Happenings

The Value of a Brand

Good brands have purpose and promise.

Great brands forge a bond with users on a pure and emotional level.

Beyond an eye-catching logo or a snappy and memorable tagline, great brands build a lifelong and unbreakable emotional relationship with customers.

“It’s what people experience when they see your logo or they see your information,” said Tiffany Dowling, president and CEO of M3 Group. “It’s a feeling, and it’s a whole range of things your brand inspires inside of them when they see it.”

When explaining the importance of a brand and how it can continue to resonate over the decades, Dowling often uses the example of walking down the cereal aisle in the supermarket.

“There are a lot of emotions that come up. When I was growing up, we always had Wheaties and Cheerios and Raisin Bran — none of the fun stuff,” Dowling said with a laugh. “But I feel really nostalgic about those cereals when I see them even though I don’t eat them anymore. It’s an emotional response.”

Brands that serve their purpose stand out from the pack, build trust and consumer loyalty by having a clearly stated purpose, and nurture credibility and authenticity by delivering on promises — all of which, in turn, can open new avenues of revenue.

“Brand awareness is understanding what product or service is offered, which is the first of many steps involved in creating attitudes toward a brand —  how someone feels about that product or service when they see it,” Dowling said. “When you’ve spent the time maintaining awareness and building those warm, positive attitudes about your brand with a targeted audience, there is less of a need for call-to-action strategy because people already understand and know what they’ll experience — they begin to just automatically reach for your brand because it provides comfort.”

The easiest way to build a brand is by communicating a clear and consistent message, Dowling said, noting that consistency over time equals results. A website and social media platforms can assist in building brand awareness but nurturing those relationships through a funnel of enriching and engaging brand storytelling that is distributed through your own channels and also through the media and other outlets solidifies the brand experience because the you’ve invested in relationship and trust building.

“The key is to deliver a powerfully crafted narrative,” Dowling said.

“Once you figure out what people need to know and understand about your product or service, it’s easier to craft a consistent message, which helps increase your brand awareness, perceptions of your brand and its values, and your brand’s overall stickiness,” she added. “If you’re not being consistent in how telling your brand’s story, your brand can become fractured.”

Having a fractured brand can diminish how a brand is perceived and diminish consumers’ experience with your brand.

“Branding is not rocket science. It’s just a way of doing things so that you are top of mind, maximizing awareness and building enduring customer relationships,” Dowling said.

About M3 Group

Founded in Lansing more than 11 years ago by Dowling, M3 Group prides itself on being the only local agency that offers the most comprehensive array of integrated branding, marketing and advertising services in the mid-Michigan region.

M3 Group has grown into one of the largest and most respected agencies in the area. For more than a decade, M3 Group has built and refined strong brands through integrated marketing strategies that keep the client’s goals and its bottom line in mind. M3 Group’s award-winning staff works across traditional and nontraditional platforms, offering an array of market research and consulting, media planning and buying, website development, social and digital media marketing, public relations and promotions, video and audio production, corporate brand development, and graphic design.

Take your brand to the next level by visiting M3Group.biz.

Crafting Creative Content that Commands Attention

Three tips for writing effective, engaging and purpose-driven creative copy

By Adam Lansdell

When you see great copy, you know it. It hits an emotional chord, grabs your attention, changes how your think and, hopefully, prompts you to act. But crafting great copy is not about being the wittiest and loudest in the market. It takes a combination of strategy, creativity and flexibility.

When attempting to write creatively, there are a few basic things you should consider. Below are the top three considerations you should always have in mind when coming up with storytelling that will hopefully impact your bottom line and the perception of your brand.

1) Create Messages with a Purpose

No matter where your content is going be housed — be it for a blog, whitepaper, advertisement, social media or otherwise — it is important to have a goal in mind. Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of the content I’m writing, and what is the message I need my audience to retain?” Are you persuading someone change their mind about a product or service you are providing? Perhaps your goal is to outline its unique qualities and benefits? Regardless, you must create a clear messaging goal to ensure your writing remains focused, concise and meaningful.

2) Identify Your Audience, Their Language and Their Needs

Establishing your messaging purpose is only half of the puzzle. You need to truly understand your audience. Within an agency setting, we understand that different markets and brands have different audience segments. Whether it’s industry peers, company stakeholders, potential and current customers or other communities with which your brand engages — each has its own unique needs and are seeking out information relevant to them. Know your audience and speak to their needs in their language with your messages.

Remember that not only does each unique audience segment you want to engage likely speaks its own language, they also may define the problem they are trying to solve with your product or organization differently, and they likely engage with content in different ways and on different platforms. You should consider all of these elements not only when writing your copy, but also as you optimize it for where it will live and how it will be displayed. You must view things from the unique perspective of your audience members to create content that resonates with them.

3) Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

 Inexperienced copywriters might need to switch gears. Even the most seasoned marketing and communications professionals struggle to do so and naturally find themselves writing in a more formal tone. Do not be afraid to try out new styles and transform your writing voice. Creative copy that is effective often stands out because it is zany, clever, or takes on a persona that matches its brands. So, do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Study the copy you see on a regular basis that captures your attention. This is a great exercise for exercising your own copywriting muscles. The next time you find a piece of content that catches your eyes, ask yourself why it does and take a moment to analyze it. Was it the voice? Was it their intriguing persona and word choice? It is easy to forget that writing creative writing often uses a tone and style that differs from your everyday, business-oriented communications and correspondences. 

You would be surprised what you can create when you step outside of the box, write with confidence and are willing to take chances. Enjoy the process and have fun trying new things.

The Power of Digital Advertising

By: Amanda Fischer

As a small business, we understand the struggle companies have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel the anxiety of economic uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to position ourselves for success. Digital advertising is a huge opportunity to increase sales despite social distancing policies.

Follow the Money

With most of the country still slowly opening up to business that is a new normal, people are spending more time on the internet. According to Global Web Index, more than 80% of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. said their media consumption has increased since the pandemic started. Additionally, the New York Times found traffic on popular social media like Facebook, Netflix and YouTube has increased by 27%, 16% and 15.3%, respectively. Since people aren’t out and about, advertisers need to meet customers where they are.

Digital advertising provides a unique flexibility to reach your audience more easily than traditional advertising. Digital ads run 24 hours a day and you are only billed when someone relates to the message and click into the ad. Whether it’s 3 a.m. or 3 p.m., all a person has to do is open an app to see your ad. With traditional ads (radio, TV, billboards, etc.), people are likely to just see your ad at certain times during the day, and you pay based on a number of possible impressions, not actual viewers who engage with your ad.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Compared to other media, digital advertisements are relatively inexpensive. When advertising online, you can set a daily budget based on what you can afford. No matter how big or how small your budget is, you are paying for engagement, not a mysterious group of people who may or may not have paid attention to your ad. In social media advertising, you can reach 1,000 people on Facebook for less than $10. These campaigns help your organic Facebook campaigns because engagement with your ads triggers Facebook to serve your organic content to more people in their newsfeeds too.

Comparatively, it will cost you a few thousand dollars for a billboard or prime-time TV spot. Not to mention, these mediums may deliver impressions if your audience is paying attention, but there’s no any easy way to measure actual attention and engagement. Digital advertising is easily tracked to your website analytics, including all the way through your customers’ journeys.

Reaching your Audiences

Digital advertising allows you to strategically target specific audiences. This is a big advantage over traditional advertising mediums. Although you can place ads on radio or television stations that your target audience tends to tune in to, there is no way to guarantee you will reach the people you want.

Digital advertising gives you the opportunity to identify and narrow your audience to ensure you reach the right people. You can choose the location (all the way to a ZIP code, an address or a convention center where you know your target audience is gathered), gender, age range, interests and other identifying characteristics to determine who your ad will appear to. By narrowing the audience, you can ensure more qualified leads, or those already interested in your products and services, see your ads. Another key selling point to advertising online is that you can track who sees your ad and if they interacted with it.

Traditional media can give you some estimates as to how many people saw your advertisements (also known as impressions) and who those people are, but they can’t give you exact analytics like digital ads can. To that extent, mediums like billboards can’t tell you anything about the exact impressions or viewer demographics. Using analytics from social media platforms, Google Analytics or third-party analytic trackers, you could see exactly how many people viewed your ad, the demographics of your viewers, if they interacted with it and more. These insights will let you know if you are reaching the right people and how affective your ad really is.

Flexibility like Never Before

Speaking of ad effectiveness, digital advertising offers the flexibility to tweak and adjust ads as you go. In traditional advertising, if the ad doesn’t speak to your audience like you thought it would, you most likely don’t know for a few weeks to a month — and there isn’t much you can do about an ad that isn’t performing the way you wanted it to.

Through online analytics, you get feedback on how your ad is performing almost instantly. Although you should give your ad a day or two to determine its effectiveness, you can go into poorly performing ads and adjust the design, verbiage, audience, keywords and more to help it perform better.

The fast feedback gives you the ability to experiment with certain ad styles and approaches to see what resonates best with your audience. Using the analytics, you can see what verbiage catches your customers’ eyes, see what media assets encourage viewers to click into your ad and develop a better understanding of your audience. This can all be done at a smaller cost and with little risk compared to traditional advertising.

You also have the option to stop the ad altogether if it becomes obsolete or you’re investing money with no results. Finally, if the ad is performing well, you can run additional ads or increase the budget to maximize your outcomes.

Control Over Your Budget

We already talked a little about the digital advertising cost, but it’s important to reiterate the fact that you have complete control over your budget. Whether your ad is on a platform that charges using a CPM or CPC bidding process or sets a daily budget, you can establish a budget ceiling so you never spend more than you want to. Additionally, you aren’t married to the maximum budget you originally set. Advertisers are free to lower or increase budgets at any time in the ad lifecycle.

Although there are many advantages and reasons to use traditional advertising, digital ads offer a lot of unique opportunities — especially during the craziness we’re experiencing right now.

At M3 Group, our top priority is to help businesses see success well beyond what they knew was possible. Our staff’s expertise combined with a strategic partnership with Idea Applications makes us a one-stop shop for all your media buying and digital advertising needs. If you want to maximize your reach and increase sales, give us a call!

Five Reasons Your Business Can’t Live Without a Website

By: Amanda Fischer

Your business needs a killer website. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it—if you want your business to be taken seriously, to grow and to thrive, you need an amazing website.

We hear many reasons why businesses don’t believe they need a website. Many businesses and organizations say they don’t currently have one because: A) it’s too pricey, B) they feel like a website is irrelevant in their industry or, C) because they have social media like a Facebook page or Instagram account, and a social media presence is a good surrogate for a website. Maybe it’s all three.

The fact of the matter is, according to Go-Gulf’s The Importance of Local Search Engine Marketing Statistics and Trends, 97% of consumers go online to find products or services. They aren’t looking for social media accounts. They are looking for a website that helps them find the information they need to move along in their decision-making cycle. That means if you don’t have a website, you are probably missing out on a lot of potential customers’ eyeballs, hearts and minds.

Are you sold yet?

We believe you will be by the end of this post. Here are the five top reasons you need a website ASAP:

Increases Competitiveness

Whenever I need to find a restaurant, mechanic or hair salon, the first thing I do is turn to Google. Millions of people around the world use Google or some other search engine to find businesses, and 72% of consumers that searched for a local company visited a store within five miles, according to HubSpot.

That knowledge, combined with the fact that just under two-thirds of small business don’t have websites, according to TDA, should tell you that you have a great opportunity to increase your visibility and competitiveness with a great website.

If your competitors don’t have websites, that is reason to have one—not a reason to not have one. Don’t follow the status quo. Position your business to be successful. No matter the industry or product category, your customers are out there on their mobile devices looking for information. If you’re the only one putting it out there, you’ll be looked to as an industry leader.

Another way to increase competitiveness is through search engine optimization. By ensuring your new website content is written with SEO in mind, you have the ability to bring in more qualified leads. SEO can even help you beat out bigger businesses. If you use the right keywords on your website, you can appear higher in search engine results than the business giants or discover niche markets that can pull customers away from bigger stores.
Finally, since we know most people are looking for your business online, we can be sure that a Facebook page or some other social media account won’t be enough on its own. Google and other search engines don’t pull up social media accounts in the search unless people specifically type in your business name. This limits your business from being discovered by new customers who are searching for local solutions using product-category specific keywords. A good website will introduce thousands of potential customers to your brand.

Social Media is Not Enough

Speaking of social media, it can be one of your greatest tools in interacting with customers and showing who your company truly is. Unfortunately, with the new algorithms on most social media platforms, post reach is more limited than ever before for most businesses. To reach new potential customers, most businesses have to pay to increase their Facebook posts’ visibility, even to the people who have liked and followed their brand.

If you already have a large, interactive following on social media, that’s great, but you are still missing out on reaching new audiences (interactive is the key – we can touch on this in a future post). This is a big reason you need a website in addition to strong social media.

You also should keep in mind that even if you choose to pay to increase your post visibility or your customers are actively sharing your content, not all of your potential customers are on social.
Finally, while social media comes and goes—a website’s lifespan in your control. What happens if we all wake up tomorrow and Facebook is gone? You have no way to save your content, no way to know who your customers were, and you’ll have to start all over. This is a terrible waste of your time, and it’s a scary thought. Make it easy on yourself and get a website.

Builds Credibility

In today’s world of fake news, phishing schemes and scams, it is crucial that your business is seen as credible. One way to help build credibility is through a website. People question whether a business is real or good to work with if it doesn’t have a website to back it.
You can use your website to build credibility by sharing your background and qualifications, case studies and industry knowledge. A blog is a smart way to bring added value to your website and position your company as an industry leader and expert.

Provides Easy Access to Information

There’s nothing more frustrating than needing to find information quickly and not being able to find it. A website gives your customers quick access to all their questions about your company. You can include store hours, location, contact information, FAQs, news/blogs and background information on your store in an esthetically pleasing, easy-to-navigate format. This is a huge advantage over competition.

Fosters Customer Relations

A website allows a business to communicate with clients 24/7. Although you may not be personally sitting at a computer responding to their questions, they can access the site at any time to find answers to questions and information on the company. You can share your company’s values, experience, advice and more.

Another feature that encourages customer communication is having a chatbot. Even if it is outside of business hours, customers can ask specific questions and get answers through a chatbot.

Adding rich content like videos and infographics also engages customers. They will stay on your website longer and begin to see your company not just as a place to purchase goods or services, but also as a place that cares about them and is interested in addressing their unique needs and wants.

A website is absolutely necessary for a business to reach its full potential. We at M3 Group recommend websites for our clients not because we design them—we truly believe in the power of a great website. If you’re interested in building the right website to grow your business or organization, we have a seasoned team of website professionals to help. We’d love to partner with you to build a beautiful website that increase leads, completes conversions and positions you to always have your best foot forward. If you are interested in taking your brand to the next level, give us a call.

M3 Group Makes “Work from Home” Work for Us

By: Amanda Fischer

It’s been a few weeks since Gov. Whitmer issued a “stay home” order, and with the extended stay home order recently issued, it looks like we might all be working from home for a little while longer.

Our team at M3 Group has been testing out what works best for our work from home routines. Here are few tips and tricks we are finding helpful as we adapt to this temporary new reality:

Choosing the Right Work Attire

Although a lot of people out there suggest dressing up to stay in your normal work routine, our team has been enjoying dressing comfy to get down to business. *Spoiler* Our productivity has not been affected in the least by our casual dress.

“The rule I don’t follow is getting dressed for work. I enjoy working from home in the comfiest pants that I can find,” Melissa DeMott, account executive, said.

“I dress more casually than I do at work, but I do get up, shower, shave and throw a T-Shirt and Jeans on for the day to get my mind in the work mode,” Carey Jarvis, media specialist, said.

Except for certain virtual meetings, there’s no right or wrong way to dress when working from home. You should dress in whatever helps you work hard and get things done.

Setting a Schedule

When you’re working from home it’s a lot easier to break out of a routine or get distracted by things happening in your environment (kids, dogs, and cats, oh my). It’s also easier to sit down and not come up for air more than may be healthy. Several M3 Group team members said they find it important to set a schedule and stick to it.

I personally like to look at my schedule at the beginning of each day and block out what I will do throughout the day. I know I’ll have to be flexibleworking from home and that I can move things around from time to time, but setting a schedule helps me stay productive.

When setting a schedule, you should make sure to include regular breaks, just as you would likely take them at the office. Take a lunch break and shorter breaks throughout the day to maintain productivity and sanity. One of our graphic designers, Lauren Brumbach, said she’s found that being in a home space has given her some unique opportunities to recuperate mentally throughout the day.

“When I take breaks, I can go paint, read, step outside or snuggle the cat for a minute to recoup. I have my other hobbies accessible, which has helped most of the time,” Brumbach said.

Creating a Work Environment

At the M3 office, we all have a designated workstation but also are lucky enough to have a ton of space to move around and work in when we need a change of scenery. Many of our staff members have set up a designated workspace at home.

Brumbach said she has set up a space similar to hers at M3 group. Another teammate, M3 Group Digital Strategist Skylar Kohagen, said he has a “gamer” set up, so he already had a good spot equipped with the technology he needs to do his work.

Additionally, he said he uses a program called Mouse Without Borders so he can use his keyboard and mouse on both computers wirelessly.

Other M3ers find it just as good to work from different parts of the house. M3 Group multi-media specialist and managing editor of the Greater Lansing Business Monthly and Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle, Mary Gajda, said because her husband also works from home and uses their home-office, she works from all over.

“If I’m not working on a pants-on-fire project, I find the couch quite comfortable. But for more focused work, I usually batten down the hatches in the dining room. Good, natural light has been key for me too, so I make sure I work near a big window,” Gajda said.

 

Keeping Communication Strong

Strong communication is not just a goal when working from home, it’s a necessity. One way to maintain communication is through face-to-face contact. Since we’re all quarantined, video conferencing has been a lifesaver for us.

Gajda said she’s really enjoyed using Microsoft Teams.

“I really miss the face-to-face interaction. I’ve enjoyed using Microsoft Teams for video meetings. It is more efficient than a long string of emails, and in these scary times, it helps keep me grounded seeing their faces and knowing everyone is safe. It’s also fun to see what is in the backgrounds of their at-home workspaces. It tells me a little more about my coworkers and helps me connect to them on a deeper level, if that makes sense,” Gajda said.

We have used Microsoft Teams for a lot of our internal team meetings but also use GoToMeeting and Zoom for some client meetings. All have their benefits, so we suggest using whatever works best for you and your team.

Our team is having fun finding ways to stay connected and remain connected to our teammates and clients while working from home. We hope your team has found similar ways to make the best of this unprecedented situation.

Check out what have become M3 Group’s diverse work spaces during this historic time.

 

Crisis Communication Tactics Every Company Needs to Know

 

By: Amanda Fischer

If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s that crises are bound to happen. No one plans for a crisis to happen, but at some point every company will face a situation that will require them to respond swiftly, articulately and directly to something that could make or break their business. The question isn’t if a crisis will happen – it’s are you prepared for when it does happen.

 

Here are best practices for crisis communication that every business should know and implement.

 

Don’t Panic

The worst thing you can do in a crisis situation is to panic. Businesses sometimes lose sight of the overall situation when a crisis occurs. The irony in our business is that often when our clients need us the most, they pull the plug because they need to “deal with a crisis.” The best thing to do is calmly assess the situation and figure out what the necessary steps are. Now is the time to use your public relations firm to communicate like crazy to your organization’s customers and stakeholders. A crisis is not the time to abandon the people who know the best ways to help you and it’s not the time to pull away from your customers and communities.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not having a crisis communication plan in place before they are dealing with a crisis. Although it’s impossible to predict a crisis, having a plan of action for basic procedures to guide your organization in stressful and difficult times can be the difference between getting through the issue with little to no long-term damage and having it turn into the PR nightmare that causes you to lose revenue, customers and respect.

There are many formats and ways to put together a crisis communications plan, but every plan should include:

  • Crisis management team – Who is your group of people responsible for making decisions during a crisis?
  • Spokesperson designation and training – Who is the one person of small group of people who have the credibility and authority to be responsible for talking to the media about the crisis? Once you’ve identified them, it’s important to train them. In the business, we say we need to practice having people in the “hot lights.” People are the most comfortable in situations they’ve experienced, so developing messaging and having your media relations team ask your designated spokespeople hard questions while you’re running a camera gives them muscle memory and the confidence they need when things are real.
  • Crisis response plan – What steps do you have to take to resolve to or respond appropriately to the crisis? There should be a crisis team within your organization that meets quarterly to discuss any issues related to responding to various types of crises—is the plan up to date? Are spokespeople still there and trained? Do you have the basics in place like what will you do if your workers can’t get to the office to do their jobs? Do certain people need to have special equipment? Are your important documents digitized and stored offsite so you could quickly get back up and running? Crisis planning is an important, whole-operation activity.
  • Communication team Who will be assigned to create all communications that will go out to internal and external audiences? These are people you trust to quickly respond with the right messages and to constantly keep your media lists up to date and on them at all times.
  • Key messaging – Every crisis is different. The most important thing you should have in your crisis plan is a reminder of who you are as a company. Reminding yourselves of your values when things are difficult can be the key to creating the situation-specific messaging that resonates with heart with your audiences, employees and media.
  • Audience identification – What internal and external audiences would you need to address? What about secondary audiences and stakeholders?
  • Notification system – How you will share approved information internally and externally? What is the approval process? What can you do now to make sure people who need to approve crisis communication are educated on media expectations and timelines? A crisis is the worst time to have an article say your organization couldn’t be reached for comment because your approval process took too long. Educate your executives and attorneys about the importance of prioritizing crisis communication and media response before you’re in a crisis.

You will need to update your crisis plan as the situation unfolds. It is a living, breathing document. You never know what’s going to happen and you will need to adjust – and that’s OK. Even the best communicators in the world can’t predict every situation that will arise. Be flexible and ready to make changes when needed—but try to stick to the important elements of the process – your spokespeople, chain of command, approvals, etc.

If you work with a public relations firm, be sure to enlist their help with putting together a plan right away. If you don’t have a firm, consider using one to help create a comprehensive plan because crises happen, and creating a crisis plan on the fly can wreak havoc on even a very trusted brand’s reputation.

Communicate Early. Communicate Often.

Communication is key during a crisis. Your employees, customers, board members, communities and a whole range of other stakeholders need to understand what is happening so they know your company cares and is working on a solution.

Get your message out about the situation as soon as possible after identifying the issue. After your initial messaging, your team should set goals for how often it’s going to communicate out messages about the situation – whether it be once in the morning and once at night or just by the end of the day, setting a goal will ensure you are sticking to good communication practices.

Be sure to communicate to both internal and external audiences and provide updates when new developments happen.

It also is important to stick to your company’s voice. If you send out messages that sound nothing like your business’ normal tone and voice, people will perceive it as ingenuine, fake and robotic.

Own Your Mistakes

The worst things a company can do during a crisis is to lie or try to hide the fact that something is wrong. You need to own the mistakes you made (with the guidance of an attorney so your apology for a situation’s effect on a community doesn’t turn into an unintended admission of wrongdoing), apologize for your role and communicate your plan to rectify the situation. The internet is quick to put people on blast for being less than honest. You aren’t going to get away with lies or misinformation, and you shouldn’t even try. People respect honest and authentic companies run by honest and authentic people. If you have something go wrong, come up with a plan to fix the situation, communicate the plan – and don’t hide from it. Organizational reputation management is a marathon and not a sprint – do the things that preserve your credibility for the future.

PR firms employ seasoned crisis counselors for planning and when you need someone to help you right this minute. When in doubt look to experienced PR firms for advice and help and don’t try to go it alone. When your business is mired in a crisis isn’t the time to be penny wise and pound foolish.

Do the Right Thing

The best way to avoid a crisis is to do the right thing. If you notice a process failing, an employee doing something wrong or your company’s values being ignored, do something to solve the issue before it becomes a crisis. Be observant and don’t be afraid to question things that seem off, wrong or out of the ordinary.

Follow up

You may think crisis communication is finished once the media stops calling and customers are satisfied, but there is still one thing left to do—debrief. To prepare for and even avoid another crisis, you should find out what your team did and didn’t do well. Sending out surveys, conducting focus groups or interviewing employees and customers are all good ways to get feedback.

Finally, you should update your crisis communication plan. Adjust things that didn’t work and add in things that you want to replicate if another crisis arises.

Ask for Help

We can’t emphasize this one enough. If you have a crisis on your hands, ask for help. Whether you look to another business who went through the same situation or you go to your board for advice, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There are many PR firms out there that specialize in crisis communication and employ rapid response crisis counselors who have spent their careers training to help companies when they need it most. At M3 Group, we have a seasoned team of PR professionals from all backgrounds and with varying expertise. We pride ourselves in taking PR nightmares and turning them into success stories of how a business faced an impossible situation and came out strong on the other side. Whether you use our services or someone else’s, PR firms care about your business and are here to help you get through anything.

 

We are Open for Business: M3 Group’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

 

To our clients and community:

I don’t have to tell you that we are in an unprecedented time facing challenges together. When we get to the other side of this pandemic—and we will get to the other side —we will have learned some difficult lessons and become stronger for it. We need to focus now on supporting our healthcare community and leaders in the days ahead working to save lives and minimize the damage on the economy.

I have been a small business owner in this community for many years. I’m proud of our agency, our portfolio of community publications and of our team that has built and grown them. I am like you – a business owner with employees who have families, and we are doing everything we can to respond to a crisis that changes minute by minute.

We are taking every precaution for our team as we continue to serve our clients and deliver our digital and print publications. I’m an optimist and believe we will navigate through this effectively while supporting people and businesses. We are open and plan to stay that way. 

As one of Michigan’s seasoned communication firms, we believe our role right now is to be communication first responders. Effective communication is critical through the weeks ahead. Don’t stop communicating with your employees, your customers, your partners and the media. Let them know what you are doing to make sure you take care of our community, and how people can help your business stay in business.

Our hope is that by continuing to drive our clients to communicate not just more, but with the transparency and heart their publics need from them right now, we are taking on a role desperately needed. 

You are not alone. You don’t have to have all of the answers. No one does right now. But your employees, customers, families and communities need to hear from you. We are here to help. It is moments like these that inspired many of us here at M3 Group to go into professional communication—to be part of the solution when people need information so they can keep moving forward in their lives as best they can.

Please stay tuned. M3 Group will be sending out regular emails with crisis communication best practices and we are here to help you implement them. We will be staying in close contact with our clients to make sure we are helping in every way we can. Our publications are dedicated to providing you with regular information on resources you need to help your families, employees and businesses through this. Please also check out our digital versions.

Keep heart. We are here. We are open. We are ready to help. And we will all get through this together.

 

 

The Power of Geofencing


Enable potential customers to circle back to your business

By Adam Lansdell

Have you ever felt like your phone or mobile device might be watching you? You leave a shop you’ve never been to before and suddenly everywhere you look online are advertisements for that store or one like it? You start researching new fitness trends and suddenly there are local gyms asking you to sign up now. These are just a few examples of ways you as a consumer have experienced the digital magic that is geofencing and retargeting.
Geofencing and retargeting are proven methods of connecting with customers who have shown they may be interested in or have visited your business or a competitor. Idea Applications and M3 Group know the secrets behind these applications and work directly with businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes to help them reach their desired target audiences more easily, effectively and accurately.

Geofencing
Geofencing helps businesses connect directly to consumers based on their location. Imagine taking out a map and drawing a circle around the circumference of your business. With geofencing, anyone that walks within the borders you’ve just created will then receive advertisements relevant to your business and their interactions with it. If you didn’t make a sale while those customers were visiting, you might now have a second chance. Either way, customers that now receive your advertisement will less likely to forget your brand and continue interacting with it digitally for a period of time after entering your determined radius.
Geofencing can be extremely helpful for businesses looking to generate new leads, promote exclusive offers, distribute information about upcoming sales or events and so much more. Geofencing enables your business to reach an audience of potential customers based on where they have been. Whatever your message might be, geofencing allows you to reach an audience of real-world people who are already in the proximity of your brand and who could eventually become loyal, valued customers with the right information while they are there.

“Geofencing is digital advertising tactic that allows us to find a desired group of prospects for your business, deliver ads to them, and provide businesses with the ability to track the success of converting prospects into customers,” said Dave Hodges, Idea Applications owner.

Geofencing isn’t limited to targeting areas surrounding your business. Let’s say you’ve identified a target audience or, better yet, a well-researched buyer persona that suggests you should be speaking to individuals with a specific household income, or that live in a specific region.

By loading specific details of a target customer your able to narrow down to certain age, sex, income level, previous purchase history, credit scores, household with kids, previous voting history, brand preferences, and more. This is addressable geofencing, and it’s a technology that helps organizations curate lists of households and to target the right prospect in their own homes, up-to a million at a time!

Geofencing Advantages
Geofencing provides many advantages that traditional advertising methods do not. While an integrated owned, earned and paid channels strategy is the best way to reach all of your potential target audiences, incorporating geofencing into your strategy can provide you with a leg up on the competition.

“Geofencing allows you to target very specific groups of potential customers and show them the ads that really speak to their problems and their interests in their language. This is much more effective than a generic ad that goes to all prospects,” said Hodges. “This provides information that’s tailored to specific needs and interests, almost to the individual level. When combining this targeting with the tracking capabilities of digital advertising we’re then able to provide a better answer to the age-old question: is my advertising working?”

Geofences create opportunities for you to connect with potential customers your brand’s reputation amongst new audiences that you might have never previously assumed would have interest in your organization.

To learn more and begin connecting with new customers in an exciting new way visit ideaapplications.com. 

Preaching the Blues in 2020

I’ll have a blue Christmas without hue.

If you were singing the holiday blues last month, you were in good company. In fact, you might even be able to call yourself a visionary.

Every December, Pantone throws some shade on product development and purchasing decisions by announcing its Color of the Year for the approaching 365-day cycle. The selection that will help shape marketing minds for 2020 is – drum roll please – 19-4052 Classic Blue.

But what does this mean and why is it important – or is it even important at all?

First things first: What is Pantone? The New Jersey-headquartered company provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers. According to the company’s website, “In 1963, Pantone revolutionized the printing industry with the colorful Pantone Matching System, an innovative tool allowing for the faithful selection, articulation and reproduction of consistent, accurate color anywhere in the world. The tool organizes color standards through a proprietary numbering system and chip format, which have since become iconic to the Pantone brand. Pantone’s color language supports all color-conscious industries— textiles, apparel, beauty, interiors, architectural and industrial design—encompassing over 10,000 color standards across multiple materials including printing, textiles, plastics, pigments and coatings.”

Since 2000, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced decision-makers in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, industrial design, and product packaging and graphic design. The Pantone Color of the Year selection process includes thoughtful consideration and analysis, with color experts at the Pantone Color Institute scanning the world looking for new color influences to determine the color that best captures the prevailing attitudes and reflections of the coming year.

“They put a lot of research into it and try to establish design trends as well as overall trends,” said Lauren Brumbach, one of the team of graphic designers that delivers unique insight and vision for the clients of M3 Group.

The selection of Classic Blue as the 2020 Color of the Year helps signal the dawn of a new decade and the opportunity for a clean slate, Brumbach noted.

“Blue often means loyalty, a fresh start. … It’s kind of saying that 2020 is a year of revitalization,” she noted. “It’s something fun for designers to pay attention to and stay on trend.”

Although Pantone’s Color of the Year will, indeed, influence the design and marketing decisions for some businesses, one a broader stage it serves to showcase the importance of color selection in conveying specific information to the end user.

“What I like to take away from looking at the decisions by Pantone is the color theory behind it … the general psychological aspects behind it – what it means, how it makes you feel, what it represents,” Brumbach said.

The color blue conjures feelings of relaxation, peace and compassion, she noted, while green can signify new life or growth and red can stir sentiments of warning, boldness and anger. It’s a demonstration of how color can wordlessly convey a message and meaning, as well as subliminally evoke specific emotional responses and shape the way we think about something.

“Most design usually is subconscious,” Brumbach said. “What’s interesting about Pantone is they think about all those things and how it plays into trends for the coming year. … As a designer, I think it’s more something to keep in the back of your mind in the design world.”

As a business owner, color selection should be a more front-of-mind consideration when creating a marketing and branding plan. As Brumbach noted, the choices you make will be a significant component in how you are perceived by consumers

“I think it’s important for them to be aware that there is a lot of color choice and realize how big the color world is,” she said.

 

 

 

Leveraging Earned Media Placement for your Business

Amplify your Influence with HARO

Public relations can be an effective way to get brand exposure and drive more website traffic. Gaining publicity for clients is ultimately what most marketing professionals aim to do to put companies in a positive light. This is why being featured in various publications is crucial for any business. Finding a successful and effective media relations strategy can be slow. Spending hours looking for potential outlets and sources to randomly pitch to can is not a good use of time or resources, so it’s no secret that there are effective outlets out there to speed up the process. One program I prefer to take advantage of Help a Reporter Out or HARO.

HARO is a helpful outlet that journalists use to find industry experts to use as sources in articles featured on major media sites. According to HARO, the network reaches more than 800,000 sources and 55,000 journalists and bloggers.

There are many benefits of getting your business mentioned in leading publications within your industry or market. Besides exposure, link building, which is having a source or website link to your website, can be a great way to help boost search engine optimization ratings. This also is an excellent way to build relationships with writers around the globe that are influencers in your industry. Additionally, it helps to list your site with trustworthy directories.

HARO is a pretty straight forward platform used by PR professionals, journalists and experts all over. When you join as a source, HARO sends out new leads three times a day via email, Monday through Friday. Expect these emails to come in around 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. There are emails sent with specific topics, guidelines, industries and so on. When signing up for HARO, there are preferences that allow you to opt-in or out of additional emails tailored explicitly to the categories you’re an industry expert in.

When you’re an expert in a specific subject or industry, the response can seem like the easy part, but HARO is competitive, especially for popular media outlets. Take time to develop a thoughtful pitch to the query. Keep in mind that there are countless submissions to each writer, so your pitch should be concise and stand out from the rest.

I have had great success with pitches to queries via HARO. It has been a source that I continually use for both clients and in-house marketing efforts. Not only do I get free publicity, but it also is a great way to make connections across the globe with expert writers in the industry. HARO is an effort proven to work. M3 Group is a full-service branding agency from marketing and corporate consulting to PR and advertising services. If your business is looking to expand its brand awareness and reach, we’d love to help you out. To learn more about our services, please visit m3group.biz.