6 Ways to Increase Your Competitive Edge

What makes you better than your competition and how do you maintain your competitive edge? Those that thrive are constantly asking questions like these to self-assess and improve upon their competition.

In advertising and marketing, those that don’t improve become vintage agencies no longer serving the needs of modern consumers and thus drop off the map. So how do we at Fraser Communications, an agency founded last century, not only keep up with but, surpass the competition? Individuals shared key tactics to increase their competitive edge:

1. Talk less. Listen more.

sculpture-1445167_1920“Mine is incredibly basic, yet in my opinion very necessary: Talk less. Listen more. Chiming in and adding your “two cents” isn’t so much about adding value – too often, it’s simply fulfilling a perceived obligation to contribute to a conversation. Don’t be part of the endless chatter. Listen, absorb, learn. And make your own contributions more meaningful (and ultimately more impactful).” – Melissa Miller

2. Say yes.

yes-1510054_1920“Not saying no to new challenges that are outside of what I know or  “normally” do as part of a communications company. This has helped me learn new skills and helped our clients shine in the faces of their executive leadership.” – Ilene Prince

“Say yes – enthusiastically take on new projects with an openness to learn and creative problem solve. Pull from a diverse array of past experience and projects.” – Elana Polan

3. Stay informed.

business-man-1031755_1920“I’ve kept ahead of the competition by reading industry blogs and newsletters. I review pieces on writing, branding, public relations, and social media marketing that analyze current trends, introduce time-saving tools, and showcase exemplary work. This habit strengthens my skill-set by familiarizing me with today’s best marketing practices.” – Risa C. Voss Jensen

4. Self improve.

light-bulbs-1125016_1920“I feel like an important part of staying competitive is constantly striving to better yourself; to learn more than you knew the day before. Complacency kills careers (and alliteration is awesome). Every day I try to absorb insights from brilliant colleagues, read articles, identify personal and professional growth opportunities, and attend events or seminars whenever I can. I think it’s also important to take yourself out of your daily routine or “bubble” on a regular basis. For the same reason that traveling helps you discover new things and experience different cultures, changing up your work environment can help you gain new perspectives and alter or strengthen previous perceptions. For those working in the social marketing arena, harnessing that range of empathy can mean providing clients with deeper, more meaningful work that truly makes an impact.” – Danielle Thouin

5. Work as a team.

“Keep everyone in the loop – our weekly status mteam-386673_1920eetings that include all departments are great because including everyone often leads to fresh perspectives and experiences that help solve problems.” – Elana Polan

6. Find balance.

“Work life balance… Log off when you are on vacation or even on the weekends and evenings. It’s important to have balance when we live in a world where we are reachable 24/7. We have to set boundaries, not only for our own personal health, but also to not set a precedent of being available any and every given moment.” – Caroline Lenher

unnamed.jpg
Caroline hiking in Sedona, Arizona

Why destination viewing works for advertisers.

Similar to a destination wedding, destination viewing is a media event that consolidates viewers to one location whether it be a platform or network. Examples of well known destination viewing events include the Super Bowl and the Oscars. These events offer large audiences for advertisers and are associated with a high price tag. This year, to air a thirty second ad, it cost a reported $5m for the Super Bowl and $2.5m for the Oscars.

Advertisers pay these prices in the hopes to be the most talked about ad. Some utilize hot button issues while others might use celebrity power or puppies to reach new fans. Although these destination viewing events aggregate viewers to a single location, advertisers rely on cross-platform conversation to compound interest. Given that an estimated eighty-four percent of smartphone and tablet owners engage with those screens while watching television, commenting on the content and the ads, they aren’t wrong.

“We take destination viewing into account when planning media by utilizing events for certain audiences such as sports, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice finale, and more. People want to see or hear the action as it happens. No one likes a spoiler.” – Renee Fraser, CEO, Fraser Communications

Advertisers even use these popular events to create ads broadcasted afterwards. Honda for example, although they did air an ad during Super Bowl LI, had a Super Bowl viewing party that raised money based on commercials with cliche advertising techniques. The donation drive was filmed and commercials aired after the Super Bowl. Strategies like this show that destination viewing events are being utilized far past the events themselves.

With content no longer king, and distribution taking over, it’s no wonder why advertisers are milking destination viewing events for all their worth.

“Searching for posts with the hashtag #superbowl, Netbase used its Instant Search social analytics engine to mine 300 million sources (including social networks and blogs), and found that 2.7 million people authored 5.7 million original posts between noon Sunday and 1 pm Monday (all times EST), leading to almost 40 billion impressions.” – Nelson Granados, Forbes

This level of distribution has advertisers foaming at the mouth. Destination viewing events, with their distribution potential from the event as well as user authorship on social media, will continue to garner global attention of both fans and advertisers.

How digital killed the sales funnel.

How digital killed the sales funnel.

If you went to school for business or communications, you’ve probably heard of a concept from the 1800s called the sales funnel. If not, you’ve likely heard of a synonym such as the AIDA-model, sales pipeline, or purchase funnel. Recently, due to the development of digital sales and marketing, critics have come to suggest a modified version of the traditional sales funnel.

What’s wrong with the sales funnel?

1. The funnel assumes a linear buying process but in reality, buyers behave erratically. Customers bounce from one funnel stage to another, come in and out at various stages, and skip stages. This fluidity is contrary to the idea of a funnel which has only two openings at the top and bottom.

In both B2B and B2C businesses, customers are doing their own research both online and with their colleagues and friends. Prospects are walking themselves through the funnel, then walking in the door ready to buy. – Mark Bonchek and Cara France, Harvard Business Review

2. Marketing is separate from the sale. The funnel shows marketing leading a consumer to purchase and assumes that marketers aren’t part of the sale. However, in today’s world where customers are able to self-educate themselves, marketing and sales go hand in hand.

Marketers are providing content and resources to inform buyers before they contact sales. Both marketing and sales need to consider the complete end-to-end buyer journey and work together to close deals. – Mike Renahan, HubSpot

3. The end goal is a purchase. Before the internet and instantaneous communication, options were limited and places to purchase harder to find. Today, options and places are plentiful and comparison shopping is the norm. Due to this increased competition, companies are focusing on engaging customers through centralized marketing rather than a simple sale.

The first step is to begin thinking in terms of people, rather than platforms. Marketers need to be ready with a holistic message that can be seen by consumers wherever they are, at any given time, agnostic to the platform or device they’re currently using. Centralized marketing teams need to be able to look at campaigns across all touch points, identifying how each peg in the pinball machine contributed (or not) to the sale at the end. – Jason John, AdvertisingAge

4. Relationships are more important. In the digital age, people can experience brands through social media, virtual reality, live events and more. Gone are the days where you have to be a customer to be a brand advocate. Because of this, marketing has changed from leading directly to sales to being more about the relationships built along the way.

Consider a real world journey of a family’s trip from the U.S. to Mexico. Visa mapped out the entire experience, from where the family gets ideas on where to go (TripAdvisor), to how they gather input from friends (Facebook), to how they pay for their cab (cash from an ATM) or hotel (credit card), to how they share photos of their trip with friends back home (Instagram). Only a few of these situations are opportunities for transactions, but they are all opportunities for relationships. “When you change from decision to engagement,”Antonio Lucio, Chief Brand Officer at Visa says, “you change the entire model.”Mark Bonchek and Cara France, Harvard Business Review

What does the new sales journey look like?

The most important change in the sales journey is that buyers now research many options and move towards the sale at their own pace.

New sales funnel illustration.

How can marketers navigate the new sales journey?

In the digital world, marketers need a complex understanding of the sales journey and the many resources customers have at their disposal. To pursue relationships and experiences over persuasion and promotion, marketers need to turn to big data and analytics for help.

At Fraser, we study analytics to understand where people are in their sales journey. We recently conducted a program for our client using retargeting, where we tailored unique messages for different consumer segments. We were able to shorten purchase consideration time by half, therefore lowering our client’s CPA (cost per acquisition). – Renee Fraser PhD, CEO at Fraser Communications

Although the reliability and predictability of the customer’s journey has disappeared, marketers today have a valuable opportunity to connect with future customers and build ongoing relationships. Through analytics and tracking, marketers can develop holistic messages that engage customers beyond the traditional sale and foster a meaningful relationship.

Image from http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/02/03/2017-super-bowl-ads

Super Bowl LI: Touchdown Ads

There’s one thing advertisers can always count on for Super Bowl, a high price tag. This year, the price tag of a thirty second commercial hovered around five million dollars. Despite cost, our advertising firm weighed in on our favorite ads of Super Bowl LI. Below are the ads that inspired and entertained us, regardless of which team caught the last touchdown.

The Audi ad was bold – taking on equal pay and equal respect for women. Many ads like this stirred up a dialogue, making the audience engage and talk about real issues. Forcing ourselves to confront our own values and our differences. Despite disagreements, we still need to move forward together. – Renee Fraser

84 Lumber utilized ‘transmedia’ in the best possible way. They took advantage of the fact that everyone watches TV with at least one other mobile device nearby, and combined that with the power of storytelling to instill intrigue while sending a strong message of inclusion to many who are uncertain. And it worked – so well, in fact, it shut down their website! – Danielle Thouin

Honda had a very cool use of celebrity. I felt it accomplished the “inspire” message that others tried, but succeeded with humor rather than trying so hard with politics and sadness. – Mollie Bauer

I liked Kia with Melissa McCarthy. The combination of humor, a little politics, a great celebrity and tie in with the car made for a memorable commercial. – Erin Shinn

The Skittles spot for its levity – definitely got the biggest laugh at our party. – Ilene Prince

Bai – because Timberlake makes everything better. Walken AND Timberlake? Magic. – Mollie Bauer

Buick with Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr was cute, fun, and relevant. – Caroline Lenher

I loved the NFL family spot with little kids representing great players past. – Bruce Dundore

How Fraser got books into the hands of children across America.

Fraser connects First 5 California, Dr. Oz, Scholastic and UPS to launch Books Across America.

Fraser Communications knows the importance of a child’s first three years. Brain growth happens at lightning speed. The importance of parental interaction with their children is nothing short of a mandate for a healthy society. Inspired by the Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign developed with our client and partner First 5 California, Fraser wanted to find a way to get free books to lower income children across the country. This is the population that goes under served, and that falls behind in school and potentially gets in trouble later in life. Fraser and First 5 California were determined to get books to these children.

Dr. Oz to the rescue.

Sometimes, good things happen at just the right time. As Fraser was putting together the proposal for Books Across America, First 5 California Commission Chair George Halvorson was scheduled to appear on The Dr. Oz Show to be interviewed by four-time Emmy award winning Dr. Mehmet Oz. So now Fraser had a nationally known, interested authority to give the whole program the kind of exposure and legitimacy that turns ideas into movements. Dr. Oz was all hands and heart on deck, because, as George would tell him, this cause is THAT important.Books Accross America

And so today, May 25, The Dr. Oz Show will announce the book drive, “Books Across America,” and discuss the importance of early verbal interaction with children and its influence on healthy brain development and announce a generous donation of 1,000 books by Scholastic to kick off the drive.

Dr. Oz even made a book donation of his own. Click here to watch.

It’s a big country and UPS covers it all.

Fraser knew that a solution would need a distributor. Fraser contacted Noel Massie, U.S. Operations Manager, UPS and found an enthusiastic audience.

Massie said, “UPS is thrilled to play an integral role in this effort.” He assured that, “donating books couldn’t be easier – just bring them to any participating The UPS Store location.”

It seems UPS, like Fraser, is also a company interested in making the world a better place.

Getting books into deserving hands.Parent and Child Reading

Book collection in place? Check! Promotion ready to air? Check! Now Fraser needed a reliable source to receive and distribute the books to families with children in need. That’s where The National WIC Association came in. They helped us register over 750 Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics across 47 states to receive book donations and directly distribute to families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Time to crack open the books and Talk. Read. Sing.®

Books Across America typifies the vision and energy Fraser puts into their efforts with First 5 California. Great partnerships were forged. And, a cooperative program was put into place that will benefit the children of the United States of America in years to come.

Courage reaches out. Compassion takes hold.

What do a Grammy-winning musician, a television host and comedian, and a Navajo transgender activist have in common? At some point in their lives, they were all challenged by events and realities that made it hard for them to cope. The Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.de.ap, comedian Suzanne Whang, and transgender activist Michelle Enfield joined with the LA County Department of Mental Health and Fraser Communications to tell their stories of trauma, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and the stigma associated with their struggles. The effort – called Profiles of Hope – seeks to build a bridge of empathy and to alert individuals and families to a network of support and care in LA County. Its mission is to reach out to those who suffer, and offer them a compassionate way to resiliency and recovery.

Fraser Communications is proud of our work with Profiles of Hope in creating compelling video content and other communication vehicles to help ease the pain of others.

View the videos of these brave individuals below for a brief glimpse into their stories. Full-length documentaries are featured on our custom site, ProfilesofHopeLA.com.

“I kept my diagnosis private. But then I was given 6 months to live. I had to learn to ask for help and love to receive It. “ – Suzanne Whang, TV Host, Actress and Comedian

“…If you put all your strength into getting through the dark tunnel, there will be a light at the end of It.” – Apl.de.ap, from the Black Eyed Peas

“We need the emotional strength to help us live and thrive in a world that is too often intolerant of others different from them.” – Michelle Enfield, Transgender Activist

“By sharing these videos, we hope more and more people come to realize it’s not only permissible, but also valuable, to talk about mental health wellness. We also hope that these stories, by humanizing such struggles and highlighting successes, will help to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.” – Roderick Shaner, M.D., LACDMH Medical Director

Special Screening: Being Charlie

Our efforts for Profiles of Hope were shown at the special screening of Rob Reiner’s new film, Being Charlie, on May 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills. Dr. Drew made an appearance at the screening, and through Fraser’s special arrangements, interviewed Kathleen Piche (Public Affairs Director at LA County Department of Mental Health) live on his long-running radio program, Loveline.

Rick Springfield Concert

Fraser loves a great concert! Especially when we were able to arrange to show our videos before the concert and run 3 weeks of radio for Profiles of Hope leading up to the July 16, 2016 Rick Springfield concert at the Greek Theater. Rick is one of the profiles on the site, and we’re proud to support his talent and courage.

Image from https://pixabay.com/en/notepad-pencil-green-black-932864/

Four ways to turn your company green.

Being conscious of one’s carbon footprint and making smarter decisions isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the trendy thing to do. It carries with it the notion that everyone’s doing it and if you’re not already, you should be.

Not sure where to start? The first step to having a green office is wanting and caring enough to have one. So, if you’re reading this post, you’re well on your way. At Fraser Communications, we’ve implemented four simple practices around the office to get on Mother Nature’s good side and we hope you find them useful in your home or office.

PRINTING:

With millions of pieces of paper being printed on a yearly basis, one easy way to be environmentally conscious is to program the printer to print double sided whenever possible. Of course, accidents happen, so be sure to recycle misprinted paper or shred them to use for package stuffing. One common reason for not recycling is that there aren’t enough bins available. Eliminate this excuse by keeping recycling bins next to all major garbage bins. This reminds and invites all employees to discard properly. And of course, only print when it’s necessary.

LIGHTS:

Paper isn’t the only thing that can be recycled. Light bulbs can be remitted to the local hardware store for proper processing and empty ink cartridges can be mailed back to the manufacturer for reuse. You should also consider swapping out standard bulbs with energy-efficient ones like we do, just in case an employee forgets to turn off the lights.

THERMOSTAT:

Abiding by the manufacturer’s recommended settings and shutting off the thermostat on weekends are simple steps your office can take to optimize energy efficiency and keep your utility bill moderate. You should also dress according to the weather. Instead of cranking up the heat, put on an extra layer of clothing. If it’s too hot, place a fan on your desk.

KITCHEN:

Set an example and encourage employees to use reusable thermoses and containers when packing their lunch. Keep the kitchen stocked with mugs, dishes and silverware that can be used time and time again to lessen the use of disposable wares. (It might be more costly at first, but the investment will easily pay off.) And, make an effort to run the dishwasher only when completely full to not only conserve energy, but also decrease water usage.

Most of these tips aren’t new or revolutionary, but they often become so repetitive that they are ignored altogether. One thing we know well here at Fraser Communications is that encouragement is a huge asset to any team’s competitive advantage. Start implementing a few changes here and there while encouraging employees and colleagues to do the same. Remember—something as simple as a light bulb change is a step toward a greener future for us all.