Archive for the ‘headline’ tag
Discount retailers, such as Target, Macy’s, and J.C. Penney, have tried various pricing strategies over the years to lure customers to buy more of their products. The primary tool in the competitive arsenal is to offer the best value because they know that customers are motivated to seek out price savings and great deals on frequently purchased products.
Seems simple right? Just offer low prices and people will come. That is not necessarily the case, though.
Feelings Affect Our Shopping Decisions
An economist would say that customers are rational beings who try to get the most value for their money. In a tough economy, people should be especially focused on savings and prefer shopping at a store that always offers the lowest price. Psychologists, however, know that people do not always make rational decisions that offer the greatest economic gain because emotions play a critical role in guiding decision making and behavior. For example, positive emotions tend to evoke creative thinking and persistence when trying to solve problems.
An important study describes how specific emotions like disgust can reduce how much people are willing to pay for something and how sadness can increase how much we
are willing to pay. The expression “retail therapy” confirms that many people might attempt to change their sad mood by shopping purely for the entertainment value. Though shopping may serve a basic utilitarian need to acquire goods for nourishment and comfort, people are also motivated to feel competent and socially connected. Satisfaction might be gained when a shopper has a sense of expertise in selecting the best product for the best price, from knowing that some effort on their part resulted in a savings. Shoppers may get an additional self-esteem boost when they share their market expertise with other members of their community.
When J.C. Penney recently ousted CEO Ron Johnson, industry insiders began speculating what went wrong with its pricing strategy. A recent NY Times story describes some of the psychology behind discounting and what factors go into creating the sense in a customer’s mind that she got a great deal.
1. Deals are motivating
The first involves establishing what a fair price should be. Who knows what a box of cereal or a pair of boots should really cost anyway? Morning game shows, such as “The Price Is Right” or Let’s Make a Deal,” have taken advantage of the difficulty people have when guessing the price of everyday retail items. People make their best guess typically from how other similar items are priced. Psychologists who study decision-making call this type of estimation anchoring and adjusting. We fixate on a number that we have paid in the past and adjust our guess from there. We feel like we are getting a great deal when the anchor is a high “list price” and we pay a lower sale price that may even be below what we originally adjusted for in our mind.
2. You can’t change the way the mind works
The Times article points out that J.C. Penny stopped offering discounts due to the complexity and effort involved with constantly changing prices and managing inventories. It simplified by offering everyday low prices much the way Walmart or Costco does. Unfortunately, customers stopped buying because without the anchor of a higher retail price, they no longer felt like they were getting a deal.
3. Discovering a great deal is a fun game
Another aspect touched on in the article was the game price-conscious shoppers like to play by clipping coupons and feeling the satisfaction of earning a lower price. Everyday low prices at a certain store may result in savings but shopping there might not be as fun or at least provide the satisfaction to a savvy shopper who realizes anyone can get the low price without any effort or special knowledge.
4. Sales should be engaging
Les Wunderman, the direct marketing ad executive, famously increased sales for Columbia House records by mentioning a “Gold Box” treasure hunt in late-night TV ads for the company that would appear later in TV Guide and Parade magazine ads. The treasure hunt created a cheesy but amusing game that created customer interest and potential for increasing how customers interact with the company. Today, social media affords another platform to engage customer interest by making digital platforms a source of insider information and a potential “treasure” of future discounts.
5. Sales are naturally social
Finally, people love to share inside information with those in their social networks. People gossip and share funny videos on YouTube in order to feel like a valued member of their social group. People also derive more pleasure from giving to others than spending the same on themselves. J.C. Penney’s everyday low price strategy likely fell flat with customers because savvy shoppers had nothing of value to share with their friends when discussing purchases at the store.
6. Sales are satisfying
In the end, effective pricing strategies not only need to give customers a tangible sense of satisfaction that they got a good deal by using anchoring techniques—but offer interactive methods to keep customers coming back to social media and marketing campaigns for future deals. The trick is to make these efforts somewhat challenging and fun to keep customers interested. Once they realize the gains from their efforts, they may be more likely to spread the word and create the desirable buzz that every retailer wants to sustain about their brands.
iStrategy Miami in April brought together an all-star lineup, including Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, business development and marketing media executive Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe of Social Espionage, and Ken Segall, formerly of Apple.
For those folks who couldn’t make it to iStrategy Miami, here are some key takeaways from an action-packed two-day event.
Harness the power of simplicity. “Simplicity is instantly likable,” says Ken Segall. To best serve your audience, boil complex concepts down to simple turns of phrase, and use common words, familiar to your audience. This makes your content accessible to everyone.
Also remember the human element. What story are you telling and why does your audience care? Simplicity and the human element infuse every aspect of Apple’s organization, and brand loyalty reflects that.
Digital is a valuable part of the marketing mix, but it’s still just one part, as keynote presenter Jason Falls reminded the audience. An integrated approach is necessary to attract and maintain your audience’s attention. Social metrics, such as likes and retweets, are also not as valuable as comments. Falls derided “likes” as the virtual equivalent of a high five in the high-school hallway.
— Kerry O’Shea Gorgone (@KerryGorgone) April 24, 2013
Fortunately, Facebook has more to offer than likes, but you need to cultivate engagement, not just maintain a presence.
Mari Smith’s presentation, “Five Facebook strategies for maximum impact, reach and ROI” comprised a mix of insights and tactics. Smith recommends first growing your fan base, then engaging them with audience-centric content, and ultimately using this momentum to move fans to action.
— Engelo Imperator (@BelieveTheHyp) May 7, 2013
In Smith’s estimation, 80% of your content should focus on the audience, with the remaining 20% left to focus on your business.
“For every Facebook fan you engage, there are 34 more reachable friends,” said Smith, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to resort to promoted Facebook posts. Smith suggested posting first to allow more “organic” following, then promoting the post later to expand your reach.
Schedule posts for optimum visibility among your target audience. Smith was actually posting tweets from her Twitter account while speaking on stage. She let everyone know she scheduled those tweets in advance. Don’t be afraid to schedule posts. If you can’t be online when your audience is, scheduling makes sense.
Remember to include calls to action (CTAs). You might drive engagement on Facebook itself or direct traffic from the social network to your website, but whatever your goals are, support them with clear CTAs.
Also be mindful to actively monitor your Facebook presence and to reply to posts from followers there. Smith pointed out that Facebook’s algorithm now factors in negative feedback on a post, which means that negative feedback can undermine your post’s reach. Addressing any negative comments can help to turn the overall sentiment around, thereby saving your visibility.
There are more tangible benefits to engagement than brand sentiment: 80% of Facebook users who receive a response after they post go on to make a purchase, said Smith, citing a 2011 study.
Once you have your audience’s attention, Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe emphasizes the importance of continued engagement. Remember to continue interacting with your audience after you’ve gotten the like and/or follow you were seeking. “Twitter is like a one-night stand,” she observes. “After that first encounter, what’s the relationship?” Know your audience and continue to engage them once they have accepted your invitation to connect.
— Dorothea Volpe (@SocialEspionage) April 24, 2013
For more information about iStrategy Digital Marketing Conference, visit http://www.istrategyconference.com.
Any CEO will tell you that running a company is a lot like running a sports team. You put together a strong team, give them the tools to become all-stars, and motivate them every step of the way to beat the competition.
But many businesses aren’t operating on an all-star budget; when a company is growing, the funds are tight and the stakes are high. As CEO, I’ve always thought of myself as my team’s GM and now–as we’ve entered baseball season–I’ve been thinking about the success of Billy Beane, who, as the general manager of the Oakland A’s, used one of the smallest budgets in Major League Baseball to drive the A’s to 20 consecutive victories and the playoffs.
I know more about business than I do about baseball, but that’s why the plight of the Oakland A’s is so inspiring. The strategies Beane employed that led to his team’s victories in 2002—the ones made famous in the book Moneyball (also the basis for a successful movie starring Brad Pitt)—are the very principles in which I have come to believe so strongly when it comes to building a successful company.
Marketers need to optimize their budget
A significant amount of your budget is probably spent on advertising, but if you’re unsure which ads are bringing in leads, the dollars you spend on those advertisements are wasted. Whether you’re advertising on your local cable station, a grocery store shopping cart, the radio, print, or the web, you need concrete proof of which ads are working and, more importantly, which ones aren’t. Unique call tracking numbers are critical when narrowing down the marketing efforts that are generating leads.
That simple information, gleaned from merely tracking your phone calls, could save you a significant amount of money and takes the guesswork out of your marketing analyses. With call tracking metrics, you know exactly, for example, how many of your phone calls come from PPC ads versus television ads. For example, if you’re spending big bucks on ads in local listings yet your metrics indicate they’re not generating any calls, you can stop wasting money on those ineffective advertisements. It’s too easy to keep increasing your PPC spend without knowing if these efforts are actually driving calls… but with the ability to track leads down to the keyword, you know exactly where the root of success is. That kind of data arms you with the information you need to construct the most effective campaigns—online and offline.
Marketers should take advantage of new channels
The beauty of marketing metrics is that they enable you to explore new channels and measure your results. With the ability to monitor your efforts, you may find that certain channels produce results that are unexpectedly successful. Like many companies, you may decide to explore social media platforms for lead-generation opportunities. But without metrics, you’re in the dark about their results. You have no way of telling if your foray into Twitter and Facebook actually produced any leads when metrics might have revealed to you that social media is driving more activity than any of your other channels. Metrics tell you what efforts you can save money on, but they also inform you of where to focus your budget more effectively. Don’t make marketing decisions based on what bigger businesses are doing; make those decisions based on what works for your company and your budget.
Marketers should search for insight into the effectiveness of their sales team
Your strategy might be solid, but what does your team look like? If the strategy is good—quality sources, relevant leads, good lead flow—but the leads aren’t converting, then it’s time to look at the players and see what needs to be optimized there. Quality metrics can show you the average time an agent spends on the phone with a lead, how quickly they’re responding to phone calls, and how many of their calls turn into customers. Depending on what your metrics tell you, you may need to make some adjustments to your processes, or to the team itself.
What set Beane apart from his peers was his ability to dig into the details: to look past big names and high salaries and into the repeatable, measurable activities that meant a winning season. Marketers must learn to do the same thing with their stats if they want to see the kind of success that made the story of Beane and the Oakland A’s famous. A metric-centric marketing strategy means a robust, data-rich view of your activities; a concrete understanding of what works and what doesn’t; and where you should be investing more of your budget.
Amy’s Ice Creams in Austin, Texas, is beloved for two things: the ice cream and the floor show.
Ice cream scoops are thrown from one worker to another and caught in cups balanced on their chins… while standing on one foot… hopping. You’ll see ice cream slingers sliding across the counters on their knees and bellies. It’s a carnival ride in there.
Finding people who are fearless and creative enough to come up with stunts like flinging scooped ice cream across a room just can’t happen in the normal interview process. How exactly do you ask, “Are you a little bit nuts?” You can’t. So, at Amy’s, applicants receive a white paper bag that must be brought back within a week turned into a creation that tells Amy’s about who they are.
Without the Right People, This Is Just Great Ice Cream
By using a plain white paper bag as its job application, Amy’s management gets to know the creative soul lurking within the teen candidate standing before them. That idea began with an applicant who was given the bag instead of the boilerplate job application because Amy’s had run out of the forms. The applicant floated the bag back into the store with helium balloons; inside the bag were items about her life. She got the job. Now that is how Amy’s fills their shops with people who make getting an ice cream feel like going to the circus.
Revel in “Being Real”
Amy’s exceeds $6 million in gross annual sales and one million ice cream servings. The Amy’s Ice Creams Web site says, “Amy’s looks at ‘going out for ice cream’ as a total sensory experience that can revitalize a less-than stellar day.” Part of the joy of going to their ice cream shops is wondering what kind of floor show you’ll be greeted with. Getting the right people to work at Amy’s has spurred their growth from a single location in 1984 to over 15 stores 26 years later. In 1984, Amy’s served 125,000 servings of ice cream. Now, they sell well over one million a year, with gross annual sales exceeding $7 million.
Like manybeloved companies, Amy’s Ice Creams doesn’t advertise. Word of mouth builds the business, and they redirect marketing money to community development, which fuels more word of mouth. Amy’s represents the power of the small-business owner and how service and exceptional experiences can build their business. Amy’s Ice Creams prospers because it revels in being real. In being their kooky, nutty selves. That people love. This translates even to the Amy’s Web site, where the front page welcomes you with “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!” Sound advice.
So, what can marketers learn from Amy’s?
Get real in how you hire and bring people into your company.
- First, define the core values of people you want to fill your company.
- Next, determine the personality of your company. Are you serious and deliberate? Are you whimsical? Have you thought about it?
Examine your current hiring process.
- Are you deliberate about selecting people who will deliver your distinct personality to customers?
- How would your customers say you are doing?
- Do customers rave about how unique you are today?
- Do your decisions for selecting people earn you “beloved” status today?
- Are you selecting “memory makers” or filling slots?
Decide to be real.
What’s YOUR version of a white paper bag to select people who will become your company to your customers?
There are three things that every marketer needs to be successful: creativity, resources, and freedom. Creativity brings the ideas to the table, the resources put them into play, and the freedom gives them the ability to try new things. Trial and error is the key here, but the problem is that it can get expensive. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.
Fiverr is a website where people offer an insanely wide variety of services for only five dollars. Advertised listings include helpful services, such as “I will fix your WordPress issue” to the creative “I will write a sweet ukulele song for your business” (I have used this guy twice) and the bizarre “I will kickbox in my bikini and say whatever you want.”All in exchange for a fixed rate of five US dollars.
Fiverr launched in 2010 and now hosts more than 1.3 million services. There is no price negotiating—everything offered on Fiverr always costs a fiver. Customers needing services can use Fiverr’s search or “surprise me” functions to find and commission services directly through the site.
Now Fiverr is by no means going to be the saving grace for every one of your marketing campaigns. But it can be a fantastic way to differentiate your messaging and provide a uniquely fun way to tailor your content for the various social channels.
One way that I use Fiverr is for a quick fun video to introduce a new campaign to the world. There are hundreds of options and vendors to choose from. And for only five bucks, what do you have to lose? Here’s an example of a video that I produced with the help of a vendor on Fiverr.
The idea here was to use this video as a vehicle to drive traffic and engagement around this particular piece of content. I was able to get this video completed in only three days then used it across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and embedded it onto a landing page. Within three days, the video had more than 1,000 views and hundreds of Likes and shares. How’s that for ROI?
We all know that content fuels social and Fiverr is a horn of plenty that overfloweth with fun, helpful, and sometimes bizarre ideas that can add pizzazz to your marketing campaigns. It’s another tool for the modern marketer who understands the brains over budget mentality when it comes to creating content.
Let me tell you about one of the most amusing parts of my job. At the types of trade shows, user conferences, and marketing technology industry events I attend, the prevalent demographics are usually pretty similar: men and women in their 40s, 50s, and sometimes even 60s (almost all white and heterosexual). When you exclude the hired booth babes, interns, and event staff members, I am almost always among the youngest professionals there.
Many of those people at the events are extremely accomplished marketing professionals with a ton of creds—don’t get me wrong. But I’ve noticed that many seem to struggle with one topic in particular: How do marketers reach Millennials and successfully engage with them?
I’ve sat in many a packed convention conference hall while guys my dad’s age explain to their peers what Millennials are like. Everyone refers to what those kids these days do with their smartphones, with much chuckling in the audience. (I try to stifle a groan whenever someone makes a joke about how much his teenage son or daughter texts.) To save you the same fate, let me sum up the majority of what the marketing profession thinks about Millennials: They’re stupid.
Like, seriously, pants-on-your-head stupid.
What Marketers Think About Millennials
Millennials, we’re told, have the attention span of a hyperactive squirrel. They cannot think more than 140 characters at a time because they’re addicted to multitasking. They want mad lulz, not substance. They are overconfident in themselves and need constant stimulation and affirmation. And boy, are they into this social media thing.
Obviously, I disagree about much of that. In all seriousness, I submit to you that Millennials are different from other generational cohorts—not because of how we were raised or any inherent difference but rather because of how extensively we’re connected. We are connected not only to the web but also to one another and through various channels.
Millennials have adopted mobile devices, mobile internet connectivity, and social networking more than any other group. A recent report lays out these trends in fascinating detail and portrays a pattern that many of us are now familiar with. While my Boomer parents are now online and know how to “do the Google” and what-not, their peers have not broadly adopted mobile technology to a large degree nor have they fully embraced social media. (That results in some hilarious websites like When Parents Text and my personal favorite, Postcards From Yo Momma.)
That last part is key. Real-time interactivity with my hundreds of friends on Facebook or Twitter (where Millennials alone make up over 50% of the US users) means I can easily rely on crowdsourced input on my buying decisions, easily text friends for quick advice, and, of course, engage in showrooming—all on my smartphone. Older folks can do this perfectly well, of course, but haven’t shown a taste for doing so, and a majority of them don’t have the large connected social networks of their Boomer peers to tap for the same advice.
When you grow up with constant connectivity and social networking, wherever you are, you come to expect the same kinds of things from the companies you do business with. Millennials want to engage with your brand. We want to tweet you a complaint (or compliment!), and hear something substantive and human in return. We want to “like” you on Facebook to be a part of a shared experience—not just as customers, but as individuals with shared interests. (REI, you guys rock about this.) We want to pin your cool stuff on Pinterest, in part, to express who we are—and also to save it for later, when we’re prepared to actually buy. This isn’t about showing off on social media. It’s about the same kind of self-expression that every generation engages in among their peers—just our peers happen to be online.
In short, we want it fast, we want it now, and we don’t just want it online; we want it mobile-ready. I do not want to wait in a line down at your store, which is 25 miles away.
I can hear the eye-rolling from the Boomers reading this already. “Spoiled brats,” they say. “When I bought things as a young’un in the 60s, it wasn’t this complicated!”
They’re right. The world has gotten more complicated. And now I’m going to throw another wrinkle at you, lest you get the wrong idea from what I said above. While immediacy and mobility is incredibly important, I think the most important part of this is engagement.
Why Engagement Is Crucial
Stay with me here. There is a widely held Commandment of Online Video prevalent out there that holds that to keep your viewers’ attention, you must not go over two minutes in length. By 2:30, you’ve lost over half of your audience. And at 3 minutes, you might as well be showing an epic film. And this is even more true for Millennials… right?
Well, except that last year, the Kony 2012 video, which clocks in at 1 second shy of half an hour, raced across the millennial internet in just a few days. In three days, 72 million people had watched the video (I repeat: They sat and watched a 30-minute YouTube video! When does anyone actually do that?), and by the end of the first week, the number was 112 million. Almost a quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds in the US had watched it. The organization’s email system broke, and their sales force was locked out of their own store by the crush of traffic.
The point is not that Kony 2012 was a great cause. (It’s worth noting that they were later revealed to be a slipshod, amateurish organization with a very shallow understanding of the causes they purported to champion, but, as much as this returned Peace Corps volunteer might relish it, a discussion of so-called “slacktivism” is for a different article.)
The point is that the video treated its viewers with intelligence. It offered not only substance, but an opportunity for people to join something—call it a movement, a shared experience, whatever you like. Viewers could be a part of this movement just by raising awareness of it, and they did so by sharing this video widely with their friends. And share they did. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed was pretty much chock full of it for a week straight. Naturally, those interested could also contribute money or buy Kony 2012-branded merchandise on their online store. (Well, they could before it crashed.)
It’s not hard to find other examples as well. The point is that while quick, mildly amusing or clever “tagline marketing” is as relevant as it’s always been, Millennial customers—like anyone—also respond to substance and intelligence. And they’ve demonstrated plenty of willingness to carry your message for you, given the right campaign.
In short, you don’t need Buzzfeed-ify your marketing to appeal to us.
As a yoga practitioner and marketing professional, I have come to see the parallels of these two seemingly unrelated practices. The foundational principles associated with yoga can direct our day to day and even high-level strategies as marketers. Read on to learn four marketing lessons from this ancient practice. No headstands or lotus poses required.
1. When the Foundation Is Clear, the Execution Is Successful
In essence, yoga is the continuum of theory and practice. As a marketer, isn’t it our job to create a theory (or strategy) through marketing research and execute upon the theory’s key findings or practice?
A successful marketer does not use one or the other; the back-end research is needed to support the execution. A like-the-back-of-your-hand knowledge of your brand’s intangibles (demographic or psychographic customer insights) drives the tangibles (revenue, product development, sales). Marketing theory and practice can be executed with the smallest tasks or biggest campaigns. When the foundation is clear, the execution is successful—ergo the transference of yoga’s theory and practice to marketing.
2. A Mental Clean Slate Helps You Think Without Preconceived Notions
Yoga is what is traditionally called a liberation teaching (or moksha-shâstra). Liberations of any kind seek to admonish any notions of “why we are” or “what we know.” Liberation allows for a mental clean slate, which allows us to think more clearly and profoundly.
Think of the transference to marketing. We are often clouded by pre-conceived notions of how we should be communicating with our end customer, even though those notions may not even be relevant or effective. It’s just the time-tested way within your organization to do something, so we continue to do it.
I was in a client meeting last week, and I asked, “Have you ever polled your current customers on how they view your company?” The answer was no. Many companies have a hard time trekking out of their offices into the “field” to chat with folks who have first-hand experience with your business—your customers.
Having a clean slate or a liberated notion of your business will allow you to uncover brand promises that could be one step away coming right from the mouth of your valued customer. Why do you think consultants exist—for an unadulterated perspective, right? From there, you will be able to move forward with marketing activities that allow you to better reach your current customer. It all starts with a clean slate, free from preconceived notions.
3. Small Gestures of Kindness Can Establish Customer Loyalty
A yogic life is guided by the principle of dharma, which means “law,” “order” and “virtue.”
Just last week I watched a TED Time Square lecture by famed HARO founder Peter Shankman. His presentation was “Why Nice Finishes First.” He shared cases about corporations going the extra mile to make small gestures of kindness—and how these gestures turn one-time customers into brand advocates for life. Those gestures seemed to be founded in good virtue and morality,
So what can you learn from the principal of dharma? Not only should we be virtuous for the sake of being virtuous, but we should also transfer the principal of kindness and morality to our marketing and business practices. It pays off with customer loyalty in the end.
4. Simplicity Helps Consumers Know Your Brand Better
Yoga teaches us to get back to basics; the more we untangle our lives the better off we are said to become. That yoga principle transfers to marketing perfectly. Are our marketing messages or campaigns clouded by “too much”? Too many graphics, too much copy on our websites, too many calls to action—just general clutter?
Think about the most famed advertising taglines. They are simple yet memorable: Nike’s Just Do It, Apple’s Think Smarter, the Dairy Council’s Got Milk? and Avis’ We Try Harder. Their websites are equally as succinct with simple, profound, and uncluttered content. That simplicity allows for a clear understanding by consumers of what the brand is all about. As a result, those brands have saturation in just about every home in America.
Choose Your Own Marketing Adventure: Ann Handley on Making B2B Marketing Fun and Seeing Content Moments Everywhere
Here at MarketingProfs, we’re hard at work pulling together the final agenda for our B2B Forum 2013 this fall. We couldn’t do it without the insight of a select group of trailblazers in the B2B marketing space. Some of those advisers we are highlighting here, in a series of interviews centered around this year’s B2B Forum theme, “Marketing is full of choices.”
Now through the event kickoff in October, we’ll occasionally feature those Q&As on the Daily Fix, so you’ll get plenty of tips and insights about the adventure known as B2B marketing.
Our Q&A guest today from the B2B Forum 2013 is Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. Ann is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann also is co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, now out in paperback from Wiley.
1. What surprised you about B2B marketing in 2013?
I continue to be excited by the opportunities we have to tell our stories in inherently richer ways, and I’m amazed at the speed at which B2B marketing is evolving. Social media, a renewed realization of the importance of content, mobile, and more have changed marketing forever. Never before in the history of history have businesses had the opportunity to connect with buyers, join conversations, and build audiences. That’s a pretty inspiring thing, isn’t it?
I think so, and it’s spawning marketing that’s increasingly useful, inspired, and empathetic to the needs and desires of our customers. For example, do you think that this would have been part of a B2B marketing program a decade ago?
I don’t. (And I was in the business of producing B2B content a decade ago. So, I speak with some authority!)
“The best doesn’t feel like marketing,” as my friend Tom Fishburne (marketoonist.com) says. And I think B2B companies in 2013 embraced that notion in a big way, and will continue to in 2014 and beyond. That’s why we designed this fall’s B2B Forum program to be relentlessly focused on this new world of marketing—the program is designed to help marketers navigate that incredible array of choices, to find the paths that work best for them in reaching and connecting with their audiences.
2. If you could only choose one marketing tactic to use, which one would it be? And why?
Content. Why? Because content…wait for it… RULES.
But seriously, content has always been an important part of marketing. But as social, search, and sharing have evolved (as I said above)… content is increasingly marketing’s cornerstone.
3. How do you break through a creative block?
By doing wacky things like the following “cartoon roulette.” (Note: The images move really fast by design. Click to stop it randomly.)
or this, based on your slide show:
Creating with no agenda is a fun, freeing exercise for me—it’s play. And it often inspires a bigger idea.
That’s also why I love Instagram—it inspires me (and pretty much anyone!) to see content moments everywhere. What kind of inspiration can we draw from our ordinary?
Instagram, Vine, and other content creation tools (like my latest discovery, Takes) make me question: What is boring or commonplace to me that is interesting to others?
4. Which “Princess Bride” character do you most relate to?
Hmm. This movie is, by far, the most-quoted movie in our house. (“Have fun storming the castle!” “No more rhymes now, I mean it/Anybody want a peanut?” “I do not think it means what you think it means!” “There not a lot of money in revenge.” I could go on. But I’ll stop now.)
I’d say that my favorite character is Grandpa (Peter Falk). He’s the storyteller in the bunch. He tells (reads) a fantastic story with (as he says) fencing! Fighting! Torture! Revenge! Giants! Monsters! Chases! Escapes! True love! And (of course) miracles. But he also has the arduous task of convincing his unimpressed grandson that his is a story worth hearing.
I could suggest that convincing an unimpressed, doubting audience is a lot like what we B2B marketers have to do each and every day of our work lives… but that might be pushing the metaphor a bit.
Or would it? ; )
There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the changing role of the marketing agency. I find that topic especially interesting because I work side by side with agencies to help them expand their service offering through marketing automation.
Marketing agencies are being held more and more accountable for measurable results. General brand awareness isn’t good enough. Clients are demanding revenue-driving programs that have direct impact on the bottom line and are proven through big data and analytics.
And it’s at that point that many agencies stumble.
Most agencies I speak with are still using their creative services and promotional offerings just for building brands. They are communicating success to their clients based upon website traffic, top-ranking keywords, clicks, social likes, and form submissions for soft assets like whitepapers and ebooks. They put their time, energy, and client’s money towards brand attraction—while forgetting that 70% of the buying process is completed before a prospect ever speaks to the salesperson.
I believe that if an agency is going to deliver the results that clients demand, the agency needs to become responsible for brand building and revenue generation. That means evolving and expanding its service offering, so the company isn’t just feeding the sales funnel but actually nurturing those leads to improve sales readiness and to increase conversions.
I’m certain the idea of taking responsibility for brand building and revenue generation is a bit overwhelming for most agencies. Many lack the infrastructure, technology, and manpower to provide the services necessary to own it all. But consider this: Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research estimates that only about 5% of marketers (clients) use a full-featured marketing automation solution. That’s a huge opportunity for a marketing agency willing to assume responsibility for nurturing and engaging potential buyers flowing through the sales funnel.
The crossover from brand builder to revenue generator is not as daunting a task as it may sound.
Here are a few areas to focus on.
Positioning. Offer a comprehensive managed service line-up—soup to nuts. Companies are looking for external support to fill the gaps inside. Agencies that can manage the attract-engage-convert stream are the ones clients will increasingly select.
Services. Content planning, creation and management are demand areas for agencies. Delivering on revenue goals demands targeted, relevant content delivered at the appropriate time in the buy cycle. Companies are struggling to deliver this internally.
Systems and processes. Managing the funnel is a tough and demanding job even with marketing automation. Ensuring that you have a process in place that can be replicated easily for each new client you add allows you to grow without cutting your profit margin.
Technology. Marketing automation is a requirement for agencies looking to provide full support to their clients. It lessens manpower demand, ensures the right touch at the right time, and provides accountability to clients.
Accountability. The pursuit of ROI for the client needs to be the No. 1 priority in the form of revenue, not just campaign KPIs (key performance indicators). Leverage your marketing automation system and your client’s CRM to gather data that tracks performance every step of the way.
While I believe marketing agencies need to evolve for their survival, I can understand the hesitation to do so. Change is hard, especially when you’re not sure where to start.
When women’s ears perk up, as they did following the publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, my company pays attention. For the last 25 years, our marketing research consulting firm has been studying women. This spring, we decided to apply our research to the polarizing reaction to Sandberg’s message.
My first step, of course, was to read the book. This seemingly simple step was an important one, considering much of the criticism that has come from people who hadn’t read the book. (See Anna Holmes’ New Yorker article and Alexandra Chang’s Wired article.) I tackled the text with an analytical eye, considering my company spends a great deal of time exploring the psychology that drives women’s behaviors. A few pages in, and I could see why the book is making our collective female pendulums swing from one extreme to the other.
Sandberg makes an important declaration on page 10.
“I do not believe that there is one definition of success or happiness. Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. Iwould never advocate that we should all have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire.”
That is possibly the most important part of the book. Had press and critics noted this, it would hve lessened the controversy. Which leads us to the next question: If the book isn’t for everyone, who is it for?
Lean In will appeal to 26% of women 18-67 in the US. I know this because my company has extensively surveyed women in the US, and we understand what values drive their behaviors and shape their perceptions. We noted Sandberg’s values, as expressed through the book, and compared them to what we know other women value. Our conclusion: Sandberg highly values professional achievement.
She expresses it through statements, such as…
- “It’s a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.”
- “Conditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns.”
- “Also, just being nice is not a winning strategy.”
- “Do not wait for power to be offered. Like that tiara, it might never materialize.”
The women for whom this message will ring true fit a psychological profile that we refer to as “achievement-oriented,” and they are best described as…
- Valuing power, wealth, and achievement.
- Working full-time. (About a third of them have children, younger than 18, living at home.)
- Having a stronger-than-average work ethic and tie self-worth to professional success and achievements.
When compared with all other women, achievement-oriented women actually have more in common with men. Consider these facts about women with this “high-achievement” profile:
- 49% of them agree/strongly agree that their “career gives their life purpose” vs. 39% of men and only 35% of the other women.
- 43% of them agree/strongly agree that “having people do what they say” is very important to them vs. 35% of men and only 21% of the other women.
- 41% of them agree/strongly agree that “being wealthy” is very important to them vs. 41% of men and only 18 % of other women.
Typical quotes from achievement-oriented women include:
- “Getting up in the morning, dressed and out the door by 8 a.m. and ready to take on the world… That makes me feel great!” (Lisa)
- “I have always known that I wanted to be successful, I was not always sure what I wanted to pursue, but I always remained positive and looking towards my future.” (Marlene)
But the majority of women (74%) see the world differently:
- “My family is my life’s purpose. Work is a way to allow my family to enjoy our life.” (Melissa)
- “It is not the work that gives my life purpose, but rather the work that enable the purpose of life to be visible.” (Maria)
The tone of the book also has women on edge. Through repetition, certain words set a very distinct tenor. Have a look at what we found in our analysis.
- “Work” is used more than 100 times.
- “Career” is used more than 100 times.
- “Leader” is used more than 100 times.
- “Success” is used 92 times.
- “Professional” is used 78 times.
Other words that could be considered more traditionally feminine are used far less frequently:
- “Progress” was used 31 times.
- “Strong” was used 23 times.
- “Balance” was used 17 times
It seems easy to assume that Sandberg values—and is imploring all women to value—professional achievement over all else. Perhaps the book is best summed up by this quote, from page 79.
“I learned from Fred that effective communication starts with the understanding that there is my point of view (my truth) and someone else’s point of view (his truth). Rarely is there one absolute truth, so people who believe they speak the truth are very silencing of others. When we recognize that we can see things only from our own perspective, we can share our views in a nonthreatening way.”
If the goal of this book was to start a dialogue, Sandberg has certainly accomplished that. According to our research, her story will resonate deeply with a quarter of women in the US. But for the remaining 74%, the book will not “reignite the revolution by internalizing the revolution.”
Most women will struggle to connect with the message because they do not see themselves and their values in these pages. Rather than lean in, nearly three quarters of US women will, in fact, lean back.