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What's Your Unique Brand Voice?

Best Practice Brand Strategy {Krispy Kreme}: Lights, Traffic, and Free Donuts

best practice brand strategy case study:

 

All we saw were lights.

I knew they weren’t the celebratory kind because they’d be accompanied by balloons, signs, music, and maybe some confetti, right?

And if it was an emergency, I certainly couldn’t decipher which kind since the lights had no sound and they weren’t going anywhere.

Despite their stillness, the disco-like rotation of them nearly blinded us.

But, we’re in the suburbs!

It was our anniversary and we had already prayed for calm children, a smooth ride, and zero drama. Plus it was only 5 pm and the sun was still out.

WHY WERE SO MANY POLICE IN THIS SHOPPING PLAZA WITH FLASHING RED AND BLUE LIGHTS ON?

My parents house, where our kids are, is just 5 minutes away from this scene. Do they know what’s happening? Is it on the news?

Six police cars surrounded half the plaza bordering the Giant grocery store and the gas station. No one could enter the parking lot from the main entrance or exit to Route 301. There was one way in and one way out. All other paths were taped off and physically blocked by a blue and red barricade.

Was this an active shooter situation? A crime scene under investigation? A hostage negotiation in progress? An officer down? Or some yet-to-be-reported suburban horror story playing out as we were driving by to pick up our barbecue?

I googled to find the answer.

The explanation for all of the lights was found in just two words.

They would also make sense of the half mile backup of cars that grazed the highway exit waiting to pass through the single lane entry into the plaza – cars filled with faces that somehow didn’t seem alarmed.

Two words:

“FREE DONUTS”

Now, why didn’t I think of that!?

Yesterday, Krispy Kreme launched its “Celebrate Your Grad” promotion, offering a FREE “Graduate Dozen” of specially-decorated donuts to graduating high school seniors across the ENTIRE COUNTRY.

If you fit the bill, all you had to do was wait in line with a cap and gown (or some other proof of your status).

The line at the Krispy Kreme drive-thru near my parents’ house was so long that it required traffic redirection, entryway barricades, and county police escort. In Long Beach, California, a three-block traffic jam ensued that required emergency police intervention.

All in the name of complimentary sugar highs.

I THINK IT’S GENIUS BEST PRACTICE BRAND STRATEGY.

And not because of the themed dough decor or even the nationwide “free offer” tactic. Let’s be real – on-the-house overdoses such as this are not novel concepts.

I think it’s genius because the brand offered a simple answer to one nationwide loaded question that was never even directed toward them …

HOW CAN WE?

How can we celebrate in a time of crisis?

How can we recognize our graduates who will no longer have a ceremony?

How can we put a smile on the faces of our children who aren’t able to see their friends before heading off to college?

How can we say, ‘Job well done’?

Krispy Kreme’s answer injected a major dose of joy into a present-day society filled with news and rules that offers everything but that.

And for the next generation stepping into adulthood during such a season, this little sprinkle of sugar made the moment something to truly remember – for good reason.

NOW, ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU CAN DO THE SAME. 

What kind of loaded questions are people asking that your brand can answer through its products or services? How can YOU inject a little something unexpected into society, your community, or your customers’ lives?

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

 

Words That Work: How to Get Your Customers to Click

words that work

 

CIRCA 2009 …

I was a cocky little somebody in graduate school. Being a writer before I arrived at the best place to learn writing blinded me with an unjustified, overly-confident disposition. In all my naivety, I believed there wasn’t much these professors could teach me in Advanced Writing 101 about how to form a show-stopping sentence.

I had just landed in Chicago from NYC after completing an externship at Armani. Before leaving, my words for the brand’s new “About” page were published online. It was my written pitch that got our new Spring collection in Elle, and it was my writing about why the Armani Exchange story aligned with their next issue that garnered a response from fashion editors all over the City.

I could write better than most, without any formal training on the craft. In my 24-year-old mind, I had it mastered before seeking a master’s degree. So, Northwestern University … what can you teach me?

Are you sensing my young millennial arrogance yet?

Back to class …

OUR VERY FIRST ASSIGNMENT – AND ONE THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET – WAS TO COMPOSE A COVER LETTER TO OUR DREAM COMPANY. 

How we would add value to their organization and change their lives needed to be put into words that filled just one page. The objective, as is the objective of any cover letter, was to grab attention, engage, and pique someone’s interest enough to want to learn more through an interview. I wrote my letter at lightning speed, said all kinds of amazing things about myself, proofread every sentence, and submitted it with 100% confidence in my professor using my submission as a “best work” example next class.

Except he didn’t.

The next week, a paragraph of my cover letter was recited to 117 students from around the world (thankfully, without attribution) as an example of what NOT to say when writing to persuade a person or audience to take action.

My heart sank.

I was so embarrassed.

So scared he would say my name.

So confused.

WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

After handing me the remnants of a letter with more red pen edits than white space left on the page, my professor turned to us all and said:

LOOK DOWN AT YOUR PAPER AND CIRCLE ALL MENTIONS OF “I, ME, AND MY.”

For most of us, nearly every paragraph started with one of those. For me, it was nearly every sentence. His point started to click. The lecture that followed my humble awakening flowed in S-L-O-W  M-O-T-I-O-N.  I soaked in every point on how to write in a way that captivated an audience (and not just the fashion elite in NYC)  enough to want to learn more about you.

THE KEY WAS IN ONE WORD: “YOU.”

Failure to address your audience and pull them into the conversation using words that work would always result in a failure to compel, a failure to connect, and in business, a failure to convert. Leaving out the simple usage of “YOU” in my cover letter meant that I hadn’t taken the time to get to know the company enough to clearly articulate how I would add any value to who they already were. How could I possibly convince them to get to know me if I skipped this critical step?

THE SAME IS TRUE FOR YOU.  

How can you convince your customers that you understand who they are and what they need if your copy is chockfull of “I, me, and my?” 

MARIE FORLEO CALLS THE PRACTICE OF ADDING “YOU” TO YOUR BRAND NARRATIVE “THE SPOTLIGHT METHOD.” 

I CALL IT “MANNERS”.

Because that’s exactly what it is when two perspectives are present in a conversation.

If you want to learn how to inject words that work into your brand messaging so your customers are prompted to press the “learn more” or “buy now” button faster,  join me in Copymastery™ to catch my “Making Your Message Count” training.

Now, if your copy is flawless and converts quicker than you can reapply your red lipstick, feel free to ignore this entire message.

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

The Profound Power of Words & How to Use Yours Wisely in Business

the power of words:

 

A few weeks ago, I did a virtual keynote for the Women Entrepreneurs Inc. Conference on how to “Get Your Message Out of Your Head and Into the World.” My hook and introduction to why better messaging should be a priority, especially now, was simple:

WORDS ARE THE CURRENCY OF CHANGE.

All of the greats knew this.

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to JFK to Steve Jobs and even Oprah, anyone looking to successfully persuade an audience to do or think differently has always placed an inordinate amount of attention on their words.

And it makes sense – for society and for business.

The right words have the power to move massive audiences to action, to push someone from a state of indifference to a stance of certainty, to spark irrational spending, to restore self-worth, to motivate new habits, and to try and buy new things.

Think about it …

TWO EXAMPLES ON THE POWER OF WORDS:

1.  In the ’60s, massive clusters of society (and ultimately the nation) didn’t follow MLK and agree to risk their lives to march for a cause of justice because he was charismatic or because of his civil service record in Alabama. They followed him because of his intensely-emotional and irreverent one-word classification of their movement: “NONVIOLENT.” They followed him because of the deeply-rooted significance and power behind it, too.

Ultimately, this one word would help to grant civil rights to an entire race of people.

2.  Steve Jobs chose two simple words to move an almost-as-massive tech audience to believe in his mission. In the brand’s 1997 viral ad campaign, “The Crazy Ones,” Jobs calls out “the misfits, rebels, troublemakers, and round pegs in square holes” as modern-day heroes. Using words that glorified their disrespect for the status quo, the ad narrative cited the rare abilities of some – picturing Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, MLK, and Amelia Earhart – to “see things differently.” At the end of the campaign, an industry-changing, generation-defining, behavior-shifting, and brilliantly-written line of copy is spoken:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

These words gave birth to one of the most powerful brand statements of our time: “Think Different.”

It single-handedly motivated an entire subset of the population to celebrate their uniqueness, thinking and now feeling like the only way to do that – from a tech perspective – was to buy a Mac.

Genius.

What’s my point?

WORDS ARE LIKE CURRENCY.

WE SHOULD ALL SPEND THEM WISELY IF WE WANT TO MAKE ANY KIND OF CHANGE TODAY. 

As a CEO in the present digital economy, the copy you write to move your audience to action should be equally as powerful as the greats. Perhaps more importantly, it should convey your call to action with equal clarity and concision.

Today, consumers around the world are looking more than ever to the leaders and brands that they trust to motivate their own change. Some looking for new ways to manage their money, some in need of practical tips for taking the leap from their 9-to-5, and some looking for ways that they can better prioritize their self care.

Whatever the change is that your audience seeks, ask yourself if the words in your message are set up to move them to action – in a real and powerful way.

 

 

I’M TEACHING ON THE POWER OF WORDS INSIDE COPYMASTERY™ AND YOU’RE WELCOME TO JOIN! 

If you believe that your message could use some refinement or even if you’re starting from scratch, I’m inviting you to join me on the next coaching call to learn how to craft meaningful brand messages for your website, social media channels, email newsletters, sales pages, and more.

It’s all happening on Monday, May 18 at 6 pm EST.  I honestly can’t think of any kind of business looking to thrive right now who wouldn’t want to learn more.

CLICK HERE to see how coaching works and get in on the next Copymastery™ training for just $49.

Let May be the month you invest in something that’s actually going to move the needle in your business: an effective message.

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

Why Relationship Building Is Not Efficient (& a Better Way to Convert)

hey savvy!

Relationship building is not efficient.

That was the focus of the EntreLeadership podcast episode I listened to yesterday morning while sipping my La Colombe Vanilla Draft Latte. Alex Judd (the host) could have been in my head when he said,

“Relationships are not efficient.”

You’d think a common sense statement like this would go without saying since we’re talking about the human practice of getting to know one another and the state of being connected. I mean, there is no excel spreadsheet or value one can assign to measure how little or great our acquaintance or relation is to those we serve, right?

BUT, then I thought about it, and yes, it does need to be stated – exaggerated, even – for business owners who too often forget that the “connections” they’re after for the eventual purpose of conversion should begin with some level of genuineness.

It should be shouted from the rooftops that connection comes before conversion in the business dictionary, and the cultivation of the former is a not-so-efficient process that we should ALL be putting more energy into – especially now.

And I get it.

Focusing on relationship-building doesn’t seem like the natural first order of business in the midst of a crisis …

FOCUSING ON RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING DOESN’T SEEM LIKE THE NATURAL FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS …

… but it is. In fact, it’s Priority #1.

The reality is that the businesses that spend their time now growing closer to their customers and finding new and innovative ways to connect with them are the ones that will undoubtedly thrive when this is all over.

Which brings me to Rule #5, the final law in my new brand credo, The Copy Code!

 

relationship building

 

CONNECT FIRST, THEN CONVERT.

It’s the #1 rule in all successful relationship building strategies. This week, I want to challenge you to find at least one new and innovative way that you can connect with your community and strengthen the relationships that exist there. After all, how else will you know how to serve them in the future or what to even promote that’s relevant right now?

ASK YOURSELF:

-Where is my community spending more time online and how can I tap into the conversations they’re having?

-What commonalities do I share with the most loyal customers in my community and how can I start a two-way conversation around those?

-How can I give my customers a message of hope during this crisis and reassure them of my brand’s dedication to serving them?

-What nonconventional methods can I use to cut through the clutter and talk to my audience like a real human being?

HERE’S SOME IDEAS:

On Friday of last week, I hosted ‘COFFEE SHOP’, a virtual coffee chat with several mompreneurs in my community. No strings attached or sales pitches, just good conversation connecting on the common thing that’s rocked our entire world – becoming homeschool moms.

Dave Ramsey and his crew have been streaming a live series entitled, “A Message of Hope”, featuring weekly addresses of encouragement for small business owners from his personalities and other guest experts.

Harambee Crafts donated face masks to several healthcare providers in their community working on the frontlines with COVID-19 patients. As a modern, handcrafted goods company inspired by the African Diaspora, this was their way of connecting with the individuals working to keep their families safe.

The EntreLeadership Podcast, in addition to switching up their entire content schedule to connect with their listeners in a relevant way, began doing IG live interviews with special guests fielding questions on survival and strategy from small business owners.

Women Entrepreneurs Inc. transformed what would have been their marquee Charleston, SC conference into a month-long virtual Zoom series with keynote presentations, panels, and a community connection check-in.

Comment below and let me know what can YOU do to connect better with your community during this time!

The world needs more ice cream

There are two kinds of messages at play lately … 

The first is loud, uncalled for, cheap, and flat-out annoying. It can be compared to the pleas of used car salesmen as their prospective customers walk off the dealership lot OR the screeching sound of tiny chihuahuas barking from the living room window attempting to agitate all the big dogs walking by. 

The second is genuine. It calls for conversation before a conversion. It’s friendly, curious and compassionate, taking on the privileged-to-serve disposition of the ice cream man who relishes in the opportunity to help his 3-foot patrons make their selections. He always seems to light up when the kids ask for extra sprinkles on their scoops. 

 

 

The difference in business?

Well, brands run by the former see current pain and panic as an opportunity to push an existing product.  They dust it off the digital shelf, dress it up in new context, and bark at every user that browses by in an attempt to be the one-stop-shop hero of all their customers’ new problems.  

Brands run by the latter see pain and panic as an opportunity to serve and to better understand their audience’s needs and wants. The CEOs behind these business have a  “Why” that extends far beyond money. Their marketing calls for a two-way dialogue that leads to a more tailored approach for introducing what they have to offer. 

Put simply, the disingenuous brand talks AT their customers, while the genuine brand talks TO their customers – in all times, at all times.

Which brings me to Rule #4 in my new brand credo, The Copy Code:

 

copywriting tips

 

I WILL TALK TO MY PEOPLE.

This is why this rule especially matters now:

The world is in panic. Some people don’t know where their next check or meal will come from. Mompreneurs are struggling to find their rhythm in a new normal that now includes full-time homeschooling, nonstop cleaning and three hot meals a day.  Some service-based businesses are losing contracts. Some are laying off people.  

And some savvy CEOs with the ability to listen, adapt, and innovate are simply hiding from reality. (No judgement – I went on my deck yesterday for 30 minutes to hide from my to-list, husband, and kids. I’m a walking contradiction, I know.)

Here’s my message to you, Savvy: 

STOP HIDING & GO TALK TO YOUR PEOPLE.  

Your audience is waiting to hear from you. Lead with a genuine message that aims to connect first.  Relish in the opportunity to understand more about what your customers want from you right now. Start a conversation, be open to what you receive, and then work to fill the voids you observe. 

A few things you can do this week: 

Check in like my client, Heat Free Hair, just did on Instagram.

Jump on a FB live like my friend, Maurice of MoveWell Fitness, just did solo from his fitness studio.

Send an email asking people how they’re doing and what they’re most struggling with right now. 

Record a podcast that starts a conversation on your social profiles, like Jenna Kutcher and Brendon Burchard did recently.

Don’t be like the annoying chihuahua who continues business, barking and selling as usual, as if life as we know it hasn’t just shifted.  The world needs more ice cream … 

… served by people who take joy in helping their patrons choose between the red, white, and blue pop, the Good Humor Bar, or something completely new of their own creation.  

I’d love to hear what you’re doing this week to talk TO your customers, not AT them! Share with me in the comments below.

What to Say to Your Customers in a Crisis

Listen, I get it. The world is in crisis. People are sick. Toilet paper is sold out. Sanity is hard to come by, and good coffee? Well, I hope you had some stockpiled at home before this all went down.

In the midst of all of the chaos surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re probably unclear about whether you should say something to your customers about the situation or wait until it all blows over and continue business as usual.

NEWSFLASH: This isn’t blowing over anytime soon, so not saying anything right now is NOT an option.

As a business owner in the 21st century, you opted into the ideals of community, radical transparency, social media stalking, and social good. In the middle of a crisis, your customers are counting on you to take a stand, make a change, cast your vote, do your part, and let them know all the moves you’re making in the process (even if they’re small).

Whether that move involves a major shift in your manufacturing process, a change to your office environment for the sake of safety, or a new addition to your morning mindfulness practice to keep you sane…

Your customers need to hear from you.

Being a thought leader requires just that – leadership. Each day, you have the fortunate opportunity to lead a subset of the population in thinking differently about something or doing something different in their day-to-day lives.

That responsibility doesn’t fade when the world starts to shake. So yes, we’re in a crisis and there’s not much any of us can do individually. But, there is a lot that we can do as a whole and an entirely different way that we can think about operating our businesses – if given the right message.

I created a *NEW* FREE Guide: “Exactly What to Say to Your Customers in a Crisis” that you can download here.

 

It walks you through 6 proven messaging strategies for communicating during a crisis that I’ve mastered from my 10 years of brand strategy and reputation management experience. You’ll learn the exact elements necessary to craft an open letter to your audience that builds trust and restores confidence in your brand, even during a time like this.


Remember the world is taking note of your ability to rise to the occasion, remain relevant, and make your voice heard. Make it worth their while.