Archive for April, 2011

Expressions more important than impressions?

I was reading a Harvard Business Review article, Coca-Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions by Joe Tripodi and really loved it.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the main point of the article is a need for companies to go from focusing on impressions to focusing on expressions. And, by expression they mean any level of engagement with a brand’s content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a “like,” uploading a photo or video or passing content onto their networks.

So what can expressions do for you than impressions can’t? Well first you should think of impressions as building brand awareness. Brand awareness is great as it can get you into the consideration set. That being said, impressions are much less connected than expressions to the next level in the purchase funnel: the actual purchase.

Here’s what I think is most important when it comes to expressions:
Do you hear what I hear?–prospects and customers who are engaged will talk about you…alot. So you should be measuring not just how many people are seeing your brand name through SEO and focusing on how many people are talking about you and more importantly…what are they saying.

Houston are you receiving me? –in addition to listening to what your “fans” are saying, you need to actively engaging with your prospects and customers. And by that, I mean talk to them through the same media in which they used to talk about you…social media. By measuring how much they engage with your two-way conversation, you can really get a sense of how likely they are to promote you…can I get a NPS (Net Promoter Score) anyone?

Have you heard the good news? –ok, I am not talking about a commune, but a community. Are you using your social media efforts to build a community of followers? That’s the big pay off in this whole game. Once you get the expressions, you need to be thinking communities. How do I turn expressions of engagement into a community of engaged fans. It’s not easy, but it can be done with time, patience and the right (customer centric) attitude.

So when are you going to quit worrying about impressions and start focusing on expressions?

Happy Marketing!

Photo Credit

The death of a brand?

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I don’t use my blog as a rant platform. Well today, I am sorry to say, I have to diverge from my normal blogging style. But, don’t worry…it will still have to do with branding and marketing. I promise.

Southwest Airlines has been the Gold Standard (Platinum even) when it comes to customer focus and service. Not just among airlines, but among most American companies. Over the years, they have built a brand based on one singular notion…the customer comes first. I have to say, based on my experience with them today, I believe they may be veering away from that focus—which in my humble opinion will make them like all the rest of the big carriers. What will come of their brand? Not sure, but it can’t be good.

One of the best things about flying Southwest, besides the friendly staff and great fairs, was their flexibility when you had to make a change. Have to cancel a non-refundable ticket? No problem, we will still let you use the money for another flight. Have frequent flyer miles you want to use to buy a ticket for someone else? No problem. Have travel funds from a canceled ticket you want to use to fly your mom out to see her grandkids. Bring her!

Guess what…not anymore. Brand promise conflict? I think so.

Here’s what happened you decide…

  • I had to cancel a business trip because my son was going to have surgery
  • Southwest was nice enough to allow us to cancel the ticket and have a co-worker use the funds from the old ticket to buy the same ticket under her name so she could cover my meeting
  • I found out last night that the surgery has been rescheduled for July
  • My co-worker canceled her ticket so that I could reinstate my flights because I have to go on this trip
  • Southwest told me to go pound sand, the ticket will cost $1000 (from Reno to Chicago and back)
  • I told them that it was my ticket to begin with and that the whole process had started before they changed their policy on transfers today (yes… my luck… today)…again, go pound sand

So is what Southwest did wrong?  No, it’s now their policy.  Did their brand take a hit from me on social media from me today?  Absolutely!  And, more importantly, will experiences like this take their brand to a place it really doesn’t want to go?  Maybe.  Do they just want to be a commodity carrier and not a caring carrier?  Only time will tell.

Happy Marketing!

Photo credit

PR finally getting onboard with Inbound Marketing…

As the marketing world has moved from an outbound to an inbound focus, many public relations (PR) companies have been “left behind”. That’s why I am very happy to see that some forward thinking PR companies and PR organizations have gotten together to study social media in the main stream and the Hispanic market.

Here are some of the highlights of the study from TeleNoticias and LatinoWire (in conjunction with the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA), HispanicizeHispanicAd.com and Survey.com) in which they surveyed PR professionals.  Special thanks to emarketer for providing easy access to the survey stats!

  • The majority PR professionals (69%) believe that social media programs are important in both the mainstream and Hispanic markets.
  • PR professionals know that social media is an important tool for reaching Hispanics. However, only 45% of respondents said they actually use it, compared to 92% who use social media to reach mainstream markets.
  • The majority of PR professionals feel that social budgets will increase for the main stream (58%) and the Hispanic market (60%).
  • Coming as no surprise, the PR professionals interviewed through the study are most often using Facebook and Twitter to attract the mainstream and Hispanic markets.

Hey you PR professionals….how are bridging the outbound/inbound gap?

Happy marketing!

When Marketing Goes Wrong…

As Easter is almost upon us, I am left pondering a recent discussion I had with my brother—a professor at SUNY in Canton, NY—in which we were discussing the blogs I wrote to help people perfect their marketing efforts.   During our discussion, my brother said… “it’s great that you are helping people make their marketing efforts more successful, but what if being successful in marketing was good for your company, but bad for society?”  

Here’s what he is talking about.  According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as we go up the needs pyramid, our needs change from the basic survival type stuff to self actualization kind of stuff (technically speaking of course).  My brother is not worried about the people at the bottom of the needs pyramid as they don’t have any money to buy anything but the basics.  But, what about people on the other rungs?  Do we have a moral obligation to warn them about the consequences of overbuying?  That they should be buying what they need and not just focusing on what they want?  Basically, he was suggesting a marketing/advertising disclaimer similar to the types of disclaimers on packages for cigarettes and alcohol.  Buy at our own risk.  Or at least, he is suggesting a disclaimer you see at a casino…play responsibly…so in this case…buy responsibly.

I see his point.  Would we be in the economic and financial meltdown mess right now if with every purchase we are reminded that over buying is bad?  I am not sure.  Is the emotional desire to keep up with the Jones stronger than the rational mind required to heed the warning in the disclaimer? I think not.  Research has shown that consumers making decisions from the emotional rather than rational part of their brain.  So if that is the case…would the disclaimer work?

So I guess I need some help from others in the marketing world.  Are we our brother’s keeper when it comes to marketing?

Happy marketing!

How effective is social media marketing?

Here’s the Audio for this blog:  How effective is social media marketing?
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F13971960 How effective is social media marketing? by sharon-markovsky
So you have heard about this thing called Social Media Marketing, but you are reticent in spending any of your marketing budget for this marketing delivery method until you know that it is going to be effective.  I totally understand!  I have been there myself.

Well good news (sort of)!  In today’s eMarketer newsletter, the great folks at eMarketer and Eversave have provided us with a great glimpse into the effectiveness of social media marketing among women (most of their survey respondents were women).   

Here’s what they found:

  • Social media is great for announcing/providing a deal:
    • 75% of female social network users thought social sites were useful for learning about offers from brands.
    • Most respondents to the survey said they usually heard about daily deals in their newsfeed, from brands they follow (85.7%).
    • Friends were another big source of deal information for survey respondents (44.5%)—so getting your message in front of friends of your target market might not be a waste after all!

Ok now, before you start getting too excited…a word of caution.  This is just one study, collected for a specific purpose (skewed?  Maybe).  Other surveys, like the one by ForeSee Results put social media sites toward the bottom of online shoppers’ preferred promotional channels—at just 8% compared to 64% who thought e-mail was the best way. 

So what does this mean?  Well it depends of course!  The key takeaway for me is that you cannot depend on a social media marketing strategy alone.  You need an integrated strategy that should consider social media, digital marketing, e-mail marketing and traditional marketing–all depending upon your target market.  The Eversave research leads me to believe that social media marketing (particularly for retail offers) will be more effective when targeting women than men.

Are you including social media marketing in your marketing campaign?

Happy Marketing!

Sharon Markovsky: An Online Personal Branding Journey

I have been on an online personal branding journey since 2009 and I have to say it has been a challenge.  Not just from a time committment perspective, but a content perspective as well.   For those of you who are just starting out on your journey, I thought I would offer a few words of advice and encouragement:

Here’s the advice part:

  • Stay focused–decide who you are today and who you will be in the future and stick with it.  I am a marketer and that’s what I portray in everything I do online.
  • Read–content is king when it comes to social media overall and your brand itself.  I find the best way to provide remarkable content is to read other people’s blogs and books.  It really helps with the writer’s block!
  • Add valuable content–let’s face it, we are all really, really busy.  You need to make sure you are providing content that is going to help/enlighten your readers/viewers. You have to give them a reason to seek you out on a consistent basis.  My most viewed blog was 5 Easy Steps to Failing at Personal Branding.  While the title is a little tongue in cheek, it really does provide a lot of great content. 
  • Be consistent–don’t go dark, and don’t quit.  No one likes a quitter, especially your groupies. 
  • Measure your progress–if you have online branding goals and measure to those goals you will stay focused and most importantly not quit.  My goal metrics are:
    • Productivity:   Number of blogs—1 to2 per week,  tweet daily—at least 5 tweets per day, and move to a 2-to-1 ratio on Twitter (followers to following).
    • Engagement: writing comments on other people’s blog posts once a week and retweeting important/remarkable people’s blogs once a week (both of these without coming across as a stalker). 
    • Reach: increase the number of Twitter followers with 5,000+ followers.
    • Klout: increase my Klout score–my current score is 45, I would like to move it up 50 points.
    • Expert status:  Have my name associated with the term direct marketing/marketing/ market research in Reno, NV

Ok, enough of the advice, here is the encouragement part.  All of us that are building our online brand know that it takes a long time and it is a very thankless job.  Here’s how I look at it.  There are very few things in life that I have “complete” control over–online branding is one of them (save for cyber bullies of course…but even that can be dealt with).  Why not put your time and money resources into something that can have a direct benefit to your life…be it from the personal or professional side (or even both!)?

When are you going to clean up your online brand and how are you going to keep yourself motivated to remain vigilant?

Happy marketing!

Ok, so you have your online personal brand taken care of…now what?

In my prior blog, Why you can’t wait another day to create a personal brand online, I talked about the importance of building and consistently implementing your online brand.

Assuming that you have given your online brand a spring cleaning…now what?

For me, the next step is setting goals for my online brand. At the end of the day, what do I want my online brand to do for me and others?

Here’s a glimpse at my overall goals for social media: 

  1. Mentoring: Help at least one person each week through my social media efforts 
  2. Engagement: Have an in depth conversation with at least one new person through social media each week 
  3. Networking: Increase the number of quality people following/friending/linking to me by 300 each month 
  4. Publishing: write and publish at least two quality blogs per week 
  5. Recognition: increase the association of my name with Marketing and Market Research key words—become the recognized expert.

As with your company brand, you need to set goals for your personal online brand. In my next blog I will talk about the all important next step…. Metrics.

Have you set goals for your online brand yet?  What are you waiting for?

Happy Marketing!

Why you can’t wait another day to create a personal brand online…

Whether we like it or not, we can’t hide from the internet.  Every picture in which we are included and every community activity in which you engage are internet fodder—whether you like it or not.  Ok, so now you know.  Stop trying to hide—much like an ostrich hiding with its head in the sand…you will get eaten.

 So you can’t stop the internet, but you can shape your online personal brand…

Here are six ways you can quickly clean up your online brand today:

  • Be a networker—build your social network with quality people.   Social media is by definition social.  To help build your online brand and help you go viral…you need friends, followers, “linkers” and “commenters” (your mom and your cousin bobby too).
  • Be photo consistent—use the same profile photo across all your social media outlets…be the same person on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…etc.
  • Be image conscious—review your Facebook and make sure you untag any photos that aren’t consistent with you are or who you want to be.  And no, you don’t want to have the sloppy drunk brand online (even if that is your offline brand).
  • Watch your language—avoid using inappropriate language and discussing inappropriate topics—particularly a problem on Facebook. 
    • Remember—everything you say on Facebook is findable.  Do you want a potential employer to see your post on Facebook where you trash your boss or company?   If you think your private settings will save you…think again.
    • Don’t be a player—I know that being a mayor of crazytown is cool, but it doesn’t help your online brand….neither does having a lot of fat and happy animals on Farmville.
    • Stay on target—blog about a consistent topic.  If you are investing the time to blog, make sure you stay on target
      • Use key words to make your blog searchable/findable on the internet.  If you are like me, a marketer, you need to put key marketing words and terms in every blog.

And, what’s most important?  Don’t Quit!  Stay vigilant.  The time you spend crafting your online brand will pay off big time.  It might not be today or tomorrow, but it will be soon.

Want more help crafting your personal brand?  Ask Dan Schawbel from the personalbrandingblog…the personal branding superstar! 

How are you building and controlling your online personal brand?

Happy marketing!

Four reasons why an integrated approach is still the best…

I read the post “Why offline still matters” by Annie Mueller  and I have to say…it was a great reminder to marketers who are jumping on the social media band wagon to stop and reflect on what really works and doesn’t work with respect to marketing.

It reminds me of what I am constantly telling people: 

  • You are not your market! 
  • Don’t be a focus group of 1! 

Just because you like to communicate and receive messages through digital and social media means, doesn’t mean that your target does as well.  That’s why an integrated (online and offline) approach works so well.

When thinking about how you are planning to market to your target audience, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. What is the demographic of those I am trying to reach?—this goes for your B2B market as well.  Just because your target is business owners doesn’t mean that all business owners are the same.  There are huge differences in how Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomer and the Silent Generation business owners need to receive information.  If you are targeting business owners that are in the age ranges found in the Baby Boomer and Silent generation, you should be thinking traditional advertising first, digital second.
  2. What industry I am trying to reach (for B2B marketing)?—some industries are much more prone to internet savvy business owners/decision-makers.  If you are targeting small, family-owned manufacturing companies, you might miss your mark entirely if you focus your marketing campaign on digital dollars rather the traditional methods (mail and print advertising).
  3. Is your product local?—companies can have greater success with local TV spots and billboard advertising if they are local rather than national (national usually equals expensive media buys).  But beware!  TV spots and billboards are great for building awareness, but not as good at getting someone to pick up the phone and ordering. 
    • Social media and a digital education campaigns are great for locally-based companies (like Tele Raack, LMT…a great local massage therapist) or a complicated message that needs to be feed through a nurturing/education campaign.
  4. What is your timing?—if timing your message is critical…say you are targeting restaurant owners…your choice of message delivery is really critical.  You can’t tell the postman when to deliver a letter, but you can tell your marketing automation system when to deliver an email and your social media manager when to start posting on Facebook and tweeting like crazy.  Oh, and one last thing with respect to restaurants…if you want to get noticed, go visit with the owners after you have eaten and spent money in the restaurant. 

 Engagement is just as critical offline as it is online.

What methods of marketing will you be using today?

Happy marketing!

Networking…another viable marketing strategy!

Determining the right marketing distribution mix for your product or service is critical for the success of your marketing campaign.  The key is including all viable distribution methods into your consideration set.  Here’s a marketing distribution method that is often overlooked by business owners because of the personal committment it requires…marketing through networking groups. 

Okay, I know what you are thinking…and no, this is not a lesson in Multi-Level Marketing. (MLM).  It’s all about getting out there and “owning” your target market through networking.

So how do you find the right networking source?  Here are some quick ideas…there are many more:

  • Your local chamber of commerce
  • Your local newspaper
  • Your local county/city/town website

What should you look for when evaluating possible networkng groups?  Here are five things I look for:

  1. What is the purpose of the group–you need to know why these folks are getting together…even if your target will be there.  If it is a networking group, you are golden.  If people just get together to have lunch and talk about the weather and no business can be done through the group…PASS!
  2. Will my target audience be there?  Or worst case…will those who influence my target audience be there? 
  3. Is it a local chapter or is it national?  I always strive for local chapters, but hey that’s me.
  4. Are they visible in the community?  This is critical for localized service businesses such as massage therapists, plumbers and restaurants.
  5. How often do they meet and what is the committment in terms of time and costs?

Networking can be a very effective method to get your marketing message across to your target market.  How are you going to take advantage of your networking?

Happy marketing!

%d bloggers like this: