Now is the time to promote.

By Ken Gasque

Why now? Because the market is in turmoil, new opportunities are opening, change is coming, and change favors the bold.
But first…
You need to ask yourself a few questions. You need to understand what makes you different in the mind of the consumer. Ask yourself “what is it that we do better than anyone else?”

Pretend for a moment that you are Coca-Cola. Colored sugar water. Taste is a little different from Pepsi. Distribution the same. What is it that Coke does that is different from Pepsi? Branding. They brand themselves differently than Pepsi. “Taste the feeling” is the new simple sweet advertising campaign that is taunting emotions not taste. This is what Coca-Cola thinks it does better than anyone else… “Taste the feeling.”

If you need help go talk to your staff, I should say listen to your staff, not talk. Then go listen to your customers, lots and lots of customers. Do not sell them, simply ask them why they like and listen. If you can’t listen, and you have to keep helping them with suggestions, then hire someone to go listen to you.
Now is the time to promote and 11 ways to get through these tough times.
1. Don’t make things worse by doing nothing. Do research. Do some dreaming. See what others are doing. Ask yourself a lot of questions.
2. Deal with facts. Don’t make things worse than they are. Make sure the facts are indeed the facts. Question everything. And don’t listen to the people in the news who have agendas (they are writing books and promoting them).
3. Connect with your customers. Go see them. Shore up relations. See how they are doing and see what you can do to make the relationship better. Then do it.
4. Reflect on your business. What should you change? What should you add? Play gameswhat is the opposite of what you should do? What are similar industries doing? What are non-similar industries doing?
5. A friend of mine used to say, “You can’t do business sitting on your ass.” Go see prospects. Without appointments. Do things differently. But get out there.
6. Be careful who you drink beer with. You cannot afford to have a gloom and doom drinking buddy. Find an optimist. Find someone who is exciting, enthusiastic and unafraid.
7. Change. Now is a good time to change. Change is the most feared word in our language, in all languages. Now is the time to make changes. Change what is not working, change what is not selling, change your culture, change your brand. What have you got to lose? Change.
8. Sharpen your saw. Learn new skills, read, research, improve.
9. Now is the time to invest in your business. Revise your website, get new technology, invigorate your brand, and improve your training.
10. Create a circle of equals. Organize a group of business owners, 5 or 7. Purpose is to meet one day a month to discuss opportunities, problems, share intimate information about your company, these are your advisors. Have a moderator and bring in business specialists to speak to your group.
11. Do intelligent cost cutting. Bob Evans Jr. said when he took over the company the first thing, he did was review the budget and cut all of the advertising. He said, “What I did in 2 minutes took 5 years to catch back up.”
Advertise, it pays.

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer—a professional marketer with a design background. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing. Ken writes a blog and lectures on brand and brand development. To learn more, visit www.Gasque.com

It’s time to be creative!

By Ken Gasque

It has been during the toughest times that humans have been the most creative. Out of the dark ages came the renaissance. “The human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest. Frank Lloyd Wright.

Some of our toughest times have been disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. We had the event and then we did the cleanup. And we got back to our routine. This crisis is different… You have time. Time to think, imagine and dream. Time to ask great questions..

Get outside the box and ask theoretical questions like, “What would Obi Wan Kenobi do?” or “What would Indiana Jones do?” Or if you prefer a real-life, character Winston Churchill, what would he do?

What you want to do is take a character with their certain characteristics or qualities that you can use as inspiration for new ideas. (Whether or not the person or thing concerned actually does embody those qualities in real life is irrelevant. Perception is reality.)

These characters or models can be people or things that you like or admire. The point here is that they embody a set of qualities that may or may not exist in your business today. Obi Wan Kenobi taught the importance of working with the force—being patient—having positive energy as opposed to negative.

When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, it was the darkest of times. Instead of forming a war cabinet of his supporters he formed a war cabinet of his opposition and critics. He felt if he could sway them to think as he did, he would be on the right track. His self-confidence was his greatest asset. Even though he had suffered some tremendous defeats earlier in his career he did not let self-defeating thoughts creep into his thinking.

Now is a time for learning. With all of the free libraries and online courses available you can pick your poison. Can a self-directed course in world history lead to innovation? It is always said “We have to learn from the past or continue repeating the same mistakes.” Or maybe it is a good time to read The Art of War by strategist Sun Tzu. (It has been around for 2500 years, so it must have something of value.)

What about “if’ing”? What IF… every Thursday we only did barter, no cash or credit transactions. What IF… we gave stickers to customers to do our advertising—“Post where you must!” What IF… We ask customers, “What if…?”

No matter what the problem, it is our ability to stay calm and adapt to the changes we are facing that will see us through and help us find solutions. Keep calm and carry on with your greatest tool, your imagination.

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer—a professional marketer with a design background. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing. Ken writes a blog and lectures on brand and brand development. To learn more, visit www.Gasque.com

Tell me a story so I know your differentiation

By Ken Gasque

If you want your advertising to work, tell a story about your differentiation. Your audience will get the message and remember it.

What does a story do? It creates a movie for your mind’s eye. A good story will be played and replayed in the mind for days, weeks and months to come. You can tell me a story with a simple visual.

Imagine a cowboy, smoking a cigarette, watching a herd of horses being driven. The only copy on the photo is Marlboro Country. Now look at the ad. You fill in the story. He’s self-sufficient, independent, confident, does things his way, likes simple way of life…you view the image and write the story in your mind. The mind creates the story that creates the brand.

The brand development process is about creating a story and telling the story to get the experience.

“You can say the right thing, and nobody will listen,” said Bill Bernbach (a very creative ad man and one of the founding partners of Dole Dane Bernbach). “But you’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it. Dole Dane Bernbach created an ad campaign for Volkswagen, which became a classic—“Think small.” The advertising was the exact opposite They used good design and told a story that differentiated VW from the big cars made in Detroit. The advertising was as different to car advertising as the VW was to its competition.

You can tell a story with a photo or illustration.
You don’t have to tell the complete story. Clairol had a tremendous campaign that asked, “Does she, or doesn’t she?” It let the reader fantasize about changing their own hair color at a time when changing your hair col-or was not looked upon favorably. Before we can take action, we have to be able to see ourselves using the product. We have to fantasize, daydream and visualize. If we can see it, we can buy it.


A well told story reveals values without saying, “We’re honest and reputable” or “We off great service.” And do you really believe someone when they tell you they are honest? Didn’t you expect them to be honest and if they have to tell you, don’t you question it? By sharing our stories, we define “who we are” and “what we stand for.”

When telling your story your audience should be able to visualize it. If not, then it is not concrete enough. Make it visual. We buy with our eyes and a story well told will create a vision that the mind can see and remember.

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!

It’s not easy being seen, so you have to listen

By Ken Gasque

There are five stumbling blocks that can get you labeled but not branded. If you are not careful and aware of what is happening, your customers will define who you are and label your product or service. Brand developers constantly monitor social media and talk to customers because they know listening gives them the edge.

Five Stumbling Blocks:

  1. Don’t bother asking questions
    “We know what our customers like. So there is no need to talk to them.” Assuming that you know what your customer thinks and wants is dangerous. Brand developers should repeat this mantra five times daily-“It isn’t what we don’t know that get us into trouble, it’s what we know that isn’t so.” Talk to your customers, ask questions and not just about your product. Give them labels that show you listen.
  2. Nobody is in charge, we all do it?
    Everyone! Everyone in charge is no one in charge. Having several people work without clear direction on the brand image and message will lead to inconsistency, which will lead to confusing messages, which will lead to oblivion. If it appears that you don’t know who you are, your customers will not know either and will cease to care. Start with a visual. Start with your logo or label. It can be your rallying point.
  3. We don’t share
    Accounting has the information but doesn’t believe that marketing is a good investment, so they work to keep marketing in the dark, “We don’t share.” We actually knew of a company where the accounting department began designing and purchasing marketing materials because they “could get it done quicker and it wouldn’t cost as much.” The brand image suffered. The staff became discouraged. And the customers noticed. Cost is important but so is marketing. Don’t forfeit impact.
  4. More is more
    Marketing is about narrowing the focus… “Less is more.” It helps refine your focus. Clarence Waters was an all-night service station that sold gas, oil changes, fan belts and fixed flat tires and made pork roast sandwiches. The guy who pumped your gas made your pork sandwich. The more products/services you offer under your brand the more you dilute your brand.
  5. Change is the only constant
    Change is a constant…except for brands. I am not referring to innovations. Brands need to be innovative but consistent with their promise or the experience that defines the brand.
    Disney continually updates the attractions at Walt Disney World but the brand is the same…”The happiest place on earth.” The magic of marketing is the art of brand building. “If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”
    To build your brand you have to listen to understand. But remember ‘We buy with our eyes.’ Tell your story with your label.

    About Ken Gasque
    Ken Gasque is a brand developer-a professional marketer with a design background. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing. Ken writes a blog and lectures on brand and brand development. To learn more, visit www.Gasque.com
    We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!

Be First, Best or Different

By Ken Gasque

Loretta Lynn said, “You either have to be first, best or different.”

Being first with a good idea is really difficult and may not happen to you but once in your lifetime, if it happens then. Apple’s iPhone, Coca-Cola, WD-40, Dixie Cups, Post-it Notes, Duct Tape, and Google are just a few great ideas that were first to the market.

Being best is almost impossible when the measure is taste because of the endless possibilities. Claiming ‘best’ is one thing, providing is another. Wine and beer tasting narrow it down, but no one can seriously claim to be the best in a beverage category. So, that leaves different.

But being different, repositioning or rebranding can be just as effective as being the first one to bring a great idea to market. Think differentiation. Thin about Starbucks. Coffee has been served in this country since the late seventeenth century. But it was the Boston Tea Party that repositioned it as the ‘patriotic’ caffeine drink to drink. However, it took another 200 years before Starbucks rebranded generic coffee and the coffee house. Starbucks was different in taste, in the environment where it was served and its price. Starbucks was perceived as the best by the way it was presented and the price it asked. Starbucks used imagination in selecting a name. Most committees would have tossed out the possibility of a name like Starbucks because it didn’t ‘say’ coffee and it presented an image of something or someone flamboyant. They would have insisted on something like Maxwell House Coffee or Taster’s Choice Coffee. Being different involves risks and panache and takes courage.

With all of the ‘unusual’ beer names out there it may be time to look for something that is the opposite of what is being done. When everyone is going the same way and doing the same thing. That maybe the time to go a different way and ‘march to a different drummer.’ Maybe it is time to create a product with a more common name. Maybe it is time to use good design. It takes courage but maybe it is time to do the opposite.

We buy with our eyes
For more information on developing a brand visit /blog/the-brand-development-process-think-like-a-7-year-old

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!

Trends in Food Packaging and Fulfillment

Trends in food packaging and fulfillmentWoman shoppingThe food industry is always going through changes and improvements, in the attempt to keep pace with the everchanging consumers and their behavior. It’s not surprising that consumers have more control over the food and beverage industry than they’ve ever had before, and a large part of this power comes from the latest improvements in technology.

Social media sites, blogs and apps are all common platforms that give consumers the opportunity to share their experiences with others when it comes to the latest food crazes, trusted brands and new items on shelves. Customers can use these easy sharing tools in an attempt to award or punish food and beverage companies for their efforts. Whether a customer likes the packaging or is impressed with an item’s nutritional value, others will certainly hear about it. This kind of change in the food industry has many companies scrambling, not only to please their current consumers but to also keep up with current trends and intrigue new customers as well.

In a world where we are more aware than ever about what we are putting into our bodies, food companies everywhere must keep up with the latest trends in order to maintain the consumer’s confidence in their brand and what they have to offer.

If you’re curious about the latest developments in the food industry, the following are some of the most prominent trends in the food packaging and fulfillment:

 Accurate and Informative Labeling

Nutrition LabelsNo longer can a food company put something on grocery store shelves without being completely transparent about their products. Where consumers may have been more worried about taste than nutritional value in the past, opinions have changed drastically—and for the better.

There are a few factors that might have had a hand in swaying consumers to be smarter food shoppers, including online sharing, accessible information, personal experiences or family genetics. Whatever the source for the shoppers’ change of heart, there is no denying that more and more people around the world are becoming increasingly food-conscious.

Blue label inforgraphicIn terms of food packaging, this change has meant that companies are now responsible for being completely up front about their food, starting at the labeling. Effective labeling should inform customers about the nutritional value of something, as well as any added information that can give them a leg up over competitors that are offering the same kinds of items.

Food companies will also want to package their items with labeling that informs shoppers of any requirements they’ve met, which allows them to be considered “healthier options”. For example, President’s Choice incorporated a “Blue Menu” label for their packages, which informs shoppers that food items have less fat, less sodium, more fiber and more omega-3’s, along with other nutritional benefits as well.

Quality food labeling is very important for this food packaging trend. Consumers rely on this aspect of packaging, in order to tell them everything they need to know before they can make decisions about which items are best for their needs. Labels that are hard to read, damaged or damp won’t be effective, and companies should be just as invested in using labels that are durable as they are about offering simple, nutritional information.

 

Connecting to customers through packaging

Companies that are transparent and accessible are the ones that garner trust and respect from their consumers. Unfortunately for most food companies, they don’t have the chance to speak face-to-face with every customer about their items and why they should choose them. It’s not as easy to create that connection between business and customer, but that need for relationships is a growing trend in the food industry.

Man looking at packagingTo help food brands create a better connection to potential consumers, a recent trend has been accessibility through food packaging. This means that packaging will contain various ways for customers to connect with a brand, to learn more about who they are and what their brand values. This could be in the form of social media usernames, employee photos or even barcodes to scan for more information.

The idea here is to utilize packaging as a means of opening up the lines of communication between consumers and suppliers. Giving people the chance to learn more about a company, to read employee bios or to educate them on how their product is made is extremely valuable to gaining consumer trust and appreciation.

 Automoation in Fulfilment

The more accessible food information becomes the more consumers have the ability to develop opinions and preferences in every aspect of the food they’re buying. From the packaging material to the treatment of the animals, consumers now have the opportunity to compare very miniscule differences between products and make decisions based on factors they take very seriously.

Customers are now much more aware of the differences between name brands, and often prefer items that are of higher quality, more fairly-priced and that are more sustainable. The list of “must-haves” as it were, are growing, and companies now are trying to find ways to meet these needs without jeopardizing the success of their food items.

This is why automation is one of the major trends in food packaging and fulfillment, as companies tackle ways to increase operational efficiency and distribution while also maintaining quality and food safety. Automation is now a common tool in food production, in order to cut back on line time, to increase worker safety and to decrease contamination.

Gluten Free Organic

Food labeled as organic or gluten free receives more interestCurrently, one of the most popular trends in food packaging and fulfillment is the increased demand for products that are organic or gluten-free. As an extension of the health food craze, many people are beginning to learn more about gluten and some of the negative effects it may have on the body. While many people have recognized their intolerance to gluten, others are simply making the personal decision to avoid products with gluten in them.

Organic IconsSimilarly, products that are organic are also trending at the moment, with consumers looking for food items that are free from harmful chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, GMO’s and radiation. Food packaging that is labeled as “Gluten-Free” or “Organic” are much more likely to receive interest from large groups, so companies now must be mindful of whether their food products have these kinds of options and how they can incorporate that information into their packaging effectively.

 Waste Free

Not only are consumers becoming more engaged in making smart food choices, but they’re also becoming more aware of the impact that food production has on the environment. As a result, another one of the prominent trends in food packaging and fulfillment is offering waste-free products.

Going waste-free is beneficial not only to the environment, but it also has the potential to be very advantageous for production companies themselves. This is because waste-free doesn’t just cover the scope of wasting large amounts of food, it also covers the scope of wasting less valuable resources such as water and energy.

Companies are now going through each of the stops in their supply chains looking for ways to cut back on waste, as a means to turn loss into value. Sustainable packaging is just one of the ways that companies are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and please the growing demands of their consumers to be more environment-aware.

Many food products are now stored in smaller, lighter packaging options that can either be recycles or reused. The end result is lower manufacturing costs for companies, less garbage going into the landfills and decreased transportation needs. For those companies who short lifespan items, having re-sealable bags that can be re-used helps to fight food waste and lessens the spending on package waste.

It has been reported that almost 1/3 of the food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage, which means that this food packaging trend is extremely important to making our food purchases really count.

 Transparency in Packaging

Noodles in plasticThe reason why online shopping is so difficult, is because people often can’t see or touch the merchandise that they want to buy. Oftentimes, consumers will end up with a product that was nothing like they imagined and they’ll end up sending it back or throwing it out.

The same thing occurs for many food items that don’t embrace transparency. Customers want to know and even see what they’re going to be purchasing, especially if it’s a new product they’ve never tried before. If they can’t use the packaging design to get an idea of what’s inside, they may be more likely to choose another competitor that is more informative.

Marketing trends quoteHaving transparency in food packaging is another current trend, and many companies have taken this quite literally by incorporating transparent packaging or detailed imagery to their products. The idea here is that companies have nothing to hide—what you see in this bag is what you get, and often times this kind of advertising can gain the trust of customers who have a hard time trying new items.

Transparency is all about a company being proud to display their food, incorporating it into the actual packaging and giving customers a chance to ‘take a look under the hood’ before making the purchase. It’s a motion of good will, and customers appreciate this kind of transparency with their food now more than ever.

ustomization

No purchase feels quite as special or unique as when it comes decorated with your personalized name across it. Take Coca-Cola for example, who recently began a new marketing campaign that dressed the traditional Coca-Cola drinking bottle in personalized names for everyone to enjoy.

The latest marketing trend for this dominating beverage company saw Coca Cola sales rise by 2% in the United States alone, increasing revenue tenfold and winning back some of the soft drinkers of the past. This tactic has proven to be an effective one, as many customers value a unique touch such as this, that makes a great personal purchase or fun gift for a friend.

With the successful marketing, it’s no surprise that customization has become a popular trend in food packaging for other companies as well. However, it’s not necessarily just personal names that will do the trick. The main idea is that companies are reaching out to customers by creating unique packaging and labels, which make the purchase more exciting and interactive than before. It creates an experience from the moment you receive your food, taking advantage of packaging as a further marketing tool as opposed to only being a vessel for something.

Another great example is from McDonalds, who every year give customers the chance to play Monopoly every time they purchase an item off of their menu. The labels on their merchandise can be peeled off and collected, with the chance for consumers to win different prizes throughout the promotion. The idea is to get more traffic into the stores, to increase conversion and to get customers trying new menu items.

Other popular interactive or customizable packages have included fortunes, unique quotes and hand-written letters. This is one of the more fun trends that rely heavily on marketing teams to make their products stand out among the rest.

Conclusion

Packaging may have been nothing but a vessel for food in the past, but today it holds a lot more responsibility. Food companies need to take their packaging decisions very seriously, as consumers will make very quick decisions about a company based on their first look at a product.

With this in mind, it’s clear that trends in food packaging are all based around the concept of being see-through; companies shouldn’t hide what they’re feeding us, and putting in a little extra effort will always go a long way when it comes to pleasing the consumer. Businesses should consider their food packaging as an appetizer to the main meal inside; it will set individuals up for the main dish, and have them feeling confident about the choice that they made.

If you’re just beginning to choose labels and packaging for your products, be sure to consider the advice provided here to make the most of your advertising real estate.