Did You Hear That?

A great P.O.P. display will draw shoppers from a distance and encourage them to interact with your product. The ease of access to the product influences their engagement, as does where you place products within the display. The sweet spot for visual engagement is 3.5 to 4.5 feet from the floor. The display should focus the attention on your merchandise, allowing the products to speak for themselves. Be bold but brief and let the packaging sell the product with easy-to-read fonts and images.

When designing a display for Starbar’s agricultural insect control line, Celtic incorporated the sound of buzzing flies activated as shoppers passed by. This attention-grabbing element worked to attract customers to the display where the packaging told shoppers why these products are their best choice in fly control. We highlighted benefits and let the brand stand out from the competition.

Having designed a number of these displays for various products and markets, here are three P.O.P. design tips:

  1. If you’re running a special promotion in your marketing, reflect that messaging to reinforce immediate recognition.
  2. Design the P.O.P. so that messaging flows around the display for in-aisle, end caps and side wings. It allows for multi-use of the same design.
  3. Adding sound or motion can enhance the display, but only if they are appropriate for your products. Be careful not to overdo either as it can transform your display from intriguing and fun to annoying and avoided.

See examples of Celtic’s client work here 

Collaboration is the Key to the Ideal Work Space

As we settle into our new Celtic home, we are all still working through some of the unknowns following a big move. What light does this switch turn on? Which of these keys opens which drawer? Where are we storing the extra coffee? The one thing we know for sure is that great ideas are going to come to life within these walls. That’s because this new space was designed through collaboration, for collaboration.

A recent study by Gensler, a leading design and architecture firm, found that innovative companies are five times more likely to have work spaces that prioritize both individual and group work space. This was the primary goal when we first started to dream up our new home, using the move as a perfect opportunity to improve the way we collaborate, create and connect. Our president, Marlene, viewed the new space as a blank slate, and wanted to ensure the entire agency had a say in planning the finished product. As we began the design process, each of Celtic’s four divisions met with our interior designer to discuss team needs and wants, and create mood boards to help illustrate each team’s vision. The end result? An innovative, fluid concept, focusing on our three biggest needs; open space, functionality and more areas for collaboration.

We believe the best work comes from teamwork, and with multiple meeting areas, rooms and nooks, the office is built to facilitate multiple brainstorm sessions and impromptu meetings. We can write on the walls, chat on couches and in padded booths, or get competitive in a game-themed “Board Room.” Even the individual offices and work spaces are arranged in larger, more open environments that offer a refreshing change from the more segmented layout of our old space. Plus, we have dedicated offices for clients to occasionally work from, reinforcing that “here for you” mentality.

But as big as we are on teamwork, we know when it’s time to break off and crank out the work. The same Gensler study shows that “on average, 30% to 40% of a person’s day involves solo work,” so it was important to give this component just as much thought. Efforts to minimize noise were carefully considered, allowing each of our secluded meeting spaces to double as private break away areas. Each employee’s personal work space was also customized with seating and standing options depending on that person’s preference of the day.

After huddling with professionals experienced in office design and listening to the wants and needs of every agency employee to design the perfect environment, we arrived at three key components of an office design that would allow our best and most creative selves to emerge:

  1. Wide open spaces – Open, shared work spaces are still popular in modern office design, but have been shown to work best with ample options for privacy.
  2. Come together – Teamwork makes the dream work. Providing employees with enough spaces to collaborate – both planned and on the fly – will lead to better, more creative work.
  3. Sense of purpose – Get the most out of every room in your office. We had this in mind when designing all areas, even the kitchen!


Get in the Face of Your Customers

Today, online research seems like an easy, cost-effective way to collect data. But if your questions are about “how do consumers decide in-aisle?” your research must be face-to-face. Successful in-store design must entice customers to reach out and buy. It’s vital to understand how the product looks on the shelf to them, with similar lighting and distraction.

Celtic was creating new packaging for a bed-bug-control product called PreStrike, so we conducted research inside high-end hardware stores. To understand the motivations of consumers in need of pest control, we waited in the aisle and asked for feedback as they purchased. We learned that consumers were confused about which products controlled different insects. They wanted clear instructions about application and safety information. Price was the least of their concerns.

The PreStrike packaging met their needs to match bug to product with large photos, and it provided necessary information quickly to enhance DIY confidence and drive purchases. The in-store research proved vital in presenting the new line and selling the products to the retail buyer.

Research Dos:

  1. Complete a detailed audience profile BEFORE commencing research – by knowing your target audience you can better determine how to gain insight from them.
  2. Choose locations where you will meet your audience. If you decide to assemble focus groups, emphasize to the recruiter the importance of meeting detailed criteria to ensure the respondents are an exact match to your desired audience.
  3. Be there – have the marketing and creative teams at the focus group. Watching facial expressions and conduct provides as much information as the report. Don’t be afraid to add new questions (even from behind the glass) as the discussion grows.

Telling Your Story Through Video

In the past few years, video creation has evolved to ensure storytellers can create content that is compelling. Video no longer means huge budgets or exhaustive editing to create content. The end result is that companies have an opportunity to create incredibly feature-rich content to convey messages, train employees and reach target audiences.

Research has shown that 95% of people who watch a video remember the content for up to three days while if that same information is read, only 10% recall the material within 72 hours. Creating video to disseminate information also allows companies to control their brand image.

Celtic recently worked with client Central Life Sciences to create a new corporate brand video. The client sought a solution that would provide audiences with a quick overview of the organization, its mission and varied product portfolio for a wide range of industries and markets.

With the growing demand for video, here are three key statistics supporting the marketing benefits of telling your story through video:

  1. Be Seen: Four times as many consumers would rather learn about a product or offering through watching a video than by reading about it. Give them what they want!
  2. Be Shared: Video on social media is shared 1200% more than text and image-based content.
  3. Be Sought: Studies have shown that adding video to a website can lead to as much as 157% increase in organic search traffic.

See the new corporate video for Central Life Sciences here.

Employees Are the Living Brand

It’s the employees, especially those who face your customers, who serve your brand. No logo or color or tagline can replace true branding – the reality of how the brand delivers is in the interaction with the customer. Employees flourish in organizations where the brand creates meaning and has a culture they can identify with.

According to a Gallup poll, only 27% of employees believe their companies deliver on brand promises. Most companies come up empty on this front because they overlook the single most important component of the promise – their people. Employees are your living brand. And as great ambassadors, companies need to devote time and energy to training and education so that they reflect the brand’s core values.

Central Life Sciences provides ongoing training to employees and incorporates their brand mission and core promises. Their “Science That Matters” tagline has meaning and relevance in the field and with their sales team.

Three ideas for brand training:

  1. Create a unique statement of what the company offers, what separates it from its rivals and what makes it worthy of customers’ consideration.
  2. Audit your brand promises and focus solely on those your employees can consistently deliver.
  3. Make sure your employees understand how to articulate the brand promises to every customer.

Cross Sell or Up Sell

The perfect time to sell you a pair of socks is right after you purchase shoes. The obvious reason is that your mind is focused on your feet.

In the digital environment, offers like free shipping on orders over $100 or “you might also like” suggestions help to drive the buyer to increased purchases. Face-to-face sales can be enhanced with packaging programs or “samples” to engage consumers in additional sales.

Vet-Kem needed to educate pet owners about flea control in their yards and homes. The Vet-Kem Hitchhikers campaign used a simple bag to increase the check-out discussion about integrated pest control and expand sales at the counter.

Three ideas for cross-sell promotions:

  1. Stay relevant when cross selling items. It should be an easy jump to the add-on purchase.
  2. Cross selling works best with excellent customer service – train your ambassadors and they will make the customer experience positive.
  3. Offering a price break for bundling is a great incentive especially for new product introductions.

Self-Discovery Experience for Complex Products

Selling a complex product begins with educating your target audience. Once armed with a baseline knowledge, they can feel confident enough to ask the meaningful questions needed to arrive at a decision.

This strategy was the basis for our approach for Allstate Financial and their desire to build a web experience that presents complex life insurance material to consumers. As visitors walk through the information journey, making personal selections that align to their life-stage, support facts are presented that allow them to become more confident and self-assured. Named LifeTrek, the website widget was designed to shorten the life insurance sales process so Allstate agents see consumers that are further along in the buying journey

Our strategy was to allow the user to control their excursion, presenting information that builds confidence. After the user goes through the website, a takeaway PDF is provided to the user that aggregates all of their self-assessment information with life insurance product recommendations. When the consumer is face-to-face with an agent, they are positioned to ask good questions to arrive at the best financial decision.

Allstate Financial’s campaign reflects a consultative tone and visually adjusts based on the demographic of the visitor. The user experience motion is designed to feel like a person is walking down a path to a personal solution.

Three self-guided user experience musts:

  1. Simplify the content
  2. Use a slow reveal to make the user feel in control
  3. Give them something of value

Take Time to Celebrate Your Successes

As we enter the holiday season, our minds, to-do lists and calendars can become very cluttered, very quickly. The race is on to accomplish as much as possible, both professionally and personally, in those three short weeks between Thanksgiving and the start of holiday vacations. Even with everything on our plates in the lead up to 2016, we shouldn’t forget to take time out to reflect on the year.

Whether it’s over lunch or drinks at the office, use holiday face-time to celebrate, and better yet, bond over the journey of the past year. This can go a long way toward continuing 2016 professional success. Use this time to touch on some key topics, including:

  • What worked and what didn’t work as well? Think about what might affect change in the New Year.
  • What people on the team were truly game changers in 2015? Champion those you felt made a particularly positive impact.
  • What if? Identify ideas to test that will be disruptive, focusing less on the “must-haves” and more on the “what ifs.”

Every agency-client relationship can benefit from taking time in December to celebrate all of the year’s accomplishments. For most businesses, 2016 planning is in full swing, and in a true partner relationship, both agency and client should be ready to hit the ground running right after the New Year. Until then, take a moment to raise a glass to what is possible.

Strategies to Optimize Distribution Channel Success

Many business-to-business organizations rely either wholly or in part on a distribution sales model, and the delicate balance of effectively marketing to both the end customer and distributor requires a thoughtful approach nuanced for each audience. A sales team’s front-line engagement with end customers is where the rubber hits the road but in a multi-tiered sales model where success depends on distributor buy-in, controlling the marketplace messages in all vehicles is key to long-term growth.

A demonstrated benefit of the distribution model is that distributor reps understand what their customers want AND how to deliver solutions that they will buy. Going hand-in-hand with knowing what customers will buy is insight of where and how they want to make those purchases. That’s a lot of power entrusted to individual distributors, with an inherent risk that distributor strategies can overtake corporate marketing strategies. Diluting a company’s carefully crafted product or service value proposition by a distributor can lead to less control and less success.

A cooperative strategy with distributors means organizations will keep a leader foothold in the overall corporate value proposition and messages. It prevents the distributor sales force from relying on positioning where price trumps value. This is beneficial to the distributors as well because they seek long-term channel partners that provide high levels of support, making their job of selling that much easier.

Three critical components for buy-in of product messaging by distributors include:

  1. Clear marketing messages that demonstrate end user benefits. Messages are not created in a vacuum and when companies provide a strong, clear value proposition for reps to convey, consistency is established regardless of how and where the product/service is being sold.
  2. Distributor sales education and tools to adopt the branding of a channel partner’s offerings. Surveys indicate time and time again that reps desire an environment where they not only can relay the product value proposition but also have tools to back it up. Anything that makes selling easier makes for happy reps, including product training sessions, timely marketing materials, dedicated corporate resources, and an advance “heads up” on new or improved products for their customers.
  3. Pull-through marketing support. The old “get the consumers to come to you” approach is another desire of distributors because it increases sales success. An integrated sales strategy doesn’t solely rely on the distributor to sell product, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. If a distributor’s sales effort to end users is reinforced by a company’s widespread corporate marketing campaign customers will seek out the products and distributors on their own. Campaign components might include an aggressive ad schedule, word of mouth referrals and end-user promotions.

A distribution sales model has its own unique set of challenges and benefits but the most important take away for companies that sell this way is to make the distributors’ jobs as easy as possible by arming them with marketing and education tools that deliver success for them AND you.

Planning Sucks: 3 Ideas to Set It on Fire

Annual planning can be daunting. You sit with your management team and outline the strategic direction for the company. You prioritize. You rationalize. You try to cover all your bases. But the reality is planning isn’t something that happens once a year. Planning is a persistent, ongoing activity. An organizational mentality.

Because of that, you need to establish your road map early and continually react to what the universe is telling you.

If you’ve been through planning before, you know the drill. But there are ways to ensure you keep it fresh and engaging. Here are three new ideas to make planning purposeful and fun:

  • Ask Your Grandma – Not really. (Even though she probably has some strong opinions) Don’t plan in a bubble. Make sure you’ve analyzed the metrics from the previous year, talked with the sales team, talked with customers and most importantly, engaged the brains of the organization both old and young. Marketing is moving fast and you need to make sure to develop deep brand relationships based on values of the entire organization and its stakeholders.
  • Create a War Room – Make time to get dirty. The concept here is to find a space to free minds and encourage big thinking. It’s a place to discuss the things that worked well and where you fell short. Tape up ideas, phases and pictures that help define the strategic direction. Find a place to think beyond the immediate and dream beyond 12 months. (Sugary snacks help as well.)
  • Take a Field Trip – Get out of your four walls and expand your mind. Take your team to a museum, art house movie or yoga class. Make it meaningful to the planning process and arm participants with assignments that force them to observe beyond the surface. Also, don’t be afraid to look outside your industry and get inspired by what others are doing well.

The end product will be better if you make the planning process more dynamic. Here’s another idea, bring in outside thinkers. Talk to us about how Celtic energizes planning and sparks the fire.