Posts Tagged ‘Market Research’

Who can you trust…in Marketing?

In the not so recent past, only the technologically elite could find all the information they needed about products and services to make an educated purchase decision.  The worldwide web/internet changed all that.  It truly was a paradigm shift in shopping.  No longer were you dependent upon printed “trusted” journals and magazines (like Consumer Reports) .  The internet gave you access to “expert” opinions from individuals, organizations such as JD Power and the all powerful customer comments/testimonials.

And now…social media has given us another paradigm shift.  It makes you the “expert.”  It gives you the ability to publish information about products, services and organizations…without going to through the rigors associated with professional journalism.  So while the lack of rigor is disconcerting, it does allow marketers to put a megaphone to their word-of-mouth marketing efforts in a way they have never had before.  The question is…does traditional word-of-mouth marketing work in a social media? 

So wondering how social media is changing the control consumers have in the purchases they make?  Here’s some data I found courtesy of eMarketer, The GlobalWebIndex “Annual Report 2011,” which includes data from Trendstream and Lightspeed Research.

  • The focus in social media is shifting from creation to distribution.
  • As social media penetration increases, so does the trust placed in the recommendations and referrals from social network contacts—nearly a 50% increase in their trust of social network contacts giving product recommendations, and a 21% increase for microblog contacts.   

And, I also found some great information from a study by Edelman’s Trust Barometer report for 2011

  • Trust in an expert/academic has increased—from 62% to 70% in 2010
  • Trust in a financial or industry analyst increased—from 49% to 53% in 2010
  • Trust in a “person like me” declined again—from 47% in 2009 to 43% in 2010
  • Trust in CEOs increased—from 31% in 2009 to 50% in 2010
  • Trust in government officials—from 29% in 2009 to 43% in 2010

Trust is key to product/service decisions.  With social media, the number of trusted sources has skyrocketed!  Remember to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing in all avenues…including social media.

Happy Marketing!

Stop Marketing Now!

Got your attention?  I thought so. 


Now, before you run to get your pitchforks and light your torches, let me explain.   You can’t just jump into marketing for your company and expect it to work.  You have to plan to execute and execute to a plan.

 Marketing seems so simple to many folks that they just jump right in and start throwing money at it.  If that is what you are doing, stop now…you are wasting money!   So what do you need to do?  Here are

Four easy steps to starting your marketing plan and effort:

  1. Determine the objectives, goals, and targets for your marketing effort
  2. Determine your strategies—will you be building awareness? Increasing consideration? Educating your target? Increasing Loyalty/Customer Retention?
  3. Determine your tactics—what types of marketing will you employ? What percentage of your budget are you willing to devote to each tactic? How many “man” hours will you devote to the effort each month/week/day?
    • Direct Mail—yes, it can be very effective
    • Social Media
    • Advertising
    • Internet marketing
    • Telemarketing
    • Etc…
  4. Determine how you will measure success—your answer should not be we will make more money…that will be an outcome, but that’s not a measure. This is the most often neglected piece of the marketing plan! This will need to align with your goals and targets.  Some examples of how you can measure success are:
    • Surveys—great way of measuring awareness
    • Click Throughs—Google Analytics is great for this
    • Customer Usage—this would be collected through internal data
    • Sales—again, this is collected through internal data.

Marketing is very important for your company.  If you don’t have an organized marketing effort, you will likely have a problem meeting your top line and bottom line revenue goals.  Start planning to execute and executing your plan today!

Happy Marketing!

The “policing” of social media…they are watching you!

In our deliberate and not so deliberate personal branding efforts, we must always remember that everything we do and say is searchable and discoverable on the internet.  I saw a posting from a colleague Daniel Draz on LinkedIn that I believe everyone should see….the results from a study conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as shown on the website for  Fraud Solutions.

A little about the IACP: The IACP’s Center for Social Media was launched in October 2010 for the sole purpose of building the capacity of law enforcement to use social media to prevent and solve crimes, strengthen police-community relations, and enhance services. IACP’s Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel develop or enhance their agency’s use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations.

So what does that mean?  Big Brother is truly here and watching you!

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

  • 81.1% of agencies surveyed use social media.
  • 66.8% of agencies surveyed have a Facebook page–yes the IACP has one as well…click here to view it
  • 35.2% of agencies surveyed have a social media policy and an additional 23.2% are in the process of crafting a policy.
    • Of the agencies not currently using social media, 61.6% are considering its adoption.

Okay so you might be asking why, as a marketer, I am showing you this.  Well, first off, it is cool information.  But more importantly, how you brand your company and yourself (what you do and say) on the internet  is discoverable, it’s all public record.  And, those of us that are higher up in our companies…we can do major damage to not only our personal brands, but our company brands as well if we get sloppy on the internet.

Happy Marketing!

A 10% Response Rate? Who’da Thunk it?

So, you are probably thinking, okay you got me with the 10% response rate…now what gives? Did you really achieve a 10% response rate?  God’s honest truth here:  YES! For one of the main direct marketing campaigns I am running at work I am achieving a 10% response rate (or better).  How’d I do it?  Well, believe it or not…the old fashioned way.

A lot has been said lately about the effectiveness of going digital and using social media in your marketing efforts.  I agree that they can definitely be effective…for the right audience.   But…my audience for this mailing has been a little slower in adopting social media…I know this because I do a lot of research with my target markets.

So now what?  Yes, right, the old fashioned way…direct mail and telephone calls.

As I stated in my post, Direct Mail Is a Viable Option for Marketing to Small Businesses, direct mail is not effective in a vacuum.  Direct mail alone won’t do the “heavy lifting” for you.  To be effective, direct mail needs to be part of an integrated campaign. 

And, in this case, my integrated campaign includes a few things:

  • Targeted message letters
  • Outbound telemarketing
  • Email follow up with support information—opt in of course

I know that others are replicating my success with integrated marketing campaigns focusing on direct mail. 

What’s your marketing success story?

Happy marketing!

Addressing the “social” side of your group…

I know what you are thinking…Sharon you are market researcher at heart, where are your stories with a market research flair?

Ok, since you asked, here are some great market research statistics about the impact Americans think the internet has had on group participation.  In this survey, the Pew Internet Project asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies.

Following are the percentages of Americans that say the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to do the following:

  • Communicate with members: 68% of all Americans (internet users and non-users alike) and 75% of internet users said that
  • Draw attention to an issue: 62% of all Americans and 68% of internet users
  • Connect with other groups: 60% of all Americans and 67% of internet users
  • Impact the society at large: 59% of all Americans and 64% of internet users
  • Organize activities: 59% of all Americans and 65% of internet users
  • Raise money: 52% of all Americans and 55% of internet users
  • Recruit new members: 51% of all Americans and 55% of internet users said that.
  • Impact local communities: 49% of all Americans and 52% of internet users
  • Find people to take leadership roles: 35% of all Americans and internet users

Continue reading

The Numerati are watching…

Who or what are the Numerati you may ask?  Well they aren’t a religion nor are they Santa Claus, but they know when you are sleeping and when you are awake (whether you have been bad or good is up to you and your conscious).  Just ask Stephen Baker

Marketing has certainly reached a tipping point as it relates to targeting.  No longer do we have to develop large targeted advertising and marketing campaigns…thanks to the Numerati.  Okay, back to my original question…who are the Numerati?  They are the technological and statistical gurus who have figured out how to target us without asking us one single question.  Can’t be?  Read on.

Ever wonder how it is that while surfing the web you are consistently receiving banner advertising that seems to be targeted to what you are currently shopping for?  How about online advertising that pops up on your favorite news website for things you are vaguely interested in based on your hobbies?  To use a phrase from Hawaii Five-O last night…you know what they say about coincidences…they take a lot of planning.  And the Numerati do nothing but plan…how to reach you.

Without getting into a lot of techno babble and market research geek, the Numerati are the folks that take volumes of behavioral data from the web and, through the use of some pretty sophisticated modeling and programming, determine what online advertising should resonate with you.   

The Two Main Benefits:

  • It can help you quantify a hard to define/segment market—it goes beyond the typical demographic and psychographic variables
  • Behavioral targeting can significantly reduce the cost of sale (new and ongoing)

The Drawbacks:

  • It’s a model…and models can be wrong
  • There is too much junk out there for a meaningful conclusion for targeting
  • We are lazy and ADD (attention deficit disorder) surfers…not everything we search or click on is meaningful to us.

Marketing is truly at a tipping point.  Soon I wont even have to think about or desire anything! The Numerati will tell me what I want and make it very easy to buy it!

Happy Marketing!

Insurance Marketers: Fish Where the Fish Are!

Based on the new report by eMarketer: Shopping for Insurance Online: A Multichannel Quest, it’s clear that the insurance industry has finally gotten on the digital bandwagon.   And, it’s about time.  While much of what eMarketer measured was likely personal lines insurance marketers selling easy to price auto and home policies (like the GEICO and Progressives of the world), it is important to take note of the shift in marketing tactics—whether you are a consumer or an insurance agent.

So why are they on the digital bandwagon?  Their market is of course!  This research does present some good news for agents—that is that much of the insurance market still wants them involved and they remain the main go to method for buying insurance.  I have seen this in my research as well, though the reliance on the agent channel is much stronger in the commercial lines business than the personal lines business. 

Here are some interesting stats from a Sept 2010 CMO Council Study:

  • According to the CMO Council, agents (both captive and independent) are the predominant channel for purchasing insurance policies (62%) among US consumers.
  • Only 12% purchased their policy online
  • Only 2% bought through email

 So if you are an insurance agent, what does this mean?   First, a small sigh of relief; but second a need to get on the social bandwagon.  An old adage in the marketing world (and other places) is “fish where the fish are”… it is clear that some parts of your market can be reached and “netted” through your online and social media presence.  Why not fish where the fish are today and tomorrow?

Happy Marketing!

When are B2Bs watching? It depends of course!

According to a study by Bizo, business professionals are more likely to click on digital ads during the weekend, but more likely to take action on such ads during the week—particularly on Wednesdays.   But viewership and action don’t always happen on the same days. 

Since I am very focused on small businesses and how they operate, I found this statistic very interesting:

  • Small Business professionals are most likely to take action on ads shown on Sunday, and 39% more likely to do so on Sunday than for ads shown on Saturday, the day they are least likely to take action.

Here are some interesting industry differences from the study:

  • Agriculture professionals are most likely to take action on ads shown to them on Tuesday, and 50% more likely to do so on Tuesday than for ads shown on Sunday, the day they are least likely to take action. But agriculture professionals are most likely to click on ads shown to them on Wednesday.
  • Software professionals are most likely to take action on ads served on Tuesday, and 600% more likely to do so on Tuesday than for ads served on Sunday, the day they are least likely to take action.
  • Medical professionals are most likely to take action on ads served on Thursday, and 35% more likely to do so on Thursday than for ads served on Saturday, the day they are least likely to act.
  • Real Estate professionals are most likely to take action on ads shown on Saturday, and 99% more likely to do so on Saturday than for ads shown on Wednesday, the day they are least likely to act.

So as usual, the answer is “E, All of the Above”, more commonly referred to as “it depends”.

Happy Marketing!

Small businesses are getting it!

Those that follow my blog know that small businesses are near and dear to my heart—more specifically, their feelings about and usage of social media.  And, ofcourse, so is measurement/data. 

Given this, I am happy to report that yet another study has been completed on the usage of social media by small businesses.   According to research conducted by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, small-business adoption of social media marketing seems to have plateaued at 24% after experiencing double digit growth over the past few years.  That said, small businesses are reaping the benefits of their efforts.

The study of US small businesses found that those that do market via social media primarily use Facebook (82%), and that the most common activities are maintaining a company page on a social network and posting status updates or links to interesting content. About half of businesses that used social media also monitored brand chatter on social networks.

While the performance of the social media channels they used didn’t always line up with their expectations, the performance of the social media tactics employed by small businesses was relatively effective; particularly as it relates to staying engaged with current customers (65%), increasing brand awareness among targeted audiences (64%), and identifying and attracting new customer (53%).

Performance of Social Media Tactics, June 2010 (% of US small businesses)

So what business objectives have small businesses achieved through social media?  The usual: 

  • Connecting with customers through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through Facebook
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through LinkedIn
  • Increasing customers following the company on Twitter

While small businesses seemed to have been more successful in achieving relationship and brand building objectives through social media, about one-third have achieved sales leads through Facebook (36%) and LinkedIn (35%).  Far fewer, only 16%, say they have achieved sales leads from Twitter.

Business Objectives Achieved via Social Media, June 2010 (% of US small businesses*)

While small businesses are achieving the benefits of social media, they are experiencing some of the downsides of being so visible—online criticism.  The percentage of small businesses saying their business had been criticized online nearly doubled (to 29%) since December.  That said, only 1% of small businesses said their image was hurt more than it was helped by social media, a decline from last year (6%).

While the percentage of small businesses using social media may have plateaued (for now), the report does show us that even small businesses are reaping the rewards of having a social media presence and strategy.

Happy marketing!

The next generation of new product development…

As a marketer and a market researcher, I get really jazzed when I find something that makes my job easier…a lot easier.  And I just found something that I believe will revolutionize the new product development component of marketing.  Here’s how:

When you are developing a new product, one of the major headaches you will experience revolves around getting comps (marketing or engineering) of your product to show potential investors, partners and/or distributors.  Not only can this development phase be costly in terms of prototyping, but it can take a lot of time and people resources.   

Well folks, I am very happy to say that times they are a changing as it relates to prototyping.   

Enter the talented folks at PixelMachine!   

To better explain how Pixel Machine makes CGI visualization work for their clients, let’s look at it in a “problem/opportunity/result” way. 

Analysis Paralysis: Stop doodling and start rendering!

(Click here to see the before and after)

Problem: Building physical prototypes of products in development is fantastically expensive. Using illustrations and cobbled together mock-ups not only degrade the effect of the prototype, they can be at odds with your high quality (high price) brand strategy.  Thus, your comps detract from your brand and leave you with zero interest with respect to investors and distribution partners.

Opportunity: CGI can create a realistic and accurate image and video of your product BEFORE it is actually built.  Thus, it allows you to test your product in focus groups and elsewhere, gain valuable consumer and end-user insights and develop initial marketing materials before you have invested the huge amount of money in prototyping. Edits are quick and require only a re-rendering.  Imagine that!

Result: Final renders (that model your product from supplied schematics or illustrations) are developed with accurate materials such as metals, plastics, glass, paper, etc. resulting in physically accurate images suitable for making mission critical development decisions and changes.

 Departmental Inertia: CGI allows Engineering and Marketing to work together, imagine that!

Problem: You’ve spent money on in-house or contract CAD design of your product, but you need photorealistic images or video to promote the product in print, on the web or on mobile devices. Further, CAD rendering quality usually leaves much to be desired.

Opportunity: Leverage your sizable costs of CAD development by using existing CAD files for photorealistic images and video animations.

Result: Using your provided CAD designs, the company creates imagery (still and animated) that is indistinguishable from photography or captured video. They can animate product functionality, show exploded views, 360˚ rotations, etc.  In the end, you receive hi-resolution images and videos of your products at a cost that is far less than ‘from scratch’ model creation… it allows you to get more mileage out of your CAD investment!

While you won’t ever really get around having to do physical prototyping, what CGI visualization allows you to do is do a better job at concepting and evaluating new product ideas before you spend the money, time and people resources to develop a physical product. 

So what does this mean to me?  As a marketer (and a market researcher for that matter), I can have a much more defined and evaluated product before I enter a market or look for “angel” funding.

 Happy Marketing!

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