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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What the Cola Wars Can Teach About Marketing

Splash! Imagine you are walking down the street and see a group of people trying to get volunteers for a taste testing. In the cups before them they have two identical-looking colas. They ask you to try both cups and pick which one you prefer. You will then need to try and identify which is Coke and which is Pepsi.

Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Do you think you would actually pick the flavor you usually drink (in other words, if you usually drink Coke, would you actually select that one as your favorite)?

Shockingly, many people don't. A number of different experiments have shown that many people are unable to correctly identify which cola is which. Even more surprisingly, in double blind taste tests, Pepsi often wins. It was this phenomenon that led to Pepsi steadily encroaching upon Coca-Cola's lead in the market in the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to win back customers, Coca-Cola introduced the debacle that was New Coke. The new formula was quickly rejected by consumers, and the company worked to gain back the trust of their loyal customers.

Coca-Cola managed to transition out of their problematic campaign and back to their original formula, but this left them in an interesting position. They still used the original formula, which customers said they wanted, but this formula was the one that often lost to Pepsi in taste tests. In the twenty years since this fiasco, Coca-Cola still manages to lead the market and has been holding steady.

According to what many people view as the unwritten rules of marketing, this should not be happening. Coke has two major points working against it.

  1. Coke's formula is often deemed inferior by the consumer base in taste tests.

  2. The company completely alienated much of its loyal consumer base when it introduced New Coke without adequate market research.



Yet somehow Coca-Cola remains ahead.

Understanding why this happened and what companies today can learn from it can help you revolutionize your advertising campaigns.

Branding

Coca-Cola's advertising works to develop a certain mentality in us. When we see the brand's familiar script logo, we connect to the company's rich history. We see small children walking up to drugstore counters to buy a Coke. We also connect with the company's familiar advertising icons (its polar bears, for example) that are often featured in various advertising campaigns. Of course, Coca-Cola's friendship ads help us feel connected to other Coke drinkers around the globe, as well.

The key here is the brand. Coca-Cola is now an iconic brand. It has become such a staple in our culture that in some regions, the word 'Coke' is used to mean any soft drink.

So what are you doing to develop your brand? Creating and maintaining a strong brand should be at the center of all your marketing. Customers make decisions based on the subconscious associations they develop between a company's brand and its intangibles, including its quality, reliability, and history. Successful marketing helps to encourage positive associations in consumers' minds.

Thinking about the entire customer experience

Taste tests often show that Pepsi is the preferred brand, especially considering it is slightly sweeter. While this might be better for short-term tastes, many people drink soft drinks in vast quantities. They don't just drink a sip or two. They drink large bottles. Given the entire customer experience, it's easier to see why the slightly sweeter brand seems to be less preferred in the long run.

Branding and considering the entire customer experience have both had an enormous impact on Coca-Cola's ability to hold onto its lead over Pepsi, despite taste tests and marketing troubles. When you keep these criteria in mind for your company, you'll also be able to boost your success. So grab a soft drink, sit down, and work with us to begin determining how you can better market your company.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nurturing Leads from Every Angle

When it comes to successfully nurturing leads from your marketing efforts, you already know you need to stay on top of email with potential clients. Email is a great way to stay in touch with customers, reach out to them periodically to see if they're ready to buy, and even just remind them about your company. While email is undoubtedly a useful tool in the world of marketing, it isn't the only way to successfully turn a lead into a sale. Here are a few other tools you should keep handy as you work to nurture new leads.

Understand who your customers are and where they are in their purchase journey. Then use that information appropriately.

A buyer's journey includes all the research and decision-making steps they take as they prepare to buy a product. Some customers are just starting out. They're looking for general information about their options and what factors they should be considering. Other buyers have narrowed down their search to just a few options and are looking to be convinced why one is superior to another. Still others are just about to make a purchase but just want to verify the product information. Understanding the buyer persona and where people are in the buying process will allow you to create targeted ads, messages, and content for customers at every step of the journey, increasing the odds they'll make a purchase.

Make sure your website makes it easy for customers to move through the buying process.

Your website should be designed to encourage people to move through the sales funnel, exciting them about your products and making them eager to complete the transaction. Personalization is a fantastic way to accomplish this. Have your website greet people by name, especially if they've visited before.

Use retargeting ads

Retargeting ads can be extremely helpful for bringing customers back to your website, especially if they've left items in your site's shopping cart. Customers have a tendency to visit pages while they're doing research, but then leave the page because they're not ready to make a purchase yet. Retargeting ads can help bring customers back to the page and remind them about your products and why they're superior. Even better, have your page remember the customer the next time they return. Remember what items they looked at or what they seemed interested in. Customers will appreciate the extra effort and the added ease in finding what they're looking for.

Make the most of social media

Keep an eye on social media for mentions of your company. This will alert you to customers considering your company or investigating your industry. You can then swoop in and make contact as they're beginning their search. Social media is also a great tool for remaining in contact with potential buyers and past buyers. Like people's status updates, retweet interesting things they have to say, and generally show interest in them. It will make them see you and your company more favorably, while also helping you remain in the forefront of their mind as they prepare to make a buying decision.

Nurturing leads is critical to persuading customers who are considering a purchase. While follow-up emails certainly play a role in bringing customers to the checkout button, they're not the only factor. Use some of the ideas above, and begin improving conversion rates quickly.