Strategic Planning – Understanding the Competitive Value of Your Brand

Brand IS a competitive advantageOne of the most commonly overlooked sources of competitive advantage is brand. Branding is not just advertising, nor is it simply a catchy name for a company or product. The most important value in a brand is the value that it holds for actual customers. This value is very difficult and expensive to build – and fragile and easy to destroy. The difficulty of building and maintaining a brand is one reason why managers the world over tend to avoid spending much time or money on branding – especially in smaller companies. This is a shame, because a well-managed brand is so powerful that it can overcome almost any other competitive advantage. This one fact is the reason why larger companies with lots of managerial horsepower tend to spend a lot of time and money on branding.What makes a brand valuable?Brands are valuable simply because they cause customers to be inclined to purchase your product rather than someone else’s. In a way, a brand is shorthand for the things the customer can expect from your product. In products that hold little meaning for the customer, this might be worth less, but in markets where the customer invests his or her ego in the purchase of a particular brand, that meaning can be priceless. Let’s look at some examples to see where branding may or may not be important.First of all, let’s look at some examples of brands with tremendous pull. These brands will sell well just about anywhere they show up, because the customer associates the brand with qualities they prefer. Examples include:DisneyNintendoSonyHarley DavidsonAppleInterestingly, none of these brands has universal appeal, in that not every possible customer will prefer the attributes of the brand over their alternatives. For example, the Disney brand is applied to many products:Theme ParksMoviesLicensed products such as clothing and toysComputer gamesTime sharesCruise lineBroadway showsTelevision programmingIn each of these very different product areas, the Disney brand means something a little different. For example, in theme parks, Disney means clean, family-oriented, creatively designed, expensive and (to many) crowded. The negative elements of the Disney branding in their theme park business are inevitable – you always have to accept the negative with the positive. But the positive elements are so compelling that millions of people from around the world spend a significant portion of their income to travel to a Disney theme park.The Apple brand has a similar story. Apple carries a number of meanings, including well designed, easy to use, less popular and expensive. As with any great brand, this brand has a lot of ego invested in it for some people. This aspect of branding is more visible in computers because it is significantly more difficult and time consuming to use a computer operating system that isn’t the most popular (in other words, Microsoft). Despite this difficulty, Apple has a hard core of fans who wouldn’t think of using another brand, given a choice. Clearly, this doesn’t translate into top market share for Apple, but it is a significant advantage that has clearly kept the Apple name alive when others have fallen by the wayside. Apple’s newer products – notable the iPod – have drawn upon the positive elements of the Apple brand. The negative elements of the Apple brand have been far less problematic for the iPod because it is competing in a new product area where niche status has not been seen as a drawback. This is an excellent example of using a brand to grow beyond the core product line.Why branding is important in the global marketplaceIn an increasingly global market, branding can serve two distinct functions that may be useful to you: first, a “local” brand gives you and entrenched customer base that is more difficult (and expensive) to displace, and second, a “global” brand can give you a foot in the door when seeking to enter new geographic areas. Be forewarned: building a “global” brand is expensive, and often a “local” brand can be just as costly. Even so, the brand can be a useful offensive tool and defensive tool when you are competing with non-local companies.There is one reason why “local” brands can be more cost-effective, and a good tool for defending your home turf from foreign competition: brand success is built upon three critical factors:1. Understanding the key values in the mind of your customer2. Knowing how to put the customer’s values into your product or service3. Effectively associating your brand with those valuesTwo of these factors, understanding your customer and associating your brand with values, are very much defined by culture. Thus, someone from outside your culture – and this could even be someone who speaks the same language from a different region – will find it much more difficult to get an accurate read on what your customer’s key values are, and how to convince the customer that his product or service embodies those values. This is not saying that a foreign competitor cannot do this – just that it’s a lot more expensive and difficult.How to evaluate your brandObjectively evaluating your brand is difficult, especially if you want to put an exact dollar number on it. Fortunately, this is usually not required for good strategic decision making. Still, it’s a good idea to have at least a general concept of the value of your brand when you are considering strategic options.The most objective way to evaluate your brand is to measure the outcomes that occur with and without the use of your brand. Sometimes this is simple, because the way you market may well lend itself to testing different hypothesis about your brand. For example, a seminar company might test mailing brochures that feature (or don’t feature) specific brands, to find out the extent to which one of those brands is pulling in attendees at the seminars. Likewise, if you have the wherewithal, you might go so far as to test selling a “generic” version of your product in the marketplace to see if it can carry the same price as your current brand – at acceptable volumes. This is a little more difficult with retail products, as some retailers will insist on only stocking brand name products on their shelves. In addition, retail stores – especially large chains – typically demand some kind of compensation for the use of their shelf space, which makes retail brand testing quite expensive.If testing is out of the question, you can also approximate brand value by looking at the popularity and price of competing brands with little or no brand power. If you don’t have an absolutely generic “no-name” competitor, it can be difficult to be objective about this – after all, how do you decide which competitor has the least brand power? Also, there may be some confusion about value because there are several components to the success of a brand:Brand Sales = (Cost + Margin) * VolumeIf you were to attempt a calculation of brand value, you would be faced with extracting non-brand factors which affect these three numbers. For example, cost can go up or down depending on operation skills, management, underlying cost structure, and purchasing skills. Margin may be driven by brand power, pricing skill, and power in the distribution/retail channels. And volume can be affected by both cost and margin, brand power, and distribution network, as well as underlying demand for the products or services being offered.Even so, at the end of the day your brand gets you one of two measurable outcomes: margin or volume. Comparing your margins to the competition is one way to assess the value of your brand, if you take heed of the caveat about other factors which may change margin. Comparing volume is less likely to yield a good estimate of brand value, because you can – in many markets – drive higher volumes with no brand value at all by charging lower prices. This, by the way, is a terrible strategy to be following if you are concerned about cheaper foreign competition, because there are significant costs that you simply will not be able to beat your foreign competitors on.So your brand isn’t that valuable – is there hope?In some cases, companies run into a “brick wall” when they objectively evaluate their own brand. This can be caused by a number of factors, but the outcome is the same: some brands just don’t mean anything to the customer, and so do not carry any premium in the marketplace. Naturally, such brands offer little defense against inexpensive foreign competition, and companies that rely too heavily on brand power that doesn’t really exist inevitably get into hot water as foreign competition uses its compelling power – the lower price – to erode the market share of domestic competitors.Is there a “crash course” way to build brand? Yes – but it’s inherently risky and not for the faint of heart. This is because branding is driven by the brains of our customers, not our desires. In order to build a strong, positive awareness of your brand in a hurry, you will have to do something that stands out. By “stands out” we don’t mean “is a bit better” – we mean something that is truly remarkable, or, in other words “worthy of remark”. Customers don’t make remarks about brands that are a little better – they remark on differences that they find really interesting.An excellent example of something remarkable is the Honda Element. This is a truly distinctive design in the overcrowded sport utility vehicle market. The design is, in fact, so unusual that it almost never made it into production. Marketing people at Honda were extremely uncomfortable that the design was so different from any other brand in the SUV market that they wanted to scrap it. The designers won the fight to manufacture a small number of Elements as a “niche” product, along with a more mainstream design. By the end of the first year of production, the Element was outselling the “safe” design by five to one!The lesson here is clear: if you are behind some savvy competitors, you should be prepared to seriously consider strategic options that make you uncomfortable. We wouldn’t recommend betting the farm on outlandish new brands – in most cases – but we would suggest that having one or two every couple of years might just push your brand into the lead by giving you a reputation for having edgy, innovative products.Copyright 2007 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan – Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

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5 Best Social Media Walls to Use at your Next Virtual Event!

In this Article you will learn about social media walls and its significance in Virtual events. Best tools for social media walls for vitual events.

The time has changed a lot! Due to this global pandemic situation,Guest Posting every industry has faced some alterations in its work culture, as the services are not completely blocked. However, the event industry has transformed itself a lot and has offered an option of virtual events in place of live events or concerts. Events where gathering in-person is avoided and the events are organized with the help of online tools or applications.

Virtual events are common these days and are conducted in the form of; Webinars, Virtual conferences, Live concerts, Internal hybrid events, External hybrid events, and virtual trade shows.

What Are Social Media Walls?

Social media walls are a method of showcasing live feeds from different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many others. All the relevant feeds with the qualitative content are collected, curated, and displayed on a single platform in the form of a social media wall.

The feeds are collected from different social media platforms by using the hashtags, handles, or mentions of the event. It also curates the most recent feeds from the platform and displays them on the wall.

Benefits of Using Social Media Wall

Social media walls make your event more qualitative, interesting, communicative, and captivating. The benefits of using social media wall in your event are listed as:

Create a buzz around your event: Yes, you read it right! Create an exclusive hashtag for your event and ask your users to use that particular hashtag in their social media posts. These user-generated content will generate hype for your event, and showcasing those posts on a big screen will drive the interest of other participants as well.
Enhance the engagement of your participants: By displaying the most recent feeds of social media, you will encourage other attendees to communicate more on social media platforms by using the hashtag of your event. The more the mentions and hashtags would be, the higher will be the engagement of the attendees.
Social listening: By using social media wall for your virtual event, you can observe and analyze well about your brand reputation in the market and the users. Displaying the content on the wall will attract new audiences and will give them proof of the social presence of your brand.
Increase your followers: Generating a social wall for your virtual event across the city, national or international platforms will enhance your brand awareness, increase your brand visibility, and ultimately will increase your followers as well.
Promote Sales: Yes, social media walls will also help you in targeting a broad spectrum of audiences. You can have a live contest for the best post of the event using hashtags you can give away some coupons or discounts based on customer loyalty to the brand. These all will help you in acquiring an increased conversion rate and build brand confidence among the users or the attendees of the event.

Without a doubt, using social media walls in your next virtual event could be beneficial in various aspects. The brands and businesses are using it to bring a drone, brand awareness, and enhanced brand visibility. Virtual events demand the same efforts, interest, and engagement; using social media walls for virtual events can turn them into more interactive, engaging, and magnetizing events.

Best Social Media Wall Platforms for your next Event

Down the drain, there are different platforms that you can use to create your own social media wall for your next virtual event. In this article, I will give you a walk through the best 5 social media wall platforms, out of which you can choose any for your next event.

Taggbox: Taggbox is well-recognized as the best social wall tool for displaying live feeds from social media platforms. It can be used easily. Taggbox can be used for collecting, curating, moderating, and displaying the feeds from all the social media for virtual event.

Taggbox also helps you in filtering out the irrelevant & inappropriate content from the collected feeds so that on the social wall, you can display only the qualitative content for your users. It also enables you to customize the layout of your social wall feeds. You can choose the theme layout, background styles, colors, fonts, and much more to make your wall more captivating & engaging.

Tint: Tint is the social media marketing and self-managed tool, which can be employed for the marketing purposes of the brand. It collects the content from the social media platforms, and you customize them according to your requirements.

Tint also enables you to customize a single post at a time you can edit every single piece of the social media wall on your own based on the requirements. Basically, it is a self-managed platform, and you can create your own package of services as well. Juicer is one more social media aggregator and social wall tool on the list. It collects the posts, shares, and content from different social media platforms by listing hashtags, mentions, and handle for displaying the appropriate & valuable content on the social wall of your event.

It is quite easy to install and use. It also has a feature of analytics that will help you in measuring the progress of the uploaded content. Also, it offers worthwhile packages, and also it offers a free trial span to evaluate the quality and worthiness of the tool.

Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a compact set of all features that any social media aggregator or social media wall tool can exert. It enables you to record, operate, and administer maximum social media platforms in one place.

It is one of the easiest tools to use, and it enables users to tailor-make the content based on the needs and standards of the tool.

CrowdScreen: It is another type of social wall tool. It is mostly used for larger platforms. This tool is best if you want to maintain the privacy of the user who has posted or shared the feed. It does not collect data from social media platforms rather, the application allows its users to post on the social media wall directly.

Choose the best social media wall to captivate maximum attendees!

Adding social media walls to virtual events is one of the most efficient and effective ways to gain the attention of the participants or the attendees. Turn your virtual events into more interesting, communicative, engaging, and provocative events for your participants.

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5 Most Popular Digital Marketing Trends

Digital marketing is transforming the marketing landscape. It’s also one of the most talked about topics in the industry. There are many digital marketing trends that we can expect to see in the year.

Digital marketing is transforming the marketing landscape. It’s also one of the most talked about topics in the industry. There are many digital marketing trends that we can expect to see in the year.

In this article,Guest Posting we will explore the hottest trends. These trends could be a long-term strategy for your business. Read on to find out more!

1. Social media courses
Social media courses are courses that teach students and employees about how to use social media in order to grow a business.

Social media courses can be taken in-person or online

The course topics vary depending on the school or the company offering the course. Some schools offer a general overview of social media while others teach specific skills like how to post on Instagram stories.

Some companies offer courses on how to use Facebook Live for marketing purposes or how to use Twitter for customer service inquiries.

2. Voice search
Voice search is a type of search that enables people to interact with the internet via voice commands. It is also called voice-activated search and voice-controlled search.

Voice search is a technology that lets you find information on the internet by speaking into your device instead of typing it in. Voice searches are activated by speaking words or phrases into a microphone, rather than typing them into a computer or mobile device.

3. Social media chatbots
Social media chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to simulate conversation with humans over the internet.

Chatbots are able to answer questions, give information, and help solve problems. They can be used for a number of purposes including customer service and content marketing.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates conversations with humans on social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, or Skype.

4. Visual content
Visual content is a type of content that is made up of images, videos, and other graphics.

Visual content has been around for a long time, but it has only recently gained popularity. There are many reasons for this – one being that the internet has become more visual. Another reason is that people have started getting used to consuming information in this way.

This type of content can be used in many different ways. It can be used to sell products on an e-commerce site or it can be used as an educational tool on the site of a school or university.

5. Social commerce
The definition of social commerce is the use of social media platforms to promote and sell products or services. Social commerce can be done through the following platforms:

The most popular form of social commerce is through Facebook where people post pictures of themselves wearing clothes that they want to sell. This type of promotion has been shown to be more successful than traditional methods like advertisements in magazines.

According to Forbes: “Social commerce is defined as when the entire shopping journey from product discovery through the check-out process is conducted on a social media platform.

In 2021, global social commerce sales reached $492 billion, but it is expected to nearly triple by 2025 to reach $1.2 trillion, according to a new study by Accenture.”

To end…
Digital marketing trends are changing day by day. It is a challenge to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in digital marketing. However, as a business owner, it is truly an advantage to stay updated.

With the rise of social media, people are spending more time on their phones. This has led to a shift in how companies market themselves and the rise of trends in digital marketing.

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