What happened to the USP?

By George L. San Jose, President and Chief Creative Officer at The San Jose Group In high school, I could typically identify people by their cliques (jocks, cheerleaders, hippies, disco fashionistas, etc.) but not as individuals. So unless I personally knew them, they had no individuality. Today’s consumers see brands as cliques and clicks; they have learned to navigate cyberspace without looking at the obtrusive digital ads popping up wherever they go. Not too appealing for brands campaigning to win consumers. We have conditioned consumers to get free software or new apps in exchange for allowing a provider to bombard them with ads that they have mastered to utterly ignore. Mix this with brands caving to funding in-store promotions instead of branding and you have the perfect ingredients for a brand’s death sentence…lack of differentiation and discount price are always the race to the bottom. Brands that lost their consumer preference entirely have died, so brands must establish the right brand positioning, Unique Selling Proposition “USP,” and creative content to win preference and emotionally connect with consumers. A recent report by Northwestern University’s Don E. Shultz and Martin P. Block, Killing Brands… Softly, presents some alarming news for brands and their advertisers. Over a ten-year study, Shultz and Block found consumers are shifting from having specific brand preferences to no preferences. Although this may sound like brand loyalty’s obituary, the study points out a major flaw in the industry: consumers can’t identify the differences between brands, because in the “smaller competitive space,” consumers find brands “more and more similar.” Rare opportunities for brands to win consumer preference exist because brands scarcely produce actual persuasive content. Today’s brands (with the help of social media) distribute more clutter than they do creative. Since social media’s inception, brands have attempted to use it to establish their brand identity and engagement to win consumers, but just because a consumer favorites your brand’s funny tweet or likes your Facebook page, it doesn’t mean they’ll purchase your brand. Even Coca-Cola...

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Be the Star among the Tinsel: Tactics for Not-for-Profits this Holiday Season

Nov 08, 13 Be the Star among the Tinsel: Tactics for Not-for-Profits this Holiday Season

Posted by in Nonprofit

The season of giving is upon us, and that means an influx of donations for Not-for-profits. While the spirit of the season moves people to contribute (a survey by Ask Your Target Market showed that 57% of respondents said they donate to charity during the holiday season), some Not-for-Profits struggle with getting exposure during the holidays. “Marketing not-for-profits may be tricky and challenging, but ultimately they’re rewarding,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “People, especially this time of year, want to know they’re giving back to make a difference.” According to the 2012 Nonprofit Almanac, the United States houses an estimated 2.3 million not-for-profit organizations. While tactics such as not-so-gently reminding donors that the tax deduction deadline (December 31st) is nearing and drawing on the emotions of the season generate an influx of donations during the holidays, not-for-profits can use more creative avenues to break through the tinsel and be heard over the jingle bells. Manners Matter Organizations must prove their validity and can do this by showing donors where past donations have gone and how funds will be distributed. Also, thanking donors on social media or sending thank you emails can increase the odds of future donations. Giving Charitable Gift Cards Not-for-profits can offer and promote donation certificates and cards. With these cards, donors can gift a preloaded card that the recipient can spend on the cause(s) of their choosing—a gift that keeps on giving (at least by one degree). Some successful not-for-profits have already teamed up with charity donation cards like Tisbest.org’s Charity Gift Card and Network for Good’s Good Card. Organizations should use email, newsletters, social media, mobile apps, etc. to alert the public about these and other charitable gift options. Emotional Engagement Emotional connections to causes and recipients generate donations. Including photos of beneficiaries in emails, posting testimonials to YouTube and focusing on subjects in PSAs can all add to donations. Organizations that give specific examples of what contributions go toward...

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How to make the Consumers “Nice” List—2013 Multicultural Holiday Shopping Trends

Companies have made and locked down their 2013 holiday campaigns, but they should check them twice in order to make this 25-day-long holiday shopping season a profitable one. The National Retail Federation projected this year’s holiday sales to reach $602.1 billion (a 3.9% increase from 2012). Despite the traditional holiday season lasting seven days shorter than last year, a number of stores have worked to extend it by beginning promotions the day after Halloween. Brands must keep in mind consumer shopping trends affecting purchases this year. Thanksgivukkah Hanukkah begins early this year, coinciding with Thanksgiving. Therefore, some holiday gifts will be purchased in advance of the holiday. Black Friday falls on the second of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah. Online and Mobile Purchases The convenience and growing simplicity of online shopping make it a continually surging trend. Cyber Monday purchases last year were almost double that of 2011. Savvy Americans benefit from using online shopping for early deals, and free shipping is essential for online purchases. According to emarketer.com, 39% of companies plan to offer free shipping. This year, online retail should exceed $50 billion, of which $8 billion will be from mobile devices. Multicultural consumers overindex on making purchases through their mobile phones: 60% of Hispanics mostly access the internet by mobile phone compared to 43% of African Americans and 27% of whites. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, mobile online sales are up 35% from 2012. Hispanics spent $5.15 billion online mobile shopping the last holiday season. Social Media Influence Social Media acts as a key component to holiday brand strategy. Brand presence and awareness through social media sites are high despite low purchases resulting from advertisements placed on social media. The tech savvy Hispanic consumer demographic also overindexes on social media usage, with 80% of Hispanics using social media vs. 70% of the general population. Special Deals Since the economic recession, consumers have placed an importance on specials. Continuing this trend, Marketers are promoting specials early this year. As early as...

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Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They Will Come: Brands Utilizing Digital Content

By George L. San Jose, President and Chief Creative Officer of The San Jose Group Digital Jabber Jaws is a modern epidemic plaguing today’s brands. In fact, brands are losing out daily by casting out massive quantities of digital content with little regards to the most important aspects: quality and relevancy. Yes, social media and search engine optimizations have altered the industry in the sense that brands need to be present, involved and constantly engaging in the online conversation. Yes, clients want to see ROIs, conversions, likes, follows and retweets. However, the method to achieving this is not “new.” Building brand awareness isn’t about populating every digital space available but more so about creating rich, memorable content that aligns with the brand’s persona and speaks at the opportune time to its targeted consumer. Is this a pioneering or groundbreaking concept? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean brands don’t need a reminder from time to time. Speaking frankly, the objective of the advertising game is the same as it was before Facebook, Google and Twitter dominated the playing field. The only thing that’s changed is brands simply have more channels to play in now. So, as brand guardians, changing our approach to meet the opportunities within the growing digital space doesn’t need to be revolutionary. It appears the onset and growth of social media has distracted marketers, causing them to switch their focus from “quality, quality, quality” to “views, views, views.” Unfortunately, views and clicks do not build brands or increase market share. In the grand scheme of the advertising industry, the Internet—particularly social media—is still a new frontier confusing brands to believe they should strive for the numbers by flooding everywhere and anywhere with content. In doing this, creativity almost always suffers thus changing the role of Artistic Director to Mass Producer. Most often, marketers play the Field of Dreams approach: “If you build it, [they] will come.” This strategy only generates content and speaks nothing to creating a positive, lasting brand impression—let alone...

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Hispanic Heritage Month: Brands doing it right

By Cassandra Bremer, Content Manager and Developer at The San Jose Group Each September, a growing number of marketers celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, recognizing the growing Hispanic American community. Introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and later expanded to cover a 30-day period by President Ronald Regan in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) celebrates the history, culture and contributions of Latino Americans. According to the 2010 census, one in six Americans identifies themselves as Latino. While Hispanic Heritage Month gives Hispanics a chance to embrace their roots and connect with their favorite brands on a more intimate level, they know the difference between obligatory campaigns and true public relations efforts, so to succeed, brands must do it right. “Hispanic Heritage Month offers brands a grand opportunity to really capture Hispanic consumers’ attentions,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer of The San Jose Group. “Often though, marketers forget about Hispanic Heritage Month by October, having filled that marketing quota in September.” This case is especially evident in social media where the hashtags #HispanicHeritageMonth and #HHM have dwindled in usage from brands since the second to last weekend of September. Naturally, one would think that targeted social media posts would be on the rise since Hispanics over index in social media use (Pew Research Center reported that 80% of Hispanics use social networking sites vs. 70% of white, non-Hispanics). While some marketers have missed opportunities to reach these consumers, a number of brands are truly making the most out of Hispanic Heritage Month. This year, for instance, PBS planned a full calendar, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, including a new six-part series embracing Latino contributions ranging from arts and entertainment to journalism and politics entitled, Latino Americans. According to PBS, this series, narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, is the “first major television documentary series to chronicle the rich and varied history of Latinos.” Supporting the project as a major corporate funder, Ford featured...

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