What Can These Four Pictures of Cats (and one Rabbit) Teach You About Marketing?

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

Have you ever opened a clickbait article, only to find that the content inside isn’t what you expected? Well, sorry, but it’s happened again. However, to retain honesty in our advertising, I’ve interspersed this post with 4 pictures of cats (and one rabbit). I’m partial to number 4 myself—what about you?

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A friend shared a spectacularly interesting Airbnb rental opportunity with me the other day. For any Van Gogh fans who have ever dreamed of spending a night in his sumptuously colored Bedroom in Arles, now you can. Personally, I think I’ll stay somewhere else—the attempt to render Van Gogh’s admittedly challenged perspective grasp in three dimensions would probably make my head spin—but…

I have to admit – I’d never seen anything like this before.

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Because of that, I read the description a bit more thoroughly. In fact, the entire thing is a promotion for the Art Institute of Chicago’s ongoing Van Gogh exhibition. What struck me most about it, however, was that it was completely novel. Because of that, I paid attention.

The Van Gogh Airbnb was, in fact, novel in two ways—one of which was not immediately apparent. First, it was simply a creative and, to my knowledge, unique attempt to create a rendition of a real location, but in the exact way that it had been previously rendered in an artwork. In other words, it was conceptually novel.

But there was a second novel quality—one that I had failed even to notice at first—that really caught my attention. I had never even thought of the possibility of marketing on Airbnb, but the fact that I was seeing what was, essentially, one very elaborate ad as a piece of the Airbnb content, seamlessly integrated within the other listings. It was so seamless, in fact, that I hadn’t noticed it was an ad at first.

Novelty had my guard down.

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Like most people, I tend to get annoyed when I see an ad over and over again. My finger hovers over the ‘Skip Ad’ button on the YouTube pre-rolls, waiting for that 5-second timer to elapse. Every once in a while, however, something catches my eye as particularly interesting, funny, engaging, or just plain new. Those are the messages I pay attention to.

Geico has the art of making me want to listen to them down to a science. As a company, they are constantly refreshing their messaging. Because they also put such a strong emphasis on keeping their ads exciting, this means that whenever a new campaign shows up, I pay attention, wondering exactly what they have come up with this time.

The only problem with this strategy is that it is prohibitively expensive for many companies. Creative content costs money, just like any content, and more refreshes mean more expense—something that companies with more constrained marketing budgets simply cannot afford. How, then, can a company take advantage of the power of novel advertising without breaking the bank?

Creativity shouldn’t cost a fortune.

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The price of creative content does not have to be a limiting factor. That is exactly what I find so compelling about the Art Institute of Chicago’s Van Gogh Airbnb—it is certainly a creative piece of content, but it is also deployed creatively.

Nowadays, advertisers can easily be spoiled for choice when it comes to where they show their marketing content. There are scores upon scores of ad platforms, each with their own unique advantages. Some may reach a broader audience, but savvy marketers are increasingly turning towards platforms that focus on smaller, more targeted audiences and ones in which marketing content can more seamlessly be integrated into the general content that consumers want to see.

By moving to smaller, more diverse, and more targeted marketing platforms advertisers are learning how to better engage with their clients, and the ones that get there first do it best—that’s just the nature of novelty. The first website banner ad attracted massive amounts of traffic. Before that, the first ads on television were captivating, and before that, radio ads brought people their favorite programming. In this world of TiVo and iPods, people can now skip the ad content that they have come to find distracting. Where it is still new and exciting, however, people do pay attention, allowing advertisers to make the most of their creative content without having to spend on perpetually rotating campaigns.

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About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

 

Bringing Digital Closer to Home: A Pet Cause Media Test

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

When I saw the numbers on digital out of home (DOOH) advertising—numbers like 33% better performance compared to print advertising according to Nielsen—I was understandably skeptical. Despite the fact that my company runs DOOH ads in veterinary practices, and despite having confidence in our system, I wanted to know more about how DOOH functions in the veterinary environment. To get a better sense, our CEO, our veterinary advisors, and I put together a simple 60-day test program in three of our hospitals to see how placing a call-to-action type message on our digital signage systems would affect sales.

The results were, frankly, surprising. Within 60 days, year over year sales of our selected product (a feline heartworm preventive medication—notoriously hard to sell, especially in the winter) had risen from 114% to 142%—triple the lift generated by an ongoing staff awareness campaign being run by the national hospital group that owned the participating hospitals. We could not have hoped for much better out of our first trial with the system.

Though we were pleasantly surprised by our results, perhaps we should not have been. Our results seem to support the findings of top research firms that digital signage is a better medium for marketers to spread their message at the point of purchase than any other—including, as our trial shows, staff awareness campaigns. Informing the clients informed their demand, and the vets followed suit, writing more scripts for this specific feline heartworm medication. In turn, the vets did more business and, more importantly, did better medicine. Who can argue with that?

To learn more about our trial, you can download the study at:

http://petcausemedia.com/documents/PetCauseMedia-FelineHeartwormStudy-2months-2016.pdf


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

 

http://petcausemedia.com/documents/PetCauseMedia-FelineHeartwormStudy-2months-2016.pdf

Presenting a Diversified Media Campaign

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita 

In my post from January 2nd, The Truth About the Omnishopper, I mentioned three ways in which you could work to make your product’s messaging feel good to the modern consumer. Here I go deeper into the last—presenting a diversified media campaign.

Diversity can be an ally or an enemy in the effort to win over customers. At its best, a diversified campaign allows a marketer to familiarize the audience with the product, to make multiple touches, and to become an accepted part of their accepted daily experience. At its worst, a diversified campaign can feel inescapable, with overbearing ads encircling the potential customer at every turn. The differences between these two can be small, but their effects will always be great.

First, a good diversified campaign should always strive to add value to the customer’s experience. Customers don’t want to be subjected to ads, but if they can be engaged by them, all of a sudden the throngs of potential customers become an audience. This is the key to successful marketing in general, but in a diversified, omni-channel campaign, it is of the utmost importance. Failure to create content that a customer would seek out on their own will make any campaign feel like an overwhelming mass of commercialism, not the welcoming reminder that you are hoping for.

When putting together an omni-channel campaign, remember not only to add value, but to add value in different ways. If you see the exact same content everywhere you go, no matter how good it was the first time, it will start to get old. Consistent messaging and aesthetic values are good things—identical is not. Variety and diversity should go hand in hand with your omni-channel marketing efforts. In essence, you are providing the consumer more value by doing so, and they will respond positively.

Finally, it is essential that you know what messaging you are running where. When is the last time that you truly felt that a banner ad on a webpage had added value? Find when and where your consumers make their decisions, and find a way to add value to that decision. Point of purchase signage, especially digital signage, is a great way to do this, as it can help you raise awareness of your message or provide an extra touch right before the customer chooses a product. When used to flesh out an existing campaign, point of purchase signage is an excellent way to reinforce a robust marketing effort and is quickly becoming an indispensable tool in the arsenal of sophisticated marketers.

For more information on digital signage and the surprising effects that it can have in creating sales lift, look for my upcoming blog post Bringing Digital Closer to Home: A Pet Cause Media Test.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

Staying Adaptable and Responding to What Matters to Your Customers

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

In my post from January 2nd, The Truth About the Omnishopper, I mentioned three ways in which you could work to make your product’s messaging feel good to the modern consumer. Here I’ll talk a bit more in depth about the second—staying adaptable and responding to your customers’ interests.

Every good marketer should be responsive to his or her customers, but doing so is not necessarily as easy as it may seem. The main reason for this is, simply put, people are fickle. One day they want savings, the next day they want features, the next day they want aesthetics, then ergonomics, then savings again. It can be a challenge for the consumer to keep their desires straight, much less the marketer attempting to predict them. This is where research is key. Large market studies are invaluable for helping to understand general market trends and consumer behavior. These, in turn, can give you a general idea of how to target your messaging to better reach your customers.

The problem with research like this is that it can’t get you the specifics that you need to make your marketing efforts really resonate. To do that, you need to perform your own marketing research, something that all large companies already do. This typically involves multiple small runs of various related but slightly different messages, followed by an analysis of which variation produced the best results. The advantage of performing this type of research is that it is far more comprehensive than a large study. In effect, you can let your customers fine-tune your message for you. The problem, however, is that, when done by traditional methods, the process is long and expensive. Not only do you have to put up all the content that you wish to test, you have to take down and replace everything that didn’t work.

Digital marketing can offer a way to fast-track your market research in an economical way. Unlike other media, digital can be altered almost immediately. In addition, it is easy to test multiple variations on a particular message, because distribution of content is greatly simplified. Digital out of home advertising has an additional advantage, because managers at the site of your advertisement (for example, the veterinarians at the vet’s office) can report customer feedback on your messages directly to you or your advertising agent. Because of this, it pays to foster a good relationship with the locations that you advertise in—if you can benefit them by some form other than simple payment, you would be wise to do so. Digital marketing is, therefore, your best tool for staying adaptable and responsive to customer concerns.

All this discussion, however, still begs the question: how does being responsive and adaptable make your product feel good to the customer? Simply put, if the client feels that the marketing messages are directed to them and for them, they will feel good about the product. Customers want to know that the product being sold to them is being sold to them for a reason—if it is marketed to them, it should really help them. Of course, the only way to be sure of this is to know the customer, or at least to give that impression. If they do feel like they are understood, they will be more inclined to trust the product and to buy it. Combined with the first tip, customers will understand that you don’t just know when where they do their important thinking, but what their main desires are when they are in that state of mind. Combined, these two go a long way towards making the customer feel good about the product.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

Reaching them When and Where it Matters

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

In my post from January 2nd, The Truth About the Omnishopper, I mentioned three ways in which you could work to make your product’s messaging feel good to the modern consumer. I’d like to clarify the first of these—reaching your customers when and where it matters—here, with further posts on the latter two to come shortly.

First of all, to say when and where implies that these are two fundamentally different concepts. This is not the case. When your customer is in the frame of mind to consider buying your product, knowing where they are is crucial. Conversely, if you know that your customer will be somewhere that engages their mindset such that they will be susceptible to your messages, then that is always the right time. The one does not exist without the other.

Once you realize this, it should be clear how knowing the right place and time to interact with your customers can help to make your product feel good to them. Don’t think of that right place and right time as a moment, but rather as an experience. Your job as a marketer is to integrate your brand’s messages with that experience to the best of your ability. Furthermore, by doing so, you should try to add value to that experience.

Think of Volkswagen’s Superbowl ad with the Darth Vader kid, or almost any Geico ad you have ever seen. These messages keep you entertained, engaged, and enrich your experience. As a result, you consume them as you would any other product. What you might not have considered about those commercials is that you don’t simply remember them because they are good, but also because they are happening at the right place and time. When you are watching a show, and a clever advertisement comes on, you will be more inclined to watch it, because you came to that show for entertainment. Anything else that is suitably entertaining will therefore give you the same value that you are looking for (during the Superbowl, people even expect to be entertained by advertiser content). Imagine the power of knowing how to become a part of your customers’ experience at any related point. Entertain when and where they want to be entertained, alert when and where they want to be alerted, educate when and where they want to be educated.

Of course, it is hard to predict when your customers are going to be receptive to your messages if you don’t know where they are, especially when being in a particular place puts them in the right state of mind. But looking for your customers doesn’t have to be complicated. In the pet industry, there is one clear focal point: the veterinary hospital. In this industry, every customer will, at some point or another, go through this one key point that also serves as the intersection of customers, experts (the veterinary health professionals), and vendors. If you can help to improve the experience for either the clients or the vets, you can, in turn, produce a better experience all around. By incorporating your product’s messages into this improved experience, you have made it feel good in the eyes of the customer.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

The Truth about the Omnishopper is… It’s You

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

Despite what you might have heard, the omnishopper is not an entirely new phenomenon. She is not some mysterious Generation-Y computer genius that can simultaneously process thousands of reviews on Amazon while, at the same time, skipping over every digital advertisement that she comes across. The omnishopper is, in fact, you. Don’t believe me? Think about your buying behavior today. If you make a large purchase, you probably spend some time considering your alternatives. You’ll look on company websites and read reviews online. Then you’ll go to the store, ask a sales rep about the product, and finalize your decision. During the course of your search, you will have consumed marketing messages from at least a dozen sources before finally settling in on you choice.

If that sounds like a far cry from the nightmare scenario of omnishoppers ‘winning’ some sort of battle against marketers, you would be correct. In fact, people have been consuming marketing information from as many sources as possible for millennia—there are advertisements scratched into the walls of Pompeii—but with each additional medium, marketers have had to learn to adapt. With the advent of the newspaper, advertisers had to learn how to give their messages truly mass appeal; with radio, marketers had to figure out how to make their products sound good; with television, the trick was to get the product to look good. Each new era built off of the successes of the past to create increasingly effective messages. What then, is the trick to reaching today’s digital omnishopper?

Where digital media can help the modern marketer is in making the product feel good. The trick here is to use what has already worked, incorporating the advantages that digital media offers. Don’t just give the consumer features; give them a rich experience that begins with your marketing by:

Reaching them when and where it matters:

Digital gives you unparalleled access to your customers at the time and place in which they make decisions related to your product. Nowhere is this more true than digital out of home, which can allow you to reach your clients in the hospital, at the store, or anywhere else that both you and they do business. By engaging the customer while they are in the right frame of mind, your company can ensure the best results from it marketing budget. A recent Neilson study showed that four out of five companies saw up to 33% sales increase from digital out of home strategies.

Staying adaptable and responding to what matters to your customers:

The pace of marketing is increasing, so it pays to be adaptable. Conventional marketing strategies take a long time to prepare and to change if necessary. Digital, on the other hand, can be altered almost immediately to better suit the needs of your business. Whether you are running promotions, testing different variations of a message, or simply trying to keep your marketing campaign fresh and novel, nothing moves at the speed of digital, making it the ideal platform for staying directly responsive to your customers.

Presenting a diversified media campaign:

Traditional media is not going to go away, but it is also not as relevant as it once was. This has always been the case with the introduction of new media forms—radio threatened print and television threatened both—and that can be both a cause for excitement and concern. It pays to be ahead of the curve, and there is no better time than the present to begin. Digital media, especially digital out of home (see my previous post on the Dos and Don’ts of Digital Marketing), allows your company many more opportunities to reach your customers and to actively engage them. Pairing this with a mobile, web, or retail strategy can help to move customers down the sales funnel, keeping them engaged and interested the entire time.

The omnishopper isn’t a new person, simply the same people that you already know with access to new tools. These new tools necessitate a softer approach to marketing, but not an inherently different one. Change where you interact with your customers, not how, and ensure that you are keeping them engaged while you do. Marketing hasn’t changed, simply where you can market. The balance doesn’t have to be swinging in favor of the consumer, but could just as easily favor the smart marketer who knows her customers and who can engage them when and where they make their purchasing decisions.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

What the Best Advertisers Know, and What You Might Be Missing

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

Watch this video until you get bored, then come back:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edx9D2yaOGs

Beforehand, if I had told you that it is only three minutes long, you would probably have thought that that wasn’t very much time at all. Faced with the reality of three minutes of nothing, however, you start to realize just how long it is. If you made it all the way through, congratulations. If not, you are like me and, moreover, like your average customer.

The best advertisers know this—namely that people don’t want to sit through long videos telling them about something they lost interest in two minutes ago. If you want to engage your potential customers, you have a very short window to do so. Geico knows this. Take a look at their “You Can’t Skip This Geico Ad, Because It’s Already Over” campaign (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekICYdr5fF4), and you’ll see the beauty of short ads. The trick isn’t to convey all the pieces of information that you would like your customers to know. They trick is to get them the most important piece or pieces so that they will remember your brand and come to you.

Your advertisement is in your control, but so is where you show it. Keep that in mind when you are selecting your advertising medium. If people expect that your content is going to be an impediment, or if they can simply ignore it to get to what they really want, they will. With ad-block technology on the rise, up 41% in the past year accord ing to PaigFair, and with people expecting to be able to skip ads on formats like Youtube, you want to make sure that you are selecting a medium that incorporates your brief ad into the user experience—something that alternates your short-form ad with short form entertainment, and provided to a captive, pure play, audience that is as targeted as possible.

Those platforms are rare, but when you find them, you’ll also find your customers engaging with your advertisements, and your marketing budget will start paying off big time. Don’t believe me? Just ask the 47% of viewers who remembered the ads they saw on a digital out of home television system in a medical practice, and the 19% made an unplanned purchase after seeing advertiser messages on hospital screens. Don’t thank me; thank the research, and you can’t skip this post, because it’s already over.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.