Nov 20, 2014

Lessons to be learned from holiday marketing strategies

When we think about Black Friday and its Internet twin Cyber Monday, visions of throngs of customers buying goods like they are on a game show fill our heads. The shopping season that leads up to the holidays has been the playground of marketing professionals for the better part of a century. The Internet and social media have changed the way that we reach out to consumers. Some of these methods can be adapted even if you are not a retail entrepreneur.

Socially Responsible Marketingshutterstock_224207632

There are times when doing a good thing at a company level can reap a financial benefit in the form of socially responsible holiday marketing. This form of “win-win” marketing highlights the communal benefit of buying your product or using your service. The company SoapBox Soaps is a good example of a socially responsible product with marketing to match. With any purchase of their soap or bath product, the company will donate soap and water to needy children worldwide. In the case of SoapBox Soaps, the marketing goes hand-in-hand with its product line. Even if you are a service deliverer, socially responsible marketing can work. In Miami-Dade County, when the school district did not have the resources to assess needy children, school psychologists donated their time, garnering a lot of good press toward their marketing endeavors.

Engagement Marketing (more…)

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Nov 14, 2014

Why email marketing is just like the Hunger Games

email marketingThank you to Campaigner for sending along these tips to improve your email marketing tactics! 

Black Friday deals. Holiday sales. Travel promotions. New Years offers. This holiday season, all email marketers and online retailers are in a hunger games of their own: keeping their promotional emails alive – and out of the spam folder – will determine their ability to survive the email marketing games. Avoiding the dreaded delete button is a taxing battle, as 23 percent of consumers claim they get overwhelmed with holiday offers and just ignore them, while 31 percent look, but rarely take action and make a purchase, according to a recent Campaigner survey.

Similar to how Katniss Everdeen puts on a façade to entice her sponsors, email marketers need to adopt a mix of eye-catching graphics and personalized content to make a lasting impression. In the spirit of  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay being released later this month,  here are a few tips for email marketers to channel their inner Katniss and emerge from the arena as a victor. May the odds be ever in your favor!

 1.    Channel Your Inner Katniss with Fail-Safe Precautions: With her life on the line, Katniss never makes the same mistake twice. Taking fail-safe sending precautions prevents the same from occurring in your email marketing campaigns. You’ll be sure to ruin your chances with customers if you spam them with emails they can’t open. With more and more consumers reading email via smartphones or tables, be sure to implement responsive design (mobile) templates to make your content easy to read and interact with. Otherwise, similar to how the cannon blast signals a tributes demise, you’ll become a victim of the delete button and will leave the email marketing games early.

2.    Your Email Marketing Mockingjay – Make an Impression: (more…)

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Nov 10, 2014

5 Things Trump, PETA and other shocker brands can teach us about marketing

donald trumpYears ago I was at a cocktail party that was also attended by Donald Trump. Don’t ask me how I got invited, I think they mistook me for someone that was important. But regardless of how I got there, I was soon struck by several things  about Trump in person. First, it does look like a dead animal is sitting on his head, but I’m pretty sure that’s his own hair. (Although I suspect it’s been planted.) Second, and most surprising, he’s got amazing skin, nice shoulders and a nice ass. Not kidding. Lots of women were flirting with him at this party. I was too scared of Melania.

But I digress. The thing that was the most surprising about Trump was that in person, he wasn’t bombastic nor did he try to dominate the conversation.  Although perhaps he was tired, or drunk when I saw him, I think off camera he’s rarely as bombastic as he is on camera. What he’s done is create a persona that works for him. It keeps him in the public eye (he claims he’s never hired a publicist) and serves his purposes.

I often say that Donald Trump is the PETA of personal brands. PETA also achieves its public relations goals through shock value. Remember when President Obama killed a fly, and PETA released a statement accusing him of executing an animal on air? A friend of mine was mocking the group, but I reminded him that probably every other person in the U.S was talking about PETA that day too. Do I think PETA cared about the fly? Of course not. They cared about impressions.

I am not going to debate whether PETA is actually ethical , or whether Donald Trump is a narcissistic egomaniac. But I think there are some things we can learn from these two and other shocker brands in terms of marketing and public relations. Because they’re both highly successful. And everyone knows their name. So here goes:

1. Shocker brands are consistent.   Personally, I hate brands that make a statement and then backtrack because they get a bit of kerfuffle. If you’re going to have a strong impact on the market, you have to have a strong voice. And for that reason you will piss some people off sometimes. (Believe me, I know.) Apologize, but don’t let your brand voice waffle around in some kind of amiable, people-pleasing manner. Choose your brand message and voice carefully and stick to it. You don’t have to have shock value, but it does need to be forceful in this cluttered mess of a media market.

2. Shocker brands often get a free pass. Consistency generates automatic forgiveness.

(more…)

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Nov 6, 2014

Using countdowns as the catalyst to increase holiday sales

holiday salesAs a small business owner, it’s no doubt you’re looking for ways to maximize your sales over the impending holiday season. After all, it’s the time of year when people traditionally open their wallets a bit more freely and want to satisfy others’ wish lists and their own. So with all the opportunity for seasonal marketing campaigns and creative ways to use holiday cheer as fuel for sales, what’s the best approach?

While many methods may work, employing countdowns is one tactic that is tried and true. The premise behind counting down is that your consumer is faced with a limited amount of time to make a purchase. If they’re leaning toward making a buy already, the perceived (or real) time limit will cause them to delay no more. Here are three ways to effectively incorporate countdowns this holiday season for a spike in your sales.

Count Down the Number of Items Left

The principle of scarcity within advertising is really what makes countdowns so useful. People are more inclined to buy if they feel an item is universally desired or hard to come by or if they know their opportunities for getting it are limited.

Zappos uses this technique by showing how many items are left in stock in the color and size requested. If someone was intent on buying a pair of boots, seeing that there is only one size nine pair in “camel” color left is sure to make her add the item to her cart in a hurry. She wouldn’t want to let that slip away.

You can apply the same principle to your business. Even if you don’t handle transactions online or through an e-commerce platform, you can tip customers off to the fact that your merchandise isn’t going to stick around forever.

Count Down to a Sale or Event (more…)

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Oct 31, 2014

K-Factor – the math behind viral marketing

business growthIt’s every marketer’s dream to create a viral sensation with a website, produce or service, generating an enormous amount of positive word-of-mouth and a slew of new customers. What most people don’t understand is that viral marketing is more math than art.  As a marketing person I’ve found myself using my math minor more and more (not to mention my IT background) as the business becomes more about numbers and less about copy. Here’s a quick primer on how marketers use K-factor to chase virality.

In marketing, K-factor is the formula by which we can calculate the growth rate of just about anything. Roughly, it goes:

k = i * c

…where k (K-Factor, or virality) equals the number of invites to a product, website, etc. (i) sent by customers resulting in conversion (c is the percentage rate of the invites’ conversion). (more…)

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Oct 29, 2014

You are not your best customer

Photo courtesy of MSNBC.com

Photo courtesy of MSNBC.com

Last week I wrote about the importance of defining your best customer(s) and the influencers that send them your way. This is important when you’re defining an overall campaign and determining their hangouts. ( sorry for the pun, Google) There is, however, an insidious problem with many business owners when it comes to marketing messages, audiences and customers. If nothing else, here’s what I want you to remember. YOU ARE NOT YOUR BEST CUSTOMER.

Let me repeat that. YOU ARE NOT YOUR BEST CUSTOMER.

You may have been the best customer at one time, or  knew one really well. Or perhaps you  were an influencer. But the minute you decide to start your own business, or manage the business, you become biased. Here’s a great example: (more…)

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Photo courtesy of MSNBC.com
Oct 21, 2014

Know Your Best Customer

James J. Hill CenterThis morning I gave a presentation at the venerable James J. Hill Center in downtown St. Paul. Beautiful place!  The Center has created a new business program based on a similar, quite successful program in London. My talk was one of a series of free lectures open to the public.

I am passionate that businesses understand and know their customers  really, really well. It’s not enough to be personal with your customers. These days you have to get intimate in order to find them and keep them. I’ve embedded the slideshare below, but here are the main points I hope my audience walked away with this morning.

(more…)

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Oct 19, 2014

3 Ways to Use GIFs In Your Marketing Campaigns

shutterstock_184633280Although Twitter introduced animated GIFs to their website earlier this year, most social media sites are not compatible with GIFs. Twitter has become GIF-friendly with the creation of GIFV, a looping video with a smaller file size and consequently a faster loading time, states Imgur. This change has made it possible for these movie-image hybrid files to be used in marketing on a variety of platforms.

Twitter

As noted above, one of the best ways to take advantage of GIFs is on Twitter. If your company has a Twitter account (and it really should), tell the world about your services or products with a GIF. Not only is it more eye-catching than a string of images but it also takes less time to watch than a video. In the Information Age, time is of the essence, which means you can no longer expect your viewers to watch a product video that’s over five minutes long. Use a site like GIFMaker to upload your images and create a short animated GIF. For example, Gap did a brilliant job with a GIF that both promotes their famous 1969 jeans and this year’s tagline, “Dress Normal.”

Emails

Using GIFs in marketing emails is a great way to make your brand stand out. However, there are some points to keep in mind. (more…)

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Oct 15, 2014

Why they didn’t name it Vision…the Cision Vocus deal

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.27.14 AM

When I heard about the Vocus and Cision merger at the PRSA conference this week, all I could think was….oh shit. Both companies seem to be long on salespeople (my dinky little company has had 9 different Cision reps in the last 3 years) and short on customer support. And, I admit, I’m as guilty as the next person of having my intern sit in on webinars to earn a Starbucks coffee card from Vocus.  Oh, and together they bought Visible, which apparently is a great company.

“…Coupling the company’s social intelligence SaaS platform and insights experts with Vocus and Cision’s powerful PR tools creates a comprehensive solution for tracking and analyzing earned, owned and paid media that elevates brands and drives business results.” Or, as another release said “Cision is now better placed to provide quality solutions that will serve the PR and communications professional’s complete workflow.”

Boy this takes me back. Those of us in IT services remember the 90′s when flush with cash, we decided to go out and “merge with partners”.  (By the way, someone always buys someone. Mergers are just a way of making the smaller guy feel better about it.) The idea was that if you could sell the entire “lifecycle” you could own the customer. We can do it soup to nuts!  And after quite a bit of partying and initial hoopla, the reality sets in. Wow, this doesn’t work.

Here’s why it doesn’t work:

  • First, it’s the usually the biggest company with the worst brand that has the most money. And gets to keep the name. Therefore the better brands get sullied.  The brilliant Katie Paine just wrote about this yesterday :

“Instead, they chose Cision, a brand that Vocus and everyone else has been bad mouthing with good reason for years. In a move that was both baffling and incredibly fitting, they promoted themselves by bringing a large dinosaur to the trade show area of this week’s PRSA International Conference. ….My feelings about Cision are no secret. I’ve told anyone who has asked that using the CisionPoint  system is like having a root canal — incredibly painful, takes a long time, and when its over you’re left with a feeling that something’s missing.  Personally, I’d prefer root canal.” (more…)

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Oct 14, 2014

How can social media benefit online casino sites?

With both online casinos and social media very much on the rise, there are a number of ways that social media sites can prove beneficial to online casino ones – as the casino companies are rapidly discovering.

Promotions

The big social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook are used by millions of people around the world, making them a superb way for a company like an online casino to reach a wide audience very quickly – with Facebook allowing casinos to target potential customers with adverts. These sites can be used to reveal news of their latest promotional offers, innovations or new games – but it doesn’t even have to be the casino sites themselves doing the promoting. Should a user of these sites go on social media and mention their casino gaming, this is likely to bring new visitors to these sites.

Direct contact

Social media provides a superb way for casino sites like www.gamingclub.com/au/online-pokies to connect directly with their customers – which in turn allows them to use feedback to better tailor their services to the needs of those who use them. Twitter, in particular, allows companies to talk directly with customers. Whether it is a problem with site crashes or information needed, the casino site can deal rapidly with these issues and ensure customer satisfaction levels remain high, which is crucial to continued success.

Interactive gaming

Providing games that can are integrated with a popular social network like Facebook brings a whole new audience to casino sites – who may not have previously considered visiting them. Zynga poker is an example of a casino game that has become huge through being available as an app on Facebook. Playing this way lets people share the experience with friends and makes online casino feel like more of a social experience for people, rather than just being about gambling.

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