SUPER Influencers A Key To Super-Success

Influencer marketing is without a doubt a trending area for marketers and public relations professionals.

In retail, travel and entertainment, savvy marketers are connecting with people who have a great number of followers — and influence — and compensating them with cash, gifts or an experience, such as a stay in a resort or a cameo in a show.

The idea of connecting with the right people and working those relationships is both a refreshing and seemingly simple approach. However, how does influencer marketing apply to complex selling environments, such as within regulated industries (financial or healthcare, for example) or with enterprise software sales?

Without exception, a pithy Instagram post or a Tweet from an influencer is not going to have a meaningful impact on shortening long sales cycles or getting a chief security officer (CSO) to narrow solutions they’re considering for their global operations. In my experience, there are, however, people and organizations that have pull with buyers and industry organizations that are worth investing in relationships with.

This article comes with thanks to Forbes and Scott Mills, a member of the Forbes Agency Council.  

 Your team’s success is made easier with positive relationships with outside influencers.

To use the financial industry for illustration, which is one I’m quite familiar with, reaching and persuading bankers to buy into new concepts, strategies and solutions is without a doubt a difficult assignment. When selling something that represents a sizeable investment for the financial organization, it is likely that the company has to accomplish several things. It must:

1. Sell the business-side leader (head of retail banking).

2. Satisfy a host of people involved in the decision, which may include the board of directors, IT department and procurement.

3. Assure the bankers they will remain in compliance (not run afoul of regulators).

4. Demonstrate that your company is financially stable enough to satisfy the client.

For technology sellers, companies are also faced with demonstrating integration with at least one other existing critical system, such as a “core” platform and demonstrating that the company is operationally mature and disciplined enough to handle the prospect’s business.

Marketing to everyone within a bank who needs to buy — or at least sign off on — the agreement requires a highly coordinated effort. It is made easier by reaching third parties who have influence with the prospect and the industry as a whole.

Who are the super-influencers?

Super-influencers are people who advise or provide services to your prospects. They are trusted industry authorities or other vendors that are already serving the bank. Some examples of super-influencers include:

• Attorneys who advise bank boards.

• Accountants who serve the risk committee and CFO.

• Consultants hired to manage a transition or guide strategy.

• Executives of industry associations who drive education and governmental affairs.

• Industry analysts covering specific operational areas.

• Regulators who advise what changes would be acceptable to them.

• Key vendors that are already entrenched in the bank.

• Media who drive conference agendas and what topics are elevated within their channels.

While media is often the target for public relations outreach, trade media is frequently made up of industry experts in their own right. These people deserve an intelligent approach to building relationships.

Super influencers typically have the power to sway a decision. As such, super-influencer marketing is a programmatic approach to identify them, reach out and build relationships.

A super influencer’s value is based on their reputation.

Just as you expect a trusted friend or mentor to provide sound counsel, so do those who turn to their accountants, attorneys and key executives for professional services. As such, these super influencers continue to invest in their development and understanding of forces shaping their industries. Doctors read about new treatments. Researchers seek answers to challenging questions. And educators study, write and publish to broaden their understanding and to influence others. This quest for knowledge is the basis for connecting with super influencers. So is the story you want to deliver. When determining the story, consider the following:

• How are you changing the industry?

• Is there an example of a client company that is achieving outstanding results?

• Are you applying lessons from another industry?

• Do you have research that suggests a shift in the market?

• Is your solution reducing risk? If so, what kind?

Regardless of the channel or communications tactics, the underlying strategy for reaching super influencers has to be based on appealing to their curiosity, helping them broaden their understanding of their industry and doing a better job for their customers and business community.

Many super influencers are paid to recommend the right solution or company or provide an informed opinion or guidance. Consider the people and organizations you know with strong reputations — protecting their reputation drives their actions and decisions. The bottom line is that tactics found in retail or entertainment influencer marketing programs do not translate well to business-to-business (B2B) super influencers because they do not trade their reputation for short-term profits or trivial gifts.

In broad strokes, utilizing super-influencer marketing requires you to build and prioritize audiences, determine what assets or content you’ll need for them and continually foster mutually beneficial relationships.

So, what is fair game for leveraging these relationships?

While some relationships can be based on information sharing or leads, others can provide opportunities to work together on projects that would reflect well on both parties. For example, an attorney and PR practitioner could collaborate on articles about crisis planning and responses. An accountant and consulting firm might create webinars that address operational risks associated with new regulations. And two complementary software companies might create co-branded educational materials about transforming a segment of the industry.

If you are a B2B marketer operating within a complex environment or regulated industry, you know there are no shortcuts. Embrace the complicated and practice these super-influencer marketing tactics — together they represent your competitive advantage.

Note from Bennett – there is a fine line between paying someone to support your PR campaign, and finding mutual benefits with no payment.  This is not a new trend as celebrity endorsements have been around as long as we’ve had speech – an outstanding tool, maybe even SUPER if used with intelligence and as one portion of a well-considered campaign.

Smarketing – Finally!

When you saw “smarketing” did you think: 

“oh yes that is a combination of Smart and Marketing”. 

Or did you immediately know it was a combination of Sales and Marketing?

Let’s just say we finally have a term for Smart Marketers Who Are The Crucial Element In Sales!

Here’s the article from Forbes, (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/09/26/why-b2b-companies-need-to-embrace-a-smarketing-approach/#6dcaeeef42db) and see what you think.

We all know that marketing and sales are rarely aligned, right? I can see your heads nodding in agreement now. In fact, you don’t have to spend more than two minutes on Google to find numerous articles written about the cost of sales and marketing misalignment to businesses.

Factor in the new interest surrounding account-based marketing and you quickly realize that, despite entrenched thinking that marketing and sales will forever be at odds, it’s time to consider that we might need to find a way to align them.

According to Grad Conn in Adweek, “the relationship with the prospect is [now] based on value—through relevant content or through tailored experiences which have value to the prospect. It’s a ‘give/get’ model, with the seller making the first value move. This pay-it-forward approach to sales is anathema to the cold-calling Glengarry Glen Ross-style selling of the past.”

 It has become clear that sales and marketing alignment is necessary today, particularly for business-to-business (B2B) enterprises.

We live in a post-consumer world.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) but also B2B companies have to compete on the value they offer in our post-consumer world — a world in which there are more products and services than there are people and companies to buy them. That’s why value, not false promises or merely good-enough products and services, is what will ultimately sell consumers on your goods.

What do companies need to do to communicate value from the first touch to the last? At my company, we call it “smarketing” (sales + marketing): the combined and aligned effort of marketing and sales to communicate the value of any product or service from the first touch to the last. Smarketing is the idea of marketing and sales working together so closely that it merits a new word. It is the antithesis of the standard and assumed misalignment between marketing and sales.

It’s time to kill the trope.

Companies can no longer afford to tolerate the push and pull between marketing and sales. Gone are the days of marketing bringing in leads with clever headlines and unverified promises and then throwing them over the wall to sales. Cutting through the noise to grab the attention of and engage with prospects is too expensive for marketing to neglect after sending them to sales.

Add fierce competition to the hard reality that marketing must touch a prospect 13+ times to achieve engagement, and you’ll suddenly be willing to kill the trope that marketing and sales never see eye to eye, let alone work together.

Do You Know Your Lemons? … and other #creative hashtag campaigns

Thank you Sprout Social for this well written article about engaging your customers through creative hashtag campaigns. #lovethis!

The hashtag frenzy has been an important element in the rise of social media. It’s hard to achieve true brand awareness without at least one or two hashtags in your repertoire.

Not only does the right hashtag help you to connect with targeted audiences on social media, but a branded hashtag can also help give life to your digital identity, providing additional reach, impact and personality.

With approximately 81% of Americans using social media in 2018, companies can’t afford to overlook one of the most important resources in social.

But it’s not always as easy as it looks to craft, create and strategize your hashtag campaign. But don’t worry–we have you covered. To help inspire you for your next hashtag campaign, let’s look at eight creative campaigns in the last year or so:

1. #KnowYourLemons: Worldwide Breast Cancer

Often the best branded campaigns on social media are those with an important and meaningful purpose. In 2017, the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization launched its hashtag campaign #KnowYourLemons to convince women to check their breasts for signs of cancer more frequently.

The catchy concept went viral almost instantly. It was a fun and interesting way to give women the important information they needed to spot the lesser-known symptoms of cancer. The charity launched its own Facebook member’s page where people could take part in conversations about the subject. This extra step made the experience more engaging for everyone involved.

#KnowYourLemons Infographic

What We Loved About It:

The creativity in this hashtag campaign was a fantastic way to raise awareness for an important cause. However, the most exciting element of the strategy was that it made crucial information accessible to everyone. You didn’t need a doctorate or a high literacy level to learn more about breast cancer.

Using a light-hearted concept to convey a message about a serious subject, the Worldwide Breast Cancer group exceeded their Just Giving fundraising target by 317%.

2. #TeamVisa: Visa

At the beginning of 2018, Visa jumped on the Olympic fever bandwagon for the winter games. Since 2000, Visa has earned a reputation for accepting athletes around the globe into its “Team Visa” program. The program provides people with the resources they need to achieve their sporting ambitions. Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Visa launched a special campaign to demonstrate how athletes can get involved with #TeamVisa.

The great thing about Visa’s campaign is that it takes advantage of a trending topic to draw attention to an existing product. The company teamed up with influencers who were sure to get plenty of attention around the winter games. Everyone from Billy Morgan to Elise Christie got involved.

3. #BrandBowl: Twitter

While there are 330 million monthly active users on Twitter, some experts suggest this social media platform isn’t seeing as much growth as its competitors. Fortunately, the channel decided to tackle this problem with a hashtag campaign of their own at the beginning of 2018.

Twitter announced at the end of January they would launch their #BrandBowl campaign alongside the Super Bowl. This was perfect timing to be involved with one of the most talked-about events on social media. The #BrandBowl campaign was a social contest designed to award companies for different achievements, like:

  • The brand with the highest number of tweets
  • The brand with the highest tweet per minute score
  • The brand with the most retweets

View image on Twitter

What We Loved About It:

To help improve engagement, Twitter combined the excitement of a social media contest with the appeal of an important trending topic. #BrandBowl gamified the concept of talking about companies, to ensure that everyone was chatting on Twitter during one of the most important sporting events of the year.

4. #ORIGINALis: Adidas

2017 was a highly successful year for Adidas. The company managed to cement its position as both a fashion icon and thought leader with its #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign. The promotion centered around the new Adidas Originals line, and asked people to re-think the concept of being unique.

Adidas partnered with some of the biggest names in the hip-hop world, including Stormzy, Snoop Dogg and ASAP Ferg to promote their new lineup. The brand even created a video to help link its products back to the idea of hip-hop culture.

What We Loved About It:

The first thing that makes the #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign so effective is it’s targeted appeal to Adidas fans. On top of that, in a world where influencer marketing is one of the best ways to generate trust for a company, Adidas managed to partner with some of the most influential figures in the hip-hop environment.

Overall, Adidas just goes to show that the best brand hashtags can help to establish credibility for a company and elevate its position in any marketplace.

5. #WeAccept: Airbnb

Sometimes the best brand hashtags are the simplest. And that’s certainly the case with Airbnb’s campaign from 2017 revolving around the hashtag #WeAccept. This popular branded hashtag was a great way for the travel giant to share the universal nature of their company while showing their support for a crucial ethical issue.

The campaign began with an inspirational video posted on the Airbnb branded social media feed. It continued with a selection of emotional photos delivered by people from different backgrounds and places around the world.

What We Loved About It:

It’s not always easy to produce an effective political campaign. This is particularly true on social media where everyone has an opinion that they’re ready to share. Fortunately, this hashtag campaign saw an incredible response, with hundreds of thousands of supportive likes and comments.

The theme of acceptance helped Airbnb to present themselves as a more approachable and authentic company on social media.

6. #WhatsInYourBag: RYU

People don’t just visit social media for information and news. We also use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to add a little bit of fun into our lives! That’s why building an Instagram hashtag campaign around a giveaway or competition can be such a great idea for building engagement. Ryu did this with #WhatsInYourBag campaign.

Ryu’s campaign was a great example of a social photo contest that leveraged the trend of Instagram Stories to increase their follower count to well over 20,000.

What We Loved About It:

Hashtag campaigns with gamified elements like competitions or giveaways are a great way to build engagement for a company and encourage your customers to share user-generated content on your behalf. Ryu’s branded hashtag prompted people to share more photos in relation to the brand. This instantly expanded awareness for the company and helped to add a little fun to their identity.

7. #TrippinWithTarte: Tarte Cosmetics

It seems like everyone is investing in the power of influencer marketing lately and Tarte Cosmetics are no exception. In 2017, the company flew a gang of fitness and makeup influencers to an island off the coast of Australia and followed up with them with plenty of Instagram-able excursions like candlelit dinners, yoga, hikes and more.

The hashtag #TrippinWithTarte also encouraged followers of the makeup brand to get involved with their own outdoor experiences, sharing photos that highlighted the versatile nature of the company.

What We Loved About It:

Not only did this creative campaign give Tarte Cosmetics plenty of great content to share on social, it also presented a great opportunity to reach out to new audiences. The influencers were all picked carefully based on their follower count and industry niche, meaning that Tarte could connect with thousands of new users within a matter of weeks!

8. #OpenYourWorld: Heineken

During 2017, Heineken decided to follow the trend of using social media to shed a light on important social concepts by conducting their very own experiment. The beer company used #OpenYourWorld to see how easy it was for people with opposite social and political views to accept each other when they went through a series of team-building activities together.

When everyone at the end of the experience shared their political or social views with the other, Heineken offered them the opportunity to share a beer and discuss their differences–something they all chose to accept.

What We Loved About It:

The #OpenYourWorld hashtag campaign addressed a meaningful concept in a new and heartwarming way. The first video achieved around 3 million views within the first week of its launch and around 50,000 shares in its first month too.

Heineken shows how addressing an important idea with your social media campaign can help to get people talking about your brand and strengthen new relationships.

 SproutSocial.com is one of my go-to resources for smart writing and great ideas – consider adding them to your must-read list too.

You May Remember These 6 Advertising Campaigns That Actually Hurt Sales

For all of you who have been in a high energy brainstorming media where the idea is taking shape and your intuition is saying “there is something wrong with this”, I encourage you to follow your gut and say something before your team goes off the deep end.  

This well done article by Paul Suggett copied below, ran on thebalance.com website (full link below) and is an excellent review of moments when someone in the room MUST have said in their gut… “this is not good”.  Be sure you are the one in the rooming asking the question “Is there any reason the audience will NOT love this commercial?”.

Advertising has a number of jobs to do. It has to create awareness about a product, service, or brand. It can also add value to a product, making it more desirable. For instance, there is very little difference between the three major light beer brands, Coors Light, Miller Light, and Bud Light, as far as flavor goes. Consumers are buying the brand, which is built from advertising. And advertising also should inform. Here’s what this product or service does, and does well.

But by far the greatest role advertising plays is to increase sales. No advertising agency would ever pitch a campaign that knowingly hurt sales, or did not move the sales curve in the right direction. It would be suicide. However, ad campaigns fail all the time. And sometimes…they fail hard. Here are six of the biggest advertising fails that actually made the sales figures drop.

 1. Kenyan Runner – Just For Feet

Just For Feet
 Just For Feet. Brightcove

It’s hard to know where to start with this abomination, shown during the 1999 Super Bowl. Put out there are part of a $7 million campaign that would actually give away a brand-new Hummer (remember those?), this 30-second spot was offensive on so many levels. For a start, the spot opens with a bunch of white hunters, in a Hummer of course, getting ready to hunt down a barefoot black Kenyan runner.

You read that correctly. White men hunting a black man. If that scenario was pitched at any meeting anywhere in America, the response would almost certainly be “stop right there, that’s awful!” But the Just For Feet marketing team liked it. After that, the men offer the runner a cup of drugged water, which he drinks, and passes out. Then they force a pair of sneakers onto his feet, and drive away. To add insult to injury, the runner is yelling “no! no!” and shaking his feet. Because he can’t figure out how to untie shoelaces. The response was unprecedented.

Chuck McBride, creative director of Wieden + Kennedy at that time, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “The minute I saw it, I immediately went ‘Oh, shit,’ and I went, ‘This can’t go on.’ I just couldn’t believe that they had done this.” And famed advertising critic Bob Garfield, of Advertising Age, called the ad, “neo-colonialist … culturally imperialist, and probably racist. Have these people lost their minds?” The term Just For Racists was being spouted by people across the nation, and the reaction by the public was so bad, Just For Feet tried to sue the agency responsible, Saatchi and Saatchi, for $10 million. They later dropped the suit.

Just ten months later, in November 1999, Just For Feet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, due to a combination of poor sales and accounting fraud. And by February 2000, Footstar Inc. purchased the Just For Feet name and the leases of 70 of its stores. Still, the damage had been done, and in 2004 Just For Feet stores closed forever.

The Spongemonkeys – Quiznos

Quiznos
 Quiznos. YouTube

What do you get when you cross a delicious toasted sandwich with a weird-looking hamster-thing with bizarre teeth and no singing voice? Well, not surprisingly, you get a campaign that puts sales of those toasted treats into the toilet. And the ad agency that did them, The Martin Agency, should have known better.

This was clearly a case of jumping on an internet bandwagon without really doing your homework. The original piece that The Martin Agency adapted was called “We Love The Moon,” created for the site rathergood.com. It’s bizarre. It’s funny. It’s shareable. But…does it pair well with a food product? Do you look at those weird things and think they should be the pitchmen for a sub? Someone at The Martin Agency did. This was the result…and it was a disaster.

Although the ads got a ton of buzz, no one felt hungry after watching them. Before the little singing rodent creations, the ads for Quiznos concentrated on the toasted quality of the sandwiches, and had mouth-watering shots of the melted cheese coming out from the toaster. Sure, the rodent spots had some nice shots at the end, but the main takeaway was Quiznos = weird rat things. Sales plummeted. Store managers everywhere complained. The ads were quickly pulled.

However, despite the awful performance of the ads, they are still beloved by people around the world.

Alka Seltzer
 Alka Seltzer. YouTube

You may be shocked to learn that one of the most memorable, and funny, ads of the modern advertising era was a failure, but it was. That’s a spicy meatball…but not a spicy result.

Now, the ad itself is fantastic. It’s creative. It’s wonderfully acted. It’s clever. It’s a wonderful piece of branding. What’s not to love? It has been featured on ad round-ups for decades, and that, in part, makes us all think it was a great ad. But, it did not help Alka Seltzer sell a lot of product. In fact, sales dropped.

The problem was partly due to the timing. The ad was ahead of its time. Remember, the ad revolution that started in the 1960s, aided by some fantastic work by DDB, was still evolving. The consumer had been brought up on ads that said “hey, buy this product, it’s great, here’s what it does, here’s a picture of it, and another, and here’s someone using it.” Smart ads with plot, and humor, were in short supply. And the 1969 Alka Seltzer spot spent almost all of the ad talking about meatballs and spaghetti sauce. So, the audience went out and bought meatballs and spaghetti sauce, and not boxes of Alka Seltzer.  More 

Energizer Bunny
 Energizer Bunny. YouTube

You no doubt know the ad campaign in question. A pink toy rabbit banging a drum comes on the screen, and walks from one side to the other. It goes on and on an on. The first Energizer Bunny ad featured a hoard of pink toy rabbits banging drums, parodying a famous ad done by Duracell in 1983. And what did that feature? A bunch of pink rabbits banging drums. The one with the Duracell battery lasted the longest.

Think about that for a second. At the time, Duracell was huge. Some bright spark decided that the best way to differentiate the Energizer battery from Duracell was to mimic, almost to the letter, its famous ad. They even used the same pink color. When you see the ad, you think Duracell. It doesn’t matter what the voice over it telling you.

People naturally got confused. After all, one pink bunny looks very much like another, and Duracell had already firmly established itself as “that battery that makes the pink bunny last the longest.” So, when it came time to buy batteries, people went with Duracell way more than Energizer. All the additional Energizer Bunny battery ads only served to strength their competitor’s brand. There was even a study done about this, examining the negative impact of repeating similar brand claims. So, despite the ad being wildly popular, 40% of the people who saw it thought it was a Duracell ad. Energizer sales actually went down.

Recently, the Energizer Bunny was featured in a serious of new ads, using a digitally-animated pink bunny. Perhaps now, many many years after the original Duracell ad has faded from memory, the Energizer Bunny can finally own the space. It’s hard to recall a Duracell ad, and the Energizer Bunny has definitely earned a place in pop culture.

Holiday Inn
 Holiday Inn. YouTube

Back in 1997, Holiday Inn locations underwent over $1 billion in renovations. Now that’s a fact worth bragging about, and to do it, Holiday Inn ran a spot called Bob Johnson during the Super Bowl. It turned out to be so offensive to people that it had to be pulled from the air after just a few days.

What was so bad about it? Well, let’s start with the content of the ad. It features a beautiful woman walking through a class reunion, while a snarky male voiceover tells you about the cosmetic surgery she’s had over the years. “New nose, $6,000. Lips, $3,000. New chest, $8,000.” So, right there you can see the tone being set. Then we see the woman talk to that guy who played Kenny Bania on Seinfeld. He struggles to place her, before finally realizing she used to be a he. It’s Bob Johnson. His face is one of confusion and disbelief – and not in a good way. And then the VO says, “It’s amazing the changes you can make with a few thousand dollars; imagine what Holiday Inns will look like when we’ve spent a billion.”

Immediately, the LGBTQ community was appalled. To make light of a life-changing event in such a crass way was tone deaf. The calls of complaint jammed the lines. But, aside from the awful ad, it was the focus that was wrong, too. Holiday Inns are known for great service, comfort, and convenience. But on this crass ad, they spent a ton of money on cosmetic changes, and they didn’t even show them. And here’s something else to ponder; will the customers who go to a Holiday Inn react as negatively as this guy did when he saw his old high school buddy Bob? A massive fail that did nothing but tarnish the hotel’s image.

California Raisins
 
A quick Google search for California Raisins yields almost 1.5 million results. Clearly, they had an impact and people remember them. The ads took some classic Motown and rock hits, and paired them with some Emmy-award winning stop motion animation. They even had a Billboard Hot 100 hit. And if you saw Straight Outta Compton recently, they were mentioned in that movie. What’s not to love, right? Well, The California Raisin Board had plenty of reasons to grumble.

The first issue was that the funky little raisin characters were not exactly attractive. A wrinkly rabbit dropping with arms and legs is hardly a great way to advertise a food product. But the bigger issue was that the characters and songs overshadowed the actual product. People were digging the ads, and loving the music and the charm of it all. But, they did not go out in droves and buy boxes of raisins. The ads didn’t really do anything to inform people about the uses of raisins, the nutritional benefit, or anything else. Instead, people just took away some cute singing raisin creatures and bought their records.

The campaign proved to be popular, and sales did increase slightly while the campaign ran. But, the price to do the production was exorbitant, costing the CRB almost twice their annual earnings. And when the ads were pulled from the air, sales actually dropped. Needless to say, this is another case of “nice ad, shame about the results.”

To see the California Raisins song on YouTube, click here

Full article:  https://www.thebalance.com/advertising-campaigns-that-actually-hurt-sales-4148155?utm_campaign=smbinfo&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=10421234&utm_term=

How much do you love your work? This simple question can tell you.

Would you?

Would you clean the toilet if a big client or VIP was coming and the bathroom needed cleaning?

Imagine an important person–a client, a potential hire, an investor, someone you wanted to impress — is coming to the office.  You discover the bathroom needs cleaning, and there’s no time to call someone else to clean it.

When you feel that sense of ownership, when something has to be done and no one else will do it, you do it.

When there’s no alternative, would you tackle the toilet and clean the bathroom?

What it takes to succeed

Why?

Because paying attention to details and having passion for the entire mission is what it takes to succeed.

Because when the meaning of your work is your vision, everything you do is a part of realizing that vision. If that means running across town at 2am because that’s the only place still open to drop off a proposal or make the copies you need, you do it.

The important part is the sense of ownership and vision.

Meaning and purpose

Does the work’s meaning and purpose come from inside or does the work require big external incentives?

What you’ll clean the bathroom for means a project and result you care about, even love. What you have to be paid a lot of money for or you won’t do it… how much can you love it?

Would you clean the bathroom for your work?

If not, and not that you’d enjoy it, but do you wish you loved your work so much that you would?

Leadership and instilling ownership

If you lead a team, can you give your teammates such a sense of ownership that they’d do what it took to get the job done?

If you weren’t a team leader, do you think if you had the skills to inspire that passion in your teammates that you’d become a leader?

 

With thanks to INC magazine, written by Joshua Spodek, author of ‘Leadership Step by Step’.

Want To Get Your Company On Those Big Blue Highway Exit Signs?

Have you wondered how businesses get their logo on those big blue signs on the highway that tell drivers what’s at the next exit?

As a marketer, leave no stone unturned to get customers to your location or that of your client.  Far better to get one highway sign than to get hits on social media – this sign brings results 24/7/365.

Drive down any major interstate in the U.S., and you’ll see big blue signs decorated with business logos near most exits. Here’s who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much it all costs.

Called interstate logo signs or specific service signs, these ubiquitous big blue billboards are godsends to weary travelers searching for gas, food, or lodging close to the highway. Unsurprisingly, the signs aren’t solely there to help out motorists, as they also provide monetary benefit to businesses and, crucially, to the state.

Roadside advertising programs are administered by individual states, though specific service signs like the one in the picture above tend to be farmed out to contractors. One of the biggest of these contractors is a company called Interstate Logos, which works with transportation agencies in 23 states to not only install the huge blue panels, but also to work with businesses to run the programs.

This information comes from David Tracy and Jalopnik.com, with our thanks.

If you own a business that falls into one of these groups—attraction, pharmacy, camping, lodging, food and gas—and your business is located near a controlled-access state highway, then you’re eligible to get your company on the big blue sign.

But not everyone is eligible to display their firm’s logo; that’s because the state’s requirements are rather strict, specifying things like distance from the highway, operating hours, required amenities, and number of parking spots available.

For example, as shown in the image above, Michigan requires that any gas station on a specific service sign be within six miles of the highway, and be open at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week and 360 days a year. In addition, the gas station must offer water, gas, and oil for various types of vehicles, as well as public restrooms and a public telephone.

Requirements for food facilities are similarly specific, stating that facilities must operate continuously for 12 hours a day and six days per week. In addition, restaurants on the service signs must be within six miles of the highway, and offer 24 seats for patrons, a public bathroom, and a public telephone.

Other states are even stricter; Colorado specifies that restaurants must offer drinking water and be open continuously between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and Kentucky limits restaurant and gas businesses to within three miles of a rural interchange or within only one mile of an urban interchange.

But even if your business meets all the requirements, and you’ve submitted your online application, there may be competition from other nearby businesses. As for which of those businesses get to be on the signs, that depends on the state’s policy. Colorado rotates the businesses at the end of each contract year, but other states like Michigan give preference to businesses nearer the highway, while still others like Washington use a first come-first serve (with waiting list) approach.

 Types Of Signs

Signs generally come in three different types: mainline, ramp and trailblazer. Mainline signs are the huge ones that motorists see on the main highway just before exits, ramp signs are found on either side of an exit ramp and usually feature an arrow and a distance to the destination, and trailblazer signs are found along the route when driving to a business from the exit ramp isn’t straightforward.

 The six main types of businesses found on logo signs—local attractions, pharmacies, camping, lodging, food, and gas—are often placed along the highway in that order (in other words, you’ll see the big blue “attractions” sign first and “gas” last), and are usually within one mile of the exit. They tend to feature a maximum of six logos.Cost

The cost of getting on a specific service sign varies by state, but in general, it spans between about $500 and a couple grand per year. For some states, the annual fee depends solely upon which kind of sign a business is renting, though other states base the annual fee on how much traffic that particular road sees (a sign along a more crowded road costs more).

Washington’s fees, for example, vary based on traffic and location. The example table on the Washington Department of Transportation site—shown above—displays annual costs between $360 and $910 for two signs (one in each direction).

Michigan charges a flat fee of $850 per mainline sign (this comes with a ramp sign as well), so advertising on both sides of the road—one sign for each direction—means businesses have to pay $1,700 each year to advertise on the highway.

Florida does things a bit differently, setting rates based on things like “population, traffic volume, market demand, and costs for annual permit fees.” In Florida, the maximum annual fee for a “sign location” in an urban area is $3,500, while $2,000 will get a business a sign in a rural area.

 Texas breaks up the cost of Mainline signs and small ramp signs, but also uses daily traffic count to determine cost. Mainline signs cost between $900 and $3,250 per year, and smaller ramp signs cost between $150 and $750 per year. Colorado’s fees are $750 per direction for a mainline, a ramp sign and a trailblazer.

These are just a few examples, but on average, it looks looks like if you want your business on a big blue highway sign, expect to shell out about a grand per direction.

There are, of course, other costs involved. Though individual states (or whoever the states have contracted to run the logos program) tend to provide the big blue back panels, businesses are tasked with designing the logo signs to meet the required specifications. This isn’t always cheap; Washington’s Department of Transportation gives some ballpark figures:

 Signs that are 24 inches by 12 inches cost between $84 and $530
  • Signs that are 36 inches by 12 inches cost between $160 and $530
  • Signs that are 60 inches by 36 inches cost between $330 and $530

Typical mainline logo signs are about 48 inches by 36 inches, so based on WSDOT’s ballpark figures, it’s probably safe to figure about $300 to $500 per sign.

Add the annual fee to the cost of making the sign, and any removal/change fees (usually around $100), or fees for additional trailblazer signs (typically about $50), and businesses in some areas could end up spending close to ten grand per year for the advertising for a pair of signs (though most businesses will likely end up spending just a couple of grand). If traffic is heavy enough, and the business is well-recognized among motorists, this could be worth it.

 The sites says that in 2010, Kentucky Logos—contracted by the Kentucky DOT—paid the state $618,904.91. That’s great for the state, but according to the report, of the businesses on the 1,568 signs in the state, only 1 to 2 percent leave annually. So it seems the businesses are happy, too.

 

5 Top Tips for Email Marketing – It’s All About Timing

Top 5 tips for getting your email timing just right:

#1 –  Trying to reach business owners?  best time to email is Saturday

#2 – Your audience is larger, including employees?  try Thursdays

#3 – Average consumers?  Fridays are the best

#4 – What about timing?  try midnight (your email will be first opened at the start of the day) or 10 am (after the morning rush is over) to get the highest open and click rates

#5 – You want a response?  Try 6 am or 8 pm

This infographic below is excellent!  Click here to see the entire story in ENTREPRENEUR:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294536

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