a value proposition on the national level where as on a local level you can focus on being involved in the community, long standing company, etc. Don’t confuse the local vs. national message – your message must always remain consistent just a different delivery.

When working on press releases, remember that they have to be done much smarter these days; even more so than in the past because reporters are thinning out and they have huge segments to cover. What you have to say must catch their interest and you always have to be consistent, creative, and constant.

Things to avoid in your message and delivery:

o Politics, controversial subjects (but it does depend on who you are)
o Negative messages
o An inconsistent message
o The gimmick should not outweigh your message
o Don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it – don’t throw it together just to get it out there. Must be thought out and planned.
o No follow up plan
o Not preparing for worst case scenarios
o Not ensuring that your spokesperson is media trained. A spokesperson that goes awry can really destroy the message.

A great quote from one of the Rocky movies as an analogy:
“You don’t want to wear them down…just counter and move…”

In conclusion, the one thing that came through every aspect of our Think Tank call this month was this - Be authentic to your message. Give yourself the opportunity to really hone in on your spot in the market. Amplify what you do different from the competition. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Here are some links to more info and tips on getting heard above the noise:

1. 10 Ways to cut through the Social Media Noise and Be Heard
2. 10 ways to get seen and heard above the noise
3. Make Your Booth Stand Out at a Trade Show http://theentreprenettegazette.com/2010/07/14/make-your-booth-stand-out-at-a-trade-show/
4. How to stand out in the inbox

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