Monthly Archives: May 2013

Are your promotional emailers easily actionable?

We’ve all received promotional emailers that leave us scratching our heads. They’re all about the brand and what the marketer wants to say about it, but there is no indication how the brand and marketer are going to help you. The best way to build brand loyalty is to understand what the customer/consumer is looking for and delivering that in the most direct, expedient, and friendly manner.

So many emailers contain multiple messages and potential actions, with lots of copy about brand and product attributes … new products,  product features, discount offers, and so on. The first task is identify the objective of the emailer and focus the message. Here are some tips to develop an effective and easily actionable emailer.

1. Define the objective:  What is this emailer intended to accomplish…build brand awareness, introduce a new product, remind customers/consumers of the value proposition? While a well crafted emailer may meet more than one objective, it should be designed to focus on the most important one.

2. Define the target audience:  Who is being targeted…new customers/consumers, current loyal and active customers/consumers, past customers/consumers who have been inactive for awhile? The message and offer to each of these audiences would be different. One size does not fit all, and email lists should be segmented so that audiences can be appropriately targeted with separate promotional messages.

3. Define the action:  What is the target audience supposed to do…click through for a coupon, recipe and menu ideas, product specific information, online purchase? Once the objective and the target audience are defined, the desired action is easier to define. If the target audience is new customers/consumers, an incentive to try the brand and product would be an appropriate action. If, on the other hand, the audience is current loyal and active customers/consumers, an invitation to view recipe and menu ideas to discover new ways to use the product would be an appropriate action.  While multiple actions may be appropriate, such as offering coupons to current customers/consumers, there should be one action in the emailer content that is clear and relates to the defined objective and target audience.

4. Make it easy: How does the target audience get from the emailer to the offer…preferably with one click to the appropriate website page. This seems so obvious, but yet so many emailers do not provide a direct actionable link. The more circuitous the route, the more time it takes, and the more frustrated the target audience becomes. Make it easy, direct, and quick.

Food marketers need to step out of their marketing box and think like their customers and consumers. What would you want to know about your product, what would motivate you to try it, how easy is it for you to get from the emailer to the website to get to the information you’re looking for? The answers may generate more easily actionable emailers and improved email campaign results.

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Websites vs Social Media: which is more important to a food brand?

With the proliferation of social media, many food marketers have been tempted to ask, “do we really need to invest in maintaining our brand website…or, do we need a brand website at all?”.  This may be the wrong question to ask, but before this question can be addressed, it is important to understand the three categories of interaction or media that food brands have to reach their consumers.

1. Paid Media: This is “paid for” advertising, pure and simple. For example, display ads, paid SEM and keywords, pay-per-click, content sponsorships, and other paid opportunities available on social media sites.

2. Earned Media: This is “unpaid for” advertising and promotion resulting from organic search by maximizing SEO.

3. Owned Media: This is the gold standard of media in that brands own this space and control the message. Websites are a prime example of owned media.

Websites, which are owned media, are the source of content that feed paid and earned media. For example, most consumers begin with a search engine site (i.e. Google) to find a product or brand, and search results will typically lead them to brand websites. The messaging and experience they have on a brand website is completely under the control of the company that owns the brand. Conversely, consumers may not typically “visit” a brand’s Facebook page, they may “bump” into it by chance, and research data has shown that they rarely return. They go to the source:  the brand’s website, which consumers are confident they can rely on for consistent, accurate information about the brand and its products.

Social media sites are sharing sites and the brand content that consumers choose to share there typically comes from brand websites. For example, pins on Pinterest typically originate from visual content on brand or marketers’ websites. They are not typically repinned from branded Pinterest pages. The organic nature of social sharing is dependent on external source material that catches the fancy of consumers and is brought to social sites.

In website vs  social media , the right question to ask is: how can the power of a brand website be maximized to effectively use the power of social media?  There are four basic areas where branded websites can maximize their ROI: resource for brand and product information and benefits, marketplace for consumer purchases, destination for an interactive brand experience, and connection between consumers and the brand’s story and values. Whether a food brand chooses to focus on one of these areas or all of them, as owned media a brand’s website tells the story the brand wants told and shared.

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Consumers get cues from colors on food packaging.

Color can have profound effects on consumers, making it an important element in food and beverage packaging design. Research into the effects of color have revealed that consumers subconsciously respond to color with very specific social and cultural messages. Understanding the responses evoked by color can provide insight into which colors may be most appropriate for specific food product packaging.

In effectively using color on food product packaging design, the task is to match the brand message, product positioning, and product category with colors that will reinforce product marketing efforts and drive consumer purchase decisions. The flip side is to make certain that consumers are not given miscues through the use of color on food packaging.

Here are some cues on color:

1. Blue:  Blue is a universally appealing color that studies indicate most people like. It connotes a sense of trustworthiness and dependability. According to a recent Journal of Business study, consumers are 15% more likely to return to stores with a predominately blue color scheme. For example, a blue color scheme for food packaging would be a good choice for products with a positioning statement focused on dependable product performance.

2. Green: The color green has become the poster child for environmentally friendly, natural, organic, and fresh. While it is pervasively used in food product packaging, the color green remains a good choice for products in these categories based on the ingrained connection consumers have with this color.

3. Red: Red is considered the strongest emotive color and marketing experts caution that red acts as an alarm to consumers. On food packaging, red is best used sparingly, primarily to call out specific information in the context of another, less alarming, more soothing color scheme.

4. Yellow: Yellow is a color that evokes high energy. Marketing studies have also found that yellow stimulates appetite, which explains its prevalent use in QSR and fast casual foodservice operations. The use of yellow on food packaging, for example, may be a good choice for snack foods or self-indulgent products such as candy, which are often purchased on impulse.

5. Orange: Research has shown that orange is associated with affordability and fairness in the responses of consumers. Retailers such as Home Depot, whose message is one of value, use orange in their brand identity and throughout their retail environments. Contrast this with Lowes, a Home Depot competitor, whose color scheme is primarily blue and whose positioning is primarily one of trust and dependability. The color orange would be a good choice for food products whose primary message is value and affordability.

6. Purple: Throughout history, purple has been associated with royalty. It evokes in consumers the notion of luxurious and expensive, but probably worth the cost. Purple is widely used for cosmetic and fragrance packaging, at both ends of the price point scale. In food packaging, purple can be seen on chocolate candy and individually wrapped frozen treats packaging, particularly for those brands whose message point is focused on a little self-indulgence.

7. Black: Black is the calling card color for sophistication and luxury. It is commonly seen on high-end cosmetic packaging and is also used by more affordable brands to upscale their position. Black is a strong statement for food packaging and works best for products that are positioned as upscale rather than products positioned for their value proposition.

8. White: Marketing experts affirm that consumers associate the color white with purity and simplicity, as well as honesty and modernity. In food packaging, Pillsbury Simply…Cookies line of refrigerated, ready-to-bake cookies is an example of using primarily white packaging to reinforce the positioning of this product as having a minimal number of ingredients and being quick, easy to bake off.

These color cues should not limit creativity in packaging design, but they do serve to remind us of  the power of color. The most important take away for food packaging design is that color should be chosen carefully so as not to miscue consumers about the positioning of a product.

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