Monday, October 18, 2010

Still going round and round with your social media marketing plan?

We field the question on a daily basis: How can I promote my business through social media?

Even smaller businesses recognize the importance of tapping this exponentially growing marketing channel, but social media remains an enigma to most business owners. Sure, their face is on Facebook. Their business is linked on LinkedIn. Maybe they’re even Tweeting or Blogging about… stuff.

But, is all this time spent socializing actually getting them anywhere? Where exactly does the rubber meet the road on the social media pathway? When does it translate into leads and then into sales?

As in real life, socializing in the online world can take up a lot of your time and get you, well, squat for your efforts. Learning to streamline your social media effort so you don’t waste time is key to managing a successful campaign as is driving all the social butterflies you collect to one main destination: your company’s website.

I attended a luncheon last week where Lindsay Dicks, CEO of CelebritySites laid out an easy formula for both streamlining your social media and getting results from it. Her Circular Marketing concept takes the “round and round” out of your social media by basically implementing a round and round approach to it.

The Circular Marketing concept takes one message and reformulates it into several social media friendly formats (Blog, Press Release, Podcast). These messages are then distributed through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and syndicated services. Links to these posts are posted on the company’s website and the links from these sites post back to the company’s website where the original content resides.

It sounds complicated, but is remarkably simple and thanks to Lindsay, we’re now in the know on how to make Circular Marketing work for our clients.

Wanna take a spin?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is your e-mail marketing falling on deaf eyeballs?

After spending oodles of money on the printing and postage needed to market your company through the mail, e-marketing seemed like a no-brainer. You could produce the same message, give it a creative spin and send it out to all your hot prospects for the cost of nothing! Enough of paying those big postal increases Uncle Sam demands. E-mail marketing is where it’s at.

Fast forward a few months later and you’ve been busy papering your prospects’ inboxes with all the latest news and fabulous, “can’t pass them up” offers from your company. At first, you got a good response. You fielded a few inquires from interested contacts and even got a couple takers for your fabulous offers. But, little by little the responses have dropped off. Now, when you send out your newest e-marketing message you hear the sound of crickets. Is anyone “listening” anymore?

Getting noticed in your prospect’s inbox can be more challenging than you think. Today’s inboxes are chock full of e-marketing messages. Amid all the clutter, your message may only get a glance so how do you turn that glance into action?

Chris Brogan of New Marketing Labs offers some good suggestions on fine tuning your e-marketing messages. His quick tips are culled from the trial and errors of some of the big Fortune 100 e-marketers. This quick read is worth a quick glance that might translate into more action for your e-marketing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

If you’re banking on Gen Y for sales, hold on for a bumpy ride.

Ah, the good ol’ days. Not so long ago the local newspapers were chock full of splashy, full color ads for hundreds of brand spanking new real estate developments promising “The Active Lifestyle You’ve Always Dreamed Of.” Today you’re lucky if the Post has enough pages to line your birdcage.

Lately, though, real estate has begun to show signs of life. Although formerly active seniors are now firmly entrenched on cushy sofas with no intention of moving anytime soon, Generation Y has started to flutter around affordable new home communities looking for their first nest. Last year, this first-time homebuyer crowd accounted for almost 45 percent of new home purchases in South Florida. Cha ching!

Before you start looking to feather you own nest with the proceeds from Gen Y sales, you might want to do your homework to gain a good understanding of what motivates this up-and-coming consumer market. In a word, nothing.

One writer aptly described this generation of entitlement as “The ones who got a trophy for finishing ninth.” Taught that life is fair and that it’s better to receive than to give, Gen Y wants it all, but damned if they’ll raise a pinky to get it.

Companies looking to entice the Gen Y customer will need to sell sizzle because Gen Y doesn’t much care about the steak. Gen Y craves status and they are early adopters of the newest, hottest products and services. If they think what you're selling will make them more popular, they’re buying.

The most important thing to Gen Y is leisure. Work is merely a means to collect a paycheck that can be spent for their enjoyment and pleasure. Gen Y cares little for advancement in their career although they expect high salaries for the least amount of work possible. They are not interested in contributing to the goodwill of society so if you want them to support your cause, there better be something in it for them.

If you can successfully tap into the “I want, I want, I want” Gen Y mentality, these youngsters have money to burn. Pampered by mom and dad, they are often debt-free and still enjoy a parental line of credit. Makes you wish you’d been born in the 80’s, huh?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Once upon a time in the land of radio

Some 15 years ago RWA started working with a small retailer. With just one location, the company had no plans to expand. Rather the owner was quite content to simply grow the business that was currently coming into his shop, servicing as many customers as possible in his 9 to 5 (or sometimes 9 to 3) workday.

The company wasn’t the typical agency client, but we were impressed by the owner’s commitment to a consistent advertising effort so we took him on. Year after year, month after month, during season and during off season, we ran advertising for this one store. You know what? That old adage – the one about how consistent advertising works – well, it actually works!

For the past 15 years, we have consistently run advertisements for our retailer on local radio stations. Today, not a week goes by when a new customer doesn’t wander into this one shop and speak those glorious words “I heard your ad on the radio.”

Much ado has been made over radio and about the impact of new developments such as satellite radio on the effectiveness of local radio advertising. Granted radio listeners today have more options, much as they do in television, in print and online. So making an impact on radio is more challenging than it has been in the past.

The success our one-shop retailer has had on radio is largely due to the entertaining nature of its radio spots. Since the company has only one location which is manned only by the owner, the radio advertisements capitalize on the unique experience of shopping local and dealing directly with the guy who owns the shop. The offbeat, obviously locally produced radio ads feature the owner chatting with listeners, much in the way he does when they come into his shop. His topics cover everything from recent events, to childhood memories, to rants about life’s little annoyances. In between, he throws in a little info about his shop and invites people to come visit. Listeners come in as much to meet him as to shop at the store.

Radio has often been described as “theatre of the mind,” the one medium where an advertiser could build an image in its customers’ minds by telling them a really good story. Tell it enough and people start to listen. Then, pretty soon, they start to respond. After all, who doesn’t love a really good story?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sure, it's your ad, but what's in it for me?

A good friend of mine who recently got Tivo was expounding to me on the fantastic benefits of this new technology.

“I can Tivo all the best shows like Real Housewives and Dancing with the Stars,” she gushed. “I get to watch them when I want to watch them and the best part is, I don’t have to watch the commercials!”

Say what?

“But, the commercials are the best part of watching TV,” I responded, tactfully omitting the added rebuttal of “especially considering the kinds of TV you’re watching.”

She shook her head sadly, a comment to my obvious disillusionment surrounding my profession. “Commercials suck,” she said.

As much as I hate to admit it, she has a point. And, considering that she represents a large audience of consumers that enjoy today’s scintillating TV menu of battling housewives and tangoing celebrities, her opinion counts… a lot. She thinks your message sucks.

Advertisers (and, yes, even their agencies) can sometimes lose perspective when telling their story through advertising. Common ad phrases like “We’re available 24/7 to serve you.” and “The number one choice for (insert product or service here)!” are intended to tell consumers why they should “call now.” When you break it down, though, all they’re really telling consumers is how full of ourselves we are.

It’s all about us. There’s nothing in it for them.

Engaging potential customers through advertising requires a reversed point of view. You have see things from their perspective, not yours. Marketing Consultant, Simon Sinek, illustrates how to do this effectively through his concept of “The Golden Circle.” As Sinek explains, consumers can be inspired to support (buy) a product if you stop talking about what you do and start talking about why you do it. Suddenly consumers believe in you because you talk about what's important to them.

Just think of it from the Real Housewife perspective. “What’s in it for me?”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It’s not nice to call people names. (Copycat!)

Your new ad campaign is a masterpiece. The headlines are engaging and provocative. The visuals are hand-selected for a perfect fit. The call-to-action is different from anyone else’s, a strong offer guaranteed to get the phone ringing.

The campaign hits and, for the first few weeks, you’re basking in the glow of newfound results. Calls are coming in. Appointments are being made. New customers are noticing you for the first time. Someone else is noticing you too - your competitor. He thinks your campaign is pretty darn good. So, like any good morally ambiguous business owner, he decides to run a new campaign too. And, remarkably, it looks just like yours.

Perhaps you should be flattered. After all, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But, you’re probably not feeling so flattered if your phone isn’t ringing as much as it was before the copycat prowled his way into your marketing ideas. Perhaps it’s time to sharpen your claws and get ready for a good old fashioned catfight.

In the advertising world, these feline wars are more conservatively dubbed “comparative advertising.” Comparative advertising can be quite successful in battling copycats when used in certain ways.

  1. Hammer the one key selling point that makes you better than your competitor. Verizon has used this strategy very successfully in its battle against AT&T. Pick your best selling point, something your competitor cannot offer, and ask customers to compare.
  2. Invite consumers to try you both. The Pepsi Challenge is a classic example of this strategy. Whether consumers really preferred Coke or Pepsi, we’ll never know. We do know that consumers remembered Pepsi best because they had the confidence to challenge us. If you know your product is better, invite consumers to compare it.
  3. Poke fun at your competition. Apple is a master of poking fun at its PC competitors. The key to this strategy is to poke fun in a good natured way. Getting nasty can easily backfire on you.

You were creative enough to get one up on the competition before so you’ve obviously got what it takes to beat him again. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a copycat.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Promotional value… priceless or just pricey?

The player sprinted full out as the ball arced high into the sky, flirting with the outfield wall. Fans sprang to their feet, a hush of silence sweeping over the stadium as all eyes watched the contest between ball and man. The ball’s course was high, seemingly well beyond the reach of any mortal man. It seemed destined for the oblivion of the open pasture behind the stadium. As it soared to freedom, the player launched himself into the air. Stretching his arm to an impossible height, he reached his glove skyward to capture the ball safely in its leather cocoon.

Then, he slammed backward into a Jon Smith Subs outfield board.

The front page of the Sports section carried the story and the picture of the winning play with “World’s Best Marinated Steak Subs” shouting loudly from the background. Not a bad return on that baseball sponsorship.

Unlike a TV commercial or print ad, sponsorships and promotions are more difficult to put a value on. Promoters love to pitch you splashy presentations promising hundreds of thousands of impressions for substantially less than they are really worth. But, unless they can make your cash register ring, they’re just a bunch of pretty pictures with no story behind them. And, as my grandmother liked to say, “paper holds still.”

The value you place on a sponsorship or promotion depends on the value you expect to get out of it. You must define your expectations going in so you know how to determine the success when the fans have all gone home. A sponsor message on an outfield board is a great way to promote your brand, but unless you advertise “Free Subs,” you probably won’t be inundated by customers saying they saw you at the ballgame. If that’s your expectation, look for another kind of promotion or sponsorship.

Promoters and media often try to fit you into pre-packaged sponsorships. The Platinum Package includes on-air mentions, your logo on promotional materials, exposure on the website (ten zillion hits a week) and inclusion in weekly on air giveaways (supplied by yours truly). Sometimes a pre-packaged plan fits right within your expectations. More often, you’ll want to ask for a customized version.

Recently a client asked for a traffic driving promotion and the promoter presented a register-to-win opportunity for a prize provided by – guess who? – the client. Other than the “traffic driving on-air mentions,” the client could have conducted the promotion on his own. Instead, we negotiated for a gift with purchase provided by – guess who? – the promoter for the same price tag as the original promotion. The client posted record sales for the day.

So the next time you’re considering a promotion or sponsorship, make them pitch it just the way you like it… straight across home plate. Chances are, you’ll get a home run.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Building a lasting relationship in the fickle web world

I confess. I was as fickle as the next girl. I went for the ones who were dark, handsome and mysterious. Those plain, clean cut, honest ones bored me to tears. I wanted a challenge. I craved the thrill. I was obsessed with finding the next best thing www could offer.

Like so many surfers, I eventually became disillusioned. Sure, the websites looked good on the surface – damn good – but they had no substance. Get past the pretty face and there was nothing to build a relationship on. We broke up. I never saw them again.

In the flash of the web world, it’s easy to dismiss sites that deliver interesting content, relevant information and an engaging user experience. Hey, if they don’t have a pretty face, why bother looking beneath the surface?

As in the real world, though, pretty will only get you so far. Websites that deliver a lasting experience that the user finds valuable will stand a better chance at building a long-term relationship with your customer.

Creating these online relationships is not much different that creating relationships in the real world.

  1. Provide interesting, relevant content. Users want to hang out with sites that interest them and provide them with information they can use. Update your content on a regular basis. Keep it fresh and new.
  2. Engage your users. Users want to feel important, like their thoughts, feelings and opinions count. Build avenues for them to express themselves. Blogs, forums, surveys and polls allow users to be heard and feel valued.
  3. Become a resource. Users want to be with you, but there are a lot of other websites competing for their attention. Rather than fight it, welcome their curiosity by providing interesting links, articles, and viral content for them to visit. They'll keep coming bakc to you.
  4. Make users feel special. Users want to feel valued so provide them with special discounts, give them VIP access to news, web casts or other relevant information, and allow them to customize their web experience. Remind them that you love them all the time.

Take a good, hard look at your website. Is it relationship material?