"Get Emotional" - How to Build an Emotional Bond With Your Customers

Build an emotional connection with your customers. This is what has made Apple so successful. While Samsung's recent series of humorous commercials point out the irrational level of loyalty many consumers feel towards Apple, there is a reason why many people refuse to buy a phone (or tablet or computer) from anyone else. It's not just the widely acclaimed Apple "ecosystem", although that is a strong retention tool. It's not just the focus on the design of the software and hardware, although that draws many to the brand. What really sets the company apart is their ability to elicit a personal connection with their customers that is unmatched among their competitors. 


What's in it for me?

Your marketing message should always be highlighting how your product will help your customers. Although it should be obvious, this marketing fundamental often gets forgotten. All of your promotional material should answer the customer's most salient question: "What's in it for me?"


The Personal Touch

In this digital age, when emailing, texting, tweeting and posting on a friend's Facebook wall are the primary ways of communicating for most people, a personal touch can go a long way. This especially holds true for companies that offer a high ticket product or service. When you're making a sales call, actually make a phone call. Even better, set up an in-person meeting or take your prospect out for lunch. That doesn't mean you shouldn't leverage more technological means of communication; a periodic email to check in with your current customers or to follow up on a recent meeting is always a good idea, and if you can connect with them via social media, go for it. But it's important not to forget the power of actual human contact.


Why Controversy Isn't A Bad Thing

When most people think of "controversy", they have a negative connotation of the word. Controversial topics are taboo, and controversy is thought of as something to be avoided. However, people are also attracted to controversy. It makes ordinary things more interesting, and more importantly for businesses, it garners attention and gains exposure. Just like the saying goes, "There is no such thing as bad press" (up to a point, of course).


How to Utilize Permission Marketing

I recently finished Seth Godin's book "Permission Marketing". Written in the pre-social media days, the book was way ahead of its time. In short, it's all about obtaining increasing levels of permission from existing and prospective customers in order to more effectively build a relationship with them. For example, a low level permission may be a Facebook like or a Twitter follow, while a slightly higher level could be providing an email address or other contact information, with another level being the completion of a survey on an individual's interests or preferences. As you learn more about these consumers and earn higher levels of permission, you can then target them with sales pitches or ads that are more relevant, anticipated and personal. 


The Allure of Exclusivity

Everyone wants to be on the inside. They want to be part of the inner circle, a member of the in-group. When companies create an environment of exclusivity, they are appealing to this innate desire for inclusion.


Taking A 'Startup' Approach To Marketing

"Startup" and "entrepreneur" have recently become buzzwords in the lexicon of American culture. Most people associate these terms with the latest Internet and mobile technology companies. They think of people like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter (and more recently Square), Dennis Crowley of Foursquare, etc. However, these terms really describe a particular approach to business, not any specific industry type. Any retail store, service provider, or small business can fit the bill if they're in the right mindset.


What happens in Vegas shouldn't stay in Vegas - How to make the most of trade shows

I've been to Las Vegas for two different trade shows in the past month. Although the city has a notorious reputation for debauchery, it's also an unparalleled hub for business. If you're going to any trade show, whether in Vegas or at your local VFW hall, there are a few things to consider to ensure a successful experience.


How To Make An Impact With Your Marketing

At Harbortouch, it is our M.O. to shake up the industry on a fairly regular basis. We have been widely acknowledged for our ground-breaking initiatives since 2004, when the company forever changed the credit card processing industry with the launch of the first free credit card terminal program. 


Create A Brand Ecosystem

I recently saw a quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt describing the fact that consumers now choose which "ecosystem" they want to buy into when selecting their mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets - currently a choice between Google, Apple and Microsoft. The concept of a consumer ecosystem is an interesting one, and it goes well beyond the technology sector. In fact, a wide range of businesses can utilize a similar approach to their own operations.


Super Ads - What You Can Learn From This Year's Super Bowl Commercials

Not only is the Super Bowl the championship game between the top NFL teams; it is also the championship of advertising. It's the big leagues of the ad world. It's the event that allows every advertising agency, Fortune 500 company and ambitious (and well-financed) start-up to strut their stuff on a national scale, to compete for the minds of tens of millions of viewers. Many people even consider the commercials the best part of the Super Bowl.


Less is More - Simplicity is Key for Effective Marketing

The accepted truth in landing page design is that simplicity is the best practice. One theme, a concise message, a clear call to action. Many experts even say that all links to other pages on your site should be removed from landing pages. Essentially, you want to eliminate all distractions so you can dictate exactly what your site visitor focuses on.


Top 7 Marketing Blogs You Should Be Reading

I was originally going to compile a standard "top 10" list of marketing blogs, but when I started writing down my favorite blogs, I only came up with seven. I decided that I didn't want to water down my list with other blogs that I don't actively read, as I felt this would be disingenuous and would reduce the overall value of the post. Here are the blogs that made the cut:

  1. Seth Godin - Seth Godin is something of a legend in the marketing world. Bestselling author of over a dozen books, he offers consistently insightful posts.
  2. UnMarketing - Author of one of my favorite marketing 2.0 books (also titled "UnMarketing"), Scott Stratten writes about how to engage your customers and potential customers instead of marketing to them (hence the name "UnMarketing").
  3. Copyblogger - This blog focuses on the content side of marketing, namely blogging and copywriting.
  4. Brian Solis - Brian Solis provides analysis of the new media landscape and recommendations on how your business can succeed in it.
  5. Chris Brogan - A great source for social media marketing insight.
  6. {Grow} - Mark Schaeffer writes about how to grow your business using social media, blogging and other marketing channels.
  7. Danny Brown - Another great source for marketing 2.0 information.