Statton & Associates http://statton-associates.com/blog Marketing and Communications Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:46:29 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.1 WELCOME. http://statton-associates.com/blog/2015/04/22/welcome-to-statton-and-associates/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2015/04/22/welcome-to-statton-and-associates/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:41:20 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=1326 The site is made up of a variety of areas.

Below, I’ve reserved for blogs that I write from time to time.  The “Creative” slots indicate various clients and projects I’ve worked on.  As well, I’ve added the required experience information, normally known as a resume.  I can provide a lot more information….when you ask for it.

Let me know if this is what you expected, and we’ll go from there.

And thanks for the visit.

 

 

 

 

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BLAND BRANDING http://statton-associates.com/blog/2015/04/07/bland-branding/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2015/04/07/bland-branding/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 20:00:05 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=1296

 

Every bank seems to have developed a web site.   Yet it’s a pretty bland world out there.

In general, many products and service industries are including a variety of images to support their claims.  But the banking industry has chosen to put together statements on their web sites, all saying essentially the same thing.  Using images that are weak and in no way underscoring the importance of differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Web sites have become the major source for sales and information to customers and prospects.  As branch activity continues to plummet, the web site becomes more and more important.  Videos.  News. Reminders.  Up-to-date information.  Colorful stories and pictures should abound. The marketplace is hungry for financial information.  This should be a go-to place for the latest news.  But for the most part, this isn’t happening.

Since the first step in measuring a brand is an assessment stage, banks need to learn from that information and keep their web sites active and interesting. Yes there is a cost.  There is always a cost in selling products and services.  But that cost can be measured against predetermined objectives involving profits.  Branding allows that to happen.

If nothing else, think of the last web site you were at that you can now recall.  It normally begins with those carefully chosen images that help to create something interesting and memorable.  And that has to come from building and supporting a branding statement.

That is one of the most important parts of branding.  Creating a unique image…one that stands out in the marketplace.

With everything else changing in the financial industry, it’s really important that the industry learn what the new tools are, and how to use them successfully.

Assessment is the first step in understanding the power of those tools.

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“I’ve redesigned my web site. I can hardly wait to try all of those techniques used on the internet!” http://statton-associates.com/blog/2014/06/23/%e2%80%9ci%e2%80%99ve-redesigned-my-web-site-i-can-hardly-wait-to-try-all-of-those-techniques-used-on-the-internet%e2%80%9d/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2014/06/23/%e2%80%9ci%e2%80%99ve-redesigned-my-web-site-i-can-hardly-wait-to-try-all-of-those-techniques-used-on-the-internet%e2%80%9d/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:12:25 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=1231

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve seen how many newly designed web sites handle these new techniques.  Pop-ups.  Bright colors.  Wavy lines.  You name it, you’ve seen it. My advice…….go slow.

First, you need to have some guidelines to help you make these kinds of decisions.   “What do you mean guidelines?”               If you have established your brand statement in a thorough manner, you should have arrived at some “characteristics” as to how and what kind of an image you want to project.

Think about your place of business.  How do you act and behave when someone comes in.  Customers will judge you in two different ways:  Environment –  Busy?  Colorful?  Disorganized?  Focused?  Dark?  Orderly?  Messy?   Employees       – Busy doing other things? No acknowledgement?  Pleasant and gracious, and anxious  to assist?  Whatever the “real” atmosphere….it should be mirrored in the “virtual” atmosphere.  Of course with a redesigned web site, you’ve probably made some changes in how you want to be “virtually” perceived.  Well, make the same “real” changes.

Assisting a recent client in this activity, we had previously agreed on:  The virtual site should be similar in nature to walking into an actual office.  It should have the same look, feel, and sound.   The site should always enhance our Brand strategy.  These simple directions helped to make some really good decisions regarding what kind of messages and images should be used.  As well it helped to decide what kind of style and application of resources should be used.

Create some “Guidelines” that will help you the next time you have to make these kinds of judgments.  Consistent images and behavior will help to build the Brand that will build your business.

 


 

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BRANDING. WHO NEEDS IT? http://statton-associates.com/blog/2013/03/25/branding-who-needs-it/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2013/03/25/branding-who-needs-it/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 18:46:37 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=1165

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years ago, this would be the reaction of most businesses.  It was a term that usually meant a kind of canned corn.  Or a hair dryer.  Some consumer product.   Not anymore.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Today, it is probably one of the most important aspects of being in business.  And why?  Because people and organizations don’t have a lot of time.  And when they need to make a buying decision, they need to make it now.  That means your business has to be top-of-mind.  Buyers have to be aware of your service and what differentiates you from the competition.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brand awareness.  Without it, your product or service probably isn’t included in the buying decision!

And that brand needs to be focused.  Clearly understood.  It must stand out over the other competitors.  You really need to concentrate on what specifically you provide to the marketplace. And then concentrate much of your efforts in establishing that brand identity.
It’s as simple as that.  And if you’re not involved in brand identity, you’re losing business.

So, do you have to change your name or something?  Are you offering the right products?  What should you say?  What should you do?

Engage someone who understands it.  Who can help you discuss the many issues that need to be addressed. And can help you develop some realistic marketing communications and planning.  Put them into place, and see what happens.  And then keep making adjustments as time goes along.   Because the market doesn’t stand still.   And there are new competitors entering the marketplace every day.

So.  You’ve been in business how long?  And what is your brand identity?

 

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Merger. Acquisition. So what’s the new Branding statement? http://statton-associates.com/blog/2012/08/04/merger-acquisition-so-what%e2%80%99s-the-new-branding-statement-3/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2012/08/04/merger-acquisition-so-what%e2%80%99s-the-new-branding-statement-3/#comments Sat, 04 Aug 2012 20:48:20 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=821  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive Brand Recognition, generated through the actions of employees, plus communications from the organization, add up to and are directly related to Profits.

Recently, I was talking with a person who works in an M&A group that focuses primarily on the financial industry.  I was seeking help in being introduced to the right people within the organization, in an attempt to discuss the importance of having branding strategies being a part of early-on efforts.

This person said outright, “Well, I have never heard of our organization recommending any branding types”.

I paused a moment, and thanked him for his time, and then sat for a while pondering what he had said.  I would think this linkage – organizational change and the need for communications – would be one of the most reasonable of associations.  Not the most far-fetched.

Consider an organization that is merging with another company: acquiring or being acquired.  What complications could come out of such an activity for customers?  And especially employees!

Without appropriate attention, you can expect an organizational culture clash.  The acquirer being the “winner”: the acquired, the “loser”. A key question should be “what are the employees of each of these companies suppose to do in regards to dealing with existing customers?”

Case in point:  Hewlett Packard and EDS.  If you know anyone in these organizations, you’ve learned of many occurrences of unpleasant situations.  Not what you would call friendly.

Where was the planning in how to make the new strategic plan truly effective?  After all of the reorganizing, what is the direction for employees?  What is the marketplace suppose to think?  If you are a customer, who are you suppose to work with?  Does this person have my best interests at heart?.  Are they more worried about keeping their job?  What is in this for me, as a customer?

If nothing else, this is a reminder to strategic planning and project management personnel in mergers and acquisitions organizations that Branding, a business strategy, is vital to the success of the new organization.  Any time and money spent to redirect the marketplace’s image of the new company will pay off sooner.  And better than later!

 

 

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WEB SITE OBSERVATIONS http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/11/07/web-site-observations/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/11/07/web-site-observations/#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2011 17:41:50 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=761

 

 

 

 

Keep this in mind as you evaluate your own web site.

Have you ever been introduced to people who tell you their name and what they do?  They give a fairly good explanation. But in the end, you walk away and have trouble believing what they said.  Your intuition says something isn’t right.

Conversely, you meet other people and like them immediately. You want to get to know them better. They seem to be experienced in their field.  They like what they do.  They’re proud of their work.  They’ve been successful in their efforts.  And they’re interested in you.  You want more.

Back to my point.  I just finished reviewing the web sites of four big international companies.  I was asked to assess how a company entering the U.S. market for the first time should use a web site to help in their initial marketing and sales efforts.  I started with a review of how four competitors used their existing sites for the same purpose.

The results were surprising. I expected “Dynamic”.  “Successful.  “Exciting and interesting issues.”  What did I get?  Overly technical.  Looked like each other. Little color. Lots of copy. Stock photographs.  Difficult to find basic answers to basic and simple questions.

Here was a real opportunity to stand out. To be focused. To be interesting and relevant.  Why they missed the mark is the fault of many people who should know better.  But I suspect the primary reason was that they really weren’t interested in talking to someone from the “outside”.  They were more interested in talking about what they wanted to hear from the “inside”.

Web sites work at their best levels when they address people new to their site.  Customers have other networks to find information they need.  And employees are able to find company information through other avenues.

My conclusion:  Here is a great opportunity for a new company to come into the communications arena with a focused, on-target, exciting message, and very quickly establish a believable and important presence.  Because the competition isn’t doing the job at all.

 

 

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IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE. Change your logo! http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/06/15/improve-your-bottom-line-change-your-logo/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/06/15/improve-your-bottom-line-change-your-logo/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2011 15:27:16 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=727  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buyers are wary and judgmental. This is the time when you want to make certain that you continue to deliver the product and service that customers expect; those that can attract new business.

Some parts of the country are having a rough time with this economy.   And while doing little may be the mind-set for many organizations, now is the best time to do some assessing.   Back-to Basics, as they say.    For instance, answer questions like “What business are we really in?” and “What is it that we do better than our competitors?”  You need to find out now how you can help the organization take advantage of the upcoming improvement in market conditions.  Because it will happen!

So how will changing my name make a difference?  I didn’t say change your name; change the way it looks. (See “Logo” at Wikipedia.)

To give you an example of what this means to anyone involved in retail, drive along any strip mall or shopping center.  You’ll quickly realize how important your logo is. Most of these logos lose their identity because there is so much signage competition.  And since many are poorly designed and executed, it has led many developers to enforce strict signage regulations.  Developers try to bring customers to the area, adding “directionals” to the stores that customers are familiar with.

In changing the way your name is presented, you have a chance to give a better focus to who you are and what you do.  In the three examples above, you see that the name has not changed, but the use of color, placement and type style can give out subtle and very different signals  as to the kind of business Andy’s  might be. Add an appropriate symbol to be more specific.  It is important to make strong, focused assessments: color and font decisions help to better identify the customer’s desired service. As well, alterations of your logo give a signal to the marketplace that you’re bringing new value to your product and service.  Note J.C.Penney’s latest change!

An often overlooked and huge benefit of a logo change is the signal it sends to your employees that you are continuing to look at how you can improve your business.  You’re “keeping up”!  They will respond with enthusiasm and keener interest.  It will be a time when you can make improvements in policies and procedures which will help them better serve the organization.  Get them involved and it will be their change in attitude that will help to create a new and incredible difference.

Take some time and consider…when the market sees or hears your company’s name, what response would you want from them?  Then send me an email. Or give me a call.   It’s time to talk.

 

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BRANDING – ASSESSMENT. First step in defining who you are! http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/03/11/branding-%e2%80%93-first-define-who-you-are-now/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2011/03/11/branding-%e2%80%93-first-define-who-you-are-now/#comments Fri, 11 Mar 2011 20:05:49 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=538

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to building a great Brand that drives new business reflects not “what you say it is.”  Rather, it is “what they say it is.”  They, being the marketplace.  You know.  Those people out there.  Your customers. Your prospects.

So how does a small organization go about finding the answers to “what they say it is”?

Big companies use a variety of marketing research techniques to answer a number of critical questions that will lead to a unique and precise Brand definition. For a smaller organization, there is less in-house expertise in understanding these values, as well as diminished budgets to support such activity.  But remember, consumers don’t think about size of company; they think about the value of the brand name and their reaction to it.

If you are such an organization, 25-100 employees, the cost of this kind of marketing research is probably out of your range.   However, a much simpler and reasonable consideration is having an experienced professional accomplish the task of “doing an internal Brand assessment.”

For Statton and Associates, the scenario goes something like this:

1.  A questionnaire is designed appropriate to the industry involved.  It covers many areas of the organization and will come to reflect the opinions of employees (regarding these areas.)

2.  A reliable cross-section of employees will be interviewed, taking about 30-45 minutes per employee depending on the extent and scope of their knowledge.  The interviews are kept confidential to provide a more open environment for collection of attitudinal information.

3.  After all of the designated interviewee sessions have taken place, a summary document is drawn which reveals a consensus of answers to each of the questions.  From this information a variety of conclusions can be drawn and translated into recommended action items.  These items first consider major internal issues and then focus on the parts of the organization that need to be discussed in order to develop a reasonable and believable definition for “Brand.”

4.  The entire process normally takes about 30 days.

This summary report is a major assist in setting guidelines for defining a brand and subsequent marketing and communications efforts.  The next blog “Branding a Web Site” may be helpful in understanding how this information directs the design and content of a site.

(Note: I often reference The Brand Gap, authored by Marty Neumeier.  If you want a focused, on-target, all-encompassing explanation of Branding, this is an excellent reference.  And a quick-read!)

 

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Community Bank Marketing – 2011 “BRANDING” (Featured article in Bankers Digest – 15/11/10) http://statton-associates.com/blog/2010/11/09/community-bank-marketing-2011-%e2%80%9cbranding%e2%80%9d-2/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2010/11/09/community-bank-marketing-2011-%e2%80%9cbranding%e2%80%9d-2/#comments Tue, 09 Nov 2010 21:48:59 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=638

 

 

 

 

 

As the marketplace continues to vacillate from an ever hopeful increase in growth to a sobering recession, and with so many definitions of the consumer and business mentality unfolding, it seems important to review some of the banking issues that are at work in the marketplace.

Some working for you

- Your bank continues to maintain a level of trust in your local community.

- A customer can talk with an actual bank employee regarding their financial dealings with the institution.

- You’re convenient.  Probably just around the corner from your customer base.

- There is less “shopping” to do since most banks offer similar services

- Many of your customers will still come to you first when looking for solutions to financial situations.

- You can still engage your customers, and remind them of your value to their financial well being.

Some working against you

- In general, because of recent events in the financial marketplace, bank customers have less respect for the industry. (₁)

- You don’t have the attributes of a big bank; lots of convenient offices, the latest technology, delivery of service outside your “community” area, the ability to react quickly to a financial  need or situation.

- Customers are considering more alternatives to traditional bank services.

- The internet provides information and locations for new and varied offerings.

- Many banks have been bought out, or have failed.  And the future portends that this trend will increase.

- It seems as though banks have always complicated customer service with a lot of requirements necessary for regulatory compliance.  The future indicates that this will intensify.

- Customers don’t always understand bank regulations and procedures that require extra time on their part.

- The ability to customize services and price them accordingly seems to be an attribute of big banks.  They seem to offer more, for less.

- Savings rates are almost non-existent.

- Mortgages requirements are more stringent and require more time and a lot of paper work.

- Only the big banks seem to utilize and extend technological services.

- People are busier.  There is less time to think through their decisions.  They deal with organizations that they are aware of.

- Brands have become more important in the decision as to where to do  business.

- Customers don’t have to come “into” the bank.  ATMs, Drive-ups, and the internet provide service needs.  There are fewer occasions to interact with customers, inform them, and hear of their needs.

- Customers  tend to have more than one primary bank.  They are more prone to look for better service, better prices, specific services, and less hassle.

(₁) J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction StudySM

Because traditional Marketing practices take time and planning (and time is of the essence), a new approach should be considered, where Market influences become more of a strategic partner in spelling out a business plan for the bank.  This is where “Branding” plays a new and exciting role.

Branding has become one of the leading disciplines in a growing number of businesses.  It has a rich history in the consumer market and is now playing an important role in the business-to-business world as well.  It is not your logo.  Or your latest tag line.  Essentially, “it defines who you are, what you do, and why that matters.  It’s not what you say it is.  It’s what they say it is.” (Marty Neumeier – The Brand Gap)   You must have a clearer understanding of how your organization differentiates itself from the competition, and make certain these factors become a part of the perception of the bank…its image.

One of the best techniques in determining this new direction is to perform an Image/ Brand Assessment.  It will tell you what attitudes you, your employees, your customers, and prospects have regarding your Brand.  Basically, these are research projects that help to identity attitudes.  These attitudes play an increasing role in providing customers the service they want.  The primary value that such Assessments bring to the business plan is a clearer understanding of how such information can be utilized in dealing with customers, and attracting new business.  There are many benefits, notably:  you will have a more focused definition of customer service;  training will be have a clearer and more measureable focus;  promotions will be more direct and specific in their results;  and Communications will be more defined and predictable.

In summary, building a better “Brand” will help you to build a better bank.

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“Brand.” What is it? http://statton-associates.com/blog/2010/03/10/brand-what-is-it/ http://statton-associates.com/blog/2010/03/10/brand-what-is-it/#comments Wed, 10 Mar 2010 16:38:59 +0000 sam statton http://statton-associates.com/blog/?p=476

A number of people are familiar with the term “Brand”, but for the most part have only a vague  understanding of its meaning.  And since it has become an incredible force in the success of any  organization, it seems appropriate to write about it.

Some say, I know.  It’s about the logo.  Well, yes.  That’s true.  Others are convinced, it’s about the  tag line.   Well…yes, it’s  that, too.   So, if I want to upgrade my Brand, should I redo my logo and  redo my tag line?  Will I have a new Brand?  Well…not quite.

“Brand” is all about thinking through and preparing a business strategy.  The two items above are representatives of  that strategy.

So…what kind of a strategy are you talking about?   Well most of the time, when you talk with traditional strategic planners, they are referring to the over-all business strategy for an organization, primarily with an inside-out perspective.  A “Brand” Strategy is one that is conceived from an outside-in perspective.

It begins with being very aware of what’s happening in the marketplace.  What is “your position” “your image” in that environment?  What must you do to maintain it, or improve it?  It means knowing your competition and what they are offering.  How you are alike and how you are different.  It means knowing your customers.  Why they continue to do business with you.  It means that you hire a certain kind of employee that can help you meet your goals, and meet the needs of your customers.  What kind of incentives to give them in order for them to better do their job.  What kind of training they will need.  It means what kind of mandates you will give your management group.  And the kinds of incentive you will offer them for meeting those goals.

A Brand Strategy is a “template” for making decisions regarding sales, marketing , advertising, hiring, support services, customer service, systems, IT,  HR, budgets, finance…you know…the whole ball a’ wax.

So, the next time your think Brand, think strategy.  Get your head in the marketplace.

Your success depends on it.

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