Archive for April, 2010

Your brand is under attack, will you save it?

As marketers, one of our most important jobs is to protect our brand.  At the very least, we should be making sure that our marketing and advertising efforts aren’t hurting our brands.  Sound preposterous?   Read on.  I have a talked a lot about protecting your brand in the social media space, but one critical thing I haven’t talked about is protecting your brand in the advertising space. 

When it comes to advertising, there are many things you have to consider.  Things like reach, frequency, target audience and message.  One very important thing that sometimes gets overlooked is the physical placement of your ad.  There are benefits to having the front and/or back cover and being right in the middle of the publication.  And, if you can, always have your ad put on the right page rather than the left page of a publication (we read left to right…what’s on the right side is the last thing the reader sees). 

All of that said, here’s what gets missed by some marketers/advertisers. If you aren’t doing a full-page ad, there will be stories and other ads next to yours.  Know what they are going to be!  Here are the things you will want to avoid:

  • Being next to stories/articles about something negative, devastating or horrific. It happens all the time in consumer-based publications and newspapers.  So marketers…do you really want your ad next to the story about the cheating politician or worse…a story about a company that cheated their clients out of millions?
  • Being next to a competitor (with a better ad).  Nothing like having your boss open the publication only to have him/her see your crappy black and white ad next to a competitor’s full color, high impact ad.    

But wait, there’s more!

This problem gets compounded when you are using an ad network and/or ad aggregator to buy and place your ad.  All these companies are doing is negotiating for the best price for you, not the best placement.  For that, luck be your lady.

Since I am all about showing you numbers, here is some market research I found from the Winterberry Group via eMarketer on online ad placement.

  • According to the firm’s white paper “Beyond the Grey Areas,” ad agencies recognize that ad placements must be auditable and that advertisers must be able to verify and know where ads are appearing, as well as to feel safe about their brand.   

Importance of Transparency for Select Online Display Advertising Concerns According to Ad Agencies in North America, March 2010 (scale of 1-5*)

 

So the marketers believe that ad auditability, ad placement, brand safety, ad performance and ad context are all important, BUT, agencies admit they don’t deliver the transparency that brand marketers need. They rated the degree of auditability as only 2.67 on the same 1-5 scale. General brand safety received a rating of 2.8.

Oh the irony!

So, when you are going to advertise, either online or in print, make sure you keep an eye on the safety of your brand and get the most value out of your advertising placement.

Happy marketing!

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Searching for the elusive ROI in social media…

I have been blogging some time now about how marketing companies can capitalize on social media.  And, for the most part, I have been extolling the virtues of social media being a customer relationship and brand management tool rather than a pure marketing tool.  I still believe this.  But, the marketer in me really believes that social media can be an effective part of an integrated marketing campaign.

Marketers will only be able to capitalize on social media if they have a formal social media marketing plan—one that includes specific language on how social media will be integrated with the company’s internet marketing, e-mail marketing, mobile marketing and traditional marketing plan elements.  I think many companies fail at social media because they don’t have a specific plan on how they are going to integrate social media with their other marketing strategies. And, they have absolutely no clue on how they plan to measure the return on their social media investment.

Some encouraging news with respect to social media strategizing was reported by R2integrated from a survey (via eMarketer) they conducted in April (a survey among 262 marketing professionals).  Specifically:

  • Half of the respondents to the survey confirmed that they have a social media strategy
  • Over half (54%) of respondents thought social media was “innovative and invaluable to their business.”  
    • However, 37% thought social media was “useful and helpful, but they could live without it.”
  • And, only 35% of respondents said their companies have increased revenue or profited using social media
  • If they had profited from their social media efforts, they were likely to:
    • Have a social media strategy: respondents were about twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy
    • Have dedicated headcount for managing social media—57% had dedicated headcount for social media
    • Rate their social media acumen highly:  respondents were about twice as likely to rate themselves as “proficient” or “expert”
    • Have read a book on social media:  responders were almost three times as likely to have read a book on social media

Interestingly, the biggest obstacle to implementing social strategies is similar to the obstacles we experience for other forms of marketing.  Specifically, they are: not having enough data to come up with a measure of return on investment, management buy-in was also a problem, and dealing with missing “fish” –the target isn’t currently utilizing social media.

Main Obstacle to Implementing a Social Media Strategy According to US Marketing Professionals, April 2010 (% of respondents)

 

So if you are a novice or an expert, you need to have a formal social media strategy to make it effective. And, most important, if you are a marketer and you want to implement successful social media campaigns for you and/or your client, remember, you need to integrate your campaign into your traditional marketing plan.    

 Happy marketing!

Social media expert? Yah, right!

With a full time job (lovingly referred to as my day job) and going to school to finish my MBA at night (and did I mention a husband and a 5-year old son?), I have to say I take pride that each week I come up with two or three unique blogs.  Well, I am going to have to break with tradition this week because I found a blog that I really liked that I wanted to make sure you saw.  It’s a blog by Rohit Bhargava entitled “The 12 Types of Social Media Experts-which one are you?” I really enjoyed this blog as it relates to a blog a did a while back entitled “Combating Social Media Inertia” .

Here’s Rohit’s premise: in social media, everyone labels themselves an expert, but the definition of expert is fluid.

Here are most of the expert types from his blog, with my commentary of course (hey, I have to give my opinion somewhere!).

  1. The Pretender – These are the unpaid version of what I call social media tourists.  These are the people who read a couple of books and don’t use any of the tools, but like to give you their opinion on how to effectively use social media.  They don’t blog, nor do they add anything really useful to the Twitter stream.
  2. The Trainer/Teacher – This is someone who teaches others how to use social media.  While some of these folks are paid, most are just social media saints that help others for free—out of the goodness of their heart.  Thanks @DrBret!
  3. The Professional Speaker – I detest these people.  These people are the professional public speakers who go on the road speaking about web 2.0 and social media and don’t practice what they preach.  And, worst of all…their tweets are focused on what great things their company is doing.  Appalling! The only saving grace as Rohit puts it:  they “often create inspiration and excitement about social media as a whole.”
  4. The Content Curator – These are my favorite blog sites.  They add considerable value to the social media stream because they pull together great content from bloggers around the country/world and put it together for their readers in a very easily digestible format.  Some of the better ones I am following are: @Smallbizanswers and @Dukkytweets.  I can find all the small business and marketing-related information I need from these sites!
  5. The Event Organizer – These folks specialize in social media conferences/forums, meetups and tweetups. I like these folks because they are on the front line of what’s next with respect to viral meetings.  Perhaps the next generation of the webinar?
  6. The Community Manager – It’s hard to be a good community manager.  Particularly if you have a vested interest in the group.  My case in point… a marketing company executive that runs a LinkedIn group talking about marketing issues.  I only have an issue with this if the group focuses on selling to its members rather than adding value to its members.
  7. The Content Creator – As you might expect, these are the people that blog on very specialized topics and consistently add value.  These are the folks that I look to for “what’s next” in marketing and market research.  I like to believe I fit in here.
  8. The Marketing Strategist – Unlike the social media tourists, these people get it right.  They listen and then engage on a one-on-one basis to build their brand and then eventually sell their product/service.  While I am a creator first, this is the type of social media expert I aspire to be.
  9. The Designer/Builder – This needs almost no explanation…these are the really intelligent people that make things like Hootsuite possible.  THANKS!!!!

Okay Rohit has more titles and you should look at them all.  That said, these nine resonated the most with me.

What social media expert do you think you are?  And, more importantly, what type of social media expert do other people think you are?

Happy marketing!

Making market research effective

Many companies, both big and small struggle with how to go about getting the data they need to run their business and increase revenue/profits.  From my experience as a market research consultant, I see companies spending way too much time and money on research they don’t need and too little time and money on the research they do need. 

Let’s face it; we all have to do more with less.   Market research is very important to a company’s success.  So, you need to make sure your market research as effective as possible—regardless of how much you have to spend on the research.

Here is my 2 cents on how to increase the effectiveness of your market research:

  • Determine what you want to do with the information first— I can’t tell you how many times I have seen companies waste money on research because they didn’t have a well thought out plan for what actions they expected to take from the data they collected.  They just threw together a questionnaire with questions to which they thought they would like to know the answer.    So what did that lead to?  They completed their survey only to determine that three or four critical questions they needed to ask were missing!  To me, this is the most heart breaking part of market research!
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel—there is a lot of quality data out there that has already been collected; data that might answer most, if not all, the questions you need answered. And, depending on the source of that data, it could be infinitely cheaper to buy someone else’s data/report than to generate the data on your own.  If nothing else, it can provide you with a starting point for your research. 
  • Understand your client base first—the biggest mistake that companies make when doing new product or new market research is they don’t understand their own customer base.  Specifically, they don’t spend enough time (and perhaps money) to understand the customers they really want to go after.  Thus, they waste market research dollars on segments that they should never be going after.
  • Don’t forget about competitive intelligence—to determine the needs and wants your customers have, you sometimes need to look no further than what your competitors are saying in their advertising and the marketing materials.  And, there are companies, like Compremedia that can help you track your competitors’ marketing materials and advertising!
  • Train your staff to be market researchers—for those of you that sell to the public in a retail store type of environment, you have a gold mine!  All you need to do is train your staff to conduct qualitative research for you (for free).  This can be as simple as reminding your staff to ask customers a few simple, but important questions:
    • What brought you into the store today—helps you test your marketing/advertising effectiveness
    • What other stores are you planning to go to today—helps you better understand your competitive set
    • Do you live in the area—helps you understand where your client base is coming from, thus helps you better design your direct marketing campaigns

 Market research can be very effective in helping a business drive sales, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.  All of this said, do yourself a favor and consult an expert if the data you need is complex.  You shouldn’t do that on your own. 

Happy marketing!

Small businesses…it’s social media calling…what are you waiting for?

Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy, period—no ifs, ands or buts!  These are the businesses that will lead us out of this recession.  As small businesses are struggling and competing right alongside the big boys, I am left wondering why they aren’t taking full advantage of social media.  Maybe they are struggling with the same things I did (see my blog on Combating social media inertia), but why not take advantage of at least the free stuff as it relates to social media? 

Don’t believe me?  Here’s what I am talking about…

According to a survey done by EMPLOYERS—a Reno-headquartered workers’ compensation insurance company that specializes in addressing the needs of small businesses:

  • More than half (52%) of small business decision-makers believe having a social media presence is important for companies, but only 16% say they have a social media presence for their business.  ARGH!

 Here’s why having a social media presence is important:

  • 59% of small businesses with a social media presence say it has provided value to their business
  • 49% say that their social media presence has produced advocates for their business
  • 65 percent with a social media presence say they actively use it to promote their businesses

Now, just so we aren’t focused on just one study, here are some additional facts for you coming from HubSpot (via eMarketer).  According to HubSpot:

  • Among business-to-consumer (B2C) small and medium-sized companies studied, more than one-half of those using Twitter generated double the median monthly leads of non-Twitter users. That result held across company size.
  • Twitter reach was critical to increased lead generation. Companies with 100 to 500 Twitter followers generated 146% more median monthly leads than those with 21 to 100 followers. Beyond the 500-follower mark, though, there was no further gain.
  • Blogging also increased median monthly leads, and, unlike with Twitter, the effect was about the same for B2C and B2B companies.

One more thing on Twitter…So why is Twitter important?  Google juice baby!  Don’t believe me?  Google my name and you will see what I mean.

Effect of Twitter Usage on Median Number of Monthly Leads Among B2C SMBs in North America, by Number of Employees, December 2009-February 2010

 

Effect of Blogging on Median Number of Monthly Leads Among B2B and B2C SMBs in North America, December 2009-February 2010

 

Okay small businesses, now that I have your attention—please, please make sure your blog has appropriate and meaningful content!  And, you have to blog consistently for your social media effort to take root. 

Happy Marketing!

Social media and e-mail marketing can still be friends (or atleast relatives)…

The fear of a social media (hostile) takeover is growing these days among digital marketers.  In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, 23% of e-mail marketers thought “competition with social media for recipients’ time and attention” was a challenge for the channel in 2009, and 71% believed it would gain in importance in 2010.

While social media is gaining traction by the day, we marketers should not fear an early demise of other internet-related marketing channels.  Or, traditional marketing channels for that matter!   If you do “fear the Reaper” when it comes to social media, take heart…here are some statistics from several studies that might cheer you up… (as usual, this data came from eMarketer).

  • ExactTarget’s “2009 Channel Preference Study” found that e-mail was the preferred written communication source, with 57% of US Internet users preferring it for written communication compared with 24% for texting and just 10% for social networking.
  • In an Accenture study of millennials, respondents reported spending more time communicating via e-mail than by social networking.  
    • That said, texting took up 3.9 hours a week—1 hour more than social networking, blogging and tweeting combined.
  • More than seven in 10 e-mail users told Windows Live (through their blog) they would rather talk to their friends and family through e-mail than through social networks.
    • That said, text messaging is still king with almost half of the respondents to the Windows Live blog saying they prefer texting to e-mail as a communications channel.

US E-Mail Users Who Prefer E-Mail vs. Social Networks for Online Communication with Friends and Family, January 2010 (% of respondents)

 

US E-Mail Users Who Prefer E-Mail vs. Text Messaging for Online Communication with Friends and Family, January 2010 (% of respondents)

 

So what is an internet marketer to do?  I say we have to figure out a way to fully integrate our social media and e-mail marketing campaigns.  Only then will we be able to capture this “digital” market’s attention.

Happy marketing!

Brands really do matter…

In a time when we all are tightening our belts and making “smart” purchases, isn’t it interesting that there are some brands that we just can’t live without? And, brands for which we won’t even consider trying a generic brand?  It’s funny, you would think that we, as marketers, would be less susceptible to the “marketing” of a brand.  But nope, we are just as gullible as the rest of them.  I am a perfect example.  I have been seeing TV and print ads for about a year now extolling the virtues of owning Shape Up sneakers from Sketchers.  My 5-year-old son asks incessantly for the police car and NASCAR Sketchers.

I have resisted even checking into these shoes because quite frankly they are ugly.  Yes, I said it…they are ugly.  The most ugly are the “sandals” version of the shape ups.  They truly look like the footwear fashion of the local nursing home jet set.  So if you haven’t figured it out yet…yes I bought the Sketcher sandals.  And yes, they are ugly…but boy is my butt going to look great!  As long as people don’t look down at my feet, I will be all good.

So back to the point of the story…brands, they do matter.  I had the choice of buying the “bo bo” brand (generic brand, it’s a Philly thing) at Payless, but I had to pay 2 or 3 times as much at the Sketchers store.  Why?  I am guessing that the Payless brand is just as good.  So why did I rely on the brand name?  Something in my head called out and told me that it was Sketchers or nothing.

I have to applaud Sketchers for doing such a good job at marketing their Shape Ups.  While most of my brain is telling me that the chance a simple shoe choice is going to make up for the cake I ate at lunch today is slim to none, my heart (and butt) beg to differ.  So yes, brands do matter if appropriately and consistently marketed–even to us marketing folks that should know better.

Happy marketing!

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