branding

Winning The Ad Super Bowl

Sometimes when I’m lazing in front of the telly, I find myself oddly drawn to the strangest of ads… ads that have absolutely nothing to do with the product, but linger long after a supermarket promotes their latest specials or some chap explains how his painkillers actually target pain. This begs the question: “how relevant is relevance?” How important is it to make an ad that actually has something to do with the product? If Super Bowl XLVIII is anything to go by, it’s nowhere near as important as how your ad makes people feel.Puppy Love

The Super Bowl is the single most viewed event on the planet. Super Bowl XLVIII was viewed by hundreds of millions watching across the globe. That’s a goldmine for companies looking to get their brand out to the most massive of mass audiences. But with 30 seconds of airtime costing US$4 million, you almost have to sell a goldmine too. So what do these companies and their ad agencies come up with to get a return on their sizeable investment?

Forget sex sells. Cute sells.

USA Today’s Ad Meter – found that Budweiser’s Puppy Love ad was the consumer favourite. It’s the story of a puppy at a breeder’s farm who befriends a horse, to the point where the horses prevent that puppy’s adoption to keep the little Labrador with them. It’s beautifully shot, the animals are amazingly well trained, and it tells a heartwarming story with a happy ending – a tale of friendship that transcends species. It also has absolutely nothing to do with beer. But Budweiser doesn’t care.

They care that their story made hundreds of millions feel warm and fuzzy inside on that day, as well as millions more on YouTube (it has over 45 million views there). They care that their brand is associated with happiness, the importance of friendship and the joy that comes with being “best buds”. And they care that when people are browsing at the bottle shop, hundreds of millions will think of that ad with the cute puppies and horses, and make a beeline to a carton of Budweiser.

Next time you’re coming up with a campaign, think carefully not just about your product, but about the feelings you want your brand to be associated with. The pay off could be substantial!

– Magnus

Improving The Customer Experience – A Lesson from George

Your product may be a winner, but never underestimate the power of improving the customer experience. Consider the coffee market. You can buy the classic Blend 43 from the supermarket or maybe a nice pre-ground Lavazza from the corner store, but if you want a high-class European coffee experience – you choose Nespresso.

Improving the customer experience

“Just call me George. You’re a club member now.”

Capsules can be ordered online, but the real experience comes from heading into a Nespresso store. The classy interior immediately reminds you of the (in)famous commercials starring George Clooney & Matt Damon, as smartly dressed employees patiently guide you through the different coffees and their apparent (apologies to coffee aficionados) differences. Deep inside you’ll even find a man in an expensive suit sitting behind an oak desk, fingers on his keyboard ready to serve you. You know… so you can buy coffee. The first time you go to the counter, you’re presented with your matte-finished members’ card to ‘The Nespresso Club’ – of which I presume Clooney is a member.

Why as as Nespresso Do? It’s about improving the Customer Experience

It may seem excessive, but even the most cynical consumer will have trouble separating the Nespresso ‘experience’ from the Nespresso ‘product’. And ‘sophisticated’ isn’t the only flavour of experience on offer. Take the Messages On Hold ‘experience’ – it’s all about fun and responsive customer service. We send comedy cards and cheeky customised voicemails starring Shane Warne to our clients and our promotional videos feature our CEO in wacky scenarios complete with animated ‘POWS!’ and zany sound effects.

A product can be rationally evaluated and compared. An emotionally significant experience cannot be debated. Do you, like many aspiring businesses, offer a great experience? What ways can you employ to improve your customer experience?

– Jakub

Soft Serve Is Not Soft Sell

I scream, you scream we all scream for… t-shirts?

I scream, you scream we all scream for… t-shirts?

Real estate is expensive; there are thousands of retailers fighting for attention and department stores are unlikely to take a risk… what’s a poor designer to do? Travel around the UK in a brightly painted ice-cream truck selling t-shirts I hear you say? Well that’s exactly what London designer Henry Holland did.

Selling House of Holland clothes and accessories out of a van was a low risk way of testing out a retail space in different areas. The company could gauge reactions, get a bit of publicity and sell £50 t-shirts. A stunt like this perfectly suited the House of Holland ethos; it was fun, playful and a bit different. It also offered customers and fans a chance to interact with the brand. At a time when customers are more likely to buy online, this ice-cream van removed all the middle-men and sold from designer to consumer.

Sure, some people just wanted a soft-serve cone and were a little confused, but the stripey-spotty van made a real impact in Covent Garden. Plus, according to the company, the only ongoing costs were petrol and staff – and that ain’t too bad either!

Are you ready to shut up shop and invest in an ice-cream van? Or can you think of another creative way to make a big impact in the retail world?

– Emily

 

Video and your marketing strategy: a match made in online heaven.

What was the last video you watched on YouTube? Perhaps it was highlights from the EPL soccer game you missed on the weekend. Maybe it was the film clip for Rihanna’s latest chart topping/scandal inducing hit. Maybe it was even that massively cute video of the emotional baby. Whatever it was, you’re now a member of the ever-increasing online community which is embracing video as a quick, simple and massively effective means of communication. So good on you!

So why is it important to know what YouTube video you watched last? Well I want to explain to you how simple it is to use video as part of your successful marketing campaign.

Let’s have a little look at Pepsi.

Pepsi is a multi-billion dollar company which relies heavily on celebrity endorsement of its product but they’re also fairly cluey about this whole online video thing. In 2012, Pepsi released the first of their Uncle Drew videos. In the video the character of Uncle Drew, an older gentleman, heads down to his local basketball court and joins in a game when someone gets injured. The real kicker? Uncle Drew is actually NBA superstar Kyrie Irving. Uncle Drew’s unwitting opponents are dumbfounded when he absolutely wipes the floor with them. Big deal right? Well the first Uncle Drew video has notched 28 million views. That’s 28 million potential consumers who’ve seen Pepsi’s logo associated with a video they like. When the latest Uncle Drew video was released social media was abuzz with excitement. The video started appearing on Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, on reddit, everywhere!Uncle Drew

What’s my point? Well rather than spending millions of dollars on paying for advertising that only a determined number of people will see, Pepsi have managed to capatalise on the effectiveness of having your consumers sharing your advertisements for you. Having a consumer share your video adds credibility to it and now 28 million people have cemented Pepsi’s position as a leader in online marketing.

It’s not just corporations jumping on this train. Degage Ministries is an American not-for-profit organisation which aims to help homeless and disadvantaged individuals. They recently engaged the services of filmmaker Rob Bliss to make a video about the transformation of a homeless veteran into a well-presented go-getter aiming to get his life on track. The simple video has now racked up 12 million YouTube views and is making headlines on news websites across the internet. 12 million people now know who Degage Ministries are and Rob Bliss Creative have exposed themselves to an incredibly large audience.

The beauty of video as a marketing tool lies in its simplicity as a medium and its sharability. A viewer only has to move their mouse mere centimetres and click a few buttons to share it with their online network and the credibility this can add to your business is close to priceless. In terms of content, video is a marketer’s dream because it can say so much in such a short time.

So what does that mean for you? Well making videos might not be as simple as sharing them. And that’s where you have to start trusting other people.

Here at Messages On Hold we’re tremendously excited about a new venture we’ve launched called VideoUpdate.me.  We’ve been on this video train for a few years now and we want other businesses to start enjoying the benefits of adding video to their marketing strategies.

Our On The Money series of videos which focus on accounting and finance are already being sent out from accounting firms across Australia, helping these businesses tell their clients the latest news in the industry and actually engaging them at a more sophisticated level.

Every business should have something to say about itself and if you can tell that to potential clients through video you never know just how many people might end up seeing it.

– Sophie

It’s Always Personal, It’s Business

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business” is a phrase that, unbelievably, still lingers in some modern business owners’ lexicon. The reach of social media, the rapid rate at which consumers can communicate and the speed with which they can congratulate or condemn means that whether you’re in customer service or marketing: business is always personal.

When customers use social media to query or complain, the business is presented with a unique opportunity: to personally engage with this one customer. Studies into complaints made over social media indicate that 50% of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a complaint before they stop doing business with them. The same study indicated that 89% of customers began business with another company after a poor experience. Can you afford to stay silent?

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

It would be unreasonable for a business to completely change their terms of service on the whim of one customer… but prompt acknowledgement and resolution of a complaint online can help a customer to not only forgive the grievance, but flip their view of the company from negative to positive, thereby strengthening brand loyalty.

Another study indicated that after having two-way interaction with a brand over social media, 90% of customers would recommend the brand to others. In developing an emotional connection, a sense of loyalty, between customer and brand, social media is an invaluable and incredibly effective approach.

Still not sure just how “personal” it can be? In 2008, United Airlines were shown just how effective social media can be as a weapon when it was used against them with humiliating and ruthless efficiency. After irreparably damaging musician Dave Carrol’s guitar during a flight, and refusing to reimburse him despite 9 months of negotiations, Dave released a song on YouTube which blasted their business and customer service. The song went viral, and four days after its release, United’s stock had dropped by 10% – an estimated $180 million.

As more consumers choose social media as the means to communicate with the brands they use, the age old adage “it’s nothing personal, just business” should recede from all minds serious about strengthening brand loyalty, and increasing their customer base.

– Kyle

What’s In A Name?

People love hearing their own name. It’s one of the earliest nouns we’re conscious of and hearing it actually activates certain parts of our brain. How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936, almost 80 years ago, and even then Dale Carnegie could identify how much of an impact using someone’s name could have.

At Messages On Hold we like using names. It relaxes people. From a customer service point of view, it’s a simple and effective way of building rapport with our clients.

Of course, saying a person’s name when we’re directly communicating with them is the ideal use of a name, but we wanted to find a better way of taking advantage of the name game.

Enter Shane Warne.Shane

We sponsored Shane for a few years and loved having him on board as a member of the Messages On Hold team.

Our Managing Director Kym Illman knew having Shane associated with Messages On Hold was a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the quirky nature of our brand but he also identified a way to make our clients names sound even sweeter – by having Shane say them!

When we welcome a new client or employee to the Messages On Hold family, they get a phone call from Shane. It’s a friendly call, just to let them know they’re appreciated and we’re excited to work with them!

Unfortunately, due to Shane’s busy schedule we couldn’t have him dropping everything to make a quick phone call whenever we needed him, so Kym came up with a clever plan.

To boost our odds, we collated a list of the 500 most common first names in our database and the 300 most common surnames. Then we asked Shane to record the message we’d like to send all our clients, plus the list of names we’d come up with.  Now when we welcome a new client or employee, there’s a good chance we can send them a personalised, friendly message from Shane Warne including their two favourite words!

Not only is this a fantastic way of making our much-appreciated clients and staff members feel welcome, it’s also a great marketing tool. I know when I got my phone call when I started at Messages On Hold, I told everyone that my new employer had called me and managed to get Shane Warne to say hello to me, personally! The idea is that the more you blow your clients away with interesting touches like that, the more likely they are to share the experience with their associates. Using names in a unique manner is one way we can keep building great relationships and ensure our brand continues to be aligned with quirky, fun and personal marketing messages.

– Sophie

Likes: Good Sense of Humour

Picture yourself at a party. You’re talking to a member of the opposite sex; they look great and appear to be quite interesting.  In the middle of conversation they accidently use the word ‘suppository’ instead of ‘depository’ (imagine that!) You laugh, understandably. They duly acknowledge the mistake was made, and ensure they will do all they can to ensure the rest of the conversation will be free of errors. Stunned by the sterile response, you take an awkward sip of your drink and hope to be bailed out as soon as possible. From the other side of the party, you hear chuckles from a conversation you’d much rather be part of.

Now, not all business-client relationships can be represented in the above analogy. But some can. Too often many businesses will avoid showing a sense of humour out of fear of appearing ‘unprofessional’ when in reality it can be taken as a profound display of respect for your customer.

People are savvy. They know (and are likely weary of) ‘corporate’ and ‘marketing’ speak. Addressing them in this tone may make them feel like they’re being talked down to. But engage with your customers on their level, and you’re not only checkmating their cynicism and respecting their intelligence, you’re also demonstrating you understand them.

Famous news-parody publication The Onion boasts an enviable readership demographic – 18 to 44, 26% with an income over 100k and 35% with an advanced degree. This hip parody paper has started producing ads.  Only these ads feature The Onion’s biting satirical approach. So what brave company would pay to be publicly mocked by the world’s most renowned satirists?

You might have heard of them – a company called Microsoft. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was famous for being terrible. If you weren’t aware of that and the armies of keyboard warriors that perpetuated this opinion, let me get you up to speed with this ad for the latest version of Internet Explorer. With almost 3 million views at the time of writing this and an overwhelmingly positive response – this just shows how beneficial being self-deprecating can be.

This approach isn’t limited to mass-advertising. It can be applied to day-to-day transactions.  Displaying a sense of humour demonstrates intelligence and confidence – give your customers the credit they deserve and you might be surprised by what it does for your brand.

– Jakub

Phone Phoneys

I recently made one of the biggest investments of my life: a high-end laptop worth over $2000. It took a significant bite out of my savings, but to this day, I don’t regret the decision one bit. It boots up in seconds, runs the latest software, has a stunning display, showcases beautiful design and is solidly built. It packs a premium price tag, but that’s okay, because it’s a premium product.

The company behind this piece of kit is famous for displaying this trend across their entire product line – leading-edge quality and stunning design. But I’m still a bit disappointed in them. Why? Because of their on hold production.

This company’s products are extremely popular, so there’s normally a build-up of callers on their phone lines, leading to pretty hefty wait times on hold. When I called their store in Perth, Western Australia, I was immediately greeted by a fuzzy, robotic voice with an American accent. “That’s okay,” I thought, as some generic, tinny music began to play. “I’ll get to the high-quality voice production promoting their innovative products next”.

Does your brand sound robotic on the phone?

Does your brand sound robotic on the phone?

The same voice killed my hope: “You are… ninth… in the queue”. It was a really unpleasant surprise that breaks the consistent branding that makes them unmistakeably who they are. Sure, outside of their on hold, they’re industry leaders and pioneers, but in terms of phone service, they’re stuck in the Dark Age. And that’s bad customer service.

It’s very disappointing when a company of this size, innovators that take pride being in pole position in the field of consumer electronics, neglect the quality of their phone service so dramatically. It’s even more shocking since there’s so much they could be promoting. Their latest phones and tablets, a groundbreaking new wireless storage device, or even the world’s thinnest desktop computer. Apparently, instead of generating more enquiries, reinforcing branding and cultivating potential add-on sales, this organisation wants a robot to point out to callers how much longer they’ll have to wait.

In other words, by taking the cheap option on hold, the company is missing out on opportunities every time someone is placed in the queue.

– Magnus

Time For a Proofread

Here in the Message On Hold Copywriting Department, we write a lot of scripts.  We proof them personally before we submit them to be proofed by the other copywriters. Needless to say, we’re forever looking for errors in our copy.  There are a few cardinal sins… using stale phrases like ‘one-stop shop’ and ‘needs & requirements’ or mistaking ‘you’re’ for ‘your’. Proofing is where these sorts of subtle errors get picked up.

Should a mistake slip between our fine-toothed comb for one of our clients to pick up, we find a fair bit of egg on our face. If they don’t, the gentlemen in studio will, making it virtually impossible for a written typo to be recorded that, in turn, makes our clients sound foolish.

This is not a luxury you get with all marketing efforts, especially ones you do yourself. You can now make and host your own website, print out your own pamphlets and upload your own videos to the web (as mentioned in this story). If no one is looking over the copy you’re putting out there, you run the risk of public embarrassment. If you want to bottom out your credibility as fast as possible, just chuck in an obvious typo and watch your brand equity evaporate.

Typos are never fine.

Typos are never fine.

I recently found a website that contained the word ‘personalised’ in the company name yet in the ‘About Us’ section they had referred to themselves as ‘personzlied’.  ‘Personz lied’ to whoever thinks this is an acceptable public display of your brand. The easiest typos to miss are the skipped words (e.g. ‘the’, ‘that’, ‘a’). Unless you want to sound like you were raised by apes, get someone else to read over your copy… more often than not you’ll be surprised by what they find.

Take this opportunity to proof-read your website and ad material, if you catch any typos… you can thank us later.

– Jakub

Choose Your Own Adventure

When I was a kid, I read RL Stine’s Give Yourself Goosebumps books. Anyone who was born in the mid 80’s will know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, these books fell into the ‘choose your own adventure’ category. Fast forward to present day and I’m reminded of these books every time I call my bank – I choose my own adventure and it often turns into a nightmare!

Don't let your IVR become a nightmare for callers.

Don’t let your IVR become a nightmare for callers.

So how do you ensure your phone system’s menu (or Interactive Voice Recording) doesn’t become a nightmare for unsuspecting callers? Keep reading to find out.

Problem #1

The biggest mistake companies make when recording their menu prompts is choosing a staff member to record them. Sure, this is quick and easy – but often times that’s how the recordings sound to incoming callers. What’s more, over time these get rerecorded by other team members and end up a mix-match of varying voices and quality.

Solution?

Have a professional Voice Artist recording your messages. This will ensure you have a consistent sound across all levels of your phone system. A professional Voice Artist will also deliver a pitch perfect, measured read which provides your callers with a clear easy-to-follow menu system.

Problem #2

When a client or potential lead enters your menu system, they’re most likely thinking about several things at once. “What’s for lunch?” “What I’m going to do when I get off the phone” “What time is that meeting?” So when you throw 5 to 7 menu options at them, they get flustered and forget what their options were in the first place! The result? They hang up. *click*

Solution?

Try keeping your menu levels to a maximum of 3 or 4. We also recommend placing the command (Press 4) at the end of the subject (For account payable…) as this helps the caller navigate your menu and reduces caller drop outs. Our copywriters are experts in this field.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! If you’d like to discover more helpful hints on improving your IVR menus and avoiding IVR nightmares, check out our Call Flow Tips Infographic here.

– Lachy