Setting Business Expectations Early Saves the Relationship
When you think about it, most of us spend more time with our business associates and coworkers than our families and personal partners. It’s like a marriage of sorts but we don’t always have the opportunity to formulate a plan for the future and revisit those goals as often as we do with our loved ones at home. But maybe we should.
Not everyone delivers communication in the same way. Moreover, not everyone receives communication in the same way. This painful truth, left unchecked, will continue to set the marketing agency and client relationship at odds. Why?
We forget that behind the business titles and job responsibilities, we are all just people. How we perceive words, imagery, body language, voice inflection, and other clues that reveal how we think and the way we might act are often left in the digital dust. And no, emojis just won’t cut it here.
This is our greatest challenge: Knowing that we communicated expectations effectively and verifying that they were received with the same understanding.
But in this virtual age of how business gets done, not every marketing agency can take it old school and meet with clients face-to-face often. Though that would help.
If well-meaning and congruent intentions were enough to keep clients happy, we’d all be with the same advertising and SEO company for the lifetime of the business (or at least a 5-year span). But who does that? Nobody. Would it be easier if we did? Yes.
While we can’t promise that you’ll maintain the marketing alliance or client for an extended period of time, the following will help you get on the same page right from the get-go: from initial contract signings, scope creep, and unexpected business shifts.
3 Rules to Healthy Marketing Agency/Client Relationships
Say what you mean.
Mean what you say.
These must-dos will keep emotions on an even keel and help guide your initiatives as a collective transformation, taking ideation into realization with positive results. But your attorneys won’t be invited to this party, because expectations are best set when they are understood, revisited, and attainable. Here’s how.
Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Flinging a basketball through a hoop is hard enough without somebody guarding you. That’s why the NBA’s top ballers, stars like Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, have dozens of moves for getting around their defenders. When it comes building your brand through social media, your business will run into interference as well.
If you’re planning to engage with potential customers, market your services and expand your brand via social media, you will be dealing with online trolls. There’s no way around it. Thankfully, there are several lessons that your brand can learn from the NBA – yes, really – when it comes to dealing with malicious commenters.
Keep reading to learn a few helpful plays that you can use whenever a troll stands between you and a social media victory.
Anticipate the Defense
When future-Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade makes a hard drive for the basket, he already knows his move is going to attract attention from defenders. That’s why he’s already got a few counter strategies (a spin, a pump fake, his patented Euro step) queued up and ready to go in case he faces resistance.
By anticipating the defense and preparing a response in advance, Dwayne Wade makes it considerably easier to score, despite the presence of an opposing player.
When it comes to posting on social media, you’ll have to take a similar approach to trolls. If your company recognizes that a social media post may provoke strong opinions or potential ridicule, then it makes sense to prepare responses in advance.
The more accurately you anticipate the type of negative responses a post could inspire, the more efficiently your company can respond to trolls and regain control of your messaging.
Rebound with Reality
Despite being much maligned for his inconsistent defense and tendency to disappear during big games, All-Star power forward Kevin Love remains one of the best rebounders in the league.
How does Kevin do it? He stays focused on leveraging his strengths and always positions himself properly to get the better of his opponents. Once he has the rebound, Love is able to control the play and help his team score a basket on other end of the floor.
Your brand can take the same approach when wrestling with social media trolls in the comment section of any post. By communicating the facts that support your company’s position, including any relevant data or research, you can turn a troll’s negative post into a learning experience for the rest of your audience.
Any time you identify and point out misinformation shared by trolls, your brand demonstrates both their expertise and their professionalism in handling negative feedback. Much like a rebound in basketball, this approach turns shots against your company into a quick win for your brand.
Be Your Brand’s MVP
When rising Kristaps Porzingis was drafted in 2015 by the New York Knicks, he was received by New York fans with jeers, boos and tears. It would have been easy for Porzingis to respond to the vitriol with some shade of his own, but Porzingis made a savvy PR move and instead emphasized how much he was looking forward to “turning those booing fans into clapping fans.”
This approach was not only effective in making Porzingis seem like a classy guy; it also directed praise toward his organization, the Knicks, and their decision to draft a mature, self-aware prospect.
You company must take the same approach when it comes to dealing with social media trolls. Instead of viewing these instances as obstacles, a more proactive approach is to treat trolls as an opportunity to highlight the brand’s values and expertise.
There’s nothing trolls hate more than having the spotlight stolen from them. Your brand can elevate its reputation on social media while also deterring future abuse by learning to turn negative comments to your advantage.
@OldSpice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?
Now that you’re familiar with the fundamentals of the game, it’s time to raise your social media IQ. The following technical fouls are not so much tips for getting around trolls as they are common mistakes to avoid when dealing with them.
Failing to play the game the right way can actually deteriorate the quality of your brand and potentially turn your comment section into a war zone. Keep that in mind and consider incorporating the following tips into your company’s social media policy:
Don’t Bite on the Pump Fake
One of the oldest tricks in the book is mimicking a shooting motion, just to watch your defender overcommit and open up a path for you to score. Trolls commonly post provocative, offensive statements in comment sections with the sole purpose of getting someone riled up and into an argument.
“Deflect and diffuse” should always be your go-to strategy when it comes to managing negative social media comments.
Don’t Get Called for the Flagrant
Getting into an extended argument with a troll is a bad idea. Actually hurling insults back and forth with the troll is unacceptable. Not only does this behavior compromise your company’s professionalism, it also speaks contrary to the values your company is supposed to stand for. You are better off deleting the comment than getting caught insulting consumers in your comment section.
Don’t Forget that Fans Are Watching
At the end of the day, internet trolls are more than likely not your major audience. They may be engaging with your brand online, but this engagement does very little for your bottom line.
However, potential customers are observing your behavior on social media, even if they choose not to engage. How you handle trolls says a lot about your company. A strategic, intentional approach to negative social media activity is far more likely to impress observers than an off-the-cuff, snarky rebuttal.
Getting Guidance from the Pros
Brand management is just one of the reasons that social media is so important for your company. Without an effective game plan, it’s only a matter of time before your social media strategy bottoms out.
Please browse through our other blog articles for more tips on managing responses to your brand messaging. You can also reach out to us and learn more if your business is in dire need of a revitalized social media strategy.
As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.
Did you know that 61% of businesses are monitoring their online reputation on a regular basis; Are you? Trackur paired up with Avalaunch Media to bring us this insightful infographic on the steps in tracking your businesses reputation as well as an individuals reputation on the web.
Unless you live in a dark hole somewhere, you must understand nowadays the importance of an online reputation. Online reputation management and monitoring helps companies: develop and maintain their brand, increase the visibility, and build trust across their consumers and audience. Take a peep at the awesome infographic designed by Avalaunch Media and get started in taking the active steps to maintain your online reputation now- Or better yet, reach out to our social media team to get started with a plan of action to clean up, develop and build your online reputation.