7 Texas Businesses That Crush Their Marketing Strategy

by Patrick Foster

 

7 Texas Businesses That Crush Their Marketing Strategies

As the old phrase goes, everything is bigger in Texas, and that’s particularly true when it comes to Texan businesses. The Lone Star State is home to some of America’s largest companies, including ExxonMobil, AT&T and Pizza Hut.

But how does a small local business grow to the point where it is known both nationally and, in some cases on our list, globally?

The answer is by developing a highly effective marketing strategy. Marketing is the vehicle that builds a brand’s image and drives customer acquisition, which is the bedrock of a successful business. Here are seven Texan businesses that have got this just right.

Image Pexels

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines are masters at emotional storytelling, a clever marketing strategy that allows them to connect with customers on a deep and authentic level. During 2017 and the first half of 2018, Southwest Airlines hosted an interactive microsite called 175 Stories, a nod to the fact that there are 175 seats on each of their new Boeing 737 planes.

Each of these seats contains a passenger with their own story to tell, a story that the brand leveraged in their marketing by exploring each passenger’s emotional journey as well as their physical one.

Southwest Airlines has also utilized empathy as part of their social media strategy. In their Dallas ‘Listening Center’, a team of 40 customer service experts monitor social media channels around the clock with one primary goal: to simply listen to customers.

Being on hand to respond to complaints, queries and comments immediately is an excellent marketing strategy because it makes customers feel like the company cares about their experience.

With 64% of customers expecting a reply on Twitter within 60 minutes, Southwest Airlines are cleverly aligning their social media efforts with customer expectations.

Dr. Pepper

A young pharmacist called Charles Alderton invented Dr. Pepper in Waco, Texas, and it has since become a staple in American culture.

Though a perennially popular brand, Dr. Pepper enjoyed a significant boost in sales by embracing both social media and online gaming. The brand launched ‘Pepperhood’, a college-style fraternity of friends and fans of the drink, which offered challenges, prizes and the chance to become Pepperhood President.

This strategy garnered huge social engagement, with more than 70,000 players registering and more than 4,000 pieces of user-generated content being uploaded to the Pepperhood site.

Most importantly, sales increased significantly during the five month campaign by an impressive 385,000 units. Dr Pepper might be 130 years old, but it’s ahead of the game when it comes to marketing.

Shiner Bock Beer

Shiner Bock is a craft beer brewed in Texas, which is beloved by its home state, but has also grown in popularity nationwide. With rapid growth in the craft beer industry, there is a constant focus on what is new.

As such, it seemed natural for Austin ad agency McGarrah Jessee to return to Shiner’s roots when creating a campaign for the beer. By focusing on the 108-year history of the brand, McGarrah Jessee marketed Shiner as authentic and part of America’s history.

Shiner’s marketing strategy was a multipronged one, and the company paid $1.2 million for a Super Bowl spot in 2018 to get their message out there. By leveraging several different marketing methods at once, Shiner is retaining the image of a local beer whilst offering it to a national audience.

This strategy is evidence of the importance of branding when it comes to marketing a product or service. A rejuvenation of a brand’s image could be enough to turn around an ailing business. Indeed, you could pick up a local Texas business that isn’t performing so well and turn it around with a careful, considered brand revamp. You could then easily flip it for a quick profit.

Dickies

Texan brand Dickies has successfully made the jump from workwear to lifestyle brand, via an unexpected foray into skatewear. This is due in part to the success of DickiesStore.co.uk, the online distributor in the UK for the global Dickies brand.

Digital marketing specialists MediaVision were asked to help Dickies grow their market share by developing new audiences. Due to their product range, Dickies had assumed that their target audience lay naturally in the building trade but research identified other lifestyle verticals including gardening, camping and agriculture.

MediaVision implemented a paid search strategy based on factors such as seasonality and geographic location, and developed bespoke landing pages for niche interest groups outside of the workwear industry, such as dog walkers.

This worked particularly well on Facebook, with focus being steered away from products and towards lifestyle, taking likes for the Dickies page from 2000 to 20000 in just one year.

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin by four people who believed that the natural foods industry was ready for a supermarket format. They were right: Whole Foods Market is now a Fortune 500 company and is America’s largest retailer of organic foods.

The company was acquired by corporate behemoth Amazon for $13.7 billion earlier this year, but has retained its image as an alternative to the usual supermarket offerings in its latest marketing campaign.

Under the tagline Whatever Makes You Whole, the new campaign puts emphasis on shoppers rather than produce, and attempts to help Whole Foods shed the ‘whole paycheck’ image that had dogged it for years.

And it seems to have worked: sales at Whole Foods have soared in the past year. Whole Foods have managed to walk the tricky tightrope of offering ethically sourced organic food at lower prices, and their marketing reflects that.

Dell

University of Texas student Michael Dell founded the huge multinational computer technology company in 1984 with capital of just $1000. As of May 2014, Michael Dell’s net worth was approximately $18 billion. Such a figure is clear evidence of Dell’s impeccable marketing strategies over the last three decades.

Dell utilizes content marketing as an important part of their marketing strategy and has created a hugely popular podcast called Trailblazers. Though chiefly aimed at C-suite executives, the podcast is interesting for anyone with an interest in disruptive technologies.

Trailblazer has been nominated for a Webby award, garnering huge publicity for Dell, and their overall content marketing strategy was named in the NewsCred Top 50 Best Content Marketing Brands of 2018.

This method highlights the value of content marketing for businesses, both small and large. Take a look at local Texas business listings and you’ll find any number of brands that, regardless of their business niche, have implemented a solid content marketing strategy. Content marketing creates ongoing value for their customers, which in turn ensures they’ll return to buy from a brand again and again.

Chuck E. Cheese

Restaurant Chuck E. Cheese is an excellent example of how being prepared to be flexible and think quickly can create a hugely successful marketing strategy.

In 2017, McDonald’s hit headlines when an Arizona mom began swab testing play areas in the fast food chain and finding dangerous pathogens. In response, McDonald’s banned her from its restaurants and created a storm of negative PR.

Enter Chuck E. Cheese, who came forward and volunteered to partner with the mom to establish new sanitation standards for their family restaurants. Chuck E. Cheese were clever in playing the part of the rescuer in this story. But they also recognized that a brief switch in loyalties doesn’t necessarily mean the customer won’t return to a competitor.

They turned this into an effective marketing strategy by making a long-term commitment to their customers in the shape of their Kids Play Safe certification. The logo gives visible assurance of their care for children’s safety, something that is hugely appealing to all parents.

Through employing excellent customer service, creating amazing content, making clever use of social media and positioning their brand as authentic, credible and trustworthy, these Texan brands have got their marketing strategies just right.

Patrick Foster is an ecommerce guru who knows a thing or two about marketing. He shares his years of experience on his blog and ecommerce community, Ecommerce Tips. Find the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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Launching a Product, Changing the World: 1964

Legends of Marketing Series by Gary Hoover

 

Launching a Product, Changing the World: 1964

It is April 7, 1964.  One hundred thousand businesspeople gather in 165 the company’s offices across America to hear the news.  That morning at 8:30 AM, a chartered train fills up with two hundred reporters at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.  About ninety minutes and seventy-two miles later, they arrive up the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York.  No one knows what they will hear, but they all know it is something worth learning about or reporting to their readers.

Arriving in Poughkeepsie, the Chief Executive Officer of International Business Machines (known far and wide as IBM), Thomas Watson, Jr., greets them in a warehouse.  Surrounding him are forty-four different mainframe computer models and peripherals.  The reporters and the one hundred thousand business people are then introduced to System/360, the most revolutionary product in computer history up to that time.

Over the preceding four years, IBM has agonized over the decision to junk their entire successful line of business computers and replace it with one new product line.  A great deal was at stake: in the prior year of 1963, IBM had posted after-tax profits of $290 million on sales of over $2 billion, ranking them 18th in sales and 8th in profits among Fortune Magazine’s list of the 500 largest American industrial companies.  Excluding IBM’s sales of other office equipment like typewriters, the company’s “data processing” revenues (software and hardware) of $1.2 billion were nine times those of its nearest competitor.  Just nine years earlier, when Fortune began its famous list, IBM had ranked 61st in sales ($461 million) and 24th in profits ($46 million).  Why tinker with success?

Nevertheless, under the leadership of the ever-ambitious Watson, Jr., the company pressed ahead with one of the biggest bets in American corporate history.  In the four years leading up to that fateful day in April of 1964, the company spent $5 billion on the development of System/360 (the equivalent of over $40 billion today).  Such audacious courage was only rivalled by Boeing’s introduction a few years earlier of the 707, the first commercially successful passenger jet (the British had tried a few years earlier with their first Comet, but that airplane had the unfortunate tendency to fall out of the sky in mid-flight).  Such ventures are referred to as “betting the whole company.”

Adding to the risk, rather than introducing the System/360 model by model, Watson chose to introduce the entire line all at once.  Technical advances over existing mainframes included the use of solid logic technology, the capability to adapt to a wide range of software and applications, the ability to respond to inquiries from remote locations, and much faster memory.  Core memory, what we would call RAM today, ranged from 8k to an amazing 1024k, 1/8000th of that in the older laptop on which I type this post.  Perhaps most striking, and most unusual for a technology company of any era, Watson believed in great design, and the System/360 looked like no other machine on the market.

Watson, Jr., had been well schooled by his father, unsurprisingly named Thomas Watson, Sr.  Before being asked to lead the company that became IBM in 1914, the elder Watson was the sales chief for the National Cash Register Company (NCR or “the Cash”) of Dayton, Ohio.  At the Cash, Watson had learned from the John Henry Patterson, the father of modern salesmanship, the inventor of many of the techniques and policies still in use today.  Watson leased rather than sold IBM’s punch card machines, providing consistent revenues and profits even through the great depression of the 1930s.  When competitor Remington Rand pioneered the mainframe computer in the late 1940s and early 1950s with its UNIVAC machine, IBM leapt into dominance by focusing on the customer rather than on technology alone.  While the numerous competitors focused on a faster Central Processing Unit (CPU), Watson’s customers told him they’d rather have a faster printer.  He delivered on it, and IBM soon generated more sales than all its competitors combined.  The company’s “Future Demands” department was told to discover “what the customer is going to ask for next.”

While the reporters and potential customers were unsure of what would unfold in Poughkeepsie on April 7, 1964, the company was even less sure.  Customers would have to junk their old systems, an ideal time to switch suppliers to giant competitors like NCR, Remington, RCA, Honeywell, and GE (which was twice as big a company as IBM).  Since the new machines would not ship until a year after the announcement, in the spring of 1965, customers could delay any decision on the new system or even desert IBM.  The new systems were not cheap, with monthly rentals ranging from $2,700 for the most basic system to $115,000 for a large multisystem configuration, equivalent to $22,000 to $930,000 per month today.

Thomas Watson, Jr’s big bet paid off.  In the next four weeks, one thousand orders were received.  Over the next three months, the orders totaled $1.2 billion, equal to the company’s entire data processing revenues in 1963.  In 1965, IBM was up to 9th in sales on the Fortune 500, and 5th in profits, outranked only by General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey (later renamed Exxon), Ford Motor, and Texaco.  At the end of five years, over 33,000 units had been delivered.  For decades, IBM continued as the world’s largest software and hardware company, with a market share of over two-thirds, an exceptional achievement in any industry.

Many years later, another computer innovator named Steve Jobs came along who also believed in the importance of design, putting the user first, and making a big splash with product introductions.  His company went on to become the first enterprise on earth to be valued at over $1 trillion.

Only you and your colleagues can accurately extract the best lessons from this story for your company and its products and services.  Questions worth asking include:

  • Are you customer-first or technology-first?
  • Does good design matter?
  • How can you make a splash with new products and services? Are they worth making a splash about?
  • Would you have the courage to bet the company if the rewards were high enough? Would your investors?
  • Has your industry or industry segment ever had a product as innovative as the System/360? If not, what might it be?

 

Gary Hoover is a serial entrepreneur.  He and his friends founded of the first book superstore chain Bookstop (purchased by Barnes & Noble) and the business information company that became Hoovers.com (bought by Dun & Bradstreet).  Gary served as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.  He has been a business enthusiast and historian since he began subscribing to Fortune Magazine at the age of 12, in 1963.  His books, posts, and videos can be found online, especially at www.hooversworld.com. He lives in Flatonia, Texas, with his 57,000-book personal library.

To get updated information about the team at Apogee Results, please follow us on your favorite social media channels.

 

AdWords Overdelivery? More Like AdWords Overreach

Is Google Riding OverDelivery All the Way to the Bank?The latest notice in a series of troubling announcements that form a trend of control over our AdWords accounts being wrested away in favor of automation popped up in our MCC today.

AdWords Overdelivery Notice

Before, AdWords could potentially spend up to 20% past your daily budget cap (traditionally set by that magic monthly budget divided by 30.4) based on the amount of available traffic on a given day. Now, depending on the criteria the system bases “high quality traffic” on, your daily budget is effectively moot (granted, you should theoretically never be charged more than the defined monthly limit – 30.4 x your average daily budget, otherwise you’ll be issued an overdelivery credit per AdWords’ documentation

In theory, this should be great  – capturing all of that valuable traffic out there while still staying within the constraints of a monthly budget is a no-brainer. In practice, this has a high potential of going poorly. Suppose you’re a small business, or otherwise don’t have a strictly defined monthly budget (perhaps you’re testing a specific initiative outside your ordinary ad spend, or you’re just starting to dip your toes into the AdWords ecosystem) , or you’re in a highly saturated, high competition vertical – hopefully, the overdelivery has a great ROI for you and therefore justifies the practice. Otherwise, even the overdelivery credit you get can become a potentially futile case of throwing good money after bad. If overdelivery is as functional as Smart Goals or Optimized Ad Rotation (the system heavily favors older ads, even with lower conversion rates & engagement), this spells trouble for account performance, not to mention effectively pacing budgets throughout the month. At very least, the new AdWords overdelivery policy merits heavy observation until we can get a collective sense of how well it functions. 

In order for automation to be effective, it must be introduced with clearly defined strategy & rules in place, along with a solid foundation. When automated strategies are effective, they are a boon to ROI – unfortunately, the relentless creep towards automation in the AdWords platform has yet to provide stable, dependable success. Even industry leading automation platforms like Marin and Kenshoo can quickly lead to mediocre (at best) results in a case of Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Rather than being worried about automation putting me out of a job, I’m optimistic – now, more than ever, successful pay per click efforts will need experienced human eyes on them in order to drive the best possible results.

To ensure you’re getting the best ROI from your paid media campaigns, schedule a comprehensive audit.  

 

iOS 11: Bing vs. Google

The Newest iOS Update – Why do marketers care?

 

Earlier this week, Apple released the iOS 11 update. Following their recent keynote and the corresponding hullabaloo around the new Apple watch, iPhone 8, and iPhone X releases – this software update largely went unnoticed by consumers and techies alike.

Per usual, the iOS 11 changes are largely security patches, slight design modifications, and user ‘feature improvements’.  One change with the iOS update that has interesting implications for Google search advertising and consumers alike is the switch from Bing to Google for Siri web and Spotlight searches. Historically both Siri and Mac Spotlight searches have been powered by Bing. This has hopefully encouraged marketers to emphasize ad spend for Bing correspondingly–especially in the realm of mobile ads, and encouraged users to yell and curse at Siri when queries return unhelpful jargon (mostly kidding).

Realistically, Bing has been grossly underutilized by digital marketers since the beginning – even with the knowledge that Siri and Spotlight searches relied heavily on the platform. Marketers seemingly rationalize this de-prioritization by citing the relatively low percentage of mobile/tablet searches conducted on the network:

Mobile and Tablet Search Data Statistics

https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=1

It absolutely makes sense to focus primary efforts in a bucket accounting for anywhere from 80% to 97% of search traffic (depending on device). The recent iOS 11 update, should then shift even more focus to Google as the primary ad platform moving forward for digital advertisers.

Or should it?

At a time when other marketers are liable to further neglect the second largest platform globally, it makes sense to emphasize Bing efforts more than ever following this iOS update. The great debate for both users and marketers has historically been ‘Bing vs. Google’, instead of the more effective – ‘Bing AND Google’.

In August of 2017, Bing accounted for 7% of total market share for searches on all devices.

Top Search Engines 2017

Search Engine Market Share 2017

Though this is a meager piece of the pie compared to the 81% that Google occupies, the sheer volume of searches daily (currently estimated at ~6.6 billion) makes advertising on even the comparably humble platforms well worth the time and effort. That gives Bing almost 465 million daily searches across devices.

Beyond the volume itself, continuing to advertise on Bing has a host of advantages for digital advertisers:
  1.    Company Differentiator
    Since so few digital agencies utilize the platform (and fewer do so well), it is an EASY differentiator and way to ensure clients are outperforming their competitors.
  2.    Simple to Use
    Bing synchronicity with the Adwords platform makes it easy to replicate performing campaigns with very little extra effort.
  3.    Low competition
    Fewer competitors advertise on the platform which lowers costs per acquisition compared to Google– the same high intent traffic and conversions can be gained at lower costs overall.

At the end of the day, the recent iOS update may serve to shift slightly more of the market share of searches to Google’s backyard. As we continue to see changes in the landscape of mobile and voice search, it is important to remember that “the little guy” when it comes to search engines is still a behemoth in terms of visibility and scale.

TLDR; The iOS 11 update may encourage most marketers to further exclude Bing from Paid and Organic campaigns. If the update even creates a ripple large enough to shift more of the market share to Google (which it may not) Bing is still the number two search engine globally and is deserving of our focus and attention.

Think Google’s market share will increase? Have questions on how to optimize for Bing and Google? Let us know in the comments below!

Top 5 Ways To Win in Voice Search

 

OK, Google: What are the top five ways digital marketers can prepare for the voice search takeover?

For years now one of the trendiest, and simultaneously most inconclusive, topics among digital marketers has been the ground-breaking shift from traditional to voice search. With mobile usage statistics continually rising, this is not anticipated to be one of those changes that gets lost in the minutiae (even though we may like to pretend that no change does). Though few of us in marketing have felt the ground rumble just yet – there is a reason we have been trying to stay ahead of this shift. So, what can digital marketers do to stay ahead of the transition to voice search – this ominous “voice search takeover”? Will there even be a noticeable change from the marketer-side?

At Google’s I/O conference in May, AI was the primary theme. No surprise there—with Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Fire, soon to be Google Lens, and other personal travel-sized iRobots running around, AI is now and will continue to be a buzzword. Google is no exception to that rule. A parallel focal point of the keynote (which, if you missed it is summed up nicely here by Forbes) was the huge emphasis on Google Assistant becoming more conversational. Google’s Scott Huffman said that now over 70% of Google Assistant requests are in natural language and not in traditional keyword lingo.

 

This means that increasingly (assuming more people hop on board with robot assistants, which are currently trending up and to the right) searches will be more grammatically correct, longer-tailed, and semantically driven. Maybe. All the on-page SEO and content people out there are already popping champagne bottles over the fact that they won’t have to try and naturally incorporate some high-volume, low-competition jargon six times in one paragraph of content.

But hold on…

Since Google’s release of the Hummingbird update in 2013, the idea of semantic-search has already been a priority for content-driven folks. So, is this change really going to affect what we are doing?

It’s becoming clear (better late than never) that this radical shift to voice may not be radical if we continue to focus on the right things as marketers. We can hypothesize all day that the transition to voice search will bring local SEO to the forefront, that queries themselves will be longer-tailed and more diverse, or that voice search is going to change {insert your favorite hypothesis here!} about digital marketing. But realistically, we won’t know until we get there – the only data we have is retroactive. Disappointingly (or not), our task as marketers is to make the absolute best using the data that we have. For now, much of that is laying a solid foundation both technically on-site and in the overall marketing methodologies we employ.

Here is a list of the five absolute best ways digital marketers can prepare for the Voice Search Takeover:

  1. Good UX is key

This has a million sub-parts but has been a Google priority since day one. Here are some of the ways to ensure that your site is performing for users:

·        Use structured data markup – since it is still grossly underutilized, having good markup makes it easier for sites to rise to the top of the SERP’s and be featured as rich snippets. Though this part is often not considered as UX (because it is not technically on-site), it is still a part of the user journey that needs to be simplified and improved as much as possible.

·        Implement a tag management system like GTM now (migrating is not going to get easier down the road – start now and get ahead). Tag management will reduce page load speed making your site faster, easier to navigate, and overall more user-friendly. As an added bonus, tag management simplifies life for marketers and developers alike. Win, win!

·        Use a secure site protocol – though this has been a known ranking factor since 2014, most sites still haven’t made the shift to https://. Besides being a direct-ranking factor, having a secure site also impacts user trust which is arguably just as (or more) important for long-term website success.

·        Continuously improve site speed.

·        Improve mobile sites – The rule here is quit making them if you are going to make them poorly! With the recent mobile-first index update, improving and optimizing mobile sites should be a number one business priority.

 

2) Content is king

With voice searches potentially lengthening search queries overall -minimizing marketers’ ability to as successfully keyword inflate content- actually good content needs to be a priority. Since day one, Google has been telling us to provide relevant, user-friendly content. Now it makes more sense than ever to do that.

 

3) Clean Your Data

Though Analytics may not directly affect your SERP rankings, it (hopefully) affects overall business decisions and should ALWAYS be a primary focus for marketers and businesses alike. Make sure that the reports you are generating are providing good, high-integrity data or the decisions that you are making may have a fundamentally unsound basis. Without clean data, how can we ever know if what we are doing is working?! If you haven’t set up Analytics yet, or done an audit recently, Avinash Kaushik is an amazing Analytics resource to learn from or you can request a free Analytics audit here:

 

4) Minimize segmentation in your marketing approach

I want to put this one chronologically first because it is arguably the number one sin of most marketers – both for in-house and agency folks alike. We humans like to think in organized, neat, compartmentalized buckets. To stay ahead and to really be well-equipped for the “Voice takeover” or ANY other changes in the digital realm moving forward, the trick is to think holistically about the user-journey and what the business needs to do to accommodate continuous improvement of that journey (cross-departmental communication required–gasp!).

 

5. Refine your overall marketing methodology

At its core, marketing is the practice of understanding the business in such a way that you can articulate its value to customers and potential customers effectively. This means fully understanding the customer journey and refining your marketing and business strategies iteratively to accommodate shifting customer priorities.

The challenge here is that good marketing takes one step further than just “good sales” or “good account management”. For successful sales and account management it is imperative to understand your client’s needs. Good marketing, however, requires not only that you understand your client well, but that you understand your client’s customer well. This one degree of separation, though it seems small, is often the reason why marketers (even great ones!) can fall flat. Customer-centric marketing is critical to getting ahead and staying ahead, independent of industry changes.

Good, technically sound, user-friendly sites with great content are not going to be cataclysmically affected if/when the great Voice Takeover does in fact occur. Build a sturdy foundation now, and we will all make it through hunky dory to the other side.