We stayed in a new AC Hotel by Marriott. It has a cool vibe and is described as a “new way to hotel.” 20170611_080556

The hotel rooms are modern and the small size gives it a sophisticated, but neighborhood feel. But it is the attention to detail that sets this hotel apart from others, even down to the square box that hold a soap ball.

So like so many things in life, you don’t care about something until people encourage you to care. I heard another guest commenting in the bar about the soap ball. It was a simple, distinct hit.

In this age of hyper mass production, it is the little things, the unique touches that differentiate you from all the others. If you don’t stand up and stand out, you’ll fade into the background.

Your packaging—for a product, proposal or information packet—says a lot about your brand and your purpose. 20170611_100535

For Tiffany & Co., the robin-egg blue box is more recognizable that any piece of jewelry. The brand memory is the way the blue box made you feel.

Packaging tells people whether what is inside is important, worth spending the time and relevant to your needs. Note how Apple’s packaging is simple and sleek. It undeniably says, “this brand is important.”

Thelma’s in East Des Moines sells their cookies in several unique boxes. However, the “oven box” is credited with doubling sales. Even though the cookies are delicious, the box is moving the product just as fast.

We already know the label of a bottle of wine has a real impact on the taste. So we should also know that strong packaging can offer the same advantages to your information and products.


You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you are more likely to buy a book based on its cover

I just heard a car commercial on my “personalized” Pandora channel and it sounded wrong. So did the bank ad and the Rocket Mortgage ad. Portrait of highschool student in classroom

The copy was fine, the music was okay and the sound effects appropriate, but they all sounded like they didn’t know I was listening to Pandora. They sounded very fake, old-fashioned and inappropriate for the medium.

Why is this? Pandora is not radio. That radio ad the car dealer lifted and placed on Pandora sounds outdated. The fake scenarios sound even fakier. Scripts sound too much like, well, scripts. Different environments and different listening require different creative thinking, and authenticity rules.

Here is some advice from the experts at Pandora:

  • Use a conversational tone: “Traditional radio ads are notorious for shouting voiceovers, overused sound effects and excessive repetition. This approach can be especially off-putting when delivered in a digital environment. Using a conversational tone creates an easier transition between entertainment content (like music) and advertising. It’s less jarring, so it feel like less of an interruption. The listener should feel like they’re being spoken by a friend, by someone they can trust.” 
  • Address the individual: Most of Pandora listeners are using ear buds, so write it like you are talking directly into one person’s ear, because that is exactly what you’re doing.
  • Simplify your value proposition: Make it simple to consume. Enough said.
  • Use a clear call to action: Don’t yell it, just tell people what you want them to do, such as fill out a form, visit a website, watch a video or download a white paper.

Pandora is not radio. It is its own medium in a world of media, and it needs distinct messaging to make it work. Remember, to get people to buy, they need to buy into you and your organization.

Just when you think there are too many white papers, too many landing pages, too many video sources and too many content providers, here is research to contradict that notion: According to 2017 Segmint Consumer Bank Marketing Study, 80% of those surveyed believe their financial institution should be providing MORE information. Businesswoman reading documents at desk in office

People want to make the best financial decisions, but instead of sharing information about how to make good decisions, financial institutions are spending too much time talking about products. Which leads to another surprise result from the study: 75% of Americans don’t know what their bank does.

The study reported consumers who say they understand the products their banking provider offers.

  • Community Bank—27%
  • Credit Union—22%
  • Regional Bank—23%

Only 1 in 4 believe their banking provider delivers information to help them reach their financial goals.

The answer is simply benefit selling: What benefit are you bringing to the table that will help your customers or members? More than half of the people surveyed said they would prefer their bank provider to “proactively” share information. Only 10% said they receive too much information from their financial institutions.

This is an alert, not a drill: More people are streaming video services than have a cable subscription. A survey by Fluent LLC (May 2017) found that 67% of US internet users watch or have access to a streaming service, while just 61% have cable in their homes. Concept isolated photo of cutting cable cord

Netflix is the top among millennials and older people. Amazon Prime was a distant second. Is this a huge dramatic shift in the technology marketplace with ramifications throughout connected households? Well, yes and no. The No. 1 reason cited for streaming content was cost. The second reason was that the streaming service offered content on any device. Original content for nearly 1/5th of all respondents was also a strong draw.

Cable cutting has been a growing trend, and now that the lines have crossed, you will see more pull toward the low-cost provider. For some, the over-the-air digital channels of broadcast affiliates and a Netflix subscription are a strong replacement for hundreds of un-watched cable channels. But don’t count cable out just yet because you still need a strong internet signal to pull in all the streaming services—and cable is the best option to-date.

Soon you may see a cable company throw in the channels for free with a long, expensive internet package.

Statue of Liberty

When a box arrives at your desk, it begs to be opened. I don’t get a box every day, especially a large green box, so this was a surprise. Not only did I need to open it, but everyone else in the office also wanted to know what was inside. 20170612_112703

It was a direct mail package, but still fun. Did it work? I don’t know yet because I have not done enough research. However, if the goal was to make me aware of this brand, read the paragraph about what they do and then visit the website, it worked like a charm. We also have the super large coffee cup in the office as a reminder of the effort.

Direct mail still works, it just needs to be a very big idea.