Marketing & Branding

Is your website built to be a marketing tool?

Bigstock-Technology-Internet-Websites-R-7414239Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Back when websites first came into being, they were little more than a digital brochure with some photos and text that validated your business' existance.

Today -- if your website isn't one of your most useful marketing/sales workhorses -- you're missing the boat. Want to know if you're maximizing the potential of your website?  

I can't do justice to that question here, but I can give you some food for thought. Answer these five questions to get an idea if your site is really serving you well.

Do you have a call to action "above the fold" on your website? In other words, without any scrolling? The Google algorithym gives priority to content above the fold. Don’t waste this valuable space on just a large header or image on pages within your site or blog articles. 

Do you talk about yourself all over your site or use the space to make your visitor smarter? Today's buyers do 60-70% of their shopping online, before they ever shoot you an email, pick up the phone or visit your store. They're coming to your site to learn and see if you're a good fit. Make them smarter by teaching them something useful to show them what it would be like to work with you.

Your goal is to get permission to stay in touch. How are you doing that? Most web visitors are potential customers. But they may not be ready to buy today. So you need to stay in touch until they are. How are you capturing their email address and what value are you offering for it?

What do your analytics tell you? Pay attention to the pages your visitors are spending time on. That should help you decide what to highlight on your home page and core navigation. It's clearly what they want to know more about.

Who are your voices of reason? People are skeptical and hate being sold to so why not use some testimonials from happy clients to reassure them that you're the real deal. Ideally those testimonials would be specific and give details about the value you brought.

So how'd you do?  Is your website doing all it should for you and your business?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog of McLellan Marketing Group

 

What happens when a brand gets perspective

I love it when a brand develops enough confidence to stand for something bigger and more important than whatever it is they sell.

That sort of self-understanding and clear vision on who their audience is and how they can truly help them is rare. And it is branding at it's finest.

Check out this TV spot from Dove.  They've figured out that their brand is all about women and celebrating a woman's beauty -- true beauty.

 

Notice that you did not see or hear one Dove product's name or even its product category.  

When you can do this for your audience -- your brand has grown up and is really ready to own the marketplace.  

When you don't think your audience won't get it unless you club them over the head.  When you stop worrying about how many times you mention your product or show it within 30 seconds.  When you finally understand what it is you sell -- bravo, your brand is ready and so are you.

 

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

 

In PR — make it personal

RosenDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I receive a lot of email pitches from people who want me to write about some product, service, app, or book on my blog.

I can’t even imagine what journalists and popular blogs like the Huffington Post must get.

Most of them get a form “thank you but no” email from me. They haven’t done their research, don’t know what I write about and many times — it’s a form letter that I know I received along with about 200 other marketing bloggers. Many times, they don’t even address me by name.

But every once in awhile, someone does it well. Emanuel Rosen, who I’ve never met in person but we’ve interacted for a few years in social media circles, has written a new book called Absolute Value. He sent me a message on Facebook about his book, asking if he could send me a copy.

When I received the book, I saw that Emanuel took the time to jot me a note on the inside, even referencing that he knew I lived in Iowa. Now I am not suggesting that I was the only person he sent a book to or even the only one to receive a personalized copy. I know better. But he did invest some time and effort — which makes me much more likely to notice or want to be helpful.

Usually when I get a book in the mail, I had no idea it was coming and there’s nothing but a promotional flier inside. So I don’t even know if the publisher or author sent it. I’m a fast reader but there’s no way I could read them all. So I have to choose.

Emanuel’s book went to the top of my pile because he bothered to make a personal connection and demonstrate that I wasn’t just the 150th person on some list. In fairness, it also went to the top of my pile because his earlier book, The Anatomy of Buzz, was a great read so I was confident that his new book would be as well.

Turns out, I was right. It was very thought-provoking and raised some serious questions about how the power of branding may be shifting, which is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. I wrote a review (read it here) and encouraged my blog readers to check it out.

So let’s look at the recipe card for how Emanuel got the results he wanted, because they’re the same steps you should take if you’re trying to get the media’s attention.

  • He established the connection between us before he needed to ask for the review
  • He stayed in touch periodically to keep the connection open (we’d occasionally comment on each other’s FB posts etc)
  • When he wanted me to help him promote his book, he made a personal ask
  • He made it easy for me — he sent me a copy of his book
  • He let me know I wasn’t just a cog in the wheel by personalizing the signature in the book
  • When I sent him an email saying that I liked the book and was going to write about it, he was genuinely appreciative
  • No doubt eventually he will comment on the blog post or shoot me a thank you on FB (I just posted the review tonight, so I am guessing on this one, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet)
  • He will promote the blog post — giving me some exposure to his list of contacts


That, my friends, is how it should be done. It’s not complicated, but it is human to human, not PR machine to the masses. And being the guy on the receiving end — I can tell you, that’s a difference you can feel.

 

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

Content marketing at a glance

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

You can't read a marketing article or book without bumping into the phrase "content marketing." The truth is -- content marketing isn't new.  See if any of these marketing tactics look familiar:

  • Open a community forum
  • Generate a cause marketing effort
  • Encourage customer reviews
  • Give a keynote speech
  • Write a blog
  • Write an ebook
  • Publish some articles
  • Create an infographic
  • Generate media releases
  • Create guides or how to documents
  • Produce trend reports
  • Record a podcast
  • Send out an enewsletter
  • Host an event
  • Create some interactive demos
  • Put on a webinar
  • Create useful calculators or checklists
  • Share some case studies

See -- you've already been creating content, you just called it something different. But have you been doing it well?

Check out this infographic that the CMO Council created to make sure your efforts are well received.  (click on it to see a larger size.)

Content-impacts-b2b-graphic

 

The truth is -- the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to content marketing is not do it at all. With the tips on this infographic -- you can dodge the big mistakes and deliver content that delivers new customers!

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

Would your movie be all about you?

FBmovieDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In celebration of their 10-year anniversary, Facebook surprised its users this week by allowing each user to create a one minute movie that looked back on their Facebook presence. It grabbed photos and status updates that had received a lot of likes and everyone has been sharing them in the newsfeed.

(To the right, you can see a screenshot of me sharing my movie with my FB friends)

It's been fun to look back at other people's public facing life and what they've shared.

Watching all of the videos got me thinking about how business Facebook pages would fare if we used the same app on them.  

If we did some sort of composite of the entries on your company's Facebook page -- what would we see?  Would we see you talking about your stuff, your sale, your awards and your employees?

I doubt it. You see -- the way the app selected what to show in the movie was based on how many likes and comments each entry received. So it wasn't what I, Drew McLellan, thought was most interesting or important -- it was what my friends took the time to enjoy.

So if your business page is littered with stuff about your company and it's more sales or self oriented... your movie might have been blank. (Wouldn't that have been embarrassing?)  

Seems like this movie gift was a very good reminder to all of us that Facebook (whether it is our personal page or a business page) is all about the audience and what they care about. As you put together your editorial calendar for Facebook (you have one, right?) ask yourself -- would this item show up in my movie because it engaged my page's audience or would they ignore this?

Be more purposeful about what goes on your page... and avoid sharing content that wouldn't make your movie.

 ~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group 

How was your marketing in 2013?

A+You survived another year, the holidays have whizzed by and now everyone is ready to get back to work.

2014.  So many opportunities.  

But before we think about that, we need to make the time to look back on the last 12 months.

Pull out your marketing plan for ’13.  If you didn't have one, at least think through your marketing efforts.

  • What actually got done?
  • What worked?
  • Did you try to do too much and stretch yourself too thin?
  • Did you start off great but as soon as you got busy, your marketing efforts died on the vine?
  • Are you guilty of trying something once or twice and then declaring it a failure without giving it the time and room to bloom?
  • What never got off the ground? Is it still a viable idea or has its time passed?
  • What is the one thing that you’d planned on doing that you most regret not getting to? Is the opportunity still there?

Overall, what letter grade would you give your marketing efforts this year?

  • Did you meet your own objectives?
  • Did you protect your brand?
  • Did you build in marketing efforts that continued no matter how busy or overcommitted you became?

Use the following for criteria: effectiveness, consistency, frequency, and ROI. Then, average the grades. How’d you do?

Don’t get discouraged if you couldn’t give yourself an A or even a passing grade. The good news is, there is time to make an improvement as we look the new year. But I'm betting there are some insights on how you should move forward based on last year's performance.

Why not get out of the gate in the right direction by taking a glance backwards?

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

Marketing lessons from Rudolph

Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeerDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Sure, it's a Christmas classic… but have you really considered what marketing messages are woven into the classic Christmas story — Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

I didn't think so. Let's fix that mistake right now.

Marketing lesson #1:  You can't hide the truth.

Rudolph did not embrace the fact that he was different from all the other reindeer. He just wanted to have a cute little black nose and the chance to play some reindeer games.

You can fool people for a little while, but if you cannot walk the talk…don't say it in the first place. Your consumers know you're not perfect. They just want you to be straight about it.

Marketing lesson #2:  Never make assumptions about how your consumers feel.  Far better to ask directly.

One of the main reasons Rudolph took a hike was because he assumed Clarice wouldn't love him now that his nose so bright was common knowledge. Think of the grief he could have saved everyone if he had just checked in with her.

You are going to be hard pressed to find a more insightful marketing tool than a customer survey. Sometimes the news is tough to hear, but I guarantee you — you can make some simple changes to significantly increase your customer loyalty and retention.

Marketing lesson #3:  Your worst enemy can turn into your greatest ally.

Sure, the Abominable SnowMonster (or "The Bumble" as Yukon Cornelius called him) tried to eat his girlfriend, but Rudolph came to see him as a buddy — even letting him put the star atop the Christmas tree. All it took was someone (Hermey the elf) listening to the Bumble and finding his pain (tooth ache) to turn the grumbling beast into a helpful and happy pal.

When someone clearly dislikes or even hates your company, product or services' shortcomings, listen. If you really work towards understanding their perspective — you can not only save the relationship but you can turn that negative word of mouth risk into an advocate.

Marketing lesson #4:  Create raving fans and a community by giving first.

Rudolph didn't have to promise the Misfit Toys anything. At that moment, they couldn't help him. But with a generous heart, he promised them he'd try to find them good homes with children who would love them.

When you do something without regard for "re-payment" of any kind, you create value. When you create value, people keep coming back. When they do that, you begin to build a relationship and a sense of loyalty and no one has even tried to buy or sell yet. Which makes the selling a whole lot easier.

Marketing lesson #5:  When you find what makes you unique, it can be your ticket to new heights.

When Rudolph began to see his nose as an asset and recognized it was what set him apart from all the other reindeer, he suddenly got asked by Santa to take a leadership position.  From then on, it was his calling card. People told others about his nose and pretty soon, he was known from coast to coast. That's branding!

Companies like Apple and Disney rise to the top because they are proud of what makes them different. They don't try to be everything to everyone. They recognize that having a niche means you can create brand loyalty as opposed to being lost in a sea of sameness.

From all of us at McLellan Marketing Group -- wishing you a very happy holiday season!

~ Drew

How do you build a brand?

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I've had the good fortune, over my 25+ year career, to help many companies build their brand. Of course, that's just step one. Building a brand is the initial effort and in many ways the easiest effort. After all, you can say you are whatever you'd like to be.

The difficult part is actually becoming it.

That takes years of commitment and focus. Which is why most companies don't do it well. They start out great but when they have to actually live their brand and make the tough decisions that come along with that commitment -- their entusiasm wanes.

I get it -- the creating the brand is the fun part. But don't get so caught up in the fun that you forget there's a lot of work that is coming right behind it. And actually for me, that's really the fun stuff. To help bring a brand to life and to watch as an organization absorbs the brand into the very fiber of its culture and decisions is pretty cool stuff.

Want a peek at some of the fun of the early stages? Check out this infographic by the Palmer Agency. While it's a simplistic approach, it does point out some of the key ingredients. It's Friday -- why not pull together your team and see how you'd answer these questions?

~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

Branding questionaire

Is your audience on 24/7?

TimemovementWhen I was growing up, my dad would get home from work around 6:00 pm.  He’d be carrying a briefcase and wearing a suit.  That was work dad. Once he walked in the door, he’d say hello and chat for a minute and then head upstairs to change.  When he came back downstairs in his jeans and casual shirt, he was home dad.  And for the most part, the two didn’t blend. 

There were no home computers back then and the only phone we owned had a really, really long cord so you might have a decent shot of having a private conversation if you stretched it as far as it would go.   Social norms dictated that my dad’s employees or boss didn’t call him at home unless there was a genuine emergency, so as a result, he rarely got work calls.

From what I could tell, that wasn’t unique to our house.  It was just how it was.

Contrast that with the results of a recent study done by Forbes (April 2012) that found that among senior decision makers the line between work and non-work time has all but been blurred away.

  • 52% say they receive information related to business decisions around-the-clock, including weekends.
  • 63% check work-related email every 1-2 hours during non-work hours.
  • 53% step away from dinner to deal with work-related issues.
  • 98% send work-related emails during the weekends or at night.


Only 3% of those surveyed said they did not interact with work-related email or have business conversations (via email, text or phone) while enjoying their vacation.

One fact that the study uncovered which gave me great hope -- there’s one period of time that most executives still protect and keep business from intruding.  Dinnertime with their families.

Interestingly, with execs staying connected throughout the workday, evening and weekends – they’re reporting that many business decisions are being made outside of business hours and outside the office.  59% of executives make 50% or more of their decisions at home or while traveling.

What I found most surprising about this study is that when asked how this uber connectivity made them feel, the executives overwhelmingly reacted in a positive way.  The word they used to describe how they felt about it was “empowered.”  They feel more in control and better prepared.

Today, professionals “toggle” between their personal and professional lives.   It’s not just a one-way street.  While they’re making business decisions from home, they’re also making personal decisions while at work.

What’s the takeaway from all of this for us, as marketers?

Work is no longer a nine to five proposition and we’ve got to factor that into how we communicate with our customers and prospects.   Today, work is more of a state of mind, rather than a state of time or place.

So timing your marketing efforts to coincide with the 9-5 workday is actually shortsighted. You are choosing the most crowded time for no real reason.  Your audience is connected and working pretty much all the time.

Even if you choose a less crowded time – you still have more competition than ever before.  Today, your target is not just doing one thing.   People have become master multitaskers.  We’re going to have to work harder to actually capture someone’s full attention.

This is another reason content marketing, social media and other “providing helpful information” marketing is rising to the top.  It also means that timely response has taken on a whole new meaning.  If they’re working on Saturday afternoon, do you think a reply by noon on Monday feels responsive?

You see – it’s not just “them” who is connected and working 24/7. It better be us too.

 

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

 



 

How will you say thanks?

Giftbox

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I just saw a meme on Facebook that said there were eight or nine Saturdays until Christmas. Yikes. It's hard to believe the holiday season is practically on top of us.

In the business world, the holiday season means client gift giving season. Most businesses start thinking about this honored tradition around December 1 -- when it's too late to get creative or do something special.

But it's only October 15th. You have a choice.  

Are you going to resort to the expected -- you know, a poinsetta, or a basket of fresh fruit or maybe some chocolates, or are you going to do something memorable that would stand out from all the other fruit baskets, chocolates and plants?

Don't get me wrong -- if you've been sending poinsettas for 20 years, you should keep doing it. Now, it's part of your brand's DNA and your client's expectations. There's nothing wrong with a more traditional gift, if it fits your brand. My point is -- actually give it some thought.

This isn't about the cost or the extravagence -- it's really about being memorable. What could you give your clients that would make them stop and take notice. What would capture the spirit of your relationship and the work you do together? What would tell them that you truly appreciate the opportunity to work with them?

The perfect gift could be anything from a charitable donation to a self-published book to anything in between. You'll know it when you think of it.

And that's my suggestion. Take the time to think of it.

~ Drew, MMG's Top Dog

 

 

Are you leaving your mark?

Questionbutton

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I'm working on a column about the importance of leveraging your charitable activity and recognizing that it's a marketing effort. So I thought I would pose a few questions for you to ponder this week.

Does your company give anything to charity (money, time, in kind donations)?

If I surveyed your customers -- do they know you're doing this charitable work?

If your customers and prospects knew you were involved in the charities you serve -- would it matter to them?

Do the charities your support align with both your customer and employee base? Is it something they care about?

Are you one of a bazillion who serve this charity or do you "own" some aspect of their event, services etc.? (Are you one of 20 logos on the back of a t-shirt or is your involvement prominent?)

How could you better connect your charitable efforts to your customers and employees?How could they participate? How could they share ownership with you?

Are you using marketing dollars/time to create even a bigger bang for both the charity and your business?

Being involved in our community is the responsibility of every citizen and company. But it's also a marketing opportunity. You don't have to be overly promotional or taint your efforts. But you can leverage your good works.

The question is -- are you?  Keep an eye out for my column in this week's Business Record for more on this topic.

~ Drew

Content marketing - is the greater good also great for business?

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group.

Here are two givens in today's marketing world.  

  1. Content matters. Content marketing has been around for a long time -- and it's not going anywhere.
  2. Prospects want to know what your company stands for -- beyond making money.

Perhaps the question is -- can you blend the two givens to provide some direction for your marketing efforts. I think you can. This infographic outlines the value and initial steps of blending your marketing content with your bigger purpose.

What do you think? Could this attract new customers and reinforce the buying decision of your current ones?

 

Creating a Purpose Driven Content Engine

 

~ Drew McLellan

Infographic is from visual.ly

Facebook changes the rules!

Facebook-logo6

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Whether you knew it or not -- or chose to obey it or not -- until this past week it was against Facebook's terms and conditions for businesses to run contests on their own timelines, unless they used a third party app like Shortstack.

You can now invite Facebook users to like, comment or even create a post on your page as a way to vote or enter a contest. 

I know many of you are thinking… "I've been doing that for years!" Well, now you can do it legally.

You still need to have:

  • Official rules, outlining the contest and how you will select the winners (including terms and eligibility requirements)
  • A notice that states that Facebook is in no way sponsoring, endorsing or administering your contest or promotion.

If you're thinking about running a contest for your Facebook page, be sure to read Facebook’s promotional guidelines, found in Section E, here.

All of that is well and good. But keep in mind, you still need to apply some marketing sensibility to your contest. If it isn't relevant and of value to your Facebook page fans -- it's not going to work.

Follow these simple rules for creating a Facebook contest that will actually accomplish what you want.

Have specific outcome goals: Why are you running the contest? What will success look like?

How will you monitor contest: What if your contest garners way more attention than you anticipated? Who is overseeing the page and how will you handle the increased traffic?

Think bigger picture: Great -- you now have all these new FB fans. What are you going to do with them? What happens over the next few weeks and months to keep them engaged and connected to you?

Teach them about your brand: Your contest should help the FB user get to know your brand and product/service better. Make sure the contest itself and the prizes reflect what you're all about.

(Check out these successful FB contests for some ideas)

Facebook contests probably fall under the "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" maxim. Don't get me wrong. They can be an incredible opportunity to bring your brand zealots closer to you, get connected with some of your customers who are still holding you at arm's length and introduce you to a whole new group of people.

But remember that Facebook is permission-based. So if you are annoying or worse -- boring -- you're going to shorten your friend list and your influence.

Go forth and give things away. But make sure you follow the rules. (Mine and Facebook's!)

 ~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

Can you tell me about your brand?

Brand_red&bluemarbles_opt

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

At McLellan Marketing Group, we often get to help new companies create their brand and existing companies discover their brand. That may sound ridiculous -- surely a company should understand it's own brand, right?

Not really.

Many companies can't articulate how their company is different from their competitors. They talk about product features or unique service offerings but they never dig down deep enough to truly identify how or why they are different in a way that matters to their customers.

Your brand isn't about what you do or sell. It's about why your company exists and how the world would be a different place if it didn't.

Let's say you sell a widget that helps me use a GPS locator to find my pet if he/she ever got lost. You don't sell the widget. You sell peace of mind. You sell furry families. You sell protection of one of the most coveted bonds on this planet -- a person and their beloved pet.

Why do you make that widget? Maybe you're a huge dog lover and you've experienced the heartbreak of having a dog get loose and never knowing what happened to him. You don't want some other kid to ever go to bed crying like you did.

That's your why.

That's the essence of your brand… and it has nothing to do with GPS technology or the fact that I can buy your widget in pink, blue or chartreuse. And before you say it -- yes, this applies as much (if not more) to B2B companies.

Wondering what your brand is all about? Try answering these questions - but the answer can never be the product or service you sell.

  • Beyond profitability, what is the mission of your company?
  • If your company were to leave a legacy, what would it be?
  • How does your organization make the world a better place?
  • If firm disappeared tomorrow, what would be missed most of all?
  • What is the single most-important aspect of your company?
  • With regard to your organization, what do you feel passionate about? 
  • What business is your company in? 
  • What business is your company not in? 
  • Which three adjectives best describe your organization? 
  • Who (customer) would love your company the most? 
  • How do you prioritize your customers? If you had to allocate 100 points between the different customers segments or types (in terms of importance), how would you do so? 
  • What customer need does your product/service fulfill? Why does your target customer need or want you sell? 
  • What emotion(s) do you most closely associate with your product or service? 
  • How will your organization change your industry? 
  • How will your company change the world? 

 And some fun ones to really get you thinking differently:

  • If your company was a shape, what would it be?
  • If your organization was a texture, what would it be?
  • If your firm was a mood or feeling, what would it be?
  • If company was something from nature, what would it be?

Don't be one of those companies that doesn't have any idea how to answer these questions, or worse -- doesn't understand why you should bother. In a world where everyone has competition and it's so easy to become a commodity -- don't underestimate the power of understanding your brand and beginning to explore how you can bring that brand to life for your customers.

~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

Email marketing: Are you missing out?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Did you know that for every $1 spent on e-mail marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25? (Source: Experian). Our clients are always asking us what their expected ROI will be, no matter what type of advertising we’re talking about. Usually, of course, we can only give estimates, and even though this is somewhat the same case – this is a very high ROI for such a small investment. Why, then, aren’t you utilizing e-mail marketing? Or maybe you are, but it doesn’t look like the image you truly want to be presenting for your brand.

Here are some tips of how to get started or improve your current situation: 

1)   It all starts with the top: Make sure you’re using a strong copywriter to put together your e-mails from the subject line, all the way to the bottom. If you’re subject line isn’t catchy, you’re strongly reducing the chance of people opening the e-mail you just paid to send.

2)   Make sure the e-mail looks as professional as you are:  You’re working everyday to make sure the job you do or your company is the best it can be, right? So make sure you’re not sending out something that reflects anything less. If you’re sending out something that is misaligned, not really the same colors as your logo, or looks like it’s from the 1980s – it probably is not giving people your best impression. It’s so inexpensive to get a nice template designed for you, so spend the money (remember that amazing ROI?!) to do it right.

3)   Database building is key:  Usually when we start working with clients on e-mail marketing they ask about purchasing lists. (Similar to what you would do for direct mail). Unfortunately for advertisers (fortunately for consumers) e-mail databases aren’t truly for sale. You normally have to send your e-mails to a 3rd party to send it out for you and therefore lose a lot of the control. Really though, wouldn’t you want to personally be reaching people who have shown interest in your business? Just make sure you come up with a process to constantly be building your database. If you host an event, have a sign-up. If you start working with a new client, make sure to add them so they stay in the loop, etc!

4)   Get creative: Last Thursday I went to Legally Blonde at the Des Moines Community Playhouse (which was awesome by the way!). Then, Friday morning I received an e-mail from them asking if I enjoyed the show and asking that if I did, to please tweet and/or Facebook about it. What a fantastic idea! There is no cheaper way to grow ticket sales than with free testimonials, I suspect. Their e-mail was personalized to me, they wanted to make sure I had a good experience, and then reminded me to take a few seconds to tell my friends.

If you’re still not convinced, check out “25 Mind Blowing Facts about E-mail Marketing".

Where does your e-mail marketing stand? E-mail me at katie@itsahappymedium.com!  And sign up for the Happy Medium e-mails. (See what I did there? You can do it too!)

--Katie 

AdAge Power 150 powers down

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 1.34.10 AMAs 2006 wound down, a marketing professional named Todd Andrlik created the Marketing Power 150 which was (at the time) a very all-inclusive list of the top marketing blogs in the world.

Back then blogging was just beginning and it was a huge thrill just to get a few hundred readers or a comment here or there.  I launched my own blog, Drew's Marketing Minute in 2006 so I was elated to hear I'd been included in Todd's original list of the best marketing blogs.  

The list enjoyed early success, quickly rising to become the most comprehensive and definitive barometer of industry blogs. It was widely cited in books, bios, blogs and mainstream media, including Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal. It also inspired dozens of similar lists across numerous industries.

When Todd ran the list, it was 150 blogs and no more.  You either made the list or you didn't.  But late in 2007, Todd sold the list to AdAge and as you'd expect, they made some changes.  They continued to call the list the Power 150 but the list grew exponentially - ranking over 1100 blogs as they shut it down earlier this month.

What makes the powering down important to any of us is that it signifies how quickly the social media landscape is shifting.

In the post announcing the decision, AdAge said "Why are we shutting it down? Since we took over the list from Todd Andrlik in 2007, conversations on marketing have broadened their reach well beyond personal blogs to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other places. If blogging lowered the barrier to entry, social media obliterated it."

Does that mean blogging is dead?  Despite some people suggesting that's the case -- I don't think so. It just means that digital marketing isn't so linear today.  Before the barrier to entry was a blog.  But today, you can jump into social media via Pinterest, Twitter, a blog or Google+.  Blogs are no longer the only way people can or do share content. 

If I were a betting man, I'd say the other reason AdAge decided to freeze the Power150 (the list still exists -- they just aren't updating it any more) was the sheer volume of marketing blogs out there.  Their list is currently over 1100 blogs and I'm sure they were being barraged by new marketing blog authors every day.  Back when Todd started the list -- it was manageable and scalable.  But today the volume of potential entries and the time it would take to review all the prospective sites couldn't be sustained.

Whatever the reason, the Power150 was iconic in both marking the launch of social media/blogging and the moment when the list couldn't keep up any more.

 

 

 

Consistency isn't optional

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 8.16.28 AM

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Think of some of the most famous and recognizable advertising marks. How about McDonald’s golden arches? Or Coca Cola’s logo.

Now, imagine for a minute how the golden arches would look if they were blue. Or the Coke logo on a green can. (This blue M outside a McDonald's is in Sedona, AZ)

It’s just wrong, isn’t it?

Companies invest a significant amount of money and effort into creating a brand. A big part of brand awareness and recognition is the visual cues, like color.

If McDonalds and Coke don’t mess with theirs, why in the world would you ever consider changing your logo colors on a whim? Or use different fonts every time you communicate with your key audiences?

And yet businesses and nonprofits do it all the time. If you're guilty -- stop.

Next time you get bored with the look of your company’s identity, put a can of Coke on your desk, or drive by those golden arches.

Then, just leave everything be. Every single time!

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

A look at Word of Mouth's payoff

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Everyone loves getting a referral and many businesses live and die by them. And yet, most businesses do not have anything in place to encourage word of mouth -- other than doing a good job and hoping their customers will brag about them.

Hardly a marketing strategy. Should you do a good job? Sure. But there's so much more you can do. Don't want to expend the energy? Hopefully this infographic from Noble Imaging will change your tune. Look at the impact word of mouth can have and how that translates to some serious impressions/cash for you.

In my next post, I'll dig into some specific ways you can generate buzz that brings in business. (If you want to see a larger version of the infographic, just click on it and you can download one.)

SM-WOMM-R2

 

So what do you say -- are you ready to put in some sweat equity and maybe a little cash to get your customers buzzing about you?

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

How do you know what to deliver if you never take the order?

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

In general, we assume too much. In marketing we assume WAY TOO much. I was reminded of this truth when I was reading the new study done by Pivot about the social landscape and how it is evolving.

Here's part of their intro: "Each year, the Pivot team studies the evolving social landscape. For our 2012 -2013 "State of Social Marketing" report, we surveyed social marketers and digital strategists who represent agencies and brands. What we learned is that the fundamental drivers for social media have radically transformed."

They go on to explore all the ways people's use and perceptions of social media has shifted over the past year. But the two questions/graphs that really struck me were these:

The first question -- do you know who is accessing your social media content/connecting with you there?

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.17.11 AM

Amazingly -- 38% of these professionals said no, they don't.  That begs the question...why.  Well, here's why.

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.17.35 AM

The reason they don't know who they're talking to is because they aren't even talking to them enough to find out why they're there.  

Why? (I'm sure you're asking yourself that as you read this)

I think there are a few reasons.

We are still using social media as a one way communication tool: Rather than recognizing that social is a dialogue, most marketers are still treating it like a monologue. Since we think we're supposed to do all the talking, we don't bother finding out who we're talking to or what they need.

We're afraid to ask: This isn't just a problem in social media - it's true in general. You've heard the expression "don't ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer." Well, unfortunately, marketers, business owners and leaders have taken that to heart. They're so afraid of the feedback they might get, they shut down the opportunity.

We don't actually believe it matters: Of the three, this is the most dangerous. It means you're just going through the motions but you don't  believe social media can actually impact your business. If you are just going through the motions -- stop. All you're going to do is damage your brand and alienate your customers. It's better to stop doing it than do it badly or without sincerity.

While this study was focused on social marketing -- the insight is broader. Without understanding who you're talking to and what matters to them -- you'll never connect with your customers or prospects.

 ~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Raise your stinking gate!

Closed

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

It's 9:50 am. I'm in the mall, standing at a store's entrance, peering in through the gate that locks the store for the night. The employee is inside, chatting on the phone and sipping a soda. The marketing message I got by being kept waiting until exactly 10 a.m.?

My business was not all that important to her.

While I was pacing and making mental note to never visit this store again, it occurred to me that many of us do the same thing to our clients/customers. Now, you might not have a gate that keeps clients from entering your front door, but think about other "barriers" that might be in the way.

You can advertise "customer friendly" all you want, but if they stumble over obstacles when they come to buy, your clients will quickly get the "your business is not important to me" message.

Here are some of the places we might be slamming the gate down on our own customers:

Hours of operation. Are they convenient for you or for your customer?
Access. How well does your e-mail, website, phone system etc. work?  If a client is in a jam -- do they know how to get a hold of you this very second?
Promptness in returning calls. A client phone call is an order/sale waiting for confirmation.
Clarity in pricing and products/services. Do your customers know what you sell and how much it will cost? Does it actually cost them that much or are your invoices a little surprise?
Willingness to listen. When your client has an issue with you or your product, do you attempt to make adjustments or changes that demonstrate that you listened? Or do they get "reasons" why it has to be that way?

Want to really check? Call a couple clients that you've lost. Have a frank conversation. My bet is that somehow they could not get past a gate. Maybe it's a gate you don't even see. 

~ Drew, MMG's Top Dog

What's your rubber duck?

DuckiowabizYesterday I read an interesting article in USA Today about how boutique hotels are trying to differentiate themselves and create "an experience" for their guests. Being able to call down to the front desk for a fish or having a Bose iPod player in the room is old news.

Now, you might find themed rubber ducks in your mini bar. There's a DC hotel that even offers electronic cigarettes. And if you're ever in Denver, check out the Sky Hotel in Aspen. They offer mini oxygen tanks in case you need a little boost.

Not all of the examples in the article were whimsical. In Chicago at the Hard Rock Hotel, you can request the nursing mom package (fridge, breast pump, extra bottles, etc.) be sent to your room. Worried you'll have a wardrobe malfunction like Janet Jackson did a few years ago? No worries if you're staying at one of the Morgan Hotels. They have an emergency kit that includes double-sided tape to prevent any accidental malfunctions.

While all of these examples sound a little off the beaten path -- that's sort of the point. A little something extra to create some buzz or even to get you to choose one hotel over the other. It's a good reminder to all of us that our consumers are hungry for more and that more doesn't have to be a big deal. Sometimes something small can be a big deal.

And a big deal means that in today's wired world -- their duck or wardrobe malfunction kit will get plenty of attention on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or Twitter.

That sort of buzz can't be bought. It can only be inspired by something out of the ordinary. 

Stan Phelps wrote about this concept in his book, What's Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. Stan's premise is that compannies who do something a little extra get noticed. His book is living proof -- example after example of organizations that inspire word of mouth, the best marketing you can possibly earn.

Marketing is about being so remarkable that people can't help but talk about you. That if you absolutely delight someone - they will not only come back but they'll bring friends. They become your sales force. 

So -- what do you do for your customers that would get them talking? What's your rubber duck?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

LinkedIn gets into the game

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.45.31 PM
LinkedIn has always been social media's red headed stepchild.  Few people use it well and for most of its users -- it's an electronic rolodex.

LinkedIn just announced the launch of their new LinkedIn Contacts.  Their teaser copy says:

Introducing the new LinkedIn Contacts. A smarter way to stay in touch.

All your contacts in one place. LinkedIn Contacts brings together all your address books, emails, and calendars, and keeps them up to date in one place.

Never miss an opportunity to say hello. Get alerted on job changes and birthdays in your network, a perfect opportunity to say hello.

Take it on your mobile device. Stay connected on the go. LinkedIn Contacts is available on iPhone, so you can stay in touch with your contacts wherever you are.

This may be a way to add that "real time touch" that we always talk about in marketing and sales plans.  You can connect and react to any news or updates your contacts post to their account right when they make the change.  It's also a great way to track when a prospect makes a key personnel change that might be a game changer for you.

LinkedIn is rolling this out on a limited basis.  To get on the waiting list (I don't know how long the wait is -- they just announced this last week) click here

Maybe this will be the trick to make LinkedIn the social media superstar for business leaders. Today, it's underutilized and hopefully this will change how users interact with it because I think it can be a very useful utility tool, if you learn how to mine the data it holds.

~ Drew McLellan

 

Buzz/going viral does not always equal sales

One of the things I hear all the time is "wouldn't it be great if our video went viral?" To which I reply -- "maybe, maybe not."

Here's the reality of viral videos. Sometimes they absolutely drive sales. Look at what Old Spice did with the "the man your man could smell like" series. Not only did it score over 45 million views, it literally revolutionized their brand and reversed their sales decline.

But that's the exception, not the rule. Just because a video takes off on YouTube or Facebook, doesn't mean it's good for business.

Take this recent Kmart spot called "Ship my pants." The spot was created to promote free shipping from Kmart's website. But they wanted us to actually pay attention -- so they pushed the creative envelope by counting on the fact that there's a 12 year old stuck in all of us who loves sophmoric humor.

Watch and see what you think:

 

 

This video already has over 5 million views. I'm betting that's more than all the other Kmart vidoes combined. So they scored on the "going viral" part.  

But, I'm pretty confident in my guess that they will not see a spike in online sales, despite the free shipping offer and increased awareness. In fact, in some ways I think the spot will hurt their efforts. The spot is SO noticeable -- you sort of lose the message. The humor is so strong (and some would argue, so tasteless) that it eclipses the marketing message.

Using humor is always tricky (if it doesn't sell, unless you're a professional comedian, it didn't work) but using this kind of over the top humor is even more risky.

Video is a powerful marketing tool. But don't lose sight of the fact that your goal is to have the right people see it and be inspired to take the next step you want them to take. In some cases, that might mean the 20 right people seeing it.

If you or your agency are shooting for viral -- be sure that's the right target to be aiming at.

~ Drew
Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

 

Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Mr. Wolfdog

Old Spice, a cologne from our grandfather's era that is sold in grocery stores was the media and marketing darling a couple years ago with the Old Spice Man -- the man your man could smell like.

It made actor Isaiah Mustafa a household regular...as he ran bare chested through scenario after scenario. Women swooned and men ran to their local grocery or drug store to pick up a bottle of the suddenly cool cologne.

I have to admit, as a marketing guy, I love watching someone rejuvinate a tired, old brand. So i was cheering for Old Spice and looking forward to seeing how they would spin/twist the concept.

 Sadly -- they've now launched Mr. Wolfdog.  Yes...Mr. Wolfdog.

 

 

 

I get that they're trying to be funny. But really -- marketing and a great viral campaign transformed them to cool in 2010 and now, in this new effort, they're basically calling the general public a fool for falling for it.

Not that Mr. Wolfman hasn't been putting in a lot of effort. He's been a flurry of activity all over the web. As noted in Adweek -- "He's posted YouTube videos; made a Pinterest page, and an album of inspirational business music; hosted Google+ Hangouts with his Twitter followers; posted a toll-free number (866-695-2407) to help those who need to look busy at work; played Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Xbox Live; made animated GIFs; and whipped up websites like worldsbiggestchart.com. In short, he's done everything (and much more) that a marketing director should do in social media—while inherently poking fun at how hollow and rote and mindless it all is."

 Is it funny? Yes. Will it got viral? Maybe. Both interesting questions but not the right question. The right question is:

Will it sell more Old Spice?

What made the old campaign so noteable is that it not only entertained us but it changed our opinion about a weary brand and breathed new meaning into it for millions of men who would have never considered wearing the time-tested cologne before The Old Spice man made it sexy to do so.

Don't ever lose sight of the fact that marketing's purpose is to generate sales, either directly or indirectly. Anything short of that is just entertainment. And I fear Mr. Wolfdog is just that. 

~ Drew McLellan

How to build a Facebook page that’s sticky

Facebook-logo6With hundreds of millions of people on Facebook, it’s no wonder that businesses are flocking there to create a fan page for their organization. But what should that page contain? How should you use it to connect with your customers?

Here are 5 tips for creating a Facebook page that people won’t ignore.

Connected: Be sure you use your Facebook page as a launching point for learning more about your product or service. Link it to your website, a testimonials page or a third-party site that sells your product.

Be the resource: Know your audience well enough to anticipate what else they might want to know. If you sell business training, link to other HR and employee related sites or tools. Think beyond what you specifically sell and build a more well rounded resource center.

Let them talk: Don’t make the mistake of treating your Facebook page like a one way broadcast tool. One of the best elements of Facebook is that you can actually talk to your customers and prospects. Don’t turn off their ability to comment on your page.

Let the games begin: No matter how old we are chronologically, we like to play games. One great way to get Facebook page fans or to get them to keep coming back is to create contests and games that hook your audience and keep them coming back for more. Or, have a regular contest –like a weekly trivia game.

Serve with a smile: Use your Facebook page as your customer service portal. Let customers ask questions, post problems or give you feedback about your product or service.

Facebook is a very powerful tool. But just jumping on board and slapping up a page without a strategy will leave you and your page getting chilled from a lack of attention.

 

~ Drew

Don't plan the funeral yet - marketing is not dead!

CasketflowersAs social media and all things digital/mobile become more mainstream, I've been seeing a rash of articles declaring that traditional marketing is dead. And this isn't from some hack with 12 blog readers.  We're talking  Forbes, Harvard Business Review and many other reputable publications have announced the passing of marketing.  

Here's what HBR had to say, in part:

Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they're operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention. Several studies have confirmed that in the "buyer's decision journey," traditional marketing communications just aren't relevant. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, and often from sources outside the firm such as word-of-mouth or customer reviews.

Second, CEOs have lost all patience. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can't be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.

A few things to note:

  1. It's ironic that publications that exist because of traditional advertising revenues are making a big deal out of this.
  2. Didn't we say the same thing about radio when the TV came on the scene?
  3. Aren't we painting marketing with a pretty wide brush?

Is marketing changing?  You bet.  Should it?  You bet.  But that hardly means it is dead.  It means it's evolving.

It's suggested that most consumers (both B2C and B2B) do about 60-70% of their shopping online -- BEFORE they ever contact the company or visit the store.  So is having a strong search strategy important?  Of course.

As smart phones become ubiquitious, can we ignore being ready for the mobile invasion in terms of our web presence, payment options etc?  Not if we want to stay in business.

But that doesn't mean marketing is dead.  Marketing's job is the same as it always has been.  Marketing's purpose is make sure your product, service or company gets on the short list.

Most people consider three options before making a purchase.  Whether it's a car, a toothpaste or a new accountant -- most of us have the capacity to study and consider up to three choices.

Marketing's purpose is to make sure that when your consumer is ready to start their consideration -- you're on the list of three.  If your marketing is really strong, it might trim that list down to two.  And if you're Apple or Harley -- your marketing and branding efforts may mean you're the only one on the list.  If they can't have you, they don't want anything.

Today -- with consumers doing more of their shopping on their own -- marketing, if anything, is even more important.  

What consumers are telling us is that they want our marketing to be less intrusive, more helpful and more accessible -- when and where they want it.  So that's the evolution we're seeing.  

But have no fear -- marketing is just as vital and valuable as it's ever been.

-Drew McLellan

 

Hunt down your brand advocates

Who doesn't love those customers who rave about us?  Every business -- big or small -- has fans. And those fans generate word of mouth buzz that is marketing gold.  Do you know who is most likely to be your brand advocate?  

Check out this infographic from BzzAgent to see if you can recognize your best prospects for recruiting and retaining those people who will shout your praises.

 

Branding-Infographic

 

Your marketing resolution for 2013

2013BlocksI know, I know -- you're going to work out for 2 hours every day, quit smoking, volunteer every weekend and bring about world peace.

Tis the season for New Year's resolutions. They shouldn't just be about your personal life and they should be a bit more realistic than we tend to make them. 

As you think about what resolutions you might possibly make about your business for 2013 -- what if I told you that you could get everything you want from your customers?  Sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it?

It's actually not as difficult as it sounds.  I've often said that I wish marketing were more like rocket science because then I could sell the secrets for billions of dollars.  But the truth is -- marketing is pretty straight forward.  Here's the recipe for getting everything you want for your business in 2013.

Offer something of value for a fair price -- marketing can't solve anything if what you sell stinks.  Be awesome or shut down until you can be.

Have a plan -- it's better to do a few things well, than a ton of things every so often or half-baked

Be consistent -- marketing should happen every day, no matter how busy you are

Invest the most in your employees and current customers -- they've already bought and will keep buying if you make sure they know they're special.

Know what your customers actually want/need and do everything you can to get them there -- as Zig Ziglar used to say, "You can have everything in life that you want if you just help other people get what they want."

Stay the course -- don't let what your competition is doing pull you away from your own plan.

Be human -- we choose to do business with people and companies that we know, like and trust.  The more of your genuine self you extend to the marketplace, the quicker we can get to know, like and trust you. We can't get there through corporate mumbo jumbo.

That's it.  99% of businesses out there won't follow that simple formula.  Which is great for you -- because if you actually do, you'll be miles ahead.  Put the steps above into action and I promise -- 2013 will be a year to remember!

~ Drew

 

You need to go APE!

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 12.45.54 AMOne of the most popular marketing tactics today is to really demonstrate in a tangible way that you are in fact an expert in your field.  By showing us, rather than telling us, that you really know your stuff -- you allow us to come to that conclusion all by ourselves, which makes it much stickier.

Some people are demoing their expertise through a blog or podcast. Others are guest lecturing or speaking at conferences.  But perhaps the most daunting and most coveted version of this marketing tactic is -- authoring a book.

As if actually writing the dang thing isn't intimidating enough, then you have to find someone who wants to rep it, be your publisher and then there's the marketing of the book.  No wonder most people say they want to (or are in the middle of one) write a book, but so few do.

I'm pretty sure that's why Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch wrote their new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

APE is literally a step-by step, oops, watch out for that land mine guide on how to write, publish and sell your own book. Authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have written a tell all book that walks you through each step of the process. There's not a lick of theory or "I suppose" in this book. It is a nuts and bolts procedural that goes into incredible detail -- offering tons of resources, options and tools.

There are 29 chapters and 22 of those chapters start with the words How to. That pretty much says it all. From how to actually write to book to how to market your book -- it's all there.

The only people who won't be thrilled to see/read this book are CEOs of traditional publishing houses. If that's not you -- get a copy today and get your book out there tomorrow!

And let your expertise begin to show through!

 

~ Drew 

Don't let December pass you by

SnowmanIt's officially here. The holiday season. It's an odd 30 days. On the one hand, you're busy wrapping up the year. On the other, your head and heart are thinking family, shopping, spiked egg nog, snowflakes and the company party.

It's easy to get so distracted by the holidays that in a blink -- it's January 2nd and the last 30 days was just a blur of less than productive efforts.

Don't let December get the best of you. No matter how busy the last month of the year is your for business, you can get some big marketing projects both started and finished before the big ball drops in Time Square.

I wrote a post about the 5 Marketing To Dos to get done before 2013 and I want to elaborate on one of them here.

The 3rd item on that To Do list was:

Call it quits: Look back over the past 12-24 months. What’s the one marketing tactic that you have really dedicated yourself to but it just hasn’t caught on fire. This has to be something that you feel you really implemented well, thoroughly and can’t imagine what you could have done better. If you can say that and it’s not delivering results — it’s time to let it go. Make December 2012 the last time you invest in it.

It's so easy to keep doing something. Especially if you think it should work but it isn't yet. Or you've been doing it long enough that it's just habit. But that doesn't mean it's a good use of your resources. 

December is a great time to really be honest with yourself and your team. Be brutal as you go through your 2012 marketing efforts and prune those efforts that haven't panned out. But here's the criteria you should use to decide if it's time to shuttle the effort.

  1. You've been doing it for at least 12 months
  2. You're confident that you've done it well (best practices and all that)
  3. There is no change in your business, industry trend etc. that suggests this tactic would be significantly more successful in 2013
  4. It's not tied to other tactics that are working (you're not pulling the proverbial thread that unravels the sweater)

I hope you'll check out the 5 To Dos post and tackle all 5. But if you can only make time for one -- it's time to call it quits.

~ Drew

 

Marketing = purposeful story telling

No one is drawn to boring marketing. That seems pretty easy to wrap our arms around. But what makes for interesting marketing that consumers (B2B and B2C) would choose to listen to and act upon?

Everyone from Forbes to Seth Godin has been telling us so often that they've created a buzzword status for the idea of storytelling. And you'll get no argument from me. We need to tell stories to:

  • Capture interest
  • Communicate our expertise and offerings
  • Create a sense of "they could help me" confidence
  • Move someone to act

The trick is understanding what kinds of stories to tell (hint: they should be all about you!), how to tell them and where to tell them. 

The first step is to appreciate the value of story telling.  Check out this infographic on the power of stories. (click it to see it full-sized)

 

Tellstoryinfographic

 

In my next blog post -- we'll take a look at how and where to tell stories.  So stay tuned!

 

~ Drew

Are you building your "friend of mine" awareness?

Screen shot 2012-10-14 at 1.25.23 PMLast week, I was a speaker at the BOLO conference, which is a conference that focuses on helping agencies wrap their heads and hearts around all things digital.

It was a fascinating few days and one of the perks of being a speaker is that I got to listen to all of the other speakers.

One of the most thought-provoking was my friend Jay Baer, from Convince and Convert. Jay's presentation was sort of a mini preview of the book he's in the middle of writing on the power of  a phrase he coined -- Youtility.

If you've attended any of the MMG social media workshops or talks we've given over the last couple years -- you will recognize a common theme in Jay's thinking. We could not agree more!

Jay's core point was that as our personal and professional lives intertwine through social networks and our on and offline connections -- word of mouth becomes the new currency for buying market share. Jay suggested that we need to all have a strategy in place to move from top of mind awareness to what he calls "friend of mine" awareness.

Jay shared some great facts/stats that showed how "friend of mine awareness" is built on these truths:

  • Our personal and professional lives are now woven together
  • We are more distrustful of marketing spin than ever before
  • We have lots of tools/tricks for tuning out advertising if we want to
  • We now access 10.4 pieces of information before we make a buying decision
  • We talk to a real person as a last resort (60% of a B2B buying decision is made by the time a sales rep is contacted)
  • We act on the word of our "friends," be they people we've met or people we're just connected to online

I think it's time for you to look at your marketing plan. Which tactics help you connect to and share information (useful info… not sales info) with potential buyers?

If you can't rattle off a pretty good list, it sounds like it is time to revisit that marketing plan and start building in elements that will take you from top of mind to friend of mine status.

 

~ Drew

How social are you?

As social media continues to evolve our communications styles, expectations and channels -- businesses scramble to sort out how and where they should be active. There's a misperception that social media is the playground for companies that sell direct to consumers (B2C) but not businesses that target other businesses (B2B). 

So wrong. Many B2B companies are enjoying incredible success as they leverage social media and content marketing as a part of their media mix.  This infographic developed by InsideView spells out the specific channels that (as of today) are enjoying the  most B2B activity.

Part of what B2B companies need to realize is that it's not just about brand awareness or name recognition.  When used well, social is driving lead generation and sales.

Best of all -- social escalates the sales cycle and you can close the deal faster. Check out this infographic and then tell us -- where are your social efforts in relation?

How-social-is-b2b

 

~ Drew

When is bad good?

Listerine-badAs you are looking at your product or service and identifying those elements that make it unique (you are doing that, right?) remember that sometimes what makes it unique is not an inherently good thing.

Which isn't a bad thing.

Confused?  

Take original flavored Listerine. One of the things that made it completely unique was its disgusting taste. Instead of explaining it away or ignoring it - they took the bad and made it good. It tasted bad because it was powerful enough to kill the germs. (check out this TV spot from the 70s with Judd Hirsch)

In fact -- they built an entire advertising campaign around how awful it tastes.

Look at your product or service a bit differently. What's bad about it? How can you use that attribute to your advantage?

 

~ Drew

Central Iowa -- don't miss Jason Falls!

Falls-speaking-webAll the big names are performing in Des Moines these days. Bob Dylan, "Book of Mormon," Def Leppard, Alan Jackson...

And Jason Falls. Of these... the one that will actually make you smarter, more money and get you out of the office is Jason.

Jason has written a couple of books (No Bull$%#^ Social Media and The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing) and created one of the most popular websites devoted to digital marketing, Social Media Explorer.

Jason's going to be here in Des Moines next Thursday (August 30th from 1-5pm) and you won't want to miss him. (Register by clicking here)

During two 90 minute sessions led by Jason, attendees will learn how to use social media strategically, identify specific actionable goals, apply business discipline and proven best practices, stop fearing risks and start mitigating them, measure performance, and get results.

Not only will you get to meet Jason, hear his smarts... but you'll also be networking with Central Iowa's best and brightest.

So hurry up and register. Just like his book title says, Jason shoots straight and there will be no bull. You'll learn a lot, laugh a fair amount and leave with a To Do list that will help your business prosper.

 Full disclosure: Jason is a friend of mine. I don't get any money if you attend the event and Jason didn't ask me to write this. I just don't want you to miss out. 

~ Drew

Who is the average QR code user? You might be surprised!

Screen shot 2012-08-11 at 11.48.26 PMIn the second quarter of 2012, there were more than 16 million mobile barcodes scanned according to a new report from Scanbuy.

Among mobile barcode scanners, exactly half were aged 35 or older in Q2, representing a 22% increase from 41% share of scanners in Q1 and a 28% increase from 39% in Q4 2011. While an almost equal number (26%) of barcode scanners were aged 25-34 in Q2, this represents a big drop from 35% in Q1.

All the older age groups (35-44, 45-54 and 55+) showed an increase.

When it comes to gender, the people scanning the codes are still predominantly male. In Q2 it was 69% and in Q1 it was 68%. According to survey results released in February 2012 by BrandSpark International, in association with Better Homes and Gardens, although men and women report equal awareness of QR codes (77%), men who are aware of them are 75% more likely than women to have used one (28% vs. 16%) to access product information.

QR codes continue to grow in popularity and they might be perfect for your next effort.  Consider using one if you want to:

Enhance the user's experience: Many tech savvy museums, tourist locations, art galleries and other tours use QR codes to add audio commentary and video enhancements to their displays.

Digital notebook: Your customers are used to using their phone to record data they want to remember.  Why not let them trigger an email or reminder with a quick scan.

Let them grab some extra perks: Whether it's a free music download or some other digital asset, a QR code is an easy way to deliver some extras to your best or most frequent customers.

Provide real time data: Wait times at bus stops or other constantly changing data can be easily communicated through a quick QR scan.

But which are the most effective? According to the data from ScanLife’s “Mobile Barcode Trend Report Q2 2012,″ the top 5 marketer campaigns that generated the most scans were: contest; loyalty program; social media; app download; and video. 

No matter why you use a QR code, be sure the destination is optimized for mobile devices.  There's nothing worse than scanning a code only to be taken to a desktop site that doesn't present itself well on your smart phone.

 

~ Drew 

About the Data: The data in the Scanbuy report was pulled from the ScanLife Reporting Platform. It represents traffic from both 2D (QR) Codes and UPC barcodes. The 2D Codes scanned may have been generated on the ScanLife Platform or from 3rd party generators. The 2D barcode scanning traffic may come from either the ScanLife app or 3rd party apps.

 

Your brand should help you say "no" more often

Buttonsred_whiteImagine being able to cherry pick only the best clients. It would be like sifting through a box of options and selecting the exact right fit. You get to by-pass the almost right choices and the "no way" offerings -- all in pursuit of the perfect fit.

That's what branding does for your company. You get to walk away from business. The wrong kinds of business. The wrong kinds of clients. The wrong kind of growth.

When your brand is focused and strong, you are boldly saying exactly what you're about and by default...what you are not about.

It's the most powerful and valuable aspect of branding, but it's also why most companies choose a superficial brand -- they're afraid of leaving money on the table. They don't have enough confidence to let the "almost good fit" prospects go.

As a business owner, I get keeping your eye on the bottom line and it's every business' responsibility to be profitable. But the way to maximize those profits is to stay in your sweet spot. Customers who don't align with your brand may bring you a short term gain but in the long run, they'll cost you every time.

If you tie up your resources, energy, staff and systems to trying to please someone that you ultimately cannot delight -- you don't have those assets to offer the exact right fit customers when they come along.

On the flip side, if you say no to the wrong fit customers -- pretty soon the right fit customers will begin to tell others about you and you'll just keep attracting more and more of your very best customers.

But you need to be willing to say no to the wrong customers, to make room for the right ones.

Are you brave enough to say no?


Handcuffed by perfection?

Bigstock-Handcuffs-409305Lack of consumer knowledge. Inadequate budget. Sales team isn't ready.

There are lots of reasons that marketing gets stalled. But one of the most prevelant and dangerous reasons is perfection paralysis.

You've probably seen it -- the business owner or marketing decisionmaker can’t pull the trigger when it comes to marketing tactics. 

Something about the website, brochure or direct mail piece, etc. is a little off. "It’s just not quite right," they’ll say with a rueful smile. And so the team tries again — revision after revision.

What was that sound?  It was handcuff slamming shut. There's no escaping the hunt for perfection. In many cases, the piece never gets completed and marketing dollars slowly swirl down the drain.

In the meantime, their prospects and customers wonder why they're being ignored.

Here's the truth. Pretty darn good trumps perfect every time, if it means you get to market faster (or at all) with your message.

Next time you feel your team (or yourself) begin to stall a project because perfection paralysis is taking hold, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does it clearly communicate our key message? (no more than 2-3)
  2. Does it offer some response opportunity? (website, e-mail, phone number, etc.)
  3. Does it protect and respect our brand promise and look/feel?
  4. Is it error-free? (typos, grammar etc.)

If you can answer yes to all 4 — give yourself 24 hours to tweak it if you want and then get it out the door.

Perfect doesn't exist so stop chasing it.

 

~ Drew

 

Sometimes you don't need the words

Bigstock-Grandpa-s-Hands-469721_optI have written before how a headline can make or break an ad

But that's only half of the one-two punch you use to get someone to read your marketing messages.

The visuals (photo, illustration, etc) that you use in your print ad, blog post or other marketing piece will also dramatically impact readership and memorability.  (what story does the photo on the right tell you?)

Here are some do’s and don’t of maximizing your visual's effectiveness.

  • Look for story appeal. The man with the eye patch added mystery to the Hathaway shirt advertising for over 20 years.
  • Be simple. One big picture works better than several smaller ones. Avoid clutter.
  • Show the result. One exception to the one picture rule would be before and after shots. This is a great way to demonstrate product superiority.
  • Don’t be afraid to caption your visual. Readership of captions scores very high. If you think adding a caption will really drive home your message – do it.

Your copy can really get into the nitty gritty of your product or service. But, first you have to entice the reader to your copy with headlines and visuals that grab their attention. Don’t waste good copy by mixing it with boring headlines or common visuals.

Instead, grab ‘em and keep ‘em!

What's the most striking visual you've ever seen on a marketing piece or advertisement?

 

~ Drew

Why would a mobile user be searching for you?

Picture it -- a potential customer of yours is out and about. Suddenly, something strikes them and they reach for their smart phone and launch their browser, searching for your business.

Why?

  • Are they bored and wanting to read your team's bios?  I don't think so.
  • Are they wondering if they can download a PDF of your sales brochure? Nope, not on their phone.
  • Do they want to take your quiz, read your white paper or peruse you client list? No, no and no.

They need information. They want to know something specific. And it's probably specific to them being out and about. They might be looking for your phone number. Or your closest location or if you're even open.

Check out what this infographic is telling us. People are evolving how they access the web.  The desktop is losing ground while the mobile device is gaining.

They're on their phone, looking for you. What do they see?

Mobileweb

And they're doing this looking while cruising down the road at 45 mph or faster. So what they really want are big buttons that say Call us or Locations or Fast FAQs. They want to be able to quickly and easily find exactly what they need without having to sift through pages and pages of web copy that works perfectly well on your desktop site but just makes the mobile experience more frustrating,

Have you checked out what your website looks like on a smart phone? You really should.  

You should also look at your Google Analytics to see how many of your web hits are coming from a mobile device and how those those mobile devices are staying connected to your site.

If you don't like the news -- maybe it's time to realize that while responsive and adaptive design is easy on you -- it's hardly easy on your mobile visitor.  

You need a mobile optimized website that is built with the browser in mind. Actually....that's what your potential customer needs.

~ Drew

Credit:  Infographic created by Frederic Gonzalo 

This site is intended for informational and conversational purposes, not to provide specific legal, investment, or tax advice.  Articles and opinions posted here are those of the author(s). Links to and from other sites are for informational purposes and are not an endorsement by this site’s sponsor.