Nickelodeon Branches Out to Help Families

For decades now, what was once an upstart kids cable channel, Nickelodeon, has been the go-to pay-cable choice for countless millions of kids. The network produced and aired content that defined many aspects of childhood for at least two generations of American youth, and now the company is looking at expanding that influence into the digital content space.

At the height of the news of closures due to novel coronavirus, Nickelodeon injected some much-needed good news into the cycle by announcing the launch of the #KidsTogether initiative, billed as a “global, multiplatform, prosocial” enterprise that leverages popular Nickelodeon characters to help teach kids and families to stay healthy, as well as suggesting activities for them to do while stuck at home.

Characters from SpongeBob, Blue’s Clues, and Henry Danger, among others, are featured in content that is intended to be “an additional resource” for parents while, at the same time, offering “kid-directed information” about family time and staying healthy. In a statement announcing the release, Nickelodeon said: “Nickelodeon is in its 40th year, the number one entertainment brand for kids. (We) built a diverse global business by putting kids first.”

This new release underscores that mission, helping to educate, inspire, and encourage kids, especially those who might be frightened and worried, stuck at home away from friends and familiar routines. As corporate responses to this pandemic go, this is a good one, and a great example of what a company can do when it seeks to exemplify the vision of the brand.

There are a few things about this endeavor that could serve as a positive example for brands looking to branch out, to serve, or to help, especially right now.

Nickelodeon did not stray far from what they know and understand. The company is using its own popular, branded personalities and characters to produce short-form videos, as well as digital and downloadable activities for kids stuck at home.

The company is accustomed to producing content for kids across multiple different media, so this was just a shift in content and, somewhat, in tone, rather than a full departure from the familiar. In addition, Nickelodeon used properties that are familiar and connected with the brand, so the audience will be drawn in and enthusiastic to connect.

Another positive move: they kept it simple and central. Users will be directed to a central online source for all the new content, so they will find what they want all in one place. That single destination point allows Nickelodeon to focus the marketing funnel in a way that aggregates even as it brings fans together. They’re coming to the same place, but for different content for different reasons. This gives the brand data it marketers can use to produce more of the kinds of digital content users prefer.

So, a smart PR decision, coupled with clear marketing goals allows Nickelodeon to make a larger jump into a new media marketplace, all the while offering kids and parents something both of them will be looking for.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations. 5W PR is a leading digital pr and influencer marketing agency.

Inclusivity, a Necessity

The combined population of the African-American, Latino and Asian communities in the U.S. today is about 130 million or nearly half the entire population. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the middle of this year, kids who are nonwhite will collectively outnumber white children and that the U.S. will become minority white in 2045. But should all this really matter to marketers?

There’s an ongoing debate among marketers about the state of multicultural marketing. Some say that multicultural marketing is dead because of the many different minority populations. Others argue that it’s more important than ever. In some aspects, both sides are correct.

Early Adopters

National restaurant chain Denny’s already started targeting young multicultural diners with its “See You at Denny’s” ad campaign. Its Chief Brand Officer, John Dillon, said that as a family brand, they felt it important to “speak to the cultural nuances” of different  audiences as well as to share what Denny’s stood for.

Consider Procter & Gamble. One of the reasons the consumer product giant has not only survived but thrived over its 182-year history is because of its adaptability and flexibility. Last year, they reported more than $68 billion in revenue. In speaking last fall to the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, revealed that the company set new highs in its market share of African American and Hispanic audiences.

Looking Ahead

What will need to change is the realization and acknowledgement that these audiences are different and that communications will have to be tailored for each. A recent study by Adobe revealed a huge failure of today’s brands in reaching minorities. Only 10% of Latinos and 26% of African-Americans believe they’re being represented in today’s ads, compared to three out of four whites.

To market to the changing demographic, one size will no longer fit all. Marketers will need to recognize that a blanket approach won’t work for everything. It may still work for brands everyone needs and desires but can differ after that.

A study by Kantar Consulting found that 62% of Hispanic young consumers are becoming more interested in speaking Spanish. 57% of all Hispanics surveyed also felt that the Spanish language is more important today than it was five years ago. 92% said it was important to them that they retain their culture.

The results of the Kantar study reveal an important thing for marketers. To reach this growing market, marketers need to seriously consider Hispanic talent, not just in ads but also for guidance on themes and emotions that will help make the connection with that community.

Other considerations for marketers looking to serve communities of color include joining multicultural marketing and public relations groups. Many offer tailored courses that can deliver invaluable insights and perspectives.

Check out and learn more about cross-cultural and poly-cultural marketing, as they are becoming more important, too. Consider forming different customer advisory committees of different ethnic groups that can provide deep insight and advice for marketing efforts. Minority communities having a sense of voice and ownership could also add credibility to a brand seeking to expand its audience.

Dawn Promotes Dish Washing “Revolution”

Everyone loves holiday meals, but nobody likes cleaning up afterward. For those of us who dread after-dinner dishes, Procter & Gamble has a timely consumer PR message: You’re not imagining things. Your “old” detergent isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Both the timing and the content of the message offer an interesting window into effective, cleverly passive, consumer PR. Speaking about its Dawn brand dishwashing liquid, which debuted back in 1972, P&G says modern cooks aren’t washing dishes like people used to, and that means their dish soap isn’t working as it’s meant to.

Here’s their reasoning: Most of today’s consumers wash dishes during lulls in cooking, one or two at a time, rather than piling them all in the sink for one final wash when the cooking (and eating) are done. It’s the latter, not the former, that P&G says Dawn was designed to handle. Speaking to the media, Morgan Brashear, a senior scientist at P&G, said: “People are more time-starved, and they see clean as you go as a life hack. The product they’re using isn’t keeping up.”

Brashear says this scenario led to several years of research by P&G scientists, resulting in a new and improved product, Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray. According to marketing literature, the new spray product doesn’t require water to activate cleaning suds. While the new product has a higher cost than traditional dish soap, P&G is hoping effective consumer PR and targeted marketing will help convince people it’s worth the price.

A P&G rep called the product launch a “revolution in the category.” They follow this assertion with advertising messaging that hits right to the core of what people hate about washing dishes – all the time-wasting soaking followed by scrubbing to get caked on food off.

The timing of this messaging is a passive, but effective, key to the PR campaign. Coming between two of the biggest family feast days of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas – when people are thinking about the frustrations of cleaning all those dirty dishes. Connecting with that emotional trigger allows P&G to sink their message in deeper with consumers, bypassing some of the natural objection to paying more for the product.

While the numbers are not out, it’s likely P&G sold a good many new Dawn Powerwash spray bottles to people out and about doing their regular holiday meal prep shopping. The psychology is as simple as it is effective: you’re already splurging on food you would not normally buy, as well as other things you need for the best ever holiday meal. A couple extra bucks on a spray bottle is no big deal, especially if it means getting the dishes done faster when all your family and friends are over.

Thinking about this product launch from that perspective is a reminder about the power of timing and targeted messaging in conjunction with new product PR.

WHAT PRICE B2B?

“Anyone can sell products by dropping their prices, but it doesn’t breed loyalty” is a message British-American author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek has been driving home for the past decade.

Studies show companies which foster customer engagement do much better than those without such traits. Similarly, companies that raise customer retention by just 5% have seen a profit rise of up to 95% according to a Bain & Company analysis. 

Anyone who has experienced, and paid for, a divorce will understand. Research from Harvard Business Review shows the cost of securing a new client can be up to 25 times more than retaining a current one, and usually when a client leaves, it is also not an amicable divorce.

THE KEYS TO SUCCESS?

As in any healthy and happy marriage, clear and good communication is important. Marketers must keep this in mind while regularly delivering messages that connect the value their company brings to its customers. For when an environment of trust exists, companies can also feel confident in asking for candid advice from customers. 

Companies that offer services would also do well to identify and state the economic gains clients can expect. This can be particularly vital with rumors and fear of another recession around the corner.

Some companies feel automated reporting helps keep them in touch with customers on a regular basis. Marketers need to determine if this works best for their client base and, if so, they need to identify and speak to important customer interests.

Equally, and probably even more important, is a company’s personal engagement with customers because nothing beats face-to-face connections in building customer loyalty, which can increase spending by as much as 95%, according to Kaseya Software.

MAXIMIZING THE POTENTIAL

Companies get the best results by ensuring that its staff are informed, trained and aligned with the company’s goals in retaining customers. This is particularly necessary with customer service staff where goals should also be agreed upon regarding such things as response and resolution time deadlines.

To encourage and acknowledge exemplary service, employee communications must shine a light on staff who receive glowing feedback from customers. Highlighting outstanding staff work on customer loyalty helps to increase loyalty internally as well. 

KEEP SCORE

To know that they’re hitting the mark, marketers need to regularly ask customers for their feedback as the initial results establish a baseline on which to build. Employees should be empowered to be ambassadors as well. The subsequent results should then be analyzed so that changes, deletions and/or additions can be made to further improve customer loyalty and the important end game, retention. 

Another important starting point is determining the current customer retention rate as part of the baseline. After that, efforts to increase retention can be measured and adjusted as necessary, and companies should also share the results and any changes with their employees.

Zig Ziglar, American author and motivational speaker summed it all up with: “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.”

books

Scholastic Hoping to Recapture Imagination with Rebooted Clifford

For more than a decade, Clifford the Big Red Dog has been a delight for young readers and a mainstay in elementary school classrooms and libraries. But, as more choices become available, and smaller screens begin to take up more time for younger and younger children, Clifford and his crew fell off a bit.

Recognizing this trend, Scholastic Entertainment, a branch of the literature company that publishes the Clifford books, has partnered with Amazon and PBS to produce and broadcast a reboot of the classic cartoon show.

In pre-press and other releases for the program, there are several key cultural points that are made clear, in an effort to connect with a very specific target market: parents and media specialists who are generally responsible for introducing kids to Clifford in the first place. The messaging is subtle, but it’s clear in its connection points and target audience. For example, here’s one media quote pulled from news about the reboot: “The new show offers more diversity among the human characters…”

This has become a hallmark of more modern educational cartoon programs. While, in the previous iteration of Clifford, there was some diversity among the canine characters, the human characters tended to be more of a “type” than a representation of a more diverse society. Addressing this directly, and speaking to consumers who are likely to be concerned about this is a smart move, given the intended target market.

From there, the releases get into more of the nuts and bolts of what viewers – and the parents who will serve as gatekeepers for the kids – can expect: “Emily Elizabeth, the 7-year-old owner (of Clifford) will be the POV character… Each episode will include an original song…”

This tells parents and educators a few things. First, the lead character’s gender and age, which helps to focus the ultimate target market. Second, that the show will be about the lives of these children, and that it will include both story and songs. This further delineates the sort of kids who might be most interested in watching this show.

Using this information, parents can explain the show to kids who might not be familiar by saying there will be “adventures, songs, and a friendly big red dog…” Meanwhile, these same parents and educators will also walk away from the PR about this reboot comfortable that the program will focus on “positive life lessons” specifically “character and empathy,” courtesy of Emily, Clifford, and their respective friends, both human and canine.

The PR related to this release wins, because it not only directly addresses the all-important gatekeepers, but also because it gives these people simple, specific, connective messages they can pass on to the actual target market.

Future Competitive Advantage

As digital technology continues to pick up more speed, companies will also have to accelerate their pace to keep up with new and evolving customer demands.  Products may not have changed much, but customer expectations have.

Today’s technology has created an on-demand world.  In the same way in which people are able to view many of their favorite TV shows on demand, customers, too, are judging brands on how they provide enhanced capabilities that offer easy access and value when they want it.

Evolving Customer Demands

Today’s customer expects to interact whenever they wish, wherever they are.  They really want to do new things as different types of information from a variety of apps are delivered in ways that produce more value for them.

Customers also expect to receive personalized information based on past purchases and surveys.  And finally, they want the experience to be easy. In today’s fast-paced society, they don’t have the patience and willingness to wait a day or two for clarity.

What Companies Must Do

Companies wishing to keep pace with these changes will need to outrival their competitors in the following areas.  They will first need to interact with customers in assorted ways by crafting communications based on custom circumstances.

They’ll also have to analyze customer behavior differently in gathering data and assessing information based on where and how customers interact with their brand.  And other key departments within companies will also need to collaborate, as marketing alone will not be able to carry the ball by itself.

Consider a sophisticated version of JibJab, the digital entertainment program into which one can paste his or her photo.  Some online stores currently employ programs that show shoppers how they would look wearing a piece of apparel they’re thinking of purchasing.  Demand for even greater personalization will only increase over time.

The key for companies that wish to gain on-demand customers is in 1. Getting to know them, really know them, 2. Discovering what their expectations are, 3. Uncovering what works for them, and 4. Arriving at a strategy and plan to connect with them with the perfect interaction.

Data gathered through three well-defined lenses is required.  The first is a clear perspective on market trends for a company’s market and brand(s).  Gathering data on what people are seeking, saying, and doing is important. What are they searching for?  What are they discussing on social media? And what are they tracking in-store, mobile and online?

When correctly performed, the second lens delivers information to companies on where online customers frequent and purchase and what the results are.  Companies that are able to gather together every customer contact with their brands will get a clearer picture of the path customers took in reaching their decision to buy.

Finally, trust always has been and will continue to be a major expectation of customers.  Assuring customers of this via improved personalization will help ensure customer loyalty.

Achieving and delivering these heightened expectations will require the teamwork and collaborative efforts of several departments.  Well-defined responsibilities from all affected departments will help ensure a better digital experience and the ability to meet future challenges.

The Organ Of The Soul

Famed 19th century American poet and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was once quoted as saying, “The human voice is the organ of the soul.”  As true as it was then, Longfellow’s message is even more powerful today.

Why Is That True Today?

Voice commerce or vCommerce, an alternative to using a keyboard, is expected to soar in the near future.  A recent study by Juniper Research forecasted that more than $80 billion annually will be generated through voice commerce by 2023.  Juniper, which offers analytical services to global tech companies along with its research, also said it anticipates that most sales will start off being digital and money transfers. 

Juniper indicated that sales will migrate more to products when vCommerce comes up with a way for smooth cross-platform transactions.  Based on its forecast, the company also said it expects sales of multi-platform apps in smartphones and tablets to increase while predicting a decline in standalone apps.

If that’s not enough motivation, consider a study.  Research by Gartner for Marketers predicted that digital sales will increase 30% by 2021 for early adopters who redesign their sites.

Voice Ready

In order to successfully leverage vCommerce, more research relevant to a company’s customers is required.  Companies need to first discover when and how their customers use voice and then determine their own psychographic voice profile. 

Voicebot.ai reports that users of voice are of the alpha generation   They’re 18 to 29 years-old and have iPhones, and of that group 69%, they say, are male.

Drilling further down, it’s extremely helpful for companies to discover what kind of devices their target audience relies on.  Customers that participate in running and outdoor activities would likely favor earbuds and smart watches while home bakers and cooks might lean more toward smart speakers.

The Tricky Parts

Depending upon what findings about the favored devices of their customers, the next step is to pair up one or more voice assistants with the appropriate brand that matches up with their targeted audience.  This is critical for companies who want to be found.

The final step in the process is for companies to alter their SEO methodology.  Unlike an online search which generates a list of possibilities, vCommerce will deliver one finding.  Where companies wrote algorithms to be found on search engines, they now need to entice algorithms that generate the recommendations on voice assistants.

Remember that Google relies on information from websites to produce its search results.  Alexa, on the other hand, generates its results from a list of 70,000 skills.

To produce that good fit, it’s important to discover the questions customers ask about a company and/or its products or services.  One way to determine that is to survey customers. Another is holding focus groups.

Early adopters have an excellent opportunity to not only raise more revenue, but also increase their market share by adapting and incorporating vCommerce in making it easier for this young and growing customer base to find them.

Customer Experience Matters: How Businesses Can Audit Their Process

According to a recent report from Salesforce, customers are placing a heightened sense of importance on their experience with a brand now more than ever before. In previous marketing generations, what mattered most was the product or the service being sold and the value a customer received for their purchase. Now, however, marketing has become a more vital part of a customer’s life cycle with a brand and the user experience can no longer be considered outside of marketing’s hands.

Several factors have influenced this shift towards the favor of quality user experiences. For one, we now live in a world in which instant gratification has become somewhat of a norm and competition can be cutthroat. In order to have a hope of gaining traction in an increasingly crowded consumer market, a brand must offer the quickest responses, the best prices or value, and the best marketing campaign intent on capturing new audience members. This is far from an easy process.

In an effort to combat the competition, more brands are turning to user experience to make themselves stand out from the crowd.

Apple is a pioneer of this concept, helping shape the idea of experiential marketing well before other mainstream brands caught on to the effect. Visiting an Apple store is an experience — the minimalist store design is soothing, even in the most crowded spaces. There’s a lot of tactile feedback, customers are able to see, touch, and use the devices they’re considering. Everything is visually appealing and pleasant, so much so that the concept has become what Apple is known for. Soon, Apple was opening flagship stores with even more amenities and features for discerning shoppers. Shopping for Apple products became a destination event.

For this and other reasons, it’s no surprise that Apple consistently ranks near the top for customer experience. Other businesses can take pages from Apple’s book, learning ways to appeal to customers in a way that leaves them with a memorable experience.

Often, soliciting feedback from those outside of a brand’s organization can help paint a picture of what the user experience is for a customer. In many cases, those within the company are so close to their products that it can be difficult to pragmatically assess the scenario from a consumer’s perspective.

A brand may miss simple opportunities to connect with customers, such as the persona with which the brand’s platforms speak to consumers. Or perhaps the customer service team needs to take a more pleasant tone when they’re corresponding with customers. In other cases, perhaps the customer is simply just not having a memorable enough experience with the brand to rank their user experience favorably.

Consider introducing ways that customers can tailor their experience. User testing options such as quizzes or questionnaires can help a brand identify more customized experiences that may appeal to customers. Even giving customers control over what type of communications they receive from a brand can increase the satisfaction they feel with their user experience.

Salesforce’s report shows that 80 percent of customers say that their experience with a company matters just as much as the product or service for which they’re shopping. This is an important statistic for businesses to take to heart as they design their marketing and customer experience strategies for the months to come.