Tag Archives: marketing

What Your Signage Says About You

By Anne Connor

Anne Connor-signageBen could hardly wait to set up his own business after years of working for a large company. Knowing the demographics of his market area, Ben wanted to market to the large Latino population there. So, he looked up the key words in Spanish and created a beautifully designed website and colorful, eye-catching signage to attract new business from the surrounding Spanish-speaking communities. Then he decided to hire his former coworker Carlos—who grew up in a bilingual home—to handle potential customers who felt more comfortable doing business in Spanish. The catchy bilingual sign Ben came up with turned heads as well, but not for the reasons he expected.

Your signs say a lot about your business—your expertise, attention to detail and overall competency. Click To Tweet

¿Qué Pasa?

Business was underwhelming at first. Latinos who did stop in to were genuinely surprised to find an employee who could speak their language because the sign out front contained “Spanish” words that were misspelled, missing accents or even non-existent! For instance, the Spanish word “servicios” was spelled as “servicies” instead.

Ben didn’t think much more about it until another Spanish-speaking lady came by to say that she was confused about one type of business offered because of a literal translation of “umbrella” as something to do with the device that keeps the rain off of you, not an encompassing service. While Carlos took the extra time to explain this to her, Ben suddenly realized that his seemingly minor mistakes were costing him business. As soon as he replaced all the signs inside and outside of his office —not to mention reprinting flyers and updating his website—at a substantial cost, Ben’s profits picked up tremendously.

Experienced signage professionals say some of their toughest jobs involve deliberately misspelled words, such as “Korner” or “Qwik,” which are meant to be catchy and attract attention, because they require extra quality-control steps. And if they’re making signs containing foreign languages, they usually ask their clients to have them proofed by a professional translator. Sign creators make sure the design is right, but most are not language experts as well.

Signage that Sells

As a business owner, your signage speaks volumes about you. It’s that first impression that will either encourage someone to step through your door—or click on your website—and take a closer look at what you have to offer. Here are some tips to make sure your signage sells:

  1. Make your stand-alone storefront stand out. Your logo and/or trade name should attract attention. Be sure to fully brief your designers: Who is your target customer (walk-in, passerby, drive-by, all of the above)? Ask for their advice about the appropriate font style and size for each piece of information and each kind of sign they make you. Remember to include your address number, phone number and website on the sign as well.
  2. Be consistent. Brand recognition is key, and consistent signage will help you build a recognizable brand that people will remember. Make sure your branding is on everything—from the sidewalk signs advertising special sales to the teardrop banners you use at trade shows. If your brand always speaks with one voice, more folks will remember your name for word-of-mouth referrals.
  3. Show them the way. Design branded way-finding signs that are concise and unambiguous. Make it easy for anyone to find you and less likely to find one of your competitors.
  4. Speak their language. Do many of your customers speak English as a second language? Consider hiring bilingual staff and announcing loud and clear—on your signs! —that your business can assist them in their native language. If nothing else, consult professional translators who specialize in your industry to ensure your marketing materials send the right message. Studies show that people prefer to shop in their native language.
  5. Keep them safe. If you employ people with limited English proficiency (LEP) or cater to LEP customers, you’ll not only help prevent workplace accidents, you’ll also win over staff and customers by having safety signs printed in their native/dominant language. Make sure to use professional translators with experience in occupational safety. They will not only ensure your signs send the right message; they can also make sure that message fits the sign, as letter-spacing and other nuances may need to change depending on the target language. Note that the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide the “It’s The Law” safety poster in several languages for free at: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/poster.html. And don’t forget that some US states and territories have their own signage requirements. Check whether yours is one of them at: https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.

As a business owner, the last thing you want is for your signage to turn people off before you even have the chance to meet them. Your signs say a lot about your business—your expertise, attention to detail and overall competency. A well-designed, consistent and flawless message across your print and digital media will build positive brand awareness, get people in the door, and ultimately boost your bottom line.

Anne Connor is a professional Spanish and Italian-to-English medical and legal translator and an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 103 countries. For more information on ATA and to hire a translation or interpreting professional, please visit www.atanet.org.

1+1=7: Leveraging Value-Based Healthcare for Positive ROI

By Gregory T. Reinecke

Gregory T. Reinecke-healthcareChange is about change! In the healthcare industry, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included another definition for clinical success. The government determined success to mean a patient does not return to the clinic within thirty days of original discharge. This is now old news. Yet a survey in 2017 showed that 59 percent of healthcare organizations (up from 33 percent in 2016) still had concerns about the Affordable Care Act. The consensus was that dealing with this move from a volume-based care requirement to a value-based one is still of concern.

The shift from fee-for-service to a value-based model is driving change and a rethinking of doctor/clinic and patient relationships. With change you are forced to review allocation of resources, investment strategies, and even to do more with less. In this changed landscape—in a value-based environment—how do you define ROI? Where do you invest?

With a greater awareness and focus that past practices in treating and releasing patients will need to be revamped, new consideration on non-clinical patient information has become important. In the current approach, the doctor is concerned with the patient in a one-on-one relationship. In the new environment, the interaction with the patient goes beyond the clinic and into non-clinical areas.

What is in the patient’s home environment that supports or does not support healing and wholeness? What external factors are detrimental to a patient’s ideal recovery? These factors have been noted to include social and physical determinants. How does one sort these new factors and determine where to invest?

Value-based healthcare clearly shifts the practice to include more people-side intangible factors—into areas not as comfortable for the medical practitioner. The practice of medicine deals mostly with specifics, not with non-specifics such as feelings and emotions. The new practice of medicine is moving into a full partnership with intangible factors, especially social determinants that affect success of healing and wholeness for a patient.

A 2018 report of data collected from 300,000 Americans identified factors that create healthy living environments. They reported that only twelve factors contributed to 90 percent of the variations in the well-being of people across the country. These factors were related to demographics, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

It is clear the welfare of patients is no longer focused in the clinic, but has broadened into a holistic, community enterprise. You have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child; now it takes a community to help people heal! No doubt this recognition of the broadening healthcare enterprise may be part of the reason 59 percent of health providers find the new healthcare expectations challenging.

As a means to begin to understand how to peel back this onion, we have looked at what options healthcare organizations have in making change. A good place to start is to follow where we currently spend money and use resources and then decide where we need to reallocate funding for the new healthcare needs. So which investments might lead to a more applicable and responsive patient care program?

In every organization, there are seven types of investments available. In the outline below, we view each of the seven investments from the perspective of the current Fee-for-service focus to the Value-based focus. For each investment, we have imagined what change result might be desired. The first five capitals followed with asterisks are people or people-derived investments.Understanding the patients’ demographics as well as well as geography will be important in characterizing diverse subgroups in communities under consideration. Click To Tweet

HUMAN CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Patient is a number
  • Value-based: Patient is a person
  • Change desired: Consider a clinical team focused on what an ideal (people focused) value-based healthcare system could be

RELATIONSHIP CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Transactional: buyer (patient) and Seller (doctor)
  • Value-based: Familial: cooperative solutions, especially post-clinic
  • Change desired: Need to better engage patient in their community; build relationships, understand subgroups

SPIRITUAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Formal (culture, satisfaction, norms)
  • Value-based: Informal (family-like: culture, satisfaction, personal, relationships)
  • Change desired: Need a support network for patient: partner and co-fund with community groups for health and wellness; environmental integration

CUSTOMER CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Cordial formal service
  • Value-based: Collegial informal service; partnering together for health
  • Change desired: Need a new mindset to think health and wellness, holistically; see patient in their environment.

ORGANIZATIONAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Clinic and equipment support
  • Value-based: Invest to support patient beyond the clinic
  • Change desired: Need to imagine ways to connect/build wellness infrastructure to include community partners and ancillary health groups

PHYSICAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Focus on clinical needs and technology
  • Value-based: Invest in post-clinical and discharge needs
  • Change desired: Need to fund ongoing support, such as with out- patient wellness support to include wellness integration aides

FINANCIAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Revenue generation first
  • Value-based: Patient satisfaction followed by Revenue generations
  • Change desired: Need to fund ongoing support, such as with an out- patient ‘wellness’ aide

We have previously shown that an investment on either the task or people sides requires an investment on the opposite side to reap optimal ROI.  For example, an investment of new technology requires an investment in people to maximally exploit the technology. Or if one invests in people to do work, look for ways to invest in materials or technology to help people optimally perform. Since 71 percent (five of seven) of the investment opportunities are on people or people-derived assets, investment opportunities are mostly on the intangible, soft side.

Value-based healthcare investments are thus people-side ones. Understanding the patients’ demographics as well as well as geography will be important in characterizing diverse subgroups in communities under consideration. In order to plan for investments, a strategic approach is needed to tactically allocate resources. We believe that what underpins an effective tactical response is knowledge and understanding of situations and challenges on the ground. They directly affect why people get sick but also can expose the environmental factors that will slow their recovery and adversely affect ROI. Proactively responding to complex challenges at the core must fundamentally go beyond traditional 1+1=2 solutions and embrace a broader range of intangibles into the equation. Depending on the desired change result, one invests accordingly. With this mindset, we are certain that the ROI will be better than 1+1=2, and more like 1+1=7!

Gregory T. Reinecke, President, GeoDimensional Decision Group LLC has over three decades of experience delivering powerful value-driven solutions focused on ROI to healthcare, public safety and government agencies. GeoDD creates solutions that help clients manage risk and solve difficult problems, utilizing big data, geography, geospatial engineering, plus social science and demography to reveal new solution possibilities. For more on Gregory T. Reinecke, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

Three Critical Ways Marketing Can Be Applied to Close More Sales

By Andy Slipher

Andy SlipherDo you operate in an organization where sales begins with a capital “S” and marketing with a lower case “m?” Sales-centric organizations often operate at such a high level in sales, they lack marketing prowess. Some are even altogether marketing-phobic, believing marketers exist to usurp the importance of salespeople or to replace them altogether. What happens, as a result, is that sales-centric organizations fail to integrate fundamental marketing principles into the sales process—principles that could actually improve their effectiveness. Although this phenomenon is not uncommon, it can leave customers with feelings that range from a lack of a clear understanding to downright confusion. Who does this kind of thinking benefit? Certainly not the customer.

The bottom line regarding marketing and its place in a sales-dependent organization is that it should thrive upon supporting sales, and not to supplanting it. It’s a simple fact that in certain environments where customer relationships must be continually nurtured and where product investment is high (business-to-business environments, for example), sales and good salespeople are of paramount importance. They help solve customer problems, bestow benefits, share product knowledge, behave proactively, and are simply there for customers when called upon.

At the same time, such organizations can have blind spots when it comes to using marketing to their collective advantage. They don’t see that marketing is there to extend and expand the sales opportunity. As a result, their salespeople aren’t fully prepared and equipped with what they need to do their best while enabling better outcomes for their customers.

Want to improve your odds of success in sales by using marketing to your advantage? Here are three ways:

1. Understand what marketing is and what it is not.

Marketing is not simply media. It’s not cheap or cheesy gimmicks designed to get the attention of your customer. Rather, proper marketing is anything you do in good faith to get your product or service into the hands of the customer. The breadth of marketing spans the entire buying cycle, and beyond. As such, effective marketing involves planning, investment and understanding of the needs of your customer. Think of it as everything else that wraps around your sales approach (in front of, during and beyond) to ensure that the customer has a positive and persuasive experience.Effective marketing involves planning, investment and understanding of the needs of your customer. Click To Tweet

For example, what if, by asking your business-to-business customer, you learn that he or she will have to champion your business and product to others within his or her organization? What do you do? It’s not feasible to be at every internal meeting. You might instead think in terms of clear, succinct messaging and professional materials to leave with your customer—ones that upon initial presentation by you, he or she could then represent to others with an adequate degree of confidence and knowledge. This is one possible marketing tool. But, it begins by discovering and understanding customer’s own mindset, needs and buying process.

2. Embrace the visual.

Effective salespeople are generally great at the verbal aspect of selling—persuading with words. However, virtually all customers today also rely upon and expect the visual. For example, who would have thought twenty years ago that we could manage a significant part of buying a new home by taking virtual home tours from anywhere? Yet this is the world we now live in, thanks to technology. The lesson is that people are now accustomed to buying only what they can see. It’s a studied fact that people generally remember only 20 percent of what they hear, but up to 50 percent of what they both hear and see. Therefore, the more you can help them visualize what they are buying (even if what you sell is a service), the greater your odds of success. How does this play into your sales process? How could you improve upon the visual beauty of what you sell? What objects, models, graphs, photos, maps, videos, tables or illustrations could you use to better persuade? What is both practical and effective? If you cannot yet answer these questions, start by asking your customers what they would want to see more of.

3. Integrate your process.

Have you identified and broken down your sales process? What is the first thing you do? Second, third and so on? How does your process both move the sale forward and serve the needs of the customer? These are wider questions beyond, “How do I get more chances in front the customer?” Yet, by asking such questions, you have the opportunity to integrate a wider range of tactics into your sales process that work toward a common goal. For example, rather than focusing on getting a sales call first, what about an approach that begins with having a wider conversation with would-be customers about their needs and challenges? How would you ask such questions? Would you engage with them around a common issue through social media? Would you mail them an old-school letter? Would you offer a free lunch-and-learn session? Or would you make a gratis overture to solve a relevant problem in order to build even more goodwill and trust? This opening up of the sale to a larger process engages a marketing mindset. It integrates your everyday sales tools with a broader set of options that work together for better outcomes.

Sales and marketing shouldn’t be thought of as mutually exclusive. After all, they serve a common goal. Even if you are deep in a sales-centric organization, you can still integrate strategic marketing thinking and tactics into your own approach to improve your chances for success, while delighting more of your customers in the process.

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. He is an accomplished strategist, interim CMO, speaker and writer on marketing strategy. He is marketing lecturer for SMU’s accredited Bank Operations Institute for professional bankers, and for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT). Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information, visit TheBigHow.com.

Marketing and the Myth of “We Need A New Idea!”

By Andy Slipher

One of the biggest challenges in marketing heard by businesses across almost all industries is the constant search for their next idea—the one that’s going to hook and reel in new customers and clientele. It’s the idea that constantly eludes them yet, if they find it, will lead to more revenues, long-term relationships and evergreen sales.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking is largely mythology. There is almost always no missing other. And, if you haven’t figured out the big idea of your product or service—what’s intrinsically compelling about it—you have bigger problems than coming up with the latest gimmick.

Searching for a single elusive idea is like looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. It depends on that which is neither familiar, nor within reach. It calls upon disconnected tactics over a focused and cohesive strategy. And, in the end, it manifests itself in the form of one-off and lackluster attempts that yield underwhelming results.
Want to address the true need behind the “new idea” myth? Here are three steps to moving away from this myopic approach, and toward a more strategic and holistic way of finding better tactics, more creative pathways, and greater results from your marketing.

Focus first on the bigger challenge

Take your attention off the symptoms of the moment—a sales slump, for example. Instead, begin to ask yourself these questions: What is the nature of the challenge or problem we face? Is there a larger issue we’re not facing that is causing our current predicament?

A short-term bump in sales, for example, is going to be hard to bring about without a larger understanding of what is causing the symptom of a temporary sales slump. Is it due to the seasonality in your business? Is it due to an increase in competition? Or, is there a downturn in the market or economy that’s causing customers to spend fewer dollars?Develop a plan instead of brainstorming a single idea. Click To Tweet

Know what you’re up against before you assume that your current predicament can be solved through a single tactical idea. Understand the causal factors contributing to the dynamic that has brought about your present challenge. By understanding the true nature of the problem at hand, you will effectively prepare yourself to devise a better and more accurate approach. This new approach can be used to mitigate or overcome the forces that are causing a symptom, such as a short-term dip in unit sales.

Develop a strategic plan

Yes, develop a plan instead of brainstorming a single idea. Will it take longer and require more effort? Most likely, yes. Will it also solve your issue more effectively than a short-term tactic? Definitely.

Strategy is a form of problem solving. Good strategy clearly identifies the problem, and then formulates a larger and binding approach to addressing, head on, the problem at hand. In marketing, as in other areas, good strategy demands choice—choosing a path to the exclusion of others, whereby all plans can be coordinated and work together to overcome a problem (not just a symptom). Symptoms can sometimes be relieved through temporary tactics, but rarely will they go away for any length of time or with any great effectiveness without a strategy to deal with their source.

A good strategic plan integrates:

  • Goals—the end for the effort, usually one or two, at most;
  • Strategy—the binding approach that will inform all other plans and tactics;
  • Plans—individual recipes, each with coordinated activities in accordance with your strategy, that will serve your goal;
  • Objectives—observable, measurable and time bound declarations of how you know you are successfully fulfilling your plans; sometimes called key performance indicators (KPI’s);
  • Tactics—last, the details and activities that will be undertaken to fulfill plans and reach your goals.

One of the best things about a strategic plan is that it is relative to the challenge at hand. It is designed to address a problem head on. Finally, the role of any strategic plan is that it serves as a blueprint for thoughtful, coherent and logical pathway for solving any complex challenge.

Rely upon integrated tactics

Once you have a thoughtful strategic marketing plan in place, you will be shocked at how much more easily the tactics present themselves. Why? Because a thoughtful strategy serves to focus everyone around a centralized, agreed upon approach. And because strategy forces choice, it eliminates the need to consider disparate (and sometimes desperate) ideas.

In fact, what you once thought of as innovative and other-worldly ideas will become almost foregone conclusions when a strategy is present. New possibilities present themselves more readily when you and your team are provided a guided pathway upon which to engage creative thought and energy. Best of all, because such ideas must fall within a guided strategic pathway they become, by default, integrated tactics.

If you utilize this three-step process of thinking bigger to tackle larger problems, thoughtfully planning your marketing approach, and then tactically integrating ideas around a strategy, you will move away the myth of, “We need a new idea.” Instead you’ll find yourself in the wonderful reality of, “We have a strategic approach to overcoming our marketing challenges.”

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. He is an accomplished strategist, interim CMO, speaker and writer on marketing strategy. He is marketing segment lecturer for SMU’s accredited Bank Operations Institute for professional bankers, and for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT). Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success.  For more information, visit TheBigHow.com

Customs Clearance for Your Content Marketing

How to get your message across the border?

By Matt Baird

The United States may be the largest consumer market in the world, but did you know that 96 percent of the planet’s consumers do not live here? With purchasing power on the rise across the globe and the internet making our world smaller than ever, there’s no better time to market your products and services abroad.

But before you attempt to cross the border, consider this: Less than six percent of the world’s population speaks English well enough to shop or do business in that language. Research shows that the vast majority of people prefer surfing online in their native languageand that includes millennials, history’s first “digital natives.” The message is clear: Offering more local-language content increases the likelihood of purchase.

Today’s “digi-savvy” marketers know that paving a smooth customer journey is much more than clearing a path from product to purchase. You have to invest in the story and turn customers into fans. Creating content that is relevant and valuable is just as important in most foreign markets as it is in the US. A survey of shoppers in some of the world’s largest economies showed that now nearly 40 percent of online shoppers use social networks to get inspiration for their purchases.You not only have to speak the local language, you have to do so in a voice that the locals can understand. Click To Tweet

So, if you want to take your online shop overseas—or any product or service for that matter—you’d better pack your story along for the ride. But when you transport anything across borders, you have to make sure it clears customs. The same goes for your content marketing. It has to pass through the language and cultural barriers. And much like the customs clearance process, proper preparation is the key to smooth and rapid market entry. Here are some tips to get you started.

Translate it…but:

This may seem obvious, but you can’t tell a story if people can’t read it. So, the first step is having your content correctly translated. And that’s the caveat. You’ll spare yourself a lot of wasted time and frustration by seeking out translators who specialize in content marketing. These language geeks can capture the nuances of your content and avoid embarrassing—or costly—mistranslations. As native speakers of your target language, they’ll point out culturally sensitive subject matter and offer ways to appropriately repackage your message. While a bilingual colleague or an eager and inexpensive college student may help you understand something written in another language, they probably don’t have the skills to produce high quality content in that language.

Resist the machines:

There’s certainly a place for technology, but it’s not in marketing, where your goal is to engage human beings and elicit a human response. When you cut to the chase, even translation technology vendors will tell you that it doesn’t pay to use their machines for creative materials. The simple fact is: consumers left scratching their heads won’t be clicking on LIKE, SHARE or BUY. Translation technology will continue to make headlines, but remember this: Even one of the world’s most famous (fictional) robots, C-3PO, said, “Sometimes I just don’t understand human behavior.”

Build locally, and they will come:

Once you’ve put your story in a new language, it’s time to go deeper. Avoid the mistakes of others who build captivating content marketing campaigns that lead to a brick wall of English text. Every step of the customer journey must be in their language—from the Facebook post to the landing page to the BUY button. The industry term is localization, which means converting everything from language, currency, and dates to the look and feel of your sites to match local preferences. Even the right colors can make a difference. The entire experience should feel native. And be sure to keep this in mind: marketing channels vary across the globe. While Facebook dominates the Western world, it’s nearly non-existent in China, where WeChat and Weibo are the places to see and be seen.

Take it slow, and talk to the experts:

A truly global content marketing campaign is serious business. Take it one step at a time. Talk to localization experts to learn the tricks of the global marketing trade. For example, if your company is business to business, there are ways to reduce the entry barriers and reach more markets with (nearly) the same content. You can probably get away with publishing your white papers, case studies, and blog articles in English in Norway, Sweden, or Denmark, German in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and universal Spanish in the nine Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. On the other hand, if you’re targeting consumers in specific age groups on social media, you’ll need to adapt the content for each individual country.

Depending on the size of your international marketing aspirations, this may only be the tip of the iceberg. But don’t be discouraged. With such a sea of potential customers, you’d be well advised to take the plunge below the surface. Use these tips as a guide to get you started. Focus on your message, work with professionals, and keep your sights on creating a native customer experience in each country.

The lesson to be learned from the many pieces of content that don’t really resonate with their intended target audience—that don’t “clear customs”—is that you not only have to speak the local language, you have to do so in a voice that the locals can understand. If you can appreciate that difference, then you’ll be well on your way to seeing your content arrive perfectly packaged on the doorsteps of potential customers around the world.

Matt Baird is a professional German-to-English translator and copywriter specializing in content marketing and corporate communications. He also serves as a speaker for the American Translators Association, which represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 100 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike. For more information on ATA or translation and interpreting professionals, please visit www.atanet.org.