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

Need Sales? Create Your Own Hallmark Holiday

There is a debate whether St. Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark Holiday.” Some regard it as a made up holiday, much like Grandparents’ Day, Secretary Day and Sweetest Day, where companies like Hallmark commercially benefit. Hallmark denies such marketing prowess on it’s website, citing the history of the holiday, dating back to 498 AD. In either case, it should be noted – and hard to place a value on – a company is associated with several holidays.

This got your Guerrilla Marketer thinking…

How can this concept help drive your business? What “holiday” can you create which will generate buzz, increase awareness and drive traffic?

You may have already done the “Anniversary Sale,” or “Customer Appreciation Day.” Those are okay. However, I’m thinking larger. How can you turn a nationally recognized day, and turn it into your own?

For example, I know on the first day of Spring, Rita’s will give out free Italian Ice to everyone. Every year, this is their big push to let the community know they are open for business. In fact, this year is their 25th Anniversary of hosting this event – at now over 600 locations in 30 states and five countries. There will be lines of people, even in cold weather, waiting for their free cone. People driving by will wonder what is going on, perhaps noticing the location for the first time. And, for those who went last year, many will now associate the first day of Spring with this chain.

So, what holiday or nationally recognized day or date can you use to associate with your business?

Can the first days of Summer, Fall or Winter tie in to your business?

What about Continue reading

Super Bowl Ads 2017: The Good, The Bad & What Were They Thinking?

While the confetti is still settling to Super Bowl LI, I thought I would provide a few instant reactions to the commercials from the big game. Even though the Patriots overcame a 25 point third quarter deficit to force the first-ever Super Bowl overtime, many of the 110+ million viewers were also glued to the television set to see the commercials.

Didn’t get a chance to see the ads? Watch them here.

As a marketer, the Super Bowl is one of the top events I look forward to each year. The anticipation is, if you are going to spend a reported $5.5 Million per 30 second television spot, the most creative minds will provide the best commercials.

But… as Howard Cosell said regarding the best laid plans in football, “That’s why they play the game.”

Here are my instant observations. More analysis will come in a future blog.

The Good: T-Mobile, Mr. Clean, Febreeze, Squarespace and Tide get high marks.

T-Mobile ruled the night with several different campaigns all focused on the unlimited service they offer. Whether it was Justin Bieber, Gronk and T.O. depicting the history of the celebration dance, the unlikely pairing of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, or Kristen Schaal getting turned on by being punished by the other company’s overage charges, T-Mobile caught our attention and delivered their message loud and clear.

Perhaps no ad made the room stop and stare at the screen more than the surprisingly sexy cartoon character of Mr. Clean strutting his stuff while cleaning the house. Kudos to the creative team that came up with this clever commercial, including a laugh-out-loud moment at the end where Mr. Clean was actually a real-life, less-than-ordinary man, being passionately attacked with the line, “Ya gotta love a man who cleans.”

Speaking of commercials that made us laugh out loud, Febreeze bluntly came out and announced what their product is really being used for. Part of an overall campaign, this commercial specifically tied into the Super Bowl halftime break and challenged us if our bathroom was ready to handle what was coming.

The Bad: GoDaddy, Lexus and Honda missed the boat.

While it was appreciated GoDaddy didn’t try to use sex to sell their website hosting services this year, the concept of taking various elements of what is popular on the internet was poorly executed and fell flat.

I understand Lexus is trying to target a younger demographic and attempted to do so using dancer Charles Lil’ Buck Riley. But, is that really the right target audience for this $90,000 automobile?

I liked the Honda “Yearbook” commercial for its cleverness, creativity and use of star power. But what was Honda trying to sell here? “Here’s to chasing dreams…” The Honda CR-V? There was little to no connection between the message and the product, leaving me wondering how many Gen Xers were going to be motivated by this commercial.

What were they thinking?:  Continue reading

Super Bowl Commercials – What to Look for in 2017

Millions of people tune in to the Super Bowl every year, with last year’s event drawing nearly 112 million viewers. For many, the commercials are the biggest highlight. Besides being entertaining, I have often found the ads can tell us quite a bit about the state of our country, and current marketing trends.

At $5.5M per 30-second spot (nearly double the cost of the same ad in 2010), the big companies and wannabes are going to try to get the most creative minds in the industry to help tell their story in half a minute. Sometimes they win and, a lot of the time, they lose.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is not selling out in this 2016 Super Bowl ad for TurboTax.

Over the years, it has certainly painted a picture of what we like (food, beer, cars, etc.), but it also tells us what is happening in our society. 15 years ago? The Dot Com companies ruled the night. During the recent recession? Soda, chips, candy bars and fast food – inexpensive comfort items – took prevalence. Two years ago? Sentimental ads focusing on parents, kids and empowerment tugged on our heartstrings. Last year? Brands relied upon respected actors like Hopkins, Neeson, Mirran, Walken and Keitel to build credibility and sway opinion.

What to look for this year? If you are a marketer (or just want to sound smart around the water cooler), here are a few suggestions when watching the Super Bowl…
Continue reading

2016… What Did We Learn?

The New Year is a great time for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new one. This is great, of course, for personal issues we want to improve. But, what about your business? Have you sat down and really looked at where you’ve been and where you want to go?

Last year, did you reach your business goals (gross sales, unit sales, market share penetration, new client acquisition, new locations developed, reduce costs, increase profits)? What do you think your greatest achievements were of 2016?

There is a common saying, “Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures.” Personally, I think we can learn from anything… if we ask the right questions. So, what made your victories successful? Sit down and really analyze what made something work. Was it the extensive planning, as well as preparing for various outcomes? Was it the new personnel you hired? Was it you taking a more hands on approach… or less? Was it that social media campaign? That PR blitz? That creative direct marketing idea?

On the other hand, what didn’t work? If you could do something different in 2016, what was it? How would you do it differently?

As George Santayanna wrote in his book Reason in Common Sense Continue reading

Social Media Networking for Small Business: Part 6 Listen and Respond

You are rocking the social media world. You’re getting liked on Facebook, re-tweeted on Twitter and your inbound links are multiplying. And these are translating into sales. You think everything is going great. But, who is monitoring what people are saying about you and your business?

Continuing a series of blogs on Social Media Networking for Small Business! Recently, I presented a webinar for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. You can watch it here. In case you’d rather read than watch the webinar, I’ve broken it down into a series of blogs:

For Part 1 – Goals, click here.
For Part 2 – Target Your Audience, click here.
For Part 3 – Find Your Promoters, click here.
For Part 4 – Develop Your Strategy, click here.
For Part 5 – Engage Your Audience, click here.
For Part 5B – Bringing it Back to Your Site, click here
For Part 5C – Why Your Company Needs a Blog, click here.
For Part 5D – Pay-Per-Click (PPC), click here.   

Listen and Respond 

Blogs, Message Boards, Product Ratings… should all be tracked for any negative comments. For small businesses, I suggest you use a Social Media 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

Social Media Networking for Small Business: Part 5D Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Since I mentioned search engine rankings in my last blog, I feel I should mention pay-per-click advertising. While not social media, it can be part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Here are tips on conducting a successful (and inexpensive) PPC campaign.

Continuing a series of blogs on Social Media Networking for Small Business! Recently, I presented a webinar for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. You can watch it here. In case you’d rather read than watch the webinar, I’ve broken it down into a series of blogs:

For Part 1 – Goals, click here.
For Part 2 – Target Your Audience, click here.
For Part 3 – Find Your Promoters, click here.
For Part 4 – Develop Your Strategy, click here.
For Part 5 – Engage Your Audience, click here.
For Part 5B – Bringing it Back to Your Site, click here

For Part 5C – Why Your Company Needs a Blog, click here.  

Engage Your Audience Part D – Pay-Per-Click (PPC) 

PPC refers to advertising that appears on the top and to the right of organic search results. Google, for example, offers Google AdWords. It is designed to display your advertisement based on targeted keywords or phrases.

So, if you owned a luggage store, you might have an ad that displays whenever your specialty – lets say computer bags – is entered into Google’s search engine. You then pay Google every time someone clicks on your ad.

The beauty of this method of web marketing is that it drives targeted traffic to your website much quicker than normal listings, and that you only pay Google when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. You determine how much you will pay by placing a bid. Of course, the more popular the keyword, the more competition you have on having your ad at the top of the results. However, you set limits on what you are willing to pay daily.

Your Google AdWords will show up on Google’s search results almost instantly after being submitted, so they are an ideal strategy if your web site is:

  • waiting to be indexed on Google
  • launching new products
  • short term campaign
  • targeting a specific market

If you go this route, understand it doesn’t always offer the results you may be hoping for.

They refer to this heatmap as “banner blindness.” It is a great example of why organic or natural search results are much more effective than banner ads. People barely even look at them.

Another interesting heatmap they displayed was how eyes look at typical search results. As you can see on this google example, the top five listings on the page get the majority of eyeballs. The red lines are referred to as the “fold” —which is a term associated with the front page of newspapers.  In the digital age, it is the point at which you’d have to scroll down. So, not only is getting on the first page of search results important, getting in the top five is golden.

Here are some tips when conducting a PPC campaign:

  • Be specific when choosing keywords and phrases. Again, it is quality over quantity. You may get a ton more clicks by being broad, but what are you selling? Be specific, so you get the right type of click.
  • Send them to landing pages, not your home page. Lets say you see an ad for a particular product and when you click on it, it takes you to their home page and you are left having to search for the exact item you were originally looking for. Most likely, your visitor will hit the back button and go for an easier route. Providing exact landing pages will provide you better odds the customer will stay on your site.
  • Lose the ego when bidding. I suggest you have a budget what you are willing to spend before you start looking at keywords. Maybe it is $25 a day, which is roughly $750 a month and over $9000 a year. If a certain keyword is too expensive, find a Long-Tail keyword, a type of keyword phrase that has at least three, and some times as many as five words in the phrase, which will give you better qualified visitors at a cheaper rate.

Google Adwords offers a very detailed way to track the results of your campaigns. Here, you can see how each one of your keywords or phrases are performing and can decide whether to eliminate or change your tactics.

This finally brings us to Social Media Networking for Small Business: Part 6 Listen and Respond. Here, we will cover how to figure out if all your efforts are paying off and what to do if they need help.

 

Social Media Networking for Small Business: Part 5C Why Your Company Needs a Blog

Here are 4 reasons why your company needs a Blog…

If you don’t know what a Blog is, you are currently on one. Many consider blogs as part of social media and I don’t disagree. However, blogs can be an extremely valuable tool in both push and pull marketing, and your site may be incomplete without one.

Continuing a series of blogs on Social Media Networking for Small Business! Recently, I presented a webinar for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. You can watch it here. In case you’d rather read than watch the webinar, I’ve broken it down into a series of blogs:

For Part 1 – Goals, click here.
For Part 2 – Target Your Audience, click here.
For Part 3 – Find Your Promoters, click here.
For Part 4 – Develop Your Strategy, click here.
For Part 5 – Engage Your Audience, click here.
For Part 5B – Bringing it Back to Your Site, click here.

Engage Your Audience Part C – Why Your Company Needs a Blog

The number one thing I would add to your website is a company blog. A blog can be a lot of different things, but it is usually an article or editorial by a person familiar with a topic. This is a great example of a “pull” medium.

When a customer is seeking information on a subject, a blog is a very useful tool as it normally informs in a very succinct format. Likewise, the impression the reader usually has is the blogger is an expert in this subject matter. Many companies list their blogs at the top of their website, as it is typically updated regularly and provides fresh content.

                              ↓

1.) Engage Your Audience. The number one reason to blog is to engage your customer. Provide them with something entertaining or informative where they will want to:

  • Come back to your site
  • Forward your information
  • Leave a comment, thereby opening a dialogue between you and them

Continue reading

Social Media Networking for Small Business: Part 5B Your Website

You’ve set your goals and have targeted, found and engaged your audience on their social media platforms of choice. You’ve directed them back to your own website to really promote your business.

Are you ready?

Here are some tips to engage visitors once they are on your website.

Continuing a series of blogs on Social Media Networking for Small Business! Recently, I presented a webinar for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. You can watch it here. In case you’d rather read than watch the webinar, I’ve broken it down into a series of blogs:

For Part 1 – Goals, click here.
For Part 2 – Target Your Audience, click here.
For Part 3 – Find Your Promoters, click here.
For Part 4 – Develop Your Strategy, click here.
For Part 5 – Engage Your Audience, click here.

Engage Your Audience Part B – Bringing it Back to Your Site

One of the main objectives for small businesses in social media is to direct your audience back to your home site. While your social networks are for informing and interacting, your website is where you can really promote.

Here’s a news flash: Businesses today need to have a website. The very basic would be considered a “brochure site,” which provides important information: About the company and/or product, location, hours, contact information, etc.

Some businesses do their business online, which is known as e-commerce. These sites offer shopping carts that allow a customer to purchase something online. Whether you have a brochure site or an e-commerce business, engaging your customers on your own website is essential.

The people already on your site have expressed interest in either you or your product. Right now, they may be considered a “passive” customer. If you want to turn them into a promoter, you need to engage them.

When I had my e-commerce business, I made sure the site offered all the important elements found on a typical brochure site; we had an “about Us” page, we listed our location with a google map link, we listed our hours and contact info. We also had a shopping cart that featured over 10,000 different products at any given time. While we had people visiting weekly to purchase – we had about 100 new products weekly – I wanted to give them a reason to visit the site when it wasn’t new product day.

So, I had areas to engage the customer: Continue reading