Friday, December 30, 2011

Cause Marketing Explained

Thompson and Pringle, in their book Brand Spirit, define cause-related marketing (CRM) as a partnership between a for-profit and a non-profit business for the mutual benefit of both. This form of societal marketing is practiced by any number of large companies including Patagonia, American Express, Marriott and PetsMart. Of course, when it comes right down to it, it’s not quite that simple.

What Cause Marketing Isn’t

Cause marketing isn’t philanthropy. You notice I said “for the benefit of both” earlier. When a company supports a philanthropic cause, it does so without the expectation of generating business, although they may expect a positive impact on brand equity. It also isn’t societal marketing, although it does promote societal benefits. The difference is that societal marketing is in the nature of “Don’t do drugs”, “Don’t drink and drive”, “ Stop smoking” and so on.

Benefits for Non-Profits

There are a multitude of advantages available:
  • Increased revenue
  • Enhanced visibility of the cause or the nonprofit’s message
  • Increased volunteer pool
  • Access to new audiences
  • Connections to the corporation’s network of employees, suppliers, distributors, and other contacts
  • Expertise in marketing, strategy development, and other corporate experience

Benefits for Businesses

The many benefits of cause marketing for businesses of all sizes include:
  • Greater awareness for company product or service
  • Increased sales
  • Access to new audiences
  • Competitive advantage
  • Increased brand image and awareness
  • Higher employee retention
  • Highlight to be used in employee recruiting
  • Opportunity for new strategic partnerships
  • Technical expertise from nonprofit partners
  • Training and development opportunities for upcoming company leaders and staff

Consumer Perception

According to Cone’s 2010 Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker, More than three-quarters (78%) of Americans believe a partnership between a nonprofit and a company they trust makes a cause stand out. When the cause breaks through, consumers are more likely to feel positively about the nonprofit (56%) and actively support it. As a result of nonprofit-corporate partnerships:
  • 50% are more likely to donate to the nonprofit
  • 49% are more likely to participate in an event for the nonprofit and
  • 41% are more likely to volunteer for the nonprofit.
According to Cone’s 2010 Cause Evolution Study:
  • 83% of Americans wish more of the products, services and retailers they use would support causes. In addition,
  • 80% of consumers are willing to switch from one brand to another brand that is about the same in price and quality, if the other brand is associated with a good cause.
  • 61% are willing to try a new brand or one they’ve never heard of if associated with a cause.

Employee Engagement

Employees are what you would call “cause shareholders”. They are invested in what their company is doing. They are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to support causes that are important to them. Going back to Cone’s Cause Evolution Study, “Employees who are very involved in their company’s cause program are 28 percent more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36 percent more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than those who are not involved.” Companies who are not engaging their employees are clearly ignoring an untapped resource.

The Win-Win Scenario

The question now isn’t “Why CRM?” but “Why not CRM”? With this information in-hand, how can you afford not to look seriously at a cause-related marketing strategy? There’s no question that it’s beneficial to both partners for both the soft and hard bottom lines. In my next post we’ll take a look at things to consider when looking for a partner for your CRM strategy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Google AdWords Bidding Basics

So...you've heard about this "new" thing - Google AdWords. It sounds pretty exciting. It sounds like you get a lot of bang for your buck. Your ad shows up on the page that is returning pertinent search results. An ad can show up anywhere on any of the pages returned. The more you are willing to pay, the better your page position will be. Page position is auctioned off, but you can get better page position with higher quality AdWords, too. You only pay if someone clicks on your add. So, what you do is tell Google AdWords what your maximum cost-per-click and daily budget is. It then places your ad accordingly and when you’ve reached your daily budget, it pulls the ad. You can make the ads local, national, or international or base it on language. Of course the broader the audience, the more money you are going to spend.

But how, exactly do you go about getting space? Well, you bid on it. And the thing is, you don't necessarily win your space based on how much you bid, but also on the quality scores of your words and landing page. Let's start with the basics: the bidding.

Bidding

You can use the Google Traffic Estimator Tool to figure out an approximate result based on the keywords you select, maximum CPC, and daily budget. The more popular a keyword is, the more you're going to pay for it. The suggested method of figuring out how much you want to spend AND maximize your profits is:
  1. Determine our maximum Cost Per Acquisition(CPA): (Sale price – cost of product = CPA)
  2. Determine conversion rate: (number sales/number of clicks)
  3. Determine value per click: Max CPA * conversion rate = value per click (expected profit from website visitor)
    Value per click is what you can pay per click and expect to break even, so naturally we wouldn’t want to pay that much.
  4. Adjust your bids so your value per click equals your incremental cost-per-click.
    The incremental cost per click is the difference between what you pay for per click at one bid versus at another bid. Not very clear is it? This table was generated using the Google Bid Simulator Tool, which is only available if you have an AdWords account:
  5. BidClicksCostAvg. CPCRevenueProfitICC
    $5.00208 $697.42 $3.35 $1040.00 $342.58$5.73
    $4.50 190 $594.27 $3.13 $950.00 $355.73$5.20
    $4.00 154 $407.02 $2.64 $770.00 $362.98$4.63
    $3.50 133 $309.73 $2.33 $665.00 $355.27$3.99
    $3.00 113 $230.00 $2.04 $565.00 $335.00$3.32
    $2.50 86 $140.37 $1.63 $430.00 $289.63$-.--

    As you can see above, the $4.00 click actually returned the highest profit, even though you got fewer clicks, but it doesn't necessarily maximize your profit. That's where the ICC comes in. How did I get that number? ICC is calculated by dividing the cost of the incremental clicks by the number of incremental clicks. Let's use the $5.00 and $4.50 bids for an example. The cost of the $5.00 bid was $697.42. Subtract the cost of the next lower bid from that, $594.27. That leaves a difference of $103.15. You received 208 clicks at $5.00. Subtract the 190 clicks you received at $4.50. This leaves a difference of 18 clicks. Now divide $103.15 by 18 clicks. The result of $5.73 is your incremental cost-per-click. If you look at the the ICCs above, the $4.00 comes the closes to your value-per-click without going over. In order to <b>maximize profit</b> you'll want to increase your bid until your ICC is close, or equal, to the value-per-click without going over.  

Generally you will pay less than the bid CPC. Once we’ve determined your CPC, you can run some simulations to maximize your profit. You may actually be more profitable paying less and getting fewer bids because the incremental cost-per-click (ICC) above a certain point may be more than the CPC.

I ran some keyword simulations with a standard bid of $1.00 CPC and daily budget of $50. In the “Est Ad Position” column, the lower the number, the better the position. The best positions are above 3.
KeywordGlobal SearchesLocal SearchesEst Avg CPCEst Ad PositionEst Daily ClicksEst Daily Cost
dog toys246,000165,000$0.692.5569.77$47.92
puppy toys33,10018,100$0.632.371.76$1.12
chew toys18,10014,800$0.571.251.7$0.97
squeaky toys9,9006,600$0.00000

There is a pretty in-depth video tutorial by Google's Chief Economist, Hal Valerian, on YouTube. If you'd rather, you can read the script.

The Quality Score

The quality score is calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad group and to a user's search query. The higher a keyword's Quality Score, the lower its cost-per-clicks (CPCs) and the better its ad position. Which page we direct the user to in our website affects the keyword’s quality score as well. For instance if the end-user were to click on an ad specifically for dog toys and you send them to the pet store homepage, that might lower the quality score. That’s one of the reasons people use landing pages – to ensure the content is directly relevant to the AdWords.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that conversion rates and costs are variables and will change depending on current economic climates, seasons, keyword popularity, bidding rates and other financial and cultural factors. It's a good idea to go in and run simulations on a regular basis to consistently maximize your profits.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why Nonprofits Need Social Media Strategy

When you think about it, nonprofits have been using social marketing for decades to get their message across. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “grass roots campaign”. What is that but a pre-social media era social marketing effort. It seems to me that the natural evolution of the social marketing strategy is the social media strategy. So why are so many nonprofits taking a “wait and see” attitude? Are they afraid of the new technology? Afraid it will get out-of-hand? Are just unaware of the opportunities?

Some of these are easy to overcome. A little education and you’re “good to go”. Some of them are a little more difficult. Without a proper strategy, for instance, it’s very easy for social media marketing to take on a life of its own. A little dabbling can be a dangerous thing if there is no direction and it can also be pointless if there’s no strategy in place to take advantage of the interlinking opportunities.

It’s Time to Get on the Band Wagon

Social media isn’t a trend. It’s a legitimate channel of marketing. If your nonprofit isn’t incorporating it into your marketing mix, you’re missing out. Do you have any idea how many Tweeters there are? 4 or 5 million….on a two-year-old platform. Facebook, which launched in 2004, has more than 150 million users, over half of whom check in every day. That’s a pretty big pool of potential to be missing out on. And I haven’t even mentioned the numbers for LinkedIn and YouTube, or the new technologies like QR Codes and mobile platforms.

Social media is a routine way to keep up with things you’re interested in. I follow several organizations on Facebook, including the author Laurell K. Hamilton, the ASPCA, Pinup Girl Clothing, the History Channel, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, to name just a few. I love knowing my favorite author finished 7 pages, or new stuff has gone up on a site, or if a new concert has been scheduled. I’m much more involved and up-to-date and I feel…connected to these companies. It’s definitely an emotional thing.

Role Models

Spurspectives gives us two nonprofit role models to look to: the American Red Cross and the National Wildlife Federation.
The American Red Cross has dedicated professionals who blog, tweet and produce videos, creating a presence across multiple social media channels. Can you imagine the uses to which an emergency responder organization can put Twitter? And they are taking advantage of it.

The National Wildlife Federation is another nonprofit that’s pushing its marketing strategy into the new frontier. They have four blogs, a YouTube channel, and more than nine staff members who tweet behind-the-scenes information on different initiatives.

These are just a few of the ways social media strategy can work for a nonprofit organization.

What’s In It For You

There are some easy ways for you to get started on your strategy.
  • Add a blog to your website.
  • Create a YouTube channel.
  • Set up a Twitter account.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile.
And for goodness’ sake don’t forget the metrics. All of these are quantifiable with regard to clickstreams, readers, comments, viewers, etc.

Social media opens the door between you and the community you serve. It starts a dialogue. It creates interest and loyalty. You can create awareness and interaction. It’s flexible and low-cost. That’s a big key for nonprofits – low cost. You know that.

And like any effective marketing effort, social media promotes your mission and increases understanding of who you are and what your purpose is. That’s the first step in gaining support – especially if the testimonials come from friends and neighbors with a high degree of credibility.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Creating Resonance Through Leadership Style

If you remember, in the post entitled Effective Leadership and Emotional Intelligence I promised to discuss leadership styles in my next post, but then skipped them in favor of 2012 marketing trends. This is that promised post.

There are, according to Daniel Goleman, six leadership styles and all are effective - when used at the appropriate times; however the overall impact on the situation can be seen as positive, negative, or neutral, depending on the when and where of use. That is key to effective leadership - knowing when to use a particular style in order to create resonance. This means the leader is in tune with other peoples' feelings and can use that knowledge to move them in a positive emotional direction. Truly skillful leaders are able to switch swiftly between leadership styles as the situation demands. Below is a summary of the six styles with their accompanying information from Daniel Goleman's Harvard Business Review Article, "Leadership That Gets Results".

StyleThe Leader's MOStyle PhraseDriveStyle TimingClimate Impact
VisionaryMobilizes people toward a vision“Come with me.”Self-confidence,
empathy, change
catalyst
When changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is neededMost strongly positive
AffiliativeCreates harmony and builds emotional bonds"People come first."Empathy, building
relationships, communication
To heal rifts in a
team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances
Positive
DemocraticForges consensus through participation"What do you think?"Collaboration,
team leadership,
communication
To build buy-in or consensus, or to get input from valuable
employees
Positive
CoachingDevelops people for the future"Try this."Developing
others, empathy,
self-awareness
To help an employee
improve performance or
develop long-term strengths
Positive
PacesettingSets high standards for performance"Do as I do, now."Conscientiousness,
drive to achieve,
initiative
To get quick results form a highly motivated and competent teamNegative
CommandingDemands
immediate
compliance
“Do what I tell you.”Drive to achieve,
initiative, self-control
In a crisis, to kick start a
turnaround, or with problem employees
Negative

The more leadership styles you are able to master, the more effective a leader you will be. It's not easy to master multiple styles. Sometimes it means unlearning old habits, especially for "old school" leaders who habitually fall back on Pacesetting and Commanding styles, which negatively affect the work environment. It takes practice and perseverance. Everyone knows it is much more difficult to unlearn an old habit than it is to put a new one in place. But, like Pavlov's dog, the more often you repeat a cause and effect scenario, the more ingrained the response will become and the more likely it is you will have a positive leadership response to a difficult situation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012 Marketing Trends: Strategy and Practice

Let me first say that "no, you didn't miss a post". I've been working on my budget so my mind has been very much in 2012 instead of in the present where it belongs. As a result, I got to thinking about upcoming trends instead of leadership, so you get a trends post instead. I'm still going to do the leadership post, but it will be the next time around. I hope you'll forgive me.

Ralph Oliva recently presented the much-anticipated ISBM Trends 2012 Study: Business-To-Business Marketing Trends and Best Practices. He and the ISBM research group focus on capturing how B2B marketers think and feel about the future. The “Trends” study is a US-Based study that was initiated in 1997 and is conducted every two or three years. It comes out of the noted Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State University. I've included the presentation at the end of this post.

The 2012 study identifies seven trends with two dominant themes: understanding and communicating (effectively) with customers; secondly, identifying opportunities for growth. Ralph Oliva discusses these trends in great depth in his presentation, “Business to Business Marketing Trends and Best Practice”, and in many cases points to background materials and readings which can provide a better understanding of the “narrative”. The top three dominated and are listed in order of importance.

The Top Three by a Landslide

  1. Value – The need to more effectively quantify and communicate value created for customers. The need is to “bring a more holistic value proposition to customers” in order to gain mind share and not just be evaluated on a per item quote with the competition. The onus is on the supplier to exhibit “enough value for customers to even make time to meet with you".

    ISBM Recommendations
    Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business Markets (Kellogg; Kumar)
    Winning With Customers – A Playbook for B2B (Pigues; Valkyre)

  2. Voice of the Customer – Developing approaches to better understand what customers really need. This is where we, as marketers, need to become a sort of mind reader. We need to understand what customers need, beyond what they can articulate. It is on us to anticipate “the shift in the way customers do business.” Their business design is changing and we need to understand and accommodate that now. One response is to become better at “uncovering fundamental needs and creating exciting offerings that are not considered ‘me too’”.

    ISBM Recommendation
    PDMA Toolbook (Griffin)
     
  3. Growth – Finding, “sensing”, identifying and assessing new opportunities for growth. This is the new reality for B2B marketers. We are not going to return to the way things were. It’s time to focus on the future. As such, we should consider the following:
    • Where is the money and who’s my competition for it?
    • How do I achieve profitable growth in a difficult fiscal climate? Focus on the “new reality.”
    • What are my market expansion opportunities? Consider geography and new technology.
    • What am I doing to encourage organic growth? Encourage product and business development, and innovation and opportunity realization.
       
    ISBM Recommendations
    How to Grow When Markets Don’t (Slywotsky)
    The Upside

The Remaining Four

  1. Connections – Developing closer ties with customers, suppliers, channel partnerships, and Sales and Marketing. There are several characteristics that are rising in importance in the upcoming year.
    • Partnership Skills – the ability to identify when partnerships will be beneficial and who they should be formed with.
    • Delivering Customer Value – managing partners and expanding the company’s ecosystem.
    • Compete vs. Cooperate – deciding which way to go in order to maximize available resources.
       
    ISBM Recommendations
    Build, Fix or Terminate – The Distributor’s Guide to More Profitable Supplier Relations (Narus; Forest)
    Alliance Competence (Spekman)
     
  2. Emerging – Capitalize on new growth/emerging markets. This trend was positioned higher than ever before and has several new focuses.
    • Reassess global markets
    • Innovate globally
    • Understand cultural differences
    • Global harmonization of the offer
    • BRIC as an economic power
       
    ISBM Recommendation
    Global Tectonics: What Every Business Needs to Know (Ghadar)
     
  3. Balance – Balancing short-term requirements and long-term opportunities. The focus for balance includes:
    • Maximize today’s value while investing for tomorrow
    • Consider the firm’s short-term actions in terms of its long-term position
    • Transition to the “new reality”
    • Rebuild marketing organizations
       
    ISBM Recommendation
    DoingBoth – How Cisco Captures Today’s Profit and Drives Tomorrow’s Growth (Sidhu)

  4. Segmentation – Selecting the right set of customers for your business, and managing them effectively. Finally, there is segmentation. This remains a critical issue with emphasis placed on:
    • Selecting the right customer. Don’t let the economy return you to the mindset of “any customer is a good customer.”
    • Choose customers to whom differentiation matters.

The Implications

What it boils down to is there are some steps we, as marketers, can take in order to set ourselves up for success. Install the best tools for your sales team to quantify and communicate value. Learn and champion the real VOC. Look at the forest: look past the daily minutia to find growth opportunities. And get buy-in from the entire organization. Translate your markets and customers into terms everyone can understand.

Thanks again to ISBM and Ralph Oliva for the valuable information I was able to include in this blog.


 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Effective Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Typically, I write more on what I would call hard skills: strategy, research, analytics, etc. but I've been doing a lot of thinking about leadership lately, and what makes a good leader. I've been in design industry a long time, 19 years, and most of it has included some aspect of marketing, though that didn't become my focus until about 13 years ago. I've worked with, and under, a lot of people in positions of leadership during that time, both creative types and business types. You notice that I say "people in positions of leadership" not "leaders." There is a big difference. Someone can have worked their way into a leadership position without being a good leader, and I don't necessarily see evidence that the business person is a better leader than the creative person, though that's the stereotype.

I have a good amount of experience as a leader, having led a lot of virtual, ad hoc, and traditional cross-functional teams, and I also have a lot of education in that field, as well as having created some leadership training programs. Does that experience and education make me a leader? Sure. I like to hope I'm a good leader, but is that a result of only those two elements? I don't think so. My belief is that emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) is the sine qua non of leadership and there is a direct correlation between EQ/EI and measurable business results. Daniel Goleman coined the term back in 1995 when he published his book of the same name and I've been following him ever since. His most recent publication on leadership, if you're interested, is Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman there are five components of emotional intelligence and therefore of effective leadership.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

ComponentDefinitionCharacteristics
Self-Awareness» The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives and how they effect others» Self-confidence
» Realistic self-assessment
» Self-deprecating sense of humor
Regulation» The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods
» The predilection to think before acting
» Trustworthiness and integrity
» Comfort with ambiguity
» Openness to change
Motivation»A passion to work for reasons other than money or status
»A predilection to energetically and persistently pursue goals
»Strong drive to achieve
»Eternal optimism
»Organizational commitment
Empathy» Able to understand the emotions of other people
» Able to treat people based on their emotional reactions
» Expertise in building and retaining talent
» Cross-cultural sensitivity
» Service to clients, both internal and external
Social Skills» Proficient in building relationships and networks
» Ability to find common ground and achieve rapport
» Effective in leading change
» Persuasive
» Expertise in building and leading teams


All that said, there is much more to it than this, but these are the basics of emotional intelligence. Effective leaders use this, in conjunction with one or more leadership styles (Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching) to motivate and lead their teams to success. I'll go into those leadership styles in my next post, but if you don't want to wait, ChangingMinds.org has a basic description on their site.

I'd also like to add one element that is very important to me, and one that I see missing a lot: Show respect. Show respect to your supervisors, co-workers, and reports. Show it to your customers/clients. Show it whether they can hear you or not; whether they're in good standing or not. It doesn't do anyone any good to hear their boss stomping around the office berating a customer because they're late on a payment or speaking patronizingly to a direct report. In the workplace, there is always someone who is aware.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Push vs. Pull Marketing

There are a variety of marketing strategies available for you to implement but all of them fall within two categories. They are either push or pull marketing. I actually had someone say, recently, that push marketing is dead due to the surge in media marketing. I don't think they've turned their TV on recently. In order to be effective, you need to understand what they are and be able to use them both.

Push Marketing

This is what I would consider to be traditional marketing. These are the activities you undertake that put your message in front of your ideal customer. You control what the message is, where and when it appears, and how it's seen. It's a little like being the guy behind the Outer Limits intro who controls your television. Examples of push marketing include:
  • TV Commercials
    31% of all households have 4 or more televisions and spend approximately 35.6 hours per week in front of the television, according to Nielsen Statistics. This is a very viable form of push marketing if you can afford it.
  • Cold CallingThis technique is particularly pertinent to service-oriented companies who may call the consumer to explain what the company does and determine they have a need for what the company is offering.
  • Direct E-MailThis might confuse some people because e-mail marketing is permission-based. That doesn't change the fact that you are sending your message out to the customer telling them about sales, asking for testimonials or introducing new products.

Pull Marketing

Pull marketing is designed to bring the consumer to you in order to find out if you have anything to offer that is of value to them. Pull marketing incorporates your corporate/brand identity to pull people to you and turn them into fans. Examples of pull marketing include:
  • Video MarketingTechnology is advancing at an unbelievable rate and consumers are becoming used to information-on-demand. Unlike commercials, videos can be filmed in a home or office for little or no monetary outlay and can be whatever length is needed to convey the message. Once they're done, the videos can be shared on YouTube, Facebook, or the corporate website.
  • BloggingBlogging is steadily gaining a reputation as an effective way for companies to share information about themselves, solicit consumer feedback, and keep a thumb on the pulse of their reputation. Blogging lets companies interact with their consumers and be immediately responsive in the relationship.

Social Media's Effect on Push Marketing

Now, all that said, I have seen an evolution in push marketing since the introduction of social media where push marketing is incorporating the idea that you are getting your consumer to spread your message for you. You are still creating advertising and promotional strategies, but now part of the objective is to get the consumers talking. I believe this explains what's behind the trend of producing shocking and controversial commercials, ads, etc. They create buzz and get people talking. I once had an art professor tell me that as long as the art creates a reaction, whether it's positive or negative, it's effective. I sometimes think that many marketers follow the same tenet with regard to their strategy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Marketing Metrics and Analytics: Defining, Using, and the Results

If you spend any time in the marketing field at all, you’ll hear these words bandied about: analytics and metrics. They’re used in reference to marketing of all forms from print, to audio/visual to interactive. I’ve discovered that a lot of people in the field don’t really know the difference or how to truly use them. Make no mistake, though, the two are very different and the use is more involved then pulling open a spreadsheet or metrics tool and parroting the numbers.

Metrics vs. Analytics

It’s pretty simple when you get right down to it. Metrics are numbers and that’s all. They may indicate market share, response rates, advertising dollars spent, page visits, or clickstream. They usually show up in columns or rows in a spreadsheet type of layout. Metrics are the lifeblood of all the measuring that we do.

Analytics is pretty easy to figure out: it’s the science of analysis. Who would’ve thought? And analysis is, of course, the process of deriving complex concepts or propositions from basic components. In other words analytics is the process of making a decision or proposition based on the existing data, or metrics. Now, decisions may incorporate information from other qualitative sources such as “rule-of-thumb” or past history, but as long as metrics are involved it remains a quantitative analysis.

How to Use Analytics

As with every complex undertaking, having a good plan in place is more likely to lead to a successful endeavor. Marketing analysis is no exception. There is a series of steps I typically go through when I’m setting up an analytics model.
  1. Identify the business objectives. Successful objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Specific. For example, a new business objective might be to achieve sales of $500,000 within 5 years.
  2. Identify the goals for each objective. Goals are strategies you leverage to achieve the objectives. Define the steps you’re going to take and how you will take each one. An example goal for the above objective might be a first year sales goal of $50,000, accompanied by strategies for accomplishing that goal.
  3. Identify the Key Performance Indicators and set parameters for them. KPIs should reflect the organizations goals, be key to their success, and be quantifiable. In our example, a KPI would be repeat customers and the parameter is that 12% of sales must come from those repeat customers.
  4. Identify the segments for analysis. Are you going to analyze phone calls? Page views? Trade show booth visits? Conversions? Determine which segments need to be analyzed in order to determine failure or success of the objectives and goals.

The Benefits of Analytics

Did you know that in some cases, using analytics, B2C companies have seen a YOY market share growth of 30%? Sales increases of up to 50%? And customer attrition rates decreased by as much as 40%? Those are some pretty awesome numbers and obviously one of the best ROIs out there.

Why is that? Mostly it’s because analytics can provide you with very specific information that will help you hone or modify your marketing strategy or mix in order to take advantage of the metrics being received.
  • The best referral sites for your advertising.
  • Which products are more popular and which promotions are most effective.
  • Track buyer habits to determine interests and target cross-selling opportunities.
  • Identify clickstreams and errors to optimize your web site's layout and functionality.
  • Send E-mail or direct mail blasts with targeted promotions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

QR Codes: What the Heck?

You've seen them. You might not know what they do, or what they can be used for, but you've seen them. They're invading magazine ads, trade show booths, POP displays, maps and any number of other locations. They're those little black and white (usually) pixel boxes that tease you into wondering what the heck is going on. They're the latest in the social media trend.

What They Are

A QR, or Quick Response, Code is basically a souped up barcode. They're usually black and white, though they can be produced in color. One of the sites that will do that is http://tag.microsoft.com/resources/mobile-support.aspx. They were originally used to track auto parts but are slowly making their way into the marketing lexicon. QR Codes can contain information on both the vertical and horizontal plains which means they can contain a lot more information than a barcode. They can also be read from any angle. When a QR Code is read, it acts as a trigger: opening a webpage, downloading a file, delivering a vcard or whatever other action has been programmed into it. The only thing the consumer needs to use it is a QR reader and most newer android and nokia phones and blackberries come with one straight out of the box. The consumer opens the app, points the camera at the QR code, presses the button, and voila....an action takes place.

How They're Used

Here are a few ideas I've either found online or come up with for creative QR Code uses:
  • Print
    • Demo Videos, testimonials, reviews
    • Contact information
    • Order form
    • Features and performance
    • Mobile site to register for tweets, rss,etc.
    • Current weather
    • Warranty registration
    • Provide feedback
  • Events
    • Pre-Event - background information, straw polls, registration, directions, booth information
    • Event Day - schedule, mobile site
    • Post Event - contact information, evaluation form, social media sites
  • Business Cards
    • Biography
    • Website
    • Vcard
The uses for QR codes are, in no way, explored to their extent in this very small list. They're only limited by the imagination of the person using them in their marketing strategy. I have seen them used in hotel lobbies to advertise restaurant specials, by clothing companies to show sizes or specials, and on food wrappers to share nutritional information.

Don't Forget

While all this is new and exciting, there are a few things we need to remember.

  • The consumer is using a mobile device.
    Make sure the landing page, PURL, etc. is mobile friendly.
  • Metrics and Analytics.
    Remember to collect the information pertinent to the campaign and analyze. The boss is going to want to know if its effective and how it needs to be modified.
    • What phone was used.
    • Where and when was the QR code accessed
    • Repeat visits
  • Change up the content.
    The back end of a QR Code can be changed at any time. A person who picks up the magazine 3 months after initial publication could have a completely different experience from the person who picked it up the same week it came out.
  • This is part of your branding and identity.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Using Social Media

This morning I caught up on the fiasco that is ChapStick's response to negative comments posted on their Facebook page. Apparently they didn't have any steps in place, other than “delete them,” to handle negative commentary - a large hole in their social media strategy. There is a way to handle negative posts but ignoring them isn't it. I'd like to get into brand impact and approaches to using social media before I address the dreaded negative comment, though.

Brand Impact

  • Perception - Obviously, comments made about your brand can impact the perception of it by those reading the posts. Sometimes this is positive, but not always.
  • Advertising - Traditional advertising is beginning to take a backseat to social media. Trust is shifting away from companies to fellow consumers. As more people use social media to research their purchases, it becomes a more important factor in the decision-making process.
  • Relationships - Social media allows consumers to learn about brands from a more objective source than the companies themselves. This has changed the relationship between consumers and companies and has changed the marketer's job from attracting an audience to managing one.
What is shared in social mediums can't be controlled so we, as marketers, must be prepared to manage branding on social sites, whether it be positive or negative.

Approaches to Using Social Media

Be proactive. I can't say this often, or more strongly, enough. It's the most effective method of dealing with negative comments and promoting branding. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Use Brand Advocates - Reach out to those who are already using and endorsing your products. Consumers have trust in, and respect for, the “common Joe” who is using your products.
  • Understand Your Consumers' Point of View - Monitoring conversations and posts about your brand and products can help you improve it based on real-world, real-time, feedback.
  • Provide Better Customer Service - Listening to your customers online may clue you in to issues and challenges you don't even know your customers are facing. You may also hear about new uses for the product. Either way, it helps you stay in touch and better satisfy your customers.
Effective social media branding strategies are consistent, authentic and credible, guided by the principle of giving, and are sustainable and balanced. Effective brand management using social media also means addressing negative comments.

Addressing Negative Comments

Determine the source of the negative comment; keep to the facts when addressing it; apologize if necessary; and respond with honest, accurate information in a timely manner.

  • Don't Block Access - Respond in a way that will reflect positively on your company.
  • Don't Tell People Not to Visit a Web Site - You know that once you do that, you will have piqued their curiosity. This is the surest way to get them to visit the site you don't want them to go to.
  • Don't React Aggressively - Respect your customers, no matter what. Avoid, to the best of your ability, coming across as angry, frustrated, or belligerent. Once you've done that, the damage is already done and turning it around is next to impossible.
So, ChapStick, good luck in turning this around. You're going to need it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Developing a Social Media Strategy

The brand tenets of the past such as control and predictability are no longer valid. Ever-increasing consumer power driven by social media and wireless technologies is having a significant impact on brand effectiveness and staying power. Consumers, more than ever before, are key drivers for brand strategy. We, as brand managers, need to understand how to leverage these technologies to our advantage.

The social media branding strategy can be broken down into 6 basic stages:
  1. Determine your goal and target audience
  2. Align your efforts with specific business goals and target the associated audience. The social media network is expansive and it's easy to find yourself spread too thin. Without a plan your efforts may be unfocused and ineffective.

  3. Define the timescale, budget, and measurement methods
  4. Don't forget that, typically, the more ambitious your goals are the bigger your budget will be and the more time you'll have to execute. Don't set yourself up to fail by setting huge goals without considering funding and time constraints.

  5. Choose appropriate social media

    There are a variety of social media channels available to us: YouTube, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs are currently the most popular ones. Which ones you focus on will be determined by who your customers are. Are you a B2B or a B2C? If you are a B2B, your top three will be YouTube, twitter and LinkedIn. If you are B2C, on the other hand, you're better served to concentrate on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You also need to consider the speed of change of the information. Do you need to get updates on weather or traffic out immediately? Twitter might better serve your needs. Are you publishing a review of a product? Time to head over to YouTube.

  6. Choose appropriate communicators

    Not only do you need to appoint someone to communicate on behalf of the brand, but you also need to ensure there are policies or rules in place to ensure consistent messaging.

    • Comment within organizational policies
    • Comment in their area of expertise
    • Be polite and respectful
    • Respond in a timely manner
    • Above all - take time to think before posting
  7. Listen to the customer
  8. In old school terms, this would be considered "lurking." Hang out in the background and learn what your customers need and value. Review what's being said about the company and the products. Use this information to interact in meaningful ways that will keep them connected to, and interested in, your brand.

  9. Launch the social media strategy
  10. Putting customers at the center of your branding strategy will create connections with them. Maintaining these connections will help us better understand what they want.

Developing a social media strategy is a great way to connect with customers and grow brands. It will help you understand their needs and how they interact with social media.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

B2C vs. B2B Marketing: Kirk vs. Spock

You would think that there really wouldn't be any difference between selling to an individual and selling to a company because either way, you're still marketing to a person, but there is a difference and it's a big one. Individual consumers tend to buy based on emotion whereas consumers buying for companies tend to buy based on logic. Yes, families consult on big-ticket items like cars and houses, but what drives the initial review of the purchase? "I like this car," or "Wow, isn't this house great!?" Sure there are considerations like having enough seating or bedrooms, but the considerations of a personal purchase are much different from those made for a business purchase. A B2B purchase has stakeholders, buy-in, influencers, lifecycle costs and a multitude of other considerations.

Let's break it down into a couple of lists so it's easier to see the differences:

B2C:

  • Product driven
  • Focus is on features
  • Large target market
  • Maximize the value of the transaction
  • Single step buying process with shorter sales cycle
  • Merchandising and point of purchase (POP) activities
  • Brand identity created through repetition and imagery
  • Emotional buying decision based on status, desire or price

B2B:
  • Relationship driven
  • Focus is on benefits
  • Small focused target market
  • Maximize the value of the relationship
  • Multi-step buying process with longer sales cycle
  • Educational and awareness building activities
  • Brand identity created on personal relationship
  • Rational buying decision based on business value

The marketing strategy you use will start out the same for each: Identify who the customer is and why they need to hear your message. After that, the process diverges. The goal of B2C marketing is to convert shoppers into buyers. B2C companies are more likely to use coupons, banner ads and sale offers to turn the shopper into a buyer. B2C is about the transaction. The B2C company has done everything in its power to make the buying process as smooth and painless as possible because if the buyer experiences any kind of hassle, they'll skip the purchase. Take online shopping...how often have you or someone you know gotten frustrated with trying to check out? More than a couple of clicks and you're done. You abandon your cart and go somewhere else. All it took was one e-mail ad or banner to get the customer there. All it took to lose them was a difficult purchase experience.

B2B customers, on the other hand, are about the relationship. They want to know they have support for the product or a company they can return to later to make further purchases. Yes, the B2B company still wants to convert the prospects into customers, but the process is more involved and thus takes longer. B2B companies use marketing to educate various players in the target audience because the decision to purchase usually involves more than one person and they need to show how the product will save time or money or show some other benefit for the company. In this day and age, very often the first contact a B2B customer has with the B2B company is electronic, often the company website. The website should clearly communicate the features, benefits and contact information of the product or service. If the prospect contacts the company, the rest of the marketing plan comes into play. This campaign may very well include further steps such as webcasts, newsletters, direct e-mail, or personal follow-ups. Content is one of the prime focuses for B2B companies so getting media coverage, newsletters or white papers , or a facebook or YouTube presence out there helps educate the B2B prospects and lend credibility.

That brings me to my topic for my next post: social media as a marketing tool. See you next time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Market vs Marketing Research

I know. Who knew there was even a difference, right? Let's break it down into the most simple of distinctions: Market research is an organized effort to garner information about markets and/or customers while marketing research is about the processes you use to identify and define marketing problems and opportunities, e.g. how changing elements of the marketing mix impacts customer behavior.

Market research is an important component of business strategy, and usually takes place before planning the marketing mix. There are many ways to conduct market research but most fall into five basic methods: surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, observation and field trials. The method you choose will depend on what type of information you're looking for and how big your budget is.

Surveys are probably the least expensive method, but the response rate varies hugely: in-person will, of course, net you 100%; phone surveys approximately 50%; online surveys depend on the target; and mail surveys...well...single digits. Focus groups and personal interviews are similar in style; focus groups generally require a couple of hours and at least three to five groups to be effective while personal interviews usually need about an hour. Neither method is considered quantitatively reliable because it's too small a sample, but both give great information on customer attitude and insight. Observation and field trials give you the most objective information as they take place in more of a real world setting.

Marketing research can be broken down two different ways: by market or by methodology. Most often, you will see it broken down by market: Consumer marketing research (B2C) and Business- to-Business (B2B) Marketing research. When broken down by methodology, you will see it discussed as quantitative and qualitative. I prefer to break down by market because I find that both quantitative and qualitative are valuable in the end, and provide much better information when used together.

Although quantitative gives you a great picture of all the numbers, helps you locate the outliers, quantify trends, get hard numbers on likes and dislikes, it doesn't help you understand the customer. It also has a number of potential chances for error that could gum up the entire works. There are five groups of errors and within each type are 5-10 specific types of errors. Nothing gets a customer, whether they are internal or external, going quite like an open-ended question. It's also a very effective method of gaining support and buy-in. People love to know that you think what they have to say is important.

So...there are your basic differences between the two types of research. Next time around, I'll go into B2B vs. B2C marketing. I'll bet you think they're both the same since it's all marketing to people.