Monthly Archives: February 2009

Can Brands Keep Their Promise in a Digital World?

brand_x1Timing is everything
One of the challenges of brand advertising has always been the disconnect between the times in our lives when we’re thinking about a product and the opportunity for a brand exposure. How do you deliver a brand message at just the right time? The goal of situational targeting became advertising’s Holy Grail. A few channels, such as in-store promotions and well-placed coupons, at least got marketers closer to being in the right place at the right time, but did little to build brand at this critical time. A significant discount might prompt a consumer to try an unfamiliar brand, but the new brand was always fighting the well worn groove of consumer habits. Trying a new product once doesn’t guarantee you’ll ever try it again (reading list suggestion: “Habit, the 95% of Behavior that Marketers Ignore.” )

The disconnect between the purchasing situation and the need to establish brands mentally (literally burn them into our brains) meant marketers played both ends against the middle. They used TV and other branding mediums to build awareness. Then they used direct-response tactics to tip the balance toward purchase when the situation was right. But in between was a huge gap that has swallowed billions of advertising dollars. The challenge facing digital marketing is how to bridge the gap.

Don’t Take Our Word for It
The answer to bridging the gap for a brand that promises quality lies in a few converging areas: the online social graph and mobile computing. Both areas are in their infancy, but they hold the promise of solving the Brand Promise marketer’s dilemma.

If a brand is a promise of quality, we want to hear confirmation of that by someone other than the brand. A brand’s advertising might make us willing to consider them, but we want confirmation of the promise of quality from an objective third party. The Web has made it much easier to access the opinions of others. And, through platforms like Facebook and Twitter, we are now able to “crowdsource” — reach out to our trusted circle of family, friends and acquaintances and quickly poll them for their opinions. But this is still a fragmented, multi-step process that requires a lot of time and cognitive effort on our part. What happens when we weave the pieces together into a smooth continuum?

Keeping Marketing in Hand
Mobile has the ability to do that, because it provides us with a constant online connection. Consider the implications. As we store more of our “LifeBits” (check out Aaron Goldman’s columns on this fascinating project) online and rely more and more on digital assistance to make our lives easier, the odds of determining our intent by where we are and what we’re interacting with in our own “Web” improve dramatically. Our online persona becomes an accurate reflection of our mental one. With mobile devices, our digital and physical locations merge and through technologies like MOBVIS, we can even parse our surrounding visually. All this combines to give the marketer very clear signals of what we might be thinking about at any given time.

Now, advertising can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy: think of it as behavioral targeting on steroids. Not only that, it can be the first step in a continuum: we get a targeted and relevant messaging, with the ability to seamlessly pull back objective reviews and opinions on any given product, location or service. Going one step further with just one click, we can reach out through multiple social networks to see if any of our circle of acquaintances has an opinion on the purchase we’re considering. If brands are a promise, this allows us to vet the promise instantly. If all checks out, we quickly check for best prices and possible alternatives within the geographic (or online) parameters we set.

In this scenario, the nature of brand-building for the brand promise product changes dramatically. We rely less on manufacturer’s messaging and more on how the brand resonates through the digital landscape. Brand preference becomes more of a spur-of-the-moment decision. Of course, the brands will still try to stake the high ground in our mental terrain through traditional awareness-building, but I suspect it will become increasingly more difficult to do so. Ultimately, brands will try to move their position from one of a promise of quality (a promise easily checked online) to a religion, where faith can play the spoiler.

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6 Cures for Common SEO Mistakes

marketing3How bulletproof is your SEO campaign? Do you have all your bases covered? Are you getting the most organic traffic available? Smart marketers crave targeted, low-cost web traffic, especially in this challenging economy. When implemented correctly, a finely tuned SEO campaign has the ability to drive traffic efficiently, especially when compared to other forms of marketing. 

However, many sites don’t take full advantage of the power of a well-honed SEO campaign that has implemented both on-the-page and off-the-page SEO best practices. SEO is both an art and a science, and I view the science part as 90 percent of that balance, even though there is some debate on what true best practices include.

With that in mind, listed here are six common SEO best practices that are often overlooked. The techniques are usually quick and painless to implement and can have dramatic effects on SEO results.

CLICK HERE to continue, coutesy of IMediaConnection.

Small Businesses NOT Keeping Up With Online Presence

outdoor-vision-user-photo
According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.

The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:

  • 82% use search engines
  • 57% use Yellow Pages directories.
  • 53% use local newspapers
  • 49% use Internet Yellow Pages
  • 49% use TV
  • 38% use direct mail
  • 32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less:

Consumer Use Of Media Compared to Two Years Ago (% of Respondents)
Media Use More Use Less
Search engines

72%

1%

E-Mail newsletters

35

7

Yellow page directories

16

23

Local newspaper

10

25

Magazines

11

31

Direct mail

9

27

Radio

9

23

Source: WebVisible and NielsenOnline survey November 2008, February 2009

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing. Among those small businesses that have a website:

  • 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or “poor”
  • 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close competitor
  • 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
  • Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to their website
  • 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
  • 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
  • 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
  • Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
  • 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those, 30% do no Internet advertising

 Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:

  • 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
  • 42% say they use the local newspaper less

Courtesy of the Center for Media Research.

Top 5 Lies That Marketeers Tell Sales

whisperThere are a lot of very talented people in marketing. However, the sad truth is that many of them are still trying to market like it’s still the 1980s. They spend big money while adding little value. Whenever I run across such groups or individuals (and plenty of them leave comments on this blog) I find that they tend to promulgate five dysfunctional lies. To be fair, the marketers who espouse these lies happen to believe they’re true. But they’re lies nonetheless.

LIE #1: Branding is vital to your success. Marketing execs take everything that happens in a company (product design, development, call center, sales, manufacturing) couple it up with the stuff that marketing does (advertising, marcom, etc.) and call it “branding.” Then, because all those things are important, they convince the boss that “branding” is important and therefore marketing should get a bigger budget to oversee all the “branding” activities.
LIE #2: We can train you to sell. Selling is like sex; if you’ve never done it, you have no idea how to do it well. Many marketing professionals have never sold so much as a glass of lemonade, so they have no idea what customers want and how they think. The training that marketing provides is almost always product features and functions, which is of very limited usefulness, because customers, frankly, don’t give a rat’s rear end about features and functions.
LIE #3: Our market research is scientific. There are exceptions, but from what I’ve seen, a lot of what passes for market research inside most firms is simply Marketing figuring out a way to get somebody else to produce the smoke they want to breath. In any case, a great deal of B2B “market research” qualitative and anecdotal (e.g. focus groups) that lacks both validity and value.
LIE #4: We can handle the media. In the 15 years I’ve been a freelance writer for major national publications, I have run across about 4 marketing managers who were capable of working well with the media. All you have to do is look at the trash that passes for press releases in most firms. And what’s really pitiful is when the PR managers think that THEY should be the source. Clueless.
LIE #5: We are giving you good leads. CSO Insights recently conducted surveys of more than 2000 sales and marketing professionals. Get this: 85% of company marketers felt they were doing a good job generating quality sales leads. By contrast only 50% of the sales professionals in those same organization were satisfied with marketing’s efforts. The result of the disparity is fewer closed deals and less revenue. Ouch!
READERS: I’m perfectly willing to give Marketing equal time on this issue. Feel free to leave a comment describing some Lies that Sales Tells Marketing. If I get enough, I’ll publish them as a full post.

Courtesy of BNET.

5 Avoidable Cold Call Mistakes

ice-cubesThis post is the first half of a ten minute course on what NOT to do when you’re cold calling.  There are five videos of what doesn’t work when you’re cold-calling.

Listen to them carefully.  If you find yourself doing the same thing, follow the advice at the end of the video. 

By the way, these excellent training tools come from Telemasters, a sales training firm, courtesy of BNET.

CLICK HERE TO PROCEED

How to Get LinkedIn

linkedin-logoI’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. In fact, I am constantly professing my love for LinkedIn. However, I still encounter a lot of naysayers who argue that they don’t want to add another thing to their list of things. I completely understand. I took stock the other day of all the social networks that I participate in, and it totaled more than 20. I even use the social network capabilities of sites like Netflix (to see what movies my friends are watching) and Rhapsody (to share music with them).

But I put LinkedIn in a category all its own. LinkedIn is for business — not for catching up with friends or planning family reunions. I use it solely for connecting with people I meet and interact with in business settings.

Of course, much has been written about the opportunities that LinkedIn presents to advertisers. And indeed, it is a social channel that offers plenty of opportunities for marketers looking to build their brands. But what about your own personal brand? What about you and your company’s professional reputation within your industry? Whether you’re on the brand, agency, or service side, marketing is all about building relationships. And in interactive marketing especially, the people you meet and do business with expect you to be wired into their community.

In an effort to do my part to keep LinkedIn legit and help out those who fear yet another social network, let me give you my tips on how to best utilize LinkedIn for you and your business.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE.  Courtesy of IMediaConnection.com

How to Market in a Web 2.0 World

marketing2For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers. If only they knew how to do it.

That’s where this article aims to help. We interviewed more than 30 executives and managers in both large and small organizations that are at the forefront of experimenting with Web 2.0 tools. From those conversations and further research, we identified a set of emerging principles for marketing.

But first, a more basic question: What is Web 2.0, anyway? Essentially, it encompasses the set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online. That includes blogs, wikis, social-networking sites and other online communities, and virtual worlds.

Millions of people have become familiar with these tools through sites like Facebook, Wikipedia and Second Life, or by writing their own blogs. And a growing number of marketers are using Web 2.0 tools to collaborate with consumers on product development, service enhancement and promotion. But most companies still don’t appear to be well versed in this area.

So here’s a look at the principles we arrived at—and how marketers can use them to get the best results.

To read the rest, CLICK HERE.  Courtesy of MIT SLOAN & THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.