Tag Archives: content marketing strategy

Veteran’s Day 2018


“While only one day a year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.”

-Randy Neugebauer

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of Veteran’s Day and the end of World War I.  Discover the origins of Armistice Day, now Veterans Day, from National Museum of American History curator Frank Blazich.

Four Comedy Rules to Use in Strategy

Advertising Age published an interesting article last month by Lindsey Allison, EVP and head of strategy at Deutsch.  In the article, Allison compares advertising strategy to comedy and shares four rules that apply to both professions:

47485293 - a fake mustache, nose and eyeglasses on a rustic blue wooden surface

1. Don’t lie

2. Don’t try so hard

3. Make truth unfamiliar

4. Expose, don’t shock

Click to read Allison’s application of each rule to both comedy and advertising strategy.  We love #4!

Incorporate Video

Everyday, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of videos on YouTube and 3. 8 billion videos on Facebook. If you aren’t incorporating video into your marketing mix, then you need to rethink what you are doing.


Click Here for 10 Ways B2B Marketers Can Incorporate Video into their Content Marketing Strategy.

The Science of Persuasion

Ninety percent of selling is conviction (a strong belief or opinion), and 10 per cent is persuasion (the act of causing people to do or believe something).

– {Shiv Khera, Self Help Author and Speaker}

Click Here to see this 11 minute video called The Science of Persuasion. It is a must see for your sales
and marketing teams!

Your Own Resolution to Succeed

Happy New Year from NextLevel Thinking!!! “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – {Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States}

Do Something Better!!!

“If you’re not trying to do something better, then you’re not focused on the customer and you’ll miss the possibility of making your business great!” {Jonathan Ive, SVP of Industrial Design, Apple Inc.}

March 2012 Thoughts

The March 2012 Thoughts That Count from NextLevel Thinking: The Objective of Marketing “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that your product or service fits him and sells itself.” {Peter F. Drucker}

November 2011 Thoughts

The November 2011 Thoughts That Count from NextLevel Thinking: The Definition of Authentic Marketing “Authentic marketing is not the art of selling what you make but knowing what to make.” {Philip Kotler, Marketing Author}

August 2011 Thoughts

The August 2011Thoughts That Count from NextLevel Thinking:

“Anyone can put on a deal or promotion, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”

{David Ogilvy, American Advertising Icon}

NextLevel Thinking Unveils New Offering

NextLevel Thinking unveiled a new offering at the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals (ADRP) annual meeting this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Every blood center is different. From the way they do business to the size of the center. It is because of this that we have developed a Creative Program Package that can be fitted to your center’s needs.

Through the course of investigating the marketplace and what medium gets the strongest response, NextLevel Thinking has discovered that people are not simply visual but will go out of their way to view images…especially moving images. Websites such as YouTube, Hulu, and others have steadily increased in popularity over the past few years. To put it simply…people like watching video based mediums.

We understand that not all blood centers can afford regular television campaigns, but we also know that there are more avenues available than ever before to illustrate the power and positive impact of a simple blood donation.

Packages include 30 second video stories, extended video stories, audio stories, email and/or post card shells and custom t-shirt designs to go along with your campaign. Click Here and then click on Program Packages to view our video about how your center can begin telling these emotionally compelling stories in a cost effective way or call us at 713.893.6841 to find out we can design a custom package for you.

NLT’s Unveils New Website

NextLevel Thinking has tweaked its website. Click Here to check out the exciting new look and approach!!!

The original concept for the NLT web site was to show the Houston based marketing firm through the eyes of their clients. The tweak to the new site still does this quite nicely. The primary reason for the site update is:
To make it more search engine friendly,
To add a few new sections (Our Services, Marketing Leadership, Newsroom),
To add a new background,
And to update Our Clients section.

Envisioning Your Brand

Determining your brand is not only a complex undertaking, it is also very personal when done properly.

Much like dieting (because I can relate everything to dieting!), building your brand is very much a lifestyle change. It is much more than the right graphics. A one-time project it is not. Your brand should be comprised of the company’s personality, vision, core competencies and mission. The impressions that you make, as well as the words people will use to describe your company to others, are the basic framework of your brand.

So when Incept decided to get laser-focused on the blood bank industry, it became very clear that our existing brand – which, at the time, had taken somewhat of a “be everything to everyone” approach – was not going to get us where we wanted to go. After much deliberation on the right approach, we decided to enlist the help of NextLevel Thinking. NextLevel Thinking is a strategic marketing firm that has extensive experience in the blood bank industry, so our decision to partner with them was, well, strategic!

I sat down with NextLevel Thinking’s managing partner, Eric Poerschke, to ask him some questions about defining the Incept brand…

Billie: “What were the steps taken to begin the process of brand identification for Incept?”

Eric: “Incept has a great reputation and relationship with their blood center clients, so we started there. We asked their clients what they liked most/least; we asked about strengths and weaknesses, etc. All in all, we spent a considerable amount of time with each client to learn that the one thing Incept does best is care more about the client’s goals and objectives, in many cases, than the clients do themselves.”

Billie: “And how does information that strong develop into a brand?”

Eric: “It became clear to us when talking to Incept’s clients that they had a unique ability to converse with blood donors in a way that made the donor feel good about what they were going to do. This is where the term “conversational marketing” at Incept was born.

Another strength that we uncovered was Incept’s ability to understand their client’s needs. In fact, we feel like Incept puts their clients and their client’s customers at the center of ALL they do.”

Billie: “What are the key elements being used today to deliver this information?”

Eric: “The most significant elements are the Incept Listen and Incept Lead philosophies. Incept Listen is an in-depth analysis of a blood center’s goals, objectives and best practices. This is a great way for Incept and their clients to get to know each other in a way that ultimately ends up being mutually beneficial.

The result is Incept Lead, a formal, comprehensive, written road map that clearly defines the blood center’s successes and challenges, and ultimately offers recommendations for the future to ensure goals and objectives are met.

What’s powerful about these processes are that they take place on an ongoing basis which ensures that strategies stay current and new objectives are always considered.”

Billie: “If you could tell our readers one thing about Incept, what would that be?”

Eric: “Incept is a company where relationships matter more than anything else. As a result, they really do care about their client’s results. Incept’s clients knew this all along. Our job was to develop the message that told the rest of the world.”

Thanks go out to Eric for taking the time to talk with me.

I’d love to hear from all of you about your brand. How did you develop it? What does it mean to you?

Talk to me. I’m listening…

About the Author

Billie Johnson is the Vice President of New Client Results at Incept. Incept is a conversational marketing firm that specializes in developing and strengthening relationships with your current and potential clients, on your behalf.

Billie has over 16 years of experience in developing strategic campaigns that engage audiences in productive and meaningful conversations on behalf of client organizations. For over 11 years, Billie and the team at Incept have focused their efforts on having conversations that educate and inspire donors across the nation to help save lives.

But Paid Media Costs Money

So you have these television commercials or radio spots, or even print ads that are ready to hit the marketplace. Great! Here is the question…where are you going to run them? And a better question…what is this going to cost?

Let’s answer the second question first. It is going to cost. This is where it gets a bit sticky. You see, if you don’t have a lot of awareness in your marketplace, there is no better way to establish a presence than by using paid media. So you will have to spend money to make money. I know…that kind of takes the wind out of your sails, but that’s the way it is…I am sorry.

I use the term Paid Media because the other kind of media…you know…the free stuff, it just doesn’t work. Public Service Ads that some stations or publications give you are a nice gesture, but they alone will not get the job done. The ads are few and far between and probably not being run at the best times to serve your core audience. Staying in front of your audience is crucial when building a presence in your marketplace. An ad that runs once in a blue moon will not create the impact that you need.

Okay…now you are thinking…“but I heard about these packages that the television stations, radio stations and magazines offer and they are giving us a bunch of ads!” Right…The Package Deal.

Here is how to look at a Package Deal:

If Macy’s is offering Lime Green Plaid Pants, Buy One Get One Free, is it a good deal? The answer is, of course, no. Crap is still crap, even if it is on sale. If they wanted to really stick it to you they would have done three for one. The point is, when spots are packaged, that usually means the station has extra inventory they are trying to unload. So if you are offered four spots between 2am and 3am during the great documentary, “The Armadillo: Nature’s Little Tank”, think twice before buying those slots.

So now you say you are willing to spend some money on advertising and you are ready to buy. USE A MEDIA PLACEMENT FIRM! There are people who know how to do this and can get better rates than you. Also, a good media person will be honest with you if he or she thinks you don’t have enough money to do the job correctly.

All media placement firms have software and expertise in this area. They will talk about “reach” and “frequency” and other fancy words. However, what it boils down to is this: are you reaching the people that you want and need to reach? And are you doing it often enough? If the media firm feels you can do this with the money you have, then go for it!

Now the first question… where do I run these spots? This is a bit more vague but there is always a way to figure it out. Say, for example, that you know from your media firm, that 50% of your potential market watches the evening news or reads a specific publication…then that is what you buy. This will change from market to market and this is where the media firm really earns their fee. They will know what will work for you. Keep in mind that different media firms may have different ideas on how to invest your money. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Do not be concerned if you get different answers from different people. Just make sure that they have the data to support their suggestions.

Oh, one last thing to think about. This is very important. When you decide to dive into this arena, make sure to be consistent. There is no need to change the ads every couple of weeks. You will get tired of the ads long before the public will. Keep your message the same and make the spots look like part of a family of ads. Sure GEICO has three different campaigns running right now, but guess what, you’re not GEICO! Just keep things simple and to the point.

To Recap:
You need visibility.
You need to reach your target market.
You need frequency.
You need consistency.
You need to keep it simple!

One of our largest clients followed our plan to a tee. They now exceed their projected goals almost every month, and have increased business 50% in the last six years.

But paid media costs money…and it does work.

About the Author

Kirk Loudon is a partner at NextLevel Thinking, a strategic marketing firm that successfully blends emotion, education, and execution into a marketing approach and framework for your organization that can be effectively communicated internally to your employees and externally to your current and potential customers.

Kirk is a veteran in the marketing and advertising business. He has been a creative force in the southwest market for over 18 years. He has worked in all areas of the business.

The Tee Shirt Works

So the local blood center decided to print some new tee shirts for the next big drive of the month. The employees are getting excited because they get a chance to take a look at the new designs that have been created by Number One Tee Shirt Company of Florida.

“I think we should do a big blood drop with a smiley face”, says Carol, a twenty-year employee at the local center. “Everybody loves the smiley blood drop”.

That fact is, not everyone loves the smiley blood drop. Your donors are happy to get the shirt…they smile and say thank you, but as soon as they get home it goes in a drawer that has been set aside for shirts to be used for washing the car or sleeping in. It is time to take another step back and re-evaluate the reason for the tee shirt in the first place.

For the first year that we were in the blood business, we fought to have blood centers stop handing out tee shirts to every donor. We would do seminars on how handing a donor a gift for a single donation was rewarding them for behavior that we do not want them to do. One donation equals a tee shirt…what motivation do they have to come back if they already have the prize?

One of our speaking engagements was very interesting in that we discussed the fact that tee shirts are not the best way to go. We presented our case and shared our point of view of rewards for the second or third donation but not the first. Everyone in the room was nodding in agreement and taking notes. We thought we were really making headway.

So we decided to take a short break. My partner left the room to take a phone call and I stayed behind and…well I eaves dropped! I began listen to the attendees during the break.

The first conversation was a woman talking on the phone to her donor center in another state. She was telling them that the lecture was really informative and that she was learning a great deal on changing how we view donors…and this is where I had to bite my tongue.

The very next sentence out of her mouth was placing an order for…that’s right; you guessed it, the smiley face blood drop tee shirt. Not just a small order, she was purchasing 2,000 shirts! That’s a bunch of blood drops!

People let me be clear; I am not against tee shirts. As a matter of fact that is pretty much all I wear…well pants too. I felt I had to clarify. The point is, if you are going to use a tee shirt as a reward, first make sure that the donor is doing exactly what you want them to do before they get the shirt. And second, make sure that they wear it!

Take a trip to the local mall and scope out the tee shirts that are being sold. Do you see any smiley blood drops? I think not. What you will see are some very cutting edge shirts that are being sold at a premium. Some of the designs are going for as much as $100 per shirt. $100…who pays that? Believe it or not, the shirts fly off the shelf. These new graphic tees are so popular that you can now get knock offs at the neighborhood department store.

The designs do not have to be blood related. Make them say what you want but in a fresh way. Tattoo graphics, Fleur-De-Lis images, artistic typefaces…get creative.

What we are getting at is give the people what they want. Go online and get examples of what you think is a good design and show it to your tee shirt printer or your in-house artist. Have them come up with some ideas that are similar.

We work with a blood center in Texas. This center was doing what every other center was doing when it came to tee shirts…smiley blood drops. We were asked to come up with a few new designs for their tee shirts. At first they were a little uncomfortable with the idea of doing something outside of the box. After all, they have been doing it the same way for 30 years.

The first tee shirt was for a radio station. The promotion lady at the blood center got the call almost instantly. They were so pleased with the design that they wanted us to repeat the look for the station’s own promotions. Since then they never looked back.

It used to be that I would see a blood center tee shirt every couple of months when I was out and about. Now I see three or four at the gym, a couple in the grocery store, some on the golf course. My son says he sees them in school as well.

So after 10 years in this business I am happy to report that the tee shirt does actually work…as long as someone is wearing it.

Remember…when it comes to giving shirts, get out of your head and into the donor’s. A gift worth getting is worth doing something for!!!