What’s A SweetSpot and How Can I Hit It?


In sports, the sweet spot is that one special place on the bat, the golf club, or the tennis racket that pounds the home run or drives the ball farther, faster, and with less effort than when it’s hit any place else. Consumers have sweet spots, too, and when your marketing or advertising idea hits it, your idea is communicated and your sales will go flying. Through Hornsby Brand Design’s Sweet Spot process of focusing (Brand Insight + Consumer Insight = the “SweetSpot”), we find the information necessary to create high-achieving ideas that cut through the mediocrity.

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4 Steps to Building a Successful Brand

Building a successful brandWind

Branding is a strategic process that involves commitment. It’s more than writing new ads or developing a new logo. Your brand is THE expression of your company’s image and beliefs. For it to be successful, and fly high, you’ll need to believe in your promise and support it both internally and externally. You need to look at it deeply, closely, and critically to find its best expression. With teamwork, perseverance, honesty, and leadership, your brand can reach its true potential.

1) Everyone on the team needs to be seriously committed to a branding exploration.

Key decision-makers should be involved from the beginning to the end. Branding takes an honest look at who you are, what you are good at AND what you aren’t. The team should be willing to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly and have the vision to think differently about how they present themselves

2) Your brand promise should be meaningful AND deliverable.

Brand positioning (why you are better or different) is all about finding new opportunities for your product or service. Whether it is a distinct point of difference — “cleans better than the #1 brand” or an emotional benefit “We bring good things to life” — every brand has some unique benefit to its customers. That’s why surveying your customers will help you discover new insights into your brand. If you discover a benefit that your customers say you are good at, then it’s worth the effort to deliver on that promise. Your customers are excellent judges of what makes you special. Don’t ignore it

3) Stay the course.

Branding efforts follow a process…first conducting discovery with the internal key players, then auditing the competition, and then surveying the customer. Along the way valuable learning is accumulated that will ultimately help in the development of the brand platform. A consistent, dedicated client team is extremely important in the process of building a competent and competitive brand.

4) Leadership is THE key to any successful branding effort.

The client must rally the team behind a common mission, keep the herd together and designate the ultimate decision-makers. In the end with this kind of effort and a great branding design partner (We have a suggestion on this one!) your brand’s success will be well-heeled for not only talking the talk, but walking the walk.

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What are Your Customers Really Thinking?


“People don’t buy 4-inch drill bits; they buy 4-inch holes.” –Author unknown

Because people don’t buy products, they buy what they can do with them, we have a suggestion. In your next meeting or on your next advertising project (or for one in progress) ask yourself and team members these three questions:

1) Are we defining our customers the way they think about themselves?

2) Are we looking at life from their point of view?

3) Are we thinking about ways to bring our products and services to them rather than expecting them to come to us?

Your product or service is simply a tool for the customer to get what he/she really wants and needs. Define the customer’s real wants and needs, and tailor your marketing and advertising around it. This is the first step toward developing that all important consumer insight

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Sweet Tip of the Month


“The mathematics of collaboration is nothing less than magic.”

Challenge: It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. Don’t assume the business owner knows best. The business owner is uniquely qualified to view his company or product subjectively, which can lead him to answer questions no one is asking. He’s on the inside looking out, trying to describe himself to a person on the outside looking in.

Solution: Hire someone from the outside who understands and speaks the language of your customers.

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4 Tips to Communicating More Effectively

4 tips

Tip 1: Establish your credentials

When presenting the services your company offers, don’t forget to cover the basics in describing your  firm: 1) the six Ps–philosophy, process, people, products, performance, and price; 2) organization; 3) service structure; 4) business strategy; and 5) compensation plan. This usually applies when prospects meet you for the first time, but sometimes even existing clients need to be reminded of your credentials and other key facts about your firm.

Tip 2: Deliver Confidence

The physical appearance of your presentation and marketing literature conveys expertise, talent, and quality. A coherent system of communication saves time (and, by extension, money). A coherent system allows you to be prepared at every point in the sales cycle, from introduction to first meeting to client communications. Perhaps most importantly, a coherent package of information sends this critical message: “We have our act together.”

Tip 3: Know Your Competition

Clients need a reason to hire you. Any successful marketing communications program must answer the following questions, “How are you different from your competitors? What can you offer clients that they cannot find elsewhere?” Hone in and hit home the answers to these questions when presenting, selling, and strategizing. Make a clear case for the difference you possess to your client.

Tip 4: Respect The Rules Of Storytelling

Covering the basics does not mean pouring yourself straight into the philosophy-process-people mold. Keep in mind that your competitors will be presenting similar information. Capture the imagination of your audience by emulating the elements of any well-told story: a strong opening, passion, universal truth, satisfaction as the plot unfolds, and a memorable close.

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Being Human is a Beautiful Thing: Three Brands that Connect


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg takes on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The right digital branding campaign has the power to extend your reach and engage your customer on a deeper level than traditional advertising outlets. Below are three examples that are doing it right.

The ALS Association: The Ice Bucket Challenge 
An extraordinarily successful social campaign gone viral, individuals across the U.S. are dumping buckets of ice on their heads in support of ALS. Participants range from those in grass roots America to top celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Taylor Swift, and Oprah Winfrey. The ALS Association, a national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease, received $31.5 million in donations between July 29 and August 20 compared to $1.9 million during the same period last year!

TD Canada Trust Bank: “TD Thanks You” Campaign
In July, TD Canada Trust Bank surprised more than 20,000 customers as they distributed envelopes containing a $20 bill to every customer in more than 1,100 bank branches. They also surprised some account holders with a twist to a traditional ATM machine by changing it into an Automated “Thanking” Machine. Whether the gift was plane tickets to Trinidad to visit a cancer-stricken daughter, college fund for a young widowed mother’s two sons, or a trip to Disney World, the ATM delivered real dreams to its customers. Captured on video, this campaign has accumulated more than 10 million video views!

Always: “Like A Girl” Campaign 
The Always brand launched this campaign to reclaim and redefine what it means to be a girl and do things such as “run like a girl”, “throw like a girl”, or “fight like a girl.” Their goal is to dispel disparaging stereotypes and increase confidence in girls everywhere going through the difficult teenage years. This campaign has had more than 47 million views!

How can you connect? By providing “fans” with genuine, direct, and authentic tokens of appreciation and entertaining engagement, these three brands promote goodwill and positive feelings and mindsets throughout their respective communities. Surprising active and loyal customers with a sign of gratitude when they least expect it will go a long way to securing their loyalty. Get creative. Try direct links to special content, special advertising and PR, access to VIP events, or rewards that cater to specific needs. Even better: mix this all together for a killer campaign.

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Don’t be fooled!

Baby Boomers ARE NOT Your Typical Ma and Pa.


The 77 million people born between 1946 and 1964 are defined as the baby boomer era (U.S. Census) and make up what advertisers call the “Silver Market.” The bright side is that the Silver Market is more affluent these days, controlling 70% of the nation’s disposable income and standing to inherit $15 trillion over the next 20 years. So with these numbers, why do so many brands ignore them?

Many advertisers assume if they advertise to the youth, the seniors will come along for the ride. However, that’s a really dangerous assumption to make. Baby boomers are older, but not old. They embrace 55 as the new 35. This presents great marketing opportunities, so seize the day and aim towards them directly.

The not-so-bright flip side of the Silver Market is that those who are old, poor, and sick will likely be in the majority. So businesses need to prepare today for the realities of this market tomorrow, in order to leverage the looming demographic opportunity.

Supporting seniors in their everyday lives and enabling them to grow old in a humane way is a simple way to develop a marketing strategy, not to mention promoting positive public relations. For example, products can have adapted functionalities like foods packaged in smaller servings. The population size ensures that profits can be gained even from sales with narrow margins, because the group’s combined total income is substantial—and growing.

Important facts to know:

  • The senior age group is now, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent of the population in the U.S.
  • Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis (Forrester Research).
  • Americans over 55 spend 50% of all vacation dollars in America (ICSC).
  • 55-64 year olds outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, including: food away from home, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, and gifts (US Government Consumer Expenditure Survey).
  • 96% of baby boomers participate in word-of-mouth or viral marketing by passing product or service information on to friends (ThirdAge and JWT Boom).
  • 89% of seniors 65+ have personal email and use it regularly (Nielsen).
  • 72% of baby boomers have broadband Internet in their homes (ThirdAge and JWT Boom).
  • 36% of adults 50+ own a smartphone (Pew).
  • Americans 55+ are the fastest-growing age group among gym members, up more than 266% since 1987 (IBISWorld).
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