Monthly Archives: September 2013

Email as a branding tool? 65% of B2B buyers think so.

Every day, over 294 billion emails are sent. This makes the 400 million tweets and 2 million blog posts seem paltry in comparison. With that much email communication going on daily, it is understandable that in a recent survey, 65% of B2B buyers indicated that email shapes their  perspective of companies and brands. Food marketers can take advantage of email for B2B brand building by considering a few key points in structuring email campaigns and composing individual emails.

Here are some tips to more effectively use email as a B2B branding tool:

1. Personalize:  The sender is half of the relationship in any communication. The receiver has a name and so should the sender. One-on-one is the most effective technique in establishing a brand as an entity of people who care about the people they want to do business with. To elevate your email above the “blast” communication level, send them from a person, not sales@ or marketing@ addresses. The primary reasons emails go unopened/disqualified are the sender and the subject line.

2. Target: In B2B food and beverage marketing, not all contacts/potential customers are created equal. Each has its own unique needs to be met and problems to be solved. By targeting your messages, you position your brand as uniquely capable of meeting your customers’ needs instead of just selling your products. This approach creates a dialog and engagement based on problems/solutions that build your brand.

3. Show some personality: Every company and brand has a persona that is reflected in all communication, including advertising and marketing, in email and any other communication channel. Always speak to your audience in the tone and persona of your brand. Consistency in communication is a powerful brand builder because it is the means by which your brand becomes familiar, and the more familiar your brand, the more comfortable your target audience will be in doing business with you.

4. Define the action: Every brand building and promotional email should have a call-to-action. . .what are you asking your target audience to do? The way in which you ask someone to take an action is very important. Make sure the action is helpful to the audience and not simply self-serving. Brands need to build value and a call-to-action is an excellent way to do this by offering something of relevance or importance in exchange for the action. Place a call-to-action near the beginning of the email to reinforce your intent to be helpful and position your brand as being customer focused. It also helps in grabbing the reader’s attention quickly placing the “what’s in it for me” upfront.

Food and beverage marketers who embrace email as a branding tool will begin to look at emails through the eyes of their customers. Since email is the primary channel of business communication, it always presents an opportunity to build a brand.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How food marketers can make stock photos work.

People do relate to photos of people, and psychologists have confirmed that images of human faces do attract attention on website landing pages. However, with the proliferation of relatively inexpensive royalty-free images available, there has been wide-spread over-use of the abundant supply of photos. While food marketers can certainly benefit from the use of people images on their websites and in promotional support materials, they need to consider these stock photo use guidelines:

1. Don’t use stock photos just to fill in an empty space. Simply having access to tens of thousands of photo images, does not ensure that any selected image makes sense. Photos, stock or custom, have to serve a marketing purpose and re-enforce the brand and its message. Ask yourself: Is the photo relevant to the message?  Will the photo resonate with the target audience? Will the photo support the call-to-action or detract from it? Photos used for marketing purposes have to be much more than eye candy.

2. Don’t use “been there, done that” images. The last thing a food marketer needs is to see the same image they used on their own website or in promotional materials appearing in many other marketing arenas, particularly a competitor’s. So many stock photos are trite, contrived images that have appeared virtually everywhere for decades…the staff at a conference table, picture perfect models sipping a beverage, happy customer service reps in headsets. While the subject of these photos may be relevant for a current particular use, make them real, current, and uniquely yours. It is refreshing that the current trend in people images is natural and real, almost editorial like, and not so picture perfect and contrived.

3. Be consistent when selecting photos. Whether stock or custom, photos used throughout a website or other promotional materials need to be consistent in terms of photographic style. Backgrounds, lighting, attitude of human subjects…consistency in these areas creates a cohesive set of images throughout the website or other promotional materials. Selecting multiple images individually without evaluating them as part of an overall presentation can result in a very disjointed, patchwork looking presentation.

4. Do a reality check. This is simply your reaction when you look at an image. Does it feel real, natural, credible to you? Will the image resonate with the target audience, particularly in a subtle, positive, and persuasive way? If an image does not feel right, it probably isn’t, and the search for an appropriate alternative image should continue on.

Custom photography is the best choice to get images that are exactly what is needed for a particular use. However, there are times when that may simply not be feasible and stock photography is the only option. Food marketers can make stock photography work by following these guidelines to choose images wisely.

Do you need some assistance finding that perfect stock image…or, is it time for custom photography? With access to literally millions of stock images through our stock image accounts/libraries,  and our extensive experience and capabilities in custom food and beverage photography , we can help with any of your photographic needs. For more information or an estimate,  contact us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food marketers need to redefine website.

The way website is defined, “a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization” according to Merriam-Webster, has led to the general consensus that websites are static works of technology…a project finished once launched.  However, for food and beverage marketers, their websites mean more than that to consumers.

Food and beverage brand websites are visited by 60% of consumers, who are influenced by website content in making food purchasing decisions, according to a recent Nielsen study of 29,000 consumers with internet access. In a recent Hartman Group study, 45% of respondents indicated that they visit food and beverage websites at least once a week, while 17% claimed they visit such sites daily.  Sorry Merriam-Webster, but clearly it’s time to redefine website.

Back in the 1990’s, websites were developed as online brochures, typically augmenting or sometimes even replacing the printed counterpart.  However, with the explosion of social media and interactive online capabilities, consumers have come to expect a dynamic experience with the websites they visit. Once developed, websites become organic, continually evolving spaces that capture new visitors as well as retain past visitors through dynamic content. For food and beverage marketers, a static online presence, essentially a brochure, is not adequate to sustain a brand in today’s marketplace.

Marketers tend to view website development as an expense, but once the website goes live, they often don’t make the transition to viewing the website as an asset. In order to thrive and bloom by achieving ROI goals, websites, like any garden, need to be tended. Content needs to be continually refreshed, and features and functions need to be updated and added. Food marketers have a wealth of relevant content to draw upon to keep their websites fresh and interesting, from new products, line extensions, serving suggestions, recipes, nutritional information, coupons, promotions, contests, and news.

Since websites are never really “done”, it’s time to think differently about defining them. They really are dynamic digital spaces, created by organizations to support defined objectives, that are continually adapting to changing information and marketplaces through interaction between people, objects and places. Food marketers need to think in these terms to keep their brands and products relevant.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How old do you think email is?

For some of us, email may seem ancient since we’ve never really lived without it…it’s always been there. For the rest of us, there was a life before email and we do remember hardcopy inter-office memos and mail systems.  Either way, email has affected the way we do business and promote goods and services in profound ways. So, happy birthday email, born on August 30, 1982, via a US Copyright, issued to VA Shiva Ayyadurai for a “computer program for electronic mail system”.

While email has been around for a while now and may not seem as on-trend as Social Media, it remains an effective and relevant marketing communication tool. It is both an immediate and targeted messaging vehicle with an exceptional ROI, upwards of 4000%, according to several research studies.  That should not be surprising considering that 94% of all Internet users go online specifically to read and send emails, the most utilized internet activity, according to a 2/11/13 Center for Media Research Brief.

Food and beverage marketers have relied on promotional emails and should continue to include them in their marketing and promotional efforts. The task is to create promotional emails that recipients want to read and share. Successful promotional email campaigns are based on creating content rich emails that spark consumer interest not only in the product or service being promoted, but in the content that surrounds promotional messaging. Here are three very important marketing objectives to keep in mind when developing a promotional email campaign:

1. Break the “sell” monotony: messaging focused on content breaks the monotony of the “sales pitch”, with visuals and other meaningful content that supports the brand and product.

2. Create consumer relevancy: content rich email can create consumer relevancy by providing interesting and useful information that relates back to the brand and product.

3. Facilitate consumer sharing: content rich emails, even promotional ones, can encourage social and viral sharing, extending the reach and shelf -life of promotional emails.

As we celebrate email’s birthday, food and beverage marketers should continue to include this powerful communication tool to not only sell, but build brand equity and extend consumer awareness.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment