By APNWLNS payday loans
December 18, 2012
Media ain’t what it used to be … thank God.
The internet has made everyone a publisher, and as such has completely rearranged from where information and power emit. Dead is the quaint era when all info rained like fetid manna from centralized sources. Today you, the marketing ground workers, have seemingly endless avenues for promoting your products, your brand and your profits.
Which is why some of you have been driven to drink (though for a few it was just a short stroll).
The reason self-medication is becoming popular in marketing circles has nothing to do with Mad Men or three martini lunches. It derives from needing to orchestrate outreach through all these media channels. Wherever such seeming chaos ensures, it is best to take a deep breath, a shot of something, and distill your options into a manageable set. In media, there are three basic categories through which you communicate to the world:
They Broadcast: This is traditional media – television, radio, newspapers, magazines – the rapidly fading Fourth Estate. Traditional media still has a place in modern marketing and is suited for when you need to cast a wide net over large tracts of market turf (product launches, corporate branding, etc.).
You Broadcast: Using content marketing, email and other means for directly connecting to target audiences. This approach is always cost effective, often targetable and, when done right, effective in promoting your stuff.
Everyone Broadcasts: Mainly social media, this is the leveraging of other people outside of traditional media to carry your messages and content to others.
What is maddening is that the means of manipulating each category is different, requiring different skills, tactics and teams. Yet common foundations – such as a consistent brand – must appear in all. Yet this rarely works for most companies. Small firms typically have one person in charge of media operations, and they are never savvy with them all. Large companies have different teams for each area of outreach, but stumble in cross-team coordination. It is never easy and never perfect.
Yet it is essential to do all three of the broadcast types, if for no other reason than your competition is already doing so.
Regardless of small or large operations, leadership and base lining consistency is the start. Small and large companies alike need to clearly document their brand, their core marketing messages, the position they wish the market to perceive them, and their communications objectives, then force reviews of all outbound activities against these documents. Small companies can outsource what they lack with in-house staff, but need to perform these documenting and enforcement steps as religiously as larger firms do with internal teams.
So put the bottle back in the desk drawer and wrap your mind around the three classes of media. When you launch any outreach, ask yourself which of the three should be involved, then breakdown the categories therein. This will sooth your aching head, shorten your work for the day and allow you to take that three martini lunch you had in mind.
May 22, 2012
My dentist does social marketing.
This should surprise nobody because social marketing has existed since the first two cavemen competed by selling left-over mastodon meat (“My mastodon steaks come with 30% fewer fatal microbes!”). Businesses have always used the power of social networking, long before social media became a reality. Social media changes nothing and thinking about primitive social marketing helps to clarify your social outreach.
Social marketing is, in essence, assuring that people talk about you in positive terms. As an example, when you move to a new city, odds are you ask everyone about their recommendation for a good dentist. Some will warn you about bad jaw crackers, and others will wax poetic about how gentle and through is their dental doc. This is social promotions in its most basic form. The product (dental services) is referenced by customers based on the positioning criteria they most vale (money, painlessness, how cute the hygienist is). The product is the promotion.
Above all else, this one element is critical. If your product is not important or its basic requirements are not of sufficient quality, then no social promotions follow. The chairs in my dentist’s office overlook a pleasant, sunny harbor littered with sailboats. None of that would matter if he had ham hock hands, was skimpy on the Novocain and had a hygienist who looked like a haddock.
Social promotions, on- or off-line, have two forms — passive and active. Passive social promotions are based on creating good or great products, then hoping that customers talk about you. This works upon occasion, typically on a local geographical basis. But when your customers are not neighbors and they all share Internet conversations, active social promotions are elemental. Active social promotion requires giving people both a reason and concepts to communicate. My dentist offers cash rewards for new patients, which provides many people with extra incentive to recommend him. What he does not do is frame this incentive with the brand and baseline messaging he wants new patients to hear. This leaves his customers to decide what to say about the size of his fingers, the cleanliness of his hypodermic needles, and that his hygienist’s implants double as a head rest. Active social promotions would eliminate unsupervised thinking on the part of his customers.
The reason social media is now the rage among marketers is that is offers them the opportunity to orchestrate active social promotions, guiding if not actually regulating conversations and tying outreach to their branding. Whereas my dentist trusts his customers to socially promote his services, he has near zero insight into if they are promoting him, how they are doing it and if they are saying the right things about him.
For social promotions, especially online, you need to commit as if it were any other marketing program. This means you need to invest, guide and monitor the process.
Investment: If you think social promotions are free, find another job … quickly. Social promotions require investment, and a rather constant one at that. It mainly takes manpower, which is expensive. Some companies launch social media promotions by relying on their executives to blog or participate in online forums, but execs are the most expensive people in your company and not cost effective. Budget for social and think long about distracting key employees from their primary jobs.
Guidance: Left to themselves, people inside and outside your company will invent things to say about your product. Sometimes their compositions are factual and position products well. More often they are empty, repetitive or even destructive. Any social promotion must start with training about what to say, who to say it to, and when to pass the ball to your PR team.
Monitoring and correction: Since the goal of social promotions is to get customers to talk about your products in a positive light, you need to monitor what is being said about you. If you see few conversations, or if those conversations violate your brand guidelines, then you must correct the defect. No use investing for negative traction.
Foremost though is to focus on the product first, then guide advocacy. If the product isn’t right, no amount of social promotion will work and might even create public backlash. Make sure your customer’s teeth are white and they get a lollipop on the way out.
December 20, 2011
Intersections cause collisions, but also opportunities.
A basic marketing strategy is practice to find the intersection of what customers want to achieve (expected outcomes) and where the market is not providing that solution. Alternately, one can look for places where different technologies can, for the first time, be combined and create previously unavailable value.
Smart phones are now ready to facilitate SoLoMo.
The three raging factors in markets and marketing today are SOcial, LOcation-based apps and MObile. The real-time enabled combination of these three may well be the next major moment in consumer technology and marketing. The ability to reach people in tight geographical clusters, who are sharing an experience or looking for one, will be an exciting market in which to pitch.
Social is about sharing. As witnessed by Facebook posts, it is the moment in which the user has the impetus to share that is important. What one is thinking, feeling and experiencing is what they wish to share. To a limited degree Facebook and Twitter enable such sharing since you can Tweet and post from your handsets. But it lacks location services that enable bridging the people in or near a location (after all, why not share what you and another 25,000 people at the Rolling Stones concert are experiencing).
The other weakness is the asynchronous nature of current social media. Most people open Facebook during lunch or after a day’s work. Some folks browse Twitter weekly (which rather defeats the purpose). Real-time enablement of interaction between near-by individuals, especially when it pulls people in from slightly larger distances (say drawing people into a hot night club from the competing bars on that block) creates new interaction potential (mostly pleasant).
More interesting yet to marketers might be the ability to pool information about people clustered geographically. Merging big data pools of demographic and psychographic information, combined with location identification of individuals could provide real-time promotional opportunities (which will take a real-time arbitrage so the demo/psychographics enable the right advertisers). What if in real-time a common profile of a particular Rolling Stones concert attendee was a 70 year old man (this time is coming) that prefers bourbon? No bother selling ads space to Dr. Pepper.
Like social media a few years ago, this is a largely undefined area for experimentation. On the marketing end, the ability to create highly local participation, or to market to people sharing a location at the same instant, offers the marketer some unique targeting opportunities.
Which means Google (local, Android, Plus, ad trafficking) has all the necessary tools to make this happen now.
December 8, 2011
The word “consternation” could be illustrated by faces of B2B technology marketers trying to leverage social media.
Social media is plate tectonics under marketing terra firma. It is a fundamentally new way of reaching people that at least augments, and in many cases replaces, traditional marketing. Getting unpaid people to carry your message to potential buyers seems to be a gift from the Gods, or at least Mark Zuckerberg.
Well, for B2C marketing mavens. B2B has uneven results in social promotions.
Part of the reason is that motivations for sharing a YouTube video with Grandma are very different from sharing anything with your co-workers, boss or peers. And whereas Nanna might forward your email to cousin Don, your boss might never forward it to anyone. Motivations for sharing are the center of any social outreach, be it passing the collection plate at church or making off with the offerings.
Business buyers share when they must, when it builds better relationships, or when they are compelled for selfish reasons.
My favorite example of a B2B social sharing comes from Nearsoft, a software outsourcing company in Mexico (yes, Mexico). They eliminate many of the aggravations of outsourcing to India, less chance of theft than outsourcing to Russia, and similar low costs to coding American. Long ago they created their 53 second video (which they admit is over 80 seconds long) and would have accumulated a longer list of views had they not moved it from place to place. The video is so low budget that it makes the montage a bit lovable, like a dog pound mutt, and yet has made the rounds so often that years later, people still regularly email it to me.
What makes their B2B social promo effective? Why would people pass this around? Sure, it has humor, but so do most promo videos and they don’t get the same traction. The Nearsoft video has the added benefit of plainly, clearly and quickly summarizing why the viewer should be interested. Within the first twenty second you know who they are, what they do and which types of companies they serve. By the 45 second mark, you know their differentiation and top value propositions. At the 60 second mark there is a clear call to action.
People decline to share what lacks value. Sending Uncle Phil a video of a politician’s pants falling down has all the value Phil needs, and you don’t hesitate to pass it along. B2B is about selling to businesses, and behind every promotion there is the risk of receiving an unwanted sales call. Knowing the full value and differentiation provided by a company lets the viewer know the promo will not waste the time of bosses, subordinates or peers. Making it humorous makes sharing a social activity as well as a business one.
The lesson is that social media works for B2B, but has to cleanly combine both business and social.
November 22, 2011
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It is odd to encounter plain spoken and seemingly honest politicians.
Being a professional cynic, I doubt nearly everything. Having been a political animal my entire adult life, I’m doubly cynical about anyone who campaigns to achieve power. To be disappointed in broken political promises is a sign of naivety. To believe any political brand shows trust where there should be none.
So to witness a handful of governors and other candidates speaking bluntly, without equivocation, and taking positions normally considered poisonous … and then watch their poll numbers rise … is both a lesson in marketing and possibly a sign of the Apocalypse.
Authenticity matters in all matters. If you could not take your spouse’s word, then your marriage would be destined for the dumpster (which always makes me wonder about Bill and Hillary). When corporations promote products that do not deliver, the acquired lack of authenticity becomes fatal. If Charlie Sheen were to sober-up, nobody would talk about him because his acting chops are not Grade-A. In instances of marriage, political promotions, product pitches and even behaving badly as a brand, authenticity is essential.
Authenticity mechanics are interesting for marketers. If a business remains authentic in its operations, then it creates no net negatives. New customers, having never heard bad words about the offering, are more apt to give it a try even if there are no significant positive recommendations. That alone tends to advance a product once competitors begin to over promote or under-deliver. I once ran marketing for a company whose lead product was ugly, had no GUI and required training to use. But it always worked and there was always someone on the other end of the phone to help, which created in the market an interesting perception of stability, which IT buyers liked.
I have seen the opposite apply. When inexperienced marketers promise more than the product can do, they lose authenticity. When the product performs poorly or is unstable (ala Microsoft Windows), it loses authenticity. When tech support doesn’t, you lose authenticity if it were promised. Political warfare is largely composed of destroying an opponent’s authenticity (Herman Cain was building a brand of authenticity before unsubstantiated rumors of sexual improprieties arose). If Charlie Sheen were spotted praying at a church altar, not only would his brand be destroyed but I suspect the church would be as well via a well placed lightning bolt.
Social media enforces authenticity, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. No degree of smart copywriting, aggressive PR or slick advertising will wash away the ruminations of one angry ex-customer. Betray your brand or product promises and you will be portrayed as unauthentic in digital public squares. Engagement with the masses, participating in social media, reinforces authenticity and may be the new normal for PR.
Authenticity above all else. Otherwise be unelected by customers.