By APNWLNS payday loans
April 2, 2013
The worst thing you can do to a good bar is to make it popular. Once everyone goes there, it isn’t worth going there anymore.
Email advertising and online surveys used to be good bars. When email first commercialized, it was a great and inexpensive tool for lead generation, prospect follow-up and brand reinforcement. But as emails popularity exploded, so did the number of marketers who abused the process. Today people dread reading their morning email – it has become a disappointment filled chore. Email open rates have been dropping. This has caused some marketers to get smarter and create better and more targeted emails.
Lousy marketers just find bigger lists and thus annoy more people, which will continue to drive down open rates.
Something related is occurring to surveys. Once online survey tools became cheap and easy to use, every man, woman and hermaphrodite with an email account started receiving survey invitations … hourly. The result is that participation rates, which were typically low before the Survey Lounge became popular, have dropped to rates less than 0.1% of invitations. People have started to auto-reflexively ignore emailed survey invitations unless the subject line is well targeted and offers some reward. A recently conducted survey went to a very tightly targeted audience with a combination of incentives (personal and charity donations) and managed a 0.2% response rate, which these days is better than average.
Anything that becomes frequent creates fatigue. Sending too many emails to one prospect, without adding new value at each step, will cause your email address to be added to a spam filter black list. Sending to people uninterested in your offering will only speed the process. To make email marketing effective again, you need to take a few logical steps:
Make it count: Emails must be meaningful, from the subject line through the last message and calls-to-action. Refine, refine, refine until it is right.
Target precisely: It is always a temptation to cast a wide net, but that has become ineffective and can land your email server on a black-hole list. Buy good lists with great hygiene and segment them relentlessly. Treat your house list the same way.
Eliminate barriers after contact: I have started abandoning pages that require registration for simple “Five ways to …” type articles. I’m not alone. Reduce friction everywhere, and raise barriers only after some form of commitment from the recipient has been made.
Keep trying alternatives and shift budget accordingly: Email is only one tool. If it is becoming less effective for you, then be bold and shift budget to places where you will get better results.
March 26, 2013
No marketing person has ever created a “need.”
It is an enduring myth that marketing creates needs, which in a moment you will see is simply impossible. Many marketers have found other careers after beating their heads against the wall that separates “need” from “want”, and marketing products in exactly the wrong way. This flat forehead syndrome exists because of myth alone, and it is time to slay it.
Needs are preexisting conditions. As Maslow so painfully noted, there is a stacked list of needs. Yet Maslow was mistaken about the definition of “need” himself, for as you ascend his pyramid, his “needs” become aspirations. Maslow may have maladjusted marketers by creating a false sense of what a need is. Food, water, shelter are personal needs. Accounting and inventory are corporate needs.
“Wants” are a different subject. When new products are created, they are never “needs” at first and thus should not be marketed as such. Take the case of some new enterprise software that adds a plus-one advantage for businesses. At introduction nobody needs this software because the basic needs of enterprises are currently being fulfilled. Yet if the software gives one business an advantage in the market, soon their competitors will develop a need for a similar solution just to remain competitive. For the early adopter there is a want and for the late adopter there is need. Over time, just as vices become habits, all wants evolve into needs – nobody “needed” a television when Farnsworth first foisted his invention on an unsuspecting public, yet everybody now needs a 70” flat screen.
Because needs exist, they must be promoted by marketers with comparative advantages to alternatives. Yet when buyers do not know they want something new, marketers must make people develop desire. Marketing of needs is more mechanical while dealing desires is an art. The former leans more toward the practical while the latter is almost completely devoted to emotional response.
Knowing if you are selling needs or wants is primal and will shape your go-to-market strategy better than your PR firm, ad agency and boss’s dicta combined.
March 12, 2013
I once had HP, IBM, CA and a few other companies pimping my software.
This was long, long ago when my hairline was not retreating faster than a Baptist in a gay bar. I worked for a tiny five million dollar outfit and was brought on to implement their first real marketing department. After studying the market for a bit, it was obvious to me that our plug-in product survived only through partner-side adoption. Hence we carefully selected our partners (who collectively had more than 66% of each target segment) and promoted through them as well as directly to buyers.
We pulled prospects through direct marketing and pushed through partners. We bumped top-line revenues over 25% in the first year (well, the first nine months actually).
One of the reasons this worked is believability. B2B software buyers are a cynical and skeptical lot because those are survival traits. Blindly buying into vendor promises is slightly less foolish than buying a politician’s. Vendor claims are the least trusted, and thus by themselves make poor promotion. People need validation, and in a world where nobody has the time to validate every feature of every competing solution, buyers seek outside confirmation that spending corporate lucre will not result in unemployment.
Partner pimping, providing the pimp is the parent in the relationship, works well. Though not the best validation source, a vendor on whom you already rely has earned some trust … or at least painful commitment. Buyers will trust that vendor’s advice on partner products that complete the vendor’s whole product offering. Buyers assume (rightly in most cases) that the parent vendor has vetted selected partners and that the offering isn’t complete crud.
Assurance via shared potential failure.
Even more so than vendors, peer referral is the best trust builder. Before social media, the most you could hope for were trade shows and special events where peers could reinforce recommendations. This led large companies to create their own events so happy customers could infect the thinking of prospects. But unless you are a big firm, this isn’t always an option. If you are the child product in a partnership, you may be able to leverage the parent’s events.
The marketing lesson is that buyers require validation (even consumers look for the UL label). Your propaganda is insufficient. Prospects need third party assurances that you are worth the investment. Make validation an equal part of your promotional effort.
February 19, 2013
Perception is reality, until reality overrides perception.
Marketers are branded as liars in no small part because many of them are. So pervasive is the trait that certain smart people have made good money writing on the subject. Marketers are charged with promoting products, which entails setting public perception about the product. In modern use of the word, this often devolves into propaganda instead of persuasion. Effective in the short term, setting unrealistic public perception about a product will eventually backfire.
This happens to politicians all the time.
Since perception is reality, at least in the short term, you need to have a clear notion of the reality you create for the market. Like the elastic in a fat fellow’s waistband, it can only be stretched so far before it fails. Since product disappointment is the essence of negative buzz, the greater the degree of potential disappointment you create, the harder the fall once the market commences complaining.
And they know how to complain. I recently read a restaurant review where one consumer said “If they offer to pay you to eat there, Sweet Jesus, don’t do it!”
The market ultimately decides reality, and in doing so redefines your brand. No amount of remessaging or repositioning will change the soiled mind of the market once it has been misled. Criminally insane marketers (no, that is not a redundant phrase) often double down on deceit once their preliminary propaganda pops. Large amounts of otherwise good money is wasted in trying to force a market to disbelieve what it already believes, which is slightly more difficult than changing the moon’s orbit. It also tends to invite mockery and an accelerated decline in brand value.
It is up to you to define reality. But keep in mind that the market is not composed of idiots, despite the outcome of some elections. Your product promotion should nudge people in the direction of the desired perception, letting the market accept the possibility of your chosen product position. The distance between reality and the reality you try to create should be short … so short that you could easily augment the product into that condition. Making reality and positioning one and the same is even better, but foreshadowing your eventual position through current promotions is not unthinkable.
The marketing lesson is that honesty is one of the better policies. The backlash from setting unrealistic expectations is often and deservedly disastrous. “Keep it real” has real meaning.
February 12, 2013
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Content is king unless it is crud.
There is no grand magic to content marketing. Yet many promotion probationers manage to muck it up. Long ago Google established that relevance was what people wanted in search, which really means they want relevant content. Producing relevant content and putting it where your target market can “discover” it makes content marketing works. Producing irrelevant content and forcing people to trip over it will cause you (and your company) to fail.
Many content marketers work on the volume of content, assuming that a large number of keyword rich pages will cause customers to connect. Such “strategy” once produced high traffic but low conversions. With Google constantly refining relevance filtering, voluminous content it isn’t even producing much traffic these days. Yet when it does, the outcome isn’t conversions, but annoyed ex-prospects who feel their time was wasted chasing the promise of meaningful information and being rewarded with mass-produced pap.
If they wanted that, they could watch Friday night sit coms.
For content (and its dance partner, search optimization) to work, content has to be targeted, relevant, spreadable and sharable.
Targeted: Knowing your audience and knowing the topic better than they do is key, otherwise your words, infographics and videos have no real destination and the content is aligned to nobody.
Relevant: The keywords that make your content findable must then deliver real, understandable, palatable, digestible information. Never serve content that people don’t find appetizing or that leaves them hungry (a little hungry is good and creates a great place to leave a call-to-action).
Spreadable: Content should syndicate, but lead always back to your stable. Posting content on other people’s sites or through syndication services works well when you have content that creates a desire for people to know more about its source and provides links that make easy work of finding it.
Sharable: This shouldn’t even need mentioning, but making content easy to pass along is more important than making it spreadable. One reader can, through the chaining effect, put your content in front of thousands and in a way that pre-selects your target audience.
Silicon Strategies Marketing and Marketing Memos is a good example (go figure). Our content marketing program has resulted in about 50% of our new business coming from inbound contacts (people finding us, then contacting us – no sales or other promotions involved). This despite breaking most content marketing “rules” – blogging only weekly and writing in long-form. Syndicating narrowly through channels has built our brand recognition, which led to my personal LinkedIn profile being in the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012 (this despite me not being a LinkedIn connection collector, maintaining a mere 266 touch points).
The marketing lesson is that content is powerful and produces well if you make it matter to the right people in the right way. Otherwise, you’re just wasting electrons and people’s patience.