Tips on Marketing to Millennials

 

With graduations happening all over the country, another group of millennials are entering the workforce – which is already the largest portion of today’s working class. With over 80 million millennials (born between 1982 and 2004), they make up nearly a quarter of the population and spend over $200 billion every year.

If you haven’t already started, this is a group you want to target.

When searching online, you will find multiple surveys and articles written about this group. Elite Daily surveyed 1,300 millennials, looking at their buying habits and brand loyalty. Deloitte surveyed nearly 8,000 millennials to provide their outlook on society and their attitude toward their work.

What to take away?

Millennials are an incredibly important audience and there are several key factors to consider for your next targeted campaign.

Segment vs Demographic

As most marketers know, the key to successful ROI is segmenting your audience and not treating your entire target audience exactly the same. The same can be said for millennials. This is less a demographic you can sum up easily and more a diverse collection of individuals that range from young professionals to move-back-homes, and from partying singles to single parents. It is important to understand your specific audience before launching any marketing campaign.

That said, the following are common traits found in this generation you may want to consider when developing your strategy.

Multiple Channels. Gone are the days of “offline versus online” strategies. With the mobile revolution, millennials have grown up with the idea they are always connected wherever they are. Many use multiple devices simultaneously to stay connected, with 87% of millennials using two to three devices at least once every day. If you want to get their attention, you need to move quickly and use multiple channels to reach them. Constant communication will be key.

Hard Sell vs Content Marketing. When asked if a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more, only 1% of millennials surveyed said yes. Advertising is seen as promotional (and dated) and millennials would rather review content when considering purchases. Blogs and articles make a big impact in buying decisions.

While Content is Important, Authenticity More So. Content marketing is very important with this generation, however 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. If they do not trust the source, they will not even bother reading the content they produce. In fact, they often would trust peers over companies. Influencer marketing holds a lot of weight.

More Social than Informational. While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may have preferred traditional news sources, millennials prefer to get their information through social media channels. While fewer than 3% of millennials rely on TV news, magazines and books to make a purchase, an impressive one-third rely mostly on blogs before they buy.

They Want to be Engaged. A whopping 62% of millennials say they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on their preferred social networks. It is not enough to just be on the social network – millennials expect companies to engage with them.

Yes, Millennials Are Loyal. There is a common misconception that millennials don’t have brand loyalty and are easily swayed, suggesting they are wishy-washy. This may be because they are more likely to be loyal to ideals rather than a company logo and, if a company appears to lose those ideals, will move on. The fact is, they can be very brand loyal – 60% of millennials surveyed said they are often or always loyal to brands they currently purchase. It just may be harder to maintain that loyalty.

With millennials currently ranging between 13 – 35 years in age, your marketing campaigns are going to be keenly targeted on this group for decades to come. Like any marketing strategy, the key will be to communicate to your target audience with the content they want, in the style they understand, in the places they prefer. For millennials, remembering engaging, authentic content on multiple social channels will be instrumental in helping your brand get noticed and build brand loyalty.

Rick Verbanas has brought his passion for marketing to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and not-for-profits. He strives to stay current in the latest marketing best practices, and provides a weekly roundup for your news and enjoyment. To subscribe to future blogs, please enter your email address on the left hand side of the page.

Mother’s Day Marketing Tips

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!). “Celebrating Mom” has become big business for many small businesses. While there are many stores and services hoping to bring in shoppers (and I’ll share some of my ideas below), there are some sharp guerrilla marketers looking to “ride the wave” and cash in on all the sentiment.

Build Traffic
You may wonder how you, who may not offer products or services normally associated with Mother’s Day gifts, can benefit from the holiday. The real question is, could your website benefit from more exposure, more traffic? If the answer is “Yes,” start considering ways to chat, blog or share about Mother’s Day.

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is post a question on your site, or in your e-newsletter – wherever you track customer responses. Buzz Accelerator suggests 50 Mother’s Day Status Updates for Your Business.They offer some phrases and questions you can post on your Facebook business page (which may also work well with your home website, twitter, LinkedIn Q&A, etc.) such as:

  • Like this if you grew up to be just like your mother.
  • Moms: Yay or Nay on breakfast in bed?
  • What makes your mom better than all the others? Tag her in a comment so she’ll see what you say.

The point is, you want to engage your readers. Give them something to respond to, or vote on, or “like,” or forward, etc.

Another way to drive traffic is to offer Mother’s Day content. Some companies encourage their employees to post heart-warming stories about their own mothers in an effort to give their company a more approachable face. You can blog about famous mothers (the more popular, the better) or, present real-life moms who make sacrifices every day for their children. The NY Daily News provides a look at the ten worst TV moms.

Whatever you do, make it about the mothers and not you. Unless you are a company that offers products or services their moms would like, readers will not take kindly to companies looking to make a profit by exploiting an institution revered as highly as motherhood.

Marketing Ideas
For those who do offer a product or service, here are some ideas to consider in addition to the above:

Continue reading

PR Formula Made Simple

What, exactly, is public relations? Throughout my career, this has to be one of the most misunderstood tactics I perform. To many I have spoken, “PR” is this nebulous service that is hard to define. Is it journalism? No, but one should be able to write for journalists if in PR. Is it publicity – Notice or attention given to someone or something by the media, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary? In a sense, yes. However, my definition strives to include more.

Public Relations is the art of building brand awareness through building reputation.

I have known Ken Hitchner, current public relations and social media director for the talented folks at Creative Marketing Alliance, for several years. We have worked together off and on in our career and he defines PR very simply:

Reputation + Relationships = Revenue

The goal for any marketing or public relations campaign should be to increase revenue. I cover how to measure the return on your marketing investment (MROI) here.

So, if the goal is to increase revenue, it is imperative you develop relationships with your target audience. Generally speaking, people purchase from people and/or brands they like. True, they may be swayed by other factors like price, but do you really want to build your business strategy on being the lowest priced? It makes better business sense to build brand loyalty, allowing price to not be the most important factor.

This brings us back to relationships and building your brand. If people purchase from brands they like, then who do people like? While the answer varies wildly, an underlying element usually includes trust. It is safe to agree, few people like what they do not trust.

Which circles back to reputation. Without a reputation you can trust, it is highly unlikely you will earn relationships with your target audience. And, without those relationships, it will be even more challenging to increase your revenue based on brand alone.

Third Party Influence
The question is, how does public relations build reputation? While paid advertising unquestionably has its place, the average consumer is bombarded with countless messages every day. These tend to be disruptive and it is widely understood the goal of the advertisements are to sell you something and, therefore, are biased. But, if your message is conveyed through a third party such as a news source, it tends to have more credibility and, if positive, will likely increase trust.

With so many different options, I will discuss best practices on how to produce a positive message through public relations Continue reading

Social Media Crisis Management Plan: Tips on How to Prepare and Execute

With United Airlines’ social media disaster going viral last week, many top executives are questioning what is the plan to avoid such an embarrassing public relations nightmare for their own company. Who is monitoring what people are saying about you and your business? And, what do you do when it is negative? What is your crisis management plan?

I spoke with Mike Moran, Senior Strategist at Converseon and author of “Do it Wrong Quickly,” who says it is essential to keep track of the chatter on the world wide web. “The first thing you need is awareness,” he said. “There are people out there who have something to say and they have many different ways to be heard.”

Blogs, Message Boards, Product Ratings… should all be tracked for any negative comments. “That can be challenging,” Moran admitted. “Once you understand the importance of listening to your audience, you need to develop a process to help you hear them.”

How to Be Aware of Potential Problems

To keep track of what is being said about your organization, I recommend implementing a Social Medial Monitoring (SMM) tool, also known as a listening platform. This allows you to monitor and track mentions of your brand, products and competitors. SMM tools provide many different ways to analyze, measure, display and report findings.

Some of the more popular SMMs: Continue reading

Measuring Marketing ROI Part 4 – Not “ROMI Made Easy”

Continuing a series of blogs on Measuring Marketing Return on Investment (ROI):

Measuring Marketing ROI – Why Marketing is Not an Expense
Measuring Marketing ROI Part 2 – Tips to Overcome Challenges
Measuring Marketing ROI Part 3 – Developing ROMI Revenue Metrics

Activity Metrics: Measuring the Marketing Details

Executive management may or not may not want to hear the details about which programs or campaigns deliver the best results, but your marketing team certainly does. After all, your day-to-day program execution – everything from email and social media to webinars and web site traffic – provides the insights that ultimately drives your strategic revenue-building efforts.

The metrics that you can extract from email campaigns, web analytics, webinar attendance and other sources are too numerous to go into here. Since websites are such a crossroads and anchor of many other marketing programs, I’ll look at some website metrics. But first, there are some general Activity Metrics measurement criteria that you can use:

Benchmarking Metrics

Marketers track a wide variety of day-to-day program activities because they are easy to measure. These include benchmarks such as:

  • Email marketing and enewsletter open, click-through and response rates
  • Web site visits and page views
  • Content asset downloads such as white papers or published news stories
  • Web site form completion and abandonment rates

These numbers can be very useful. If your email open rates begin declining from the historical rates you’ve previously captured, then it’s time to examine your email campaigns for potential problems. The same is true for web analytics, especially when you compare current data versus historical trends for page popularity and page abandonment rates.

Social media mentions, connections, “likes” and conversations are similar to other softer benchmarking metrics; you’re often comparing your metrics against your own historical data and searching for trends.

The key here, as with benchmarking metrics, is not to confuse social media success with bottom-line impact. It’s one thing to celebrate a record number of Twitter followers; it’s quite another to demonstrate just how those followers convert into leads, opportunities and revenue for an organization.

Measuring Your Brand Power

Back when I first got into marketing in the mid-90s, Chick-fil-A started their campaign “Eat Mor Chickin.” I remember driving on a highway in Atlanta with my new boss and remarking on this billboard and how clever I thought it was. I’ll never forget his response, “Does it make you want to go eat at Chick-fil-A?” He then explained the difference in branding and call to action advertising. In the previous blogs, we’ve talked about call-to-action. Measuring branding is a lot more challenging.

Your marketing investment seeks to accomplish two main goals: grow sales and build customer perceptions of quality service and best-in-class expertise in your brand.

But how do you measure the brand power of your marketing programs in the marketplace? Continue reading

Measuring Marketing ROI Part 3 – Developing ROMI Revenue Metrics

Continuing a series of blogs on Measuring Marketing Return on Investment (ROI):

Measuring Marketing ROI – Why Marketing is Not an Expense
Measuring Marketing ROI Part 2 – Tips to Overcome Challenges

Developing ROMI metrics

Calculating ROMI is not a perfect science. In developing ROMI metrics, don’t let a quest for perfection be the enemy of good. Knowing something about your marketing ROI is better than knowing nothing.

By setting realistic performance targets and integrating the performance targets directly into your marketing objectives you will be able to stay on track. Establishing the right metrics combined with tracking progress will help you assess where improvements and adjustments are needed.

  • Establish ROMI goals in line with marketing and company business objectives
  • Design marketing program and marketing data metrics in tandem to reflect shared marketing program and ROMI measurement objectives
  • Design MROI metrics that speak directly to the bottom line; avoid soft metrics
  • Focus on metrics that provide evidence change and growth in revenue and profitability and, if successful, will improve future marketing effort

ROMI Metric Examples

Measurement of marketing ROI is driven by metrics. Part of the challenge of developing these yardsticks is that there are so many aspects of that effort that can be measured.

There’s no one-size-fits-all guide to determining which metrics are right for your marketing. The right metrics provide insight into performance, and help focus your efforts and refine your strategies.

Albert Einstein once observed:

“Not everything that can be counted counts.”

(I’ll get to the rest of the quote later)

Some of these potential metrics are soft, nice-to-know measurements – often referred to as vanity metrics – such as increases in Facebook “likes” or your number of Twitter “followers.” Unless a Facebook “like” converts to a completed contact form on your website, this metric otherwise has no impact on sales.

Others are good-to-know measurements of marketing department activity, response rates, website visits and PR editorial coverage.

The most important are essential- to-know metrics that gauge the actual ROI impact of marketing programs on revenue.

The good news is that you don’t have to measure every possible data point to build a successful strategy. In fact, the best course is to focus on a relatively small set of clear metrics that capture the most relevant and meaningful data.

Focus on two categories of metrics: Continue reading

Measuring Marketing ROI Part 2 – Tips to Overcome Challenges

Calculating return on marketing investment has been a growing battle cry at companies of all sizes. There is increasing agreement that measuring ROMI is an important and valuable task. Otherwise marketers and companies may be blindly throwing dollars at marketing programs that are not delivering sufficient bottom line value.

But there’s more a battle than a battle cry. As more senior marketers enter the age of marketing metrics and quantifying the value of marketing to the bottom line, many are finding it to be an uphill battle.

It’s easy to ask the question, “What kind of financial results do my programs deliver?”  However, determining the answers can be challenging.

Multiple touches

Measuring the ROMI contributions of individual tactics of a multi-tactic campaign can be another challenge.

I like to compare a multi-tactic marketing campaign to football. There are a lot plays that go into reaching the end zone. From a measurement standpoint, you have tactical teamwork – passes, runs, blocking – all working towards the goal of a touchdown. Even though one player ultimately scores, it’s hard to assign credit for the touchdown to one player – it’s a team effort.

So is an integrated marketing campaign. You’re running trade ads focusing on customer service innovation. The ads’ call to action includes requesting a customer service white paper. There’s ongoing trade PR. There’s a promotion – say, discounts for multiple shipments, which is supported by direct mail, your e-newsletter and Facebook. From a marketing ROI standpoint, as you successfully get leads and conversions, how do you measure the impact of the individual tactics on sales?

It typically takes multiple touches to convert a cold lead into a sale which can take place over months, even years. These cumulative touches can range from face-to-face sales calls and exposure to marketing communications to digital interactions. This fact can make it difficult to link an ultimate sale to any specific touch.

Solution: However, you are still left with assigning credit. If you are going to assign credit to individuals and not the whole, be consistent. Attribute all the ROI value to the tactic that originally brought the prospect to you – maybe it was a webinar. Or, assign all the ROI value to the last touch as the final marketing activity – perhaps it was a direct mail piece, that converted a prospect into a customer. The trick is, be consistent.

Knowing when to measure

The money you invest today will have an uncertain impact at an uncertain point in the future. Last month’s trade show may deliver results next month or perhaps not until next year, but marketers need to decide where to invest their budget today.

Solution: Start measurement at the beginning of a marketing tactic’s sales cycle and continue for at least a year. Don’t quit too soon. A common mistake is giving up on tactics before they are done bearing fruit. Sometimes, prospects don’t act on something for months. Continue reading

Measuring Marketing ROI – Why Marketing is Not an Expense

Has your boss or client ever asked you the dreaded question, “How will this marketing specifically impact lead generation and sales?”

When I’ve spoken on this topic in front of fellow marketing professionals, my audience has typically answered the question with statistics featuring increases in Facebook “likes” or number of Twitter followers.

Unfortunately, unless a Facebook “like” converts to a completed contact form on your website, this metric otherwise has no impact on sales.

Let’s face it… most heads of companies look at marketing as an expense. When sales or profits are down, expenses are usually reduced or cut. My philosophy is marketing is an investment, not an expense to be cut. Like any investment, you should expect a return. So, how do you measure Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)?

There are several versions of calculating ROMI, but the typical ROMI formula looks like this:

Return on Marketing Investment equals the revenue gain from a marketing program minus the cost of the program, divided by the cost of the program.

ROI = (gain – cost) / cost

For example: Let’s assume that you started a new advertising program, and it cost $50,000 in its first year, and it gained $600,000 in incremental sales during the same year, and that the gross profit from these sales was $200,000.

If you subtract your incremental advertising dollars ($50,000) from the profit generated ($200,000), you see that you have generated $150,000 of net operating profit.

Your ROI is

($200,000 – $50,000) / $50,000 = 3 = 300 percent

In other words, on average, each dollar you spent on the new program brought in three dollars of profit.

Benefits of ROMI

The benefits of ROMI are very real. ROMI allows you to: Continue reading

Marketing is Marketing… Or Is It?

I was sitting in a diner eating breakfast last week with someone who was interested in helping me find my next full-time job when he asked, “I know marketing is marketing, but what industry is your specialty?”

I paused.

And before I gave my answer, I started to have a debate in my head, after being asked versions of that question from potential clients and hiring managers throughout my marketing career. Is marketing the same no matter the industry? Do you need industry experience to be successful in marketing?

The answer is yes and no.

For companies who are seeking individual candidates or third-party vendors, I understand the desire to have a person or firm that knows their industry inside and out. And, I have lost out to others with more industry knowledge, both as an individual and as a firm. But… were they the best marketers?

Perhaps due to my years of working at two different marketing agencies and being in front of potential clients who were wondering if our agency had enough experience in their particular industry, I can confidently answer “yes, marketing is marketing.” Allow me to make my case…

Strategy
I would argue a person who has developed strategy for various verticals and has seen what delivers results (and what doesn’t) offers a different vision than what has typically been done in your industry by your company and your competition. If you are seeking something “outside the box,” you will have good luck in finding someone from a different background.

Tactics
The basics are the same – print & digital advertising, mass & social media, public relations, direct marketing, and so on. I won’t insult anyone by saying digital advertising for ecommerce is exactly the same as for a manufacturer, for example. However, where any good marketing person will show their value is Continue reading

Tips on What to do When Sales and Marketing are Not in Sync

According to a 2015 report, the misalignment of sales and marketing cost businesses $1 trillion annually in wasted marketing efforts and decreased sales productivity.

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

The company wants to increase sales and has a sales team and marketing team to accomplish this goal. The marketing team is thinking long-term, wanting to strategically grow brand awareness in key verticals. The sales team wants to move quickly because they have quotas to meet. The sales team points to the marketing team because they feel there are not enough quality leads, while the marketing team explains they need a bigger budget and questions what the sales team is doing since so many leads are not being converted.

So how do you get sales and marketing in sync?

Depending upon where I have been in my career, I have been referred as a marketing leader who knows how to sell, or a sales leader who knows marketing. To me, my passion lies with marketing, but I have held sales roles and understand both sides of the equation very intimately. So, here are six tips if you find yourself tasked with getting sales and marketing aligned.

1. Establish goals and how to measure them. It is critical both teams have goals that serve the same common goal, and objectives that support them. Further, it is important to have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) established to help measure the same metrics.

2. Define your target. Is the ideal prospect the same to both sales and marketing? Who are they and where can they be found? What is the best way to communicate with them? Inside information from the people on the front line – the sales team – will be crucial to helping marketing better understand the target, what messaging works, and what channels they prefer.

3. Share strategy. Sometimes, the best marketing plan can fail miserably… if sales isn’t prepared for it. Collaborate on what products or services are being featured, what the messaging and hook is, and which audience is being targeted and when. This way, sales can anticipate and understand the motivation of the buyer and be better prepared. Continue reading