By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

Deceptive Labeling: Food for ThoughtSince we entered the packaging and labeling industry, I have been fascinated and horrified by deceptive labeling on popular products that I see every day in the grocery store.

If you peruse any aisle, you will see all kinds of food labels touting products as being “healthy choices.” Cholesterol-free, gluten-free, natural, whole-grain and non-GMO, my favorite – no added sugar are just a few examples.

But is it actually healthier?

Many consumers believe these claims mean the food they are purchasing is healthier for them and their family. When what it really means is the companies advertising these products are taking advantage of the lack of understanding of the public to increase their profit.

“The supermarket is full of misleading food marketing, all of which is aimed at unsuspecting customers who simply want to purchase healthy foods for their family,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration. “Unfortunately, consumers don’t always have a good understanding of the verbiage used on the labels.”

The term NATURAL is another one that stands out to consumers.

Deceptive Labeling: Food for ThoughtCurrently, there is no official definition of natural. Consumers may pay more for the product with the natural label claim even though it is no different from the product next to it without the natural label claim.

Although there is an FDA front-of-package labeling initiative to combat misleading food-marketing practices, it will take years and possibly even decades to overcome all the inappropriate and misleading claims.

Educate yourself, learn about ingredients and read the ingredients on every package. I’ve been following Bobby Parrish, who has some excellent tips to help you correctly read labels at the grocery store!

You can find him on Facebook or @bobbyparish on Instgram.

Mr. Peanut GuyBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

Catching the attention of customers in a unique way is nothing new – what is more attention grabbing than a peanut vendor in 1890 wearing his product?

Be funny.

To generate leads that convert into paying customers, businesses need to employ smart marketing strategies in multiple areas. An effective way to market your business and generate leads is humor – recognizable companies like Blue Beetle or the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile make us giggle when we see them.

You must also create compelling content.

To capture the attention of your target audience, you need to create content that is fun and relevant to them. Your content should be well-written, informative, and provide VALUE to the reader. It’s hard – content is one of most people’s least favorite thing to do, even though it is necessary to keep your customers engaged. There is nothing worse than seeing companies bla bla bla about their goods and services, while you slowly fall asleep.

By taking yourself lightly and not getting too serious, your brand becomes more likeable. It’s like how we think people who smile are friendlier than people who frown. Let your brand smile and laugh a little too. People do business with people and brands they like.

Social Media

We are all using social media now, and it is a powerful tool that can be used to reach a large audience with relative ease. Posting engaging content on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you attract new customers, but they are only part of their decision-making process. And again, have some fun – droning on and on about equipment or products gets boring – show your people having fun and include other companies that your customer might be interested in knowing about.

Conducting targeted campaigns are another effective way to generate interest in your company – the days of mass mailing are dead. You must mail or place ads in front of individuals who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. With today’s technology it is so much easier to execute this than 20 years ago.

It’s simple, find your niche, know your audience, and create a unique brand personality like Mr. Peanut man! And if you need help printing those marketing ideas, we are here to help!

Women-Centered Marketing

It’s been a summer for women, at least from an economic perspective. Female audiences have ruled the box office with Barbie, and live events With Taylor Swift and Beyonce.

Women have held a lot of economic power for years – there are more of us in the workforce, and we have all had wage increases compared the last decade. With more money and control over how we spend our money than ever before, we are spending it on goods and experiences that align with our personal interests.

It’s no wonder that Barbie, Beyonce and Taylor Swift have seen so much success.

Women-Centered MarketingBeyonce and Taylor Swift focused on women’s empowerment and used social media effectively to rally their female audience around their tours. Spending encompassed not only tickets, but hotels, restaurants, travel and sparkly clothes! My friends and I all bought fun outfits to go to the Barbie movie, and it was packed with other friends doing the same thing.

No wonder the movie has grossed $1.342 billion and is the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros.’ history.

Women’s sports have also had a record-breaking year, record views and sponsorships. The women’s FIFA World Cup brought in Record viewership across the globe.

Because of this success, marketers will rush to push pink and sequined merchandise.

They’re missing the point of marketing to women. It’s not about pink – it’s that when customer groups feel seen, heard and understood, they show up in a big way.

Barbie, Beyonce and Taylor Swift showed us that it’s always a big marketing win when you can make that happen.

Marketing FailsIn the age of digital media, all eyes are observing a brand’s every move. That’s great for brand awareness, but it can easily backfire on a company if they miss the mark, and the retribution is quick and can easily travel to social media platforms.

Here are a few examples of marketing fails that made us wince:

Kendall Jenner TV Spot. Kendall Jenner settles a Black Lives Matter standoff between protesters and police by offering a police office a can of Pepsi. The result? Outrage.

McDonald’s: Filet o Fish TV Spot. A young boy talks to his mother about his dead father and that one of the things they both shared was a love for filet-o-fish sandwiches. Exploiting grief to sell sandwiches left a bad taste in many people on social media.

Ford: Print Misfire. The year of the #MeToo movement, Ford actually ran an ad where three women were bound, gagged and stuffed in the truck of their new Ford Hatchback. What the heck were they thinking? Cringy.

Marketing FailsAnd the absolute worst, customers of Adidas who participated in the Boston Marathon in 2017 received a very poorly worded email from the company – the subject line read.”Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” This message was sent on the heels of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 250.

Avoid Being Tone-Deaf

Most of these marketing fails bombed because they were essentially tone-deaf. Always consider the implications behind your messaging. When you’re making jokes, look at them from all angles to make sure they won’t offend anyone.

Funny always wins big, but don’t sacrifice your brand’s values and beliefs for a few chuckles!

Forget giving loyalty points – gifting is the new customer retention strategy. As remote EVERYTHING continues to rise, keeping connected to clients and loved ones will be key.

Gifting companies had record breaking years in 2020 and 2021. 1-800-FLOWERS had record growth, along with startups like &Open and Gracia.

Many of our marketing portal customers have added gifts and merchandise to their sites.

Why Gifting MattersEmployees can order wearables that they want with gifted dollars as a reward for length of employment or going that extra mile.

It’s always a good idea to send “care packages” to employees that are stuck at home and feeling unappreciated. We mailed succulents, candles, Christopher Elbow chocolates and warm fuzzy blankets with personalized cards.

Our latest project is working with a local company to personalize cards that our clients want to send with their gifts that we warehouse here. They have many design templates for birthdays, holidays, Thank You for the Order or Welcome to Your New Home, that we can match up with an appropriate gift that they specify.

Some of our larger companies are adding the feature to their portal so that their salespeople, through their CRM like Salesforce, can send gifts or cards to their clients for special occasions or just because!

If you want to talk more about gifting options through a marketing portal, please give us a call!

Virtual RealityConsumer and Enterprise VR market revenue is expected to reach 6.71 billion by the end of 2022, and 12.9 billion by 2024.

VR, short for virtual reality, is software that immerses users in a three-dimensional, virtual interactive environment – usually by a headset, to simulate a real-life experience. Many VR experiences take place in 360 degrees.

Can you imagine an engineering firm being able to demonstrate what it’s like to walk into a building as if they’re really there? Many businesses are already using VR to demonstrate and promote their products.

The Difference Between VR and Augmented Reality

Before we dive into some examples of businesses that have used VR for marketing, it’s worth noting that virtual reality has a few key differences from another term you might be familiar with, augmented reality. Augmented Reality (AR) is the overlaying of computer-generated objects on top of the real environment. You still use some kind of display device and an application… The application recognizes some element in the real environment and then places objects (graphics) in relation to it with differing levels of interactivity. The biggest advantage of AR is accessibility. Everyone has an AR viewing device within their smartphone!

Seeking inspiration for your own VR marketing campaign?

Virtual RealityBelow are nine of our favorite campaigns.

  1. Gucci Town
  2. Sephora’s Try-on Kiosk
  3. Wendy’s and VMLY&R: Keeping Fortnite Fresh
  4. A Tribal Past: Bear River, a Nation: What can eeling teach us?
  5. Adidas: Delicatessen
  6. Lowe’s Holoroom How To
  7. Boursin: The Sensorium
  8. Toms: Virtual Giving Trip
  9. DP World: Caucedo

Participants can explore art and towns, virtually test makeup, transport beef to freezers, learn about other cultures, follow a mountain-climbing journey, inspire charitable giving, explore cheese and show property around the world virtually.

VR technology can be used in so many ways for marketing products and services… the only limiting factor is your imagination!

Trade ShowWe are currently working with a company that has 5,000 employees in more than 175 locations, serving all 50 states nationwide. They asked us to build a portal to ease the process for their marketing department. Hundreds of different items were available to all the offices, and they were also going through a re-branding of all their materials.

They needed a way to organize all the products and have a system where employees could reserve what they needed for upcoming trade shows and have everything that was reserved for the show shipped to them. The client also wanted a return label for the salesperson, so they didn’t have to travel home with all the materials.

Our IT department’s solution was to build a site with photos of all the materials that were available and a calendar that they could block out the items that they needed for a particular show. If someone needed a particular item that was already reserved, they had the opportunity to choose another item or order a comparable replacement from a catalog.

Planning with a Portal

Planning was an important step for people attending the trade show or they wouldn’t always get what they wanted.

Trade ShowOne of our other large clients also has a checklist on their portal for print and promotional items. The attendee can go down the list and check off everything they need for the show, along with a banner, backdrop or booth. We package all the items and ship them to the show with a return label.

Our clients can see, in real time, the quantity of any items that are on their portal. If needed, they can reserve a certain amount that they know they’ll need in the future.

While we constantly monitor the portal and have low stock alerts, the client will never run out of the items they need. No muss, no fuss!

If you would like to learn more about the efficiency of our marketing and distribution portals, you can learn more on our website or give us a call!

QR CodesQR codes are back and they are really useful this time! Who would have thunk it?

Now that you can capture them with your phone and no QR code scanner is needed, they have exploded in marketing. More than two-thirds (67%) of consumers say that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world and 58% favor the greater use of QR codes.

QR Codes for Menus

I was recently in NYC and all the menus were touchless – just a QR code to order. I think we will see more of this as the variant spreads.

QR Codes for Loyalty Programs

QR CodesMake it easy for people to sign up for your loyalty program with a QR code, instead of having them to go to your website. They’re quick and error free – typing a URL is time-consuming and inconvenient on a mobile screen and consumers are also likely to make errors.

QR Codes in Print

Print based marketing has limitations in real estate space – with QR codes you can give consumers a way to access unlimited information. You can also change all the information behind the QR code anytime information or the offer changes without reprinting.

QR Codes to your Videos

You can engage your customer with rich content like video through a QR code – don’t just sell the product, include an informative video on how to use it. Video is very popular right now.

QR Codes for Promotions and Contests

QR CodesBy adding a QR code, you can make your promotions interactive and get input from your target audience. If you run a contest, have them register through the QR code for the product or event to allow your customers to participate. A good example is World Park in NYC – the codes were placed throughout the park and engaged visitors in a quiz on the park’s history, pop culture, art and music, science and geology.

QR Codes on Business Cards

Many of the business cards that we print now – have QR codes on the back so that someone can just capture their information and add it to their phone. Did you know that our portal can automatically generate a QR code with all of your information on the back of your card?

We used them years ago as a gimmick to reach our website, but I would never have guessed that they would come back and be so useful!

Guerilla Marketing TechniquesGuerilla Marketing is an unconventional form of marketing that raises brand awareness among large audiences without interrupting them. One of the most successful guerilla marketing teams is right here in Kansas City and works with Tech N9ne and Strange Music, one of our oldest clients.

When Strange Music is going into a new market, releasing an album, or launching a new artist, they are on the ground weeks before the concert or launch in a city. They print huge posters that the street teams staple back-to-back on telephone poles to get everyone excited. They freely pass out posters and promotional items on the street and at events where their followers are.

They have built an incredibly strong brand over the years, without any advertising.

In marketing, guerrilla techniques mostly play on the element of surprise. It sets out to create highly unconventional campaigns that catch people unexpectedly in the course of their day-to-day routines.

Marketing StrategyIf you’re promoting a smaller brand, think of creative approaches to your work that can maintain guerrilla marketing’s budget-friendly, inbound nature.

Guerrilla ways, by definition, are easy to understand, easy to implement, and inexpensive. Combine that with today’s technology and social media marketing, mobile devices, and the use of video to give you an awesomely unfair advantage.

The book Guerrilla Marketing Attack has been around since 1984, when Jay Conrad Levinson wrote his book while working as the creative director at J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett Advertising. The Facción Marketing principles – word of mouth, helped people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates get their companies started, and are still taught today in MBA courses.

Catch people where they are and insert your brand there. Don’t interrupt, but invite them to participate.

us·er ex·pe·ri·ence

The overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

“if a website degrades the user experience too much, people will simply stay away.”

User Experience

This week, I talked with a client that is building a very large portal for a high-profile customer. After I gave my introduction, she told me that I was the only salesperson that talked about the user experience for her customer. All of the salespeople had talked about equipment, features and how robust the back end was.

Years ago, after we started building portals for customers, they told us that their previous sites were so “clunky” that their customers or employees hated using them and so they didn’t. The original intent of solving the problem with a solution was not working.

We learned to build products with the end user in mind.

It’s our goal to make it easy – on and off in 3 or 4 steps and make them pretty like your website.

Single-sign on, only seeing what you need, pre-determined approval processes, PDF proofs that are legible (not those tiny jpgs) and a great checkout (where you can still make changes), all add up to the EASY button.

We have also helped customers who have too many platforms – no one wants to log into different sites for print, merchandise, wearables, signage and digital. Even if we don’t produce the products – we can build a central, one-stop-shop with multiple vendors.

Marketing Portals Built from Scratch

MEDiAHEAD Marketing PortalsMEDiAHEAD builds all our portals from scratch with software that is constantly updated. Unfortunately, most “out of the box” solutions that are used cannot be modified for a pleasant/user friendly experience.

After 17 years of doing this, there is a lot of competition, but I still think we build the best portals. And our clients enjoy working with us while we figure out the best solution for them.

People always wonder how a small company like ours has such huge clients – I think it’s because we make our clients and their users happy.

Would you like to see how we can make you happy with a marketing portal? Let’s talk.