Tag Archives: Direct Response

Why Cannabis Design Without Showing Flower Gives Marijuana Business an Edge

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Why Cannabis Design Without Showing Flower Gives Marijuana Business an Edge

On the face of this notion, you might think that I’m ashamed of marijuana use as a whole. You could believe that there’s an insinuation here, that cannabis-related businesses should act as though they’ve got something to hide.

According to the federal government, they do. Facebook, Google and Amazon might concur with that sentiment as well because as long as cannabis product and service offerings don’t play by their rules (when they choose to enforce them), these businesses don’t or won’t exist. Then again, marijuana industry sales certainly don’t dictate that. In fact, there’s a lot to celebrate: It’s a billion dollar industry. But the same challenges that stand in the marketing and public positioning of these businesses also exist in cannabis design. It could be one of the factors for success and failure. Here’s why.

Marijuana Advertising and Cannabis Design Must Overcome Stigma in 3 Seconds

There is a three-second rule. No, not the one that applies to food dropped on the floor that’s still fit for consumption; that’s actually a five-second rule. I’m talking about three seconds. It may not sound like a lifetime. It is in radio. But there’s no visual element in that media channel – just the power of the mind. However, three seconds on a print piece, billboard or web display will represent a lifetime of brand perception to the viewer, whether the impression is on target or totally off the mark.

Many existing dispensary shops and ancillary weed-based businesses use the obvious indicator of the product, the marijuana leaf. But according to a recent U.S. Patent and Trademark Office report, 44 percent of logos in this industry had some form of the plant included. Isn’t the cannabis industry much bigger than that?

Think of it this way. If you had a company that manufactured a coffee drink flavored with butter (some people drink coffee as such), how impactful would coffee beans or a stick of butter be to the logo? Pretty meh, right? And it wouldn’t pass the three second test. That is, if a consumer even needed the entire three seconds before passing it over and looking for “Next”…

The Right Look and Feel of Cannabis Branding Makes Consumers Want to Touch It

Strong branding and alluring cannabis design are one in the same. Brand colors and placement, typeface, size and tone all play a significant role in how a consumer perceives who you are, what you do and how you do it. This is inclusive of marijuana enterprises as well. It boils down to creating the experience that a person wants to visit and revisit.

Positive Logo Brand Experience

More than likely, the first customer experience happens on a website. Unless it’s a landing page, the home page is the starting point. From there, people will then venture into the brick and mortar of the company, the dispensary, for example. But what then?

The Journey of the Marijuana Brand Experience

Let’s say you’re driving home from work on a Friday evening and although you’ve put the work week behind, you’re still carrying the stress of the job (as many of us do). While you’re approaching a stop light as dusk begins its descent, something catches the corner of your eye. There, at the top right corner of it.

There’s a billboard, extolling the virtues of a marijuana dispensary located just around the corner. You’re a card-carrying member of the cannabis community so you follow the sign to check it out. You’re thinking that, more than likely, they’ll have something to help ease the tension from your neck and back. And they’re just two miles from home. Timing is everything. But here’s what I haven’t told you yet: the company’s name, Kind Meds. Emotionally approachable? Heck yeah!

One more anecdote before we move on … If your web brand doesn’t align with your on-site experience, you’ve created a consumer disconnect. For businesses that rely on marijuana marketing to increase brand awareness, engage new customers and build brand loyalty, it’s everything.

Let’s take this up a notch.

Tomorrow’s Marijuana Advocates Might Be Today’s Adversaries

What if the person in that car heading home from work wasn’t a marijuana advocate? In fact, what if he/she is one of the millions in the United States who still support the Schedule I drug classification? Even with the recent news that the DEA moved some marijuana formulations into Schedule V, making this the first time it provided a sliver of government-backed legitimacy to its use, it isn’t widely known to the general public.

Even with the anti-cannabis tide changing, leaning more towards acceptance, how could a brand convince a person, dead-set against the product, to give it a moment (three seconds) of consideration?

The Don’ts of Cannabis Design and Branding

If you’re trying to get the attention of consumers who are on the fence about cannabis use, reminding them about past stigmas and conflicting legal regulations (state-to-state and federal) won’t do your brand any favors.

Instead, make sure your cannabis design and overall brand sell an experience or a lifestyle. There are effective ways to execute this, as there’s no reason to state the obvious by using a marijuana leaf. It’s boring, dated and represents lackluster creativity. Besides, you cannot “sell” product through cannabis advertising any way.

What you can do is create cannabis design that excites the senses and exudes a direct representation of the company and the corresponding audience(s) you’re wanting to attract.

It’s All About the Packaging

Recent stories and concerns across the country are forcing necessary changes in the way cannabis products are packaged. Some states are instituting new guidelines in marijuana products that not only minimize the allure of edibles to children, but make it more difficult to open the products (child-resistant and child-proof).

Brand Persuasion in a Name

Meanwhile, let’s get back to the potential new cannabis lover, yet to try the product. Normally, a billboard that had a hint of marijuana theme to it would never get a second chance. But there’s something about the name Kind Meds. It’s warm, inviting and supportive. What if the entire brand experience echoed the same description?

This is powerful brand positioning. It creates, through suggestion and statement, what the dispensary stands for and what they deliver to the consumer. No matter how the cannabis industry evolves (or stands still at some point), the term kind will always relay positivity and something to be shared. Perfect for social media campaigns.

Brand Differentiators Are Essential to Shine Beyond Competitors

Just like any other industry, cannabis businesses must use design and marketing to create memorable impressions on their customers and prospects. In today’s retail culture, it isn’t just enough to throw up a sign, open your doors and expect the sales traffic to flow.

Consumers want to do their research. They want to find verifiable sources that speak to the benefits of what you have to offer. And when they finally decide to come face to face in store, the research and testimonials have to match up to their experience. If it happens, they’ll buy that product and cannabis swag you have on the shelves, share their experience and be your brand ambassador. Then hit repeat.

How Do You Put Cannabis in Front of People? We Do This, Well.

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Why Your Business’s Marketing Budget Needs to Increase This Year

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Increase Your Marketing Budget Needs - Eminent SEO
Whether your fiscal year begins in January or July, what you allot for marketing budget has much to do about what you believe you’re supposed to spend. And this belief could be founded on formulas or equations that have been passed on by business owners or prior leadership within your organization. Who knows? It could be from something you found after searching online (like that ever happens).

The following insights are my effort to help you discern between industry folklore and the reality of your marketing budget needs – to reassess this year, and to plan to make next year more pennywise instead of pound foolish.

The Life Cycle of Marketing Budget Creation

The very term budget, when spoken, heard and visualized, immediately invokes numbers and, for some, nausea, especially after a lackluster sales performing year. Before you ever get to working those numbers that will set up many marketing decisions to come, you need to take some vital steps to ensure that the budget will truly have a fair shake in supporting your endeavors. And these steps have little to do with dollars.

Keys to Successful Marketing Budgets Life Cycle - Eminent SEO

Take a Good, Hard Look at Who You Really Are

As you’ve probably already guessed, there is no steadfast rule on just how much of your overall business budget should be dedicated to marketing efforts. Because every business vertical is different, so too are the marketing needs of each enterprise, eventually effecting the spend necessary to get the desired goals achieved.

If you are a consumer-based company with a product or service as your calling card, the marketing budget will undoubtedly be costlier and more general-public-facing than if your company catered to B2B markets.

Marketing Budget Mistake #1: Not truly understanding your own brand.

If you haven’t taken the time to establish your company brand, there’s a trickle down of miscommunication that ensues. This will assuredly result in missing the mark on your audience, sales and client acquisition and retention.

Now Remember What Your Clients Really Look Like

Company owners, marketing directors (no matter how good you are) and creative geniuses often carry a level of delusion about whom their product or service attracts. In our minds, we glamorize who we are and, in turn, who our audience is.

There’s nothing like that swift kick in the butt during a public appearance, conference or trade show that wakes us up into, “Oh…so you’re our customers…” This resets brand messaging and affects marketing spends.

Marketing Budget Mistake #2: Having no clue about your customer base.

Once your business accurately connects with your product or service audience, then your marketing messaging can speak to their needs through your brand to nurture long-term relationships, referral business and conversions on both fronts.

Where to spend your marketing budget is, in large part, founded on the places most likely to capture your audience. Now’s the time to switch hats (no, not to a black hat), to take off that corporate hat and be your customer.

If You Were Your Client, How Would They Find You?

Before you start adding line items to your marketing budget for what remains this year and planning for the next-year spend, consider the human behaviors of your customers. Think about their physical attributes, emotional needs, mental acumen and anguish, even their insecurities. Because somewhere in all of that is the place(s) where you will identify strategic pinpoints in their days to hit them with who you are and why they can’t live without you. This is the sweet spot.

Cross-Channel Marketing Maximizes Your Budget Spend

As long as you’re spending money to get more business, set up your marketing in a way that boosts each campaign through heightened reach and stronger impressions. You can achieve this when you use multiple marketing channels that cross-promote one another.

Marketing Budget Mistake #3: Deploying one-off initiatives.

Need an example? If you are spending money on pay-per-click campaigns, be sure to include hyperlinks within the campaign landing page that keep visitors on your website, possibly leading to a product or service page, or even to a blog post.

For more traditional marketing, if you’re advertising on a radio station (yes, companies still do that), make sure you get value adds through a presence on the radio station’s website or have your radio spot mention a promo code for a special deal – but one that only applies if the customer goes to your website or calls and mentions the promo code.

It isn’t just about capturing your audience: You have to tell them what to do and where to go. Your business leads your customers, but they must feel as though they are in control. Sounds like a personal relationship, doesn’t it? Yeah…it is.

Once You’ve Found Them, Spend Your Money on Keeping Them

In sales, it’s all about keeping the conversation going. “No” is just no today; it could be a “yes” tomorrow. This is the premise regarding social media engagement. Foster the relationship. Talk about things that matter to you and your audience. Give them something to think about, talk about and share to get others talking about it. Be informative, yet entertaining. If you do social right, your followers do the work for you.

Marketing Budget Mistake #4: Relying on social paid boosts alone.

Annual Marketing Budget Toward Online Initiatives Statistic - Eminent SEOMany companies scramble to increase their followers, likes, views or shares by paying to boost Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts. Until your social presence gets a solid footing, the practice of boosting may be a necessary evil. But don’t count on it as a long-term strategy.

Working a social platform well is all about building your profile and followers organically. Like every other marketing program, it’s a long game usually played for 90 days to 18 months before seeing real, consistent results. You can’t just put your big toe in it. Jump in wholeheartedly and get your hair wet!

What to include in your market budget going forward:

  • Social videos
  • Search engine optimized content
  • Online chat programming
  • Blog outreach (backlinks, linking to other sites, guest bloggers)
  • Email drip campaigns (enough touchpoints and upsells without being annoying)
  • Direct response marketing (extremely targeted campaigns)
  • Public relations (it’s free!)

Best Practices After the Marketing Budget Needs Are Set in Stone

Keep a certain amount of marketing dollars fluid. Meaning…give your business some cush. Without having some extra funds available to use at your discretion, your business may miss golden opportunities that you couldn’t have planned for, but nonetheless have presented themselves out of left field.

In addition, many companies experience the fourth-quarter panic, where any remaining funds from a current year’s marketing budget must be spent or they lose it. This phenomenon is common in the VAR (value-added reseller) market. Therefore, the best way to avoid this panic is to keep on top of your marketing month to month.

Reassess marketing initiatives every 30-60-90 days to ensure there are no gaps in the life cycle of your marketing budget (noted earlier in this article). By staying tuned into your plan while it’s in action, it allows for a nimbleness that enhances marketing scalability. This strategy also empowers creative agility when needed, allowing you to keep your budget running lean while having room for unexpected marketing opportunities that will undoubtedly arise throughout the year. They always do.

Recommended Market Budget Spend

The following figures reflect how you should allocate your marketing dollars, based on industry trends and consumer behavior forecasts:

  • Online marketing – 45% of your overall marketing budget, broken down into:
    • Search engine marketing – 47%
    • Social media – 25%
    • Online video – 11%
    • Other online channels – 17%

Budgeting for online marketing is on the increase while traditional media advertising spends continue to drop year after year. According to eMarketer, “TV ad spending is 35.08 percent of total media … total digital ad spending is 38.4 percent of total media.”

These figures are for 2017 and represent how consumer behavior has shifted, and continues to shift, toward online screen usage (mobile platforms).

Stay Open to Sharing Costs

One aspect of your marketing budget that you may overlook in the planning stages is in shared sponsorships or co-op dollar spends. This is when your business can partner with another company and share the marketing opportunity.

The cost to participate in these programs is decreased as the expense is shared, and when done right, the benefits far outweigh the dollars spent. Moreover, the relationship between you and the business(es) in cooperative marketing efforts provides a seamless exchange between audiences.

Co-op marketing advantages include:

  • Your business engages your current customers.
  • Your business engages new prospects.
  • The business increases its market reach.
  • Increased market reach occurs at reduced cost.

Can’t See the Fund Forests from the Trees

Sometimes, we can put emotion and ego into our business and the decisions we make about the business. It’s hard not to. Your business is your baby. However, one of the most difficult, yet loving things you can do for your business is to let go of it.

Refer your online marketing strategy to a third party who can review your company goals, marketing budget spend and short- and long-term missions to devise a solid plan that will make the most out of your marketing dollars without shedding a tear.

Here’s Where Sales and Marketing Collide and Thrive

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Direct Response Consulting – A view from an Oldtimer

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Direct Response Consulting

When I first broke into the direct mail printing business as a printing broker I worked with many paper dragons like Readers Digest, Dreyfus Service Corporation, The Danbury Mint, Consumers Union (Consumers Report) and American Express just to name a few. This was when direct mail better known as “junk mail” and direct mail was king back in the early 1980’s. This was back in the Chicago heyday where there had to be 2-3 dozen big strong direct mail printers who used web presses rug at 2,200 feet per minute on a fast sheeter. Most of these companies were billing from $15 Million to $75 Million per year each.

We literally printed train loads of paper and converted the paper into “junk mail.” The reason why it was called “junk mail” was because 98% of it was thrown out. Hello landfills! It only took 2% of the mailed pieces to convert into orders to make a business go into the black. The interesting thing today is we have very similar parallels with the internet. If we can get 2% of people to respond to our website with a phone call or an e-mail or a 2% click through on a banner advertisement we usually have something. However the difference is the other 98% is not called “junk.” In
online the other 98% just doesn’t work!

In order to make the 2% conversion number go higher in the old direct mail days we changed a “black plate” on the press which usually was something like a simple copy change or a pricing change. We had to stop the press from going 2,200 feet per minute and make the change. This cost money and time, however it saved a ton of money if we could optimize the right price with the right offer. Many times we would change 200 plus plates on a single creative package and get them into the mail and wait for the responses. If the responses pulled well over 2% we had want we called a “rollout” and would print millions of pieces and drop them in the BRC’s (bulk mail centers) around the USA.

So here we (direct response consultants) are some 30+ years later, nothing and everything has changed! Black plate changes are a thing of the past. Today we change codes on web pages and 800#’s and run multiple landing pages at the drop of a hat. We can do this for minimal costs as well as in a few hours in some cases. A good example might be today where I have a client who has been successfully running Google Adwords and wants to test other search engines.

We are going to run some PPC traffic at Yahoo and Bing as well as start up a new Facebook PPC campaign. The Facebook campaign is more effort than redirecting the same Adwords traffic from Bing and Yahoo to the same website as Google sends traffic to. Since Facebook is a propriety walled garden platform we have to create a special landing page or “fan page” designed to convert the traffic. This effort does cost money and time and it would need to be run so that enough impressions are accumulated to make some smart decisions if this is the place to advertise, ideally 500,000 to 1 million impressions is a good sampling of Facebook traffic. Time will tell. I will alos tell you that direct mail still works just as well today as it did 30 years ago, however we now have the direct response know how to test online first before we us the more expensive direct mail services.

Here is a secret about Facebook, Facebook is probably the single greatest Direct Response Platform ever invented. The point to all of this long winded article is to test and track the people and how they use the Facebook Fan Page, (or any other media) this is direct response consulting whether it be in direct mail or in Facebook. If they, the users, take action (CPA) and give us the desired and measured results it is an area we will continue to re-invest in.

If you have any questions please call Jim Peake @ 781-990-8844. Thank you.

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