Ai and Marketing, Part One

Ai in MarketingArtificial Intelligence is as hot a topic as you’ll find right now. Every industry is working to understand Ai, apply it to their business, and looking for pitfalls to avoid. Technology is rapidly accepted and integrated into life when it is useful and easy to use. Unless there are risks or costs associated with the new technology.

This is why Ai is such a hot topic. The utility of Ai is unquestioned – there is no doubt that it will have a lasting impact on the activities of humankind. However, there are risks associated with Ai, and not the end-of-the-world Ai will kill humans risk. If you’d like to read about that, just search the topic on social media!

The real risks of Ai use are found in privacy, access, and attribution. We’ll cover that in a separate article. For now, let’s discuss what we see as the types and uses of Ai, especially for marketing automation.

Embedded Ai (You’re already using it…)

Ai is embedded in every marketing and sales automation software you are using. From email programs like MailChimp to Salesforce to Hubspot, every program simple to enterprise uses Ai. There is no way to avoid it. Ai will use its capacity, speed, and efficiency to change the way marketing automation works.

That said, control, attribution, and bias seem to be the biggest concerns of marketers as they navigate Ai. In a recent webinar featuring Salesforce campaign tools that use Ai, the presenters repeated at each step in the process how the human user must review and has the opportunity to edit the Ai. They are only adding that “disclaimer” statement (repeatedly) because they have heard from prospects and customers that unleashing an unchecked Ai is a real fear for marketers. One example in the webinar: Ai uses your data to develop a new email campaign, the user reviews and edits any or all of the images, text, links, and target list developed by Ai.

That is a critical piece to the current puzzle. While Ai may become so effective that it does not require human review, it is clearly not at that point yet. The bottomline — if you’re using marketing automation (or pretty much any other business software), you’re using Ai. So be sure to check its work.

Ai for Content Generation (Maybe)

From ChatGPT to many purpose-built Ai tools for content development (I haven’t vetted them all as they are being launched almost daily, so no links or endorsements yet!), Ai will write whatever you want. And create images and video, too. What a boon for the content creation folks.

A recent study (not linking since it was done by an Ai startup :-)) showed that Ai-written ads performed better than human-written ads. If this isn’t true now, it will be soon. Ai is better because it can analyze more data and compare with previously run ads instantly to produce the best ad. That’s what AdSkate and others are doing now. I like AdSkate because they aren’t starting from scratch —the tool analyzes your current ad campaigns and based on Ai analysis tweaks them to drive better results. With the importance of first-party data the goal of improvement, rather than generation seems prudent for the moment.

There have been legal cases and accusations of plagiarism or lack of attribution by Ai. Recently Google and a company called Particle have come under fire for aggregating news without attribution or links to the original source. This could potentially be a problem with Ai developed content as well, although seemingly very hard to prove.

Turning over new content generation to Ai may be the way of the future, as of now, attribution issues and poor or biased content may result in problems for your organization. Also, while other Ai tools are being developed to insure brand attributes, voice, target personas, and other content needs are accurately met, efficiency currently may not be the most important variable. Accuracy may be.

Finally, in a world in which content can be endlessly and automatically created and distributed, how much will content quantity matter? To quote Syndrome from The Incredibles, “when everyone’s super… no one will be.” One of the words of the 2024 year in marketing LINK (see my predictions article) was authenticity. Being authentic may require less content produced and distributed more thoughtfully.

And frankly, Ai may be too wonderful and over promise on the actual offering —as some Wonka fans found out recently.

We’ll wait for more unbiased testing about effectiveness and use of Ai and currently choose more judiciously the places where it can really make a difference…

Ideation (Definitely)

People are creative. I enjoy nothing more than coming up with a new idea and then working to make that idea a reality in the real world with impacts for good results.

Brainstorming with a team is even more fun… people have different perspectives and insight and a team can quickly cut through to wonderful new ideas to impact an organization. (If you’re interested in our one-day team-driven marketing planning session, contact us it’s amazing how your team can change your marketing through an expert-led planning process… and do it very quickly!)

Add Ai to this mix. Ai has (literally) endless resources to pull from to provide an idea. Or 500 ideas. Prompts such as “Provide a list of 25 new ways to reach a Gen Z audience with a new music promotion” will bring back instantly a list of tactics to consider. Interestingly, the ideas may not be new. In fact, this prompt response included the term “innovative” in place of “new”.

Still, even if we had 20 people in a room brainstorming, we might not come up with the 25 ideas. And it certainly would take longer… just to write them down.

So Ai can really help move the brainstorming process forward. However, don’t be tempted to move from ideation to judgement… stay in the brainstorming phase of the process when reviewing the Ai list. People will always improve, look at from a different perspective, add to, and make better.

Data Analysis (Definitely)

Analysis may be the best use of Ai for marketing right now. Generative tasks may become the primary use in the future, but Ai is made for data analysis. It can crunch more data than any spreadsheet ninja, it can add all your CRM data as a subset of its data set and adds rich insight, and its capacity is endless.

Many Ai firms are working to bring a solution to the problem of data from divergent systems and processes in an organization. That “nirvana” of all data from every source pulled into one place. This has always been a big problem for marketing even in a connected world. A simple example – some contacts are in the CRM and some are just in a salesperson’s Outlook list or phone contacts. (Admit it, it’s true!) Another – design/estimating and production systems aren’t really connected and tag different data in different ways. And never the twain shall meet. Until Ai.

Look for analysis tools to continue to improve and drive more insight and reporting to a central dashboard or actionable data set. That is the biggest promise (currently) of Ai for marketing.

Risks

A few of the risks were covered here. A more detailed article on the risk of Ai in marketing is coming soon. Email us to join our list and not miss an article or video drop!

SLEckert

Tagged with: ,

Message Drives Marketing

Marketing MessageConsider this: you decide to plant a garden in your front yard for flowers. Also, a vegetable garden in the back yard. And maybe a window garden of herbs. Great plan! Those gardens are going to be beautiful and productive. So you dig the dirt, set up a fence, decide what kind of blooms and veggies and herbs you’d like. Then you sit back and wait.

Nothing happens. Why? Because there were no seeds sown, no seedlings planted… there is nothing there to take you from dirt to bloom.

This is a metaphor for how many companies tackle marketing. With the best of intentions organizations decide they are going to have a website and blog, create some social media pages, send out news releases, go to a trade show or two, develop an email newsletter, run some advertising, etc. Great ideas for ways to communicate with prospects and customers. Sure fire success will come!

Then nothing happens. Why? Because like those garden beds, the place is ready, but the most important element is missing. In a garden, that is a seed. In a marketing tactic, that is message. Lots of companies have great intentions, then don’t implement the plan because they don’t have the content to use in all those great communications elements.

Here’s an example… one that I’ve seen numerous times.

It’s decided that an email newsletter is needed. It’s inexpensive, it can be done internally and sent to all prospects and customers. It is a sure fire way to get more blooms (I mean sales). Step one – design the newsletter template. Then fill it with lots of great information about the company. Issue one goes out and high fives all around.

Then time passes… and maybe issue two comes. Friday afternoon and someone says that we need to get another newsletter out. There is a scramble, who has anything to put in it? Ideas are tossed about. Someone is targeted for writing an article (typically someone not currently in the discussion or meeting).

Time passes…

See the pattern? It can happen with email newsletters, social media, trade shows and advertising… deadlines aren’t set, people get busy, other initiatives (usually sales activities) are more pressing.

There is a better way. It focuses on marketing message first. Then the way we will deliver the messages. Any publication from the New York Times to your favorite trade magazine develops an editorial calendar. When you are considering marketing your company, you should think of your organization as a publisher. Content is king! Developing a matrix of the messages you want to deliver in the marketplace. That’s is a great way to set the agenda for your marketing.

Next, decide how to develop and deliver those messages via existing and new communications elements. Content development is assigned months (not minutes) in advance of publication and everyone is a little less stressed.

We’ve run this process at many companies and it is successful. Can we meet to discuss your situation and help you develop your messages? Contact us to learn more.

 

 

Tagged with: ,

The Most Important Thing the Marketing Department Can Do

Marketing's Most Important RoleI am often asked a question similar to this: “What’s the most important thing for marketing to do for an organization?”

There are a myriad of possible answers:

  • Translate the product or service offering into an engaging message to reach prospective buyers
  • Communicate the brand of the company
  • Fill the sales funnel
  • Create advertising that gets looks, clicks, or responses
  • And many more good answers as Marketing can do so much!

Start with the Big Picture

I believe the most important thing the Marketing Department can do is understand the strategic and financial goals of the organization and develop strategies and tactics that support those goals. 

It is easy in any department of a company to be focused on the trees rather than the forest. Day-to-day work is the only thing in view daily, so tasks become the focus. For marketing, making sure that campaigns are running, watching results, checking inquiries on social media, providing sales support materials, and creating content can become the daily-task focus. That’s why it is important to keep the big goals in the forefront. 

Integrate the Goals into the External Plan

Being cute in advertising is a thing. It can create engagement and could drive response. After all, wouldn’t we all rather watch a fun ad during the Super Bowl rather than a dull ad? However, hours or a day after the big game, ask anyone who watched what their favorite commercial was and then ask for what product the ad ran. My experience is that less than 30% can recall the ad offer after describing the engaging creative they enjoyed. This is a loss for marketing, because the effectiveness of the ad is not directly correlated to the creativity of the ad. 

The goal must be integrated into the external marketing plan, tactics, and creative. If you want clicks, leads, or awareness, more sales from existing customers or to introduce a new product line… the organizational goals (including budget considerations) must be part of the plan and tactics and be effectively communicated to the prospect. 

Integrate the Goals into the Internal Plan

Likewise a focus on the goals of the company should always be in front of every staff or team member. People are more motivated when they understand that their daily task impacts the overall goals and growth of the organization. Sometimes that can be difficult, but an internal communications plan that uses various media – from leadership presentations to intranet posts to bulletin boards – is essential to keep the focus on the big picture while each person works on their daily tasks. 

As professional communicators, the Marketing Department can help shape the messaging and media choices to insure that both internally and externally the goals of an organization can be communicated and understood by the target audience. 

If you need help developing a marketing or communications plan, contact us.

SLEckert

Tagged with: , ,

One Page, One H1 Header – SEO Tips

Image of a Yoast tugboat with H1 and H2 tag symbols on the deck and the name of the boat reads "SS Content"Yoast, a search engine optimization (SEO) software we use on some of the websites we develop, helps assess and improve a page’s SEO. If you’re not familiar, on-site search engine optimization is the baseline digital tactic your website needs to be searched and found on Google and other search engines.

Yoast publishes a blog that covers a range of topics. Recently they posted an interesting article about the use of the H1 or heading tag. Interestingly, the article discusses only using one heading tag per post or page. This seems obvious: one page, one H1 header. However, I trust the Yoast team to know that it does happen… website managers use multiple header tags on one page.

That’s like having two titles to a book or movie. Not a title and subtitle (which would be a H2 header), but rather two titles. H2 and H3 headers are great ways to organize and separate webpage content into sections or subjects.

Bottomline: no matter how important two subjects seem for a webpage, make them H2 headers to organize sections of the page and make a single H1 header title for the page that captures the overall structure.

Read the full article here.

If you need help managing your webpage, search engine optimization, or content creation, please contact us.

Tagged with: , ,

2024 Marketing Predictions

image of new year with text 2024 Let's GoThe end of a year and start of a new year means many things, but one is for certain: articles, videos, and reels with predictions.

2024 Marketing Predictions

At the bottom of this blog is a list of links to articles about 2024 marketing predictions. We reviewed them so you wouldn’t have to take the time. The goal – looking for things that were ubiquitous and therefore more likely to be accurate.

Frankly, lots of these articles are filled with leftovers… things that shoulda, woulda, coulda been big in 2023, but didn’t quite get there. Also, by looking for multiple sources of the same prediction, we reduce personal bias… if you were to read all these articles (please, don’t) you’d find many predictions are things the writer really likes or thinks should happen. Yeah, some predictions are data-based by primary research, but most of these are just observations by the writer.

So here are the most predicted marketing-related items of 2024 based on review of a (too big) set of prediction articles.

The Rise of AI

Number one on the chart is using AI to create content. There are also many warnings about this tactic in the prediction articles.

We call AI content creation “soulless”. Others are less theological about it but still critical. A good place to land is suggesting AI is used for creation but the human is still editing and approving (and improving) the content.

We’re more excited for AI’s role beyond content creation:

  • AI as search (also social as search) which may diminish the power of the search engine.
  • AI for data analysis especially predictive analysis that could open up opportunities to use data that currently aren’t available.
  • AI as store keeper – AI may grow to be able to constantly collect and watch customer activity and provide input for meaningful customer interactions.

Authenticity

Not surprisingly in a world of AI and AR (augmented reality AKA virtual experiences via technology), as well as paid influencers, there is a large set of consumers who want authenticity. Years of watching companies and brands posturing and jumping on trends and bandwagons has created doubt about the veracity of brands involvement in movements and culture. To be more authentic consider user-generated content (which differs greatly from paid influencer content) such as reviews and testimonials, and create more trust through reliable and relatable content that is to the point (on-brand) rather than using borrowed interest (in a cultural trend or cause).

Increased Personalization

This one has been predicted for years and years. The thinking goes: there is much more data available these days, which means there is more analysis conceivably, which can be applied to create more segmentation… all the way to one-on-one personalization. However the data is always the issue. Many (most?) companies struggle mightily with corralling and deploying their data strategically. Here’s hoping this one comes true as organizations take the time and resources to organize and utilize their data.

Video and Audio

I’ve been saying for years “nobody reads anymore” which is untrue if you’re reading this. There is more content being generated for video (and audio) consumption. This isn’t really a prediction but a continuing increase based on the reality of the age: everyone has a smartphone and the bandwidth to watch video or listen to audio. Often the nugget is content recasting into a new genre… this blog would make a great video for instance. Organizations that can repurpose other content into easy to consume, helpful, video and audio content will enjoy increased brand awareness and other marketing benefits.

2024 Success

Working with these three trends can help your organization to better marketing success. However, remember that the main things are still the main things: having a clear set of goals, a process-driven marketing organization, tracking… Simply put having a plan for your marketing is the best way to success in 2024 or any other year.

SLEckert

Some of the 2024 predictions articles:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2023/12/18/10-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-in-2024/

https://adage.com/article/opinion/5-marketing-trend-predictions-2024/2533741

https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/topics/top-trends-and-predictions-for-the-future-of-marketing

5 Marketing Trends That Will Shape 2024

More 2024 predictions from leaders of medical marketing agencies

https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/b2b-marketing-trends-watch-2024

https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/5-charts-prepare-marketers-2024

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/12/14/predictions-practice-how-can-marketers-do-marketing-better-2024

5 B2B marketing trends for 2024

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/6-social-media-marketing-predictions-2024-infographic/703305/

https://www.financialexpress.com/business/brandwagon-analysing-rural-and-urban-markets-strategic-insights-for-2024-marketing-success-3346276/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/12/26/reviving-b2b-email-marketing-strategies-for-the-digital-age/

https://www.storyboard18.com/how-it-works/digital-marketing-trends-to-watch-out-for-in-2024-19367.htm

2024 Predictions: Better customer experience is on the way

24 Digital Marketing Tips for a Successful 2024

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2023/12/21/5-marketing-experts-weigh-in-on-predictions-for-2024/amp/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/katyfinneran/2023/12/21/the-top-social-media-and-digital-marketing-trends-to-watch-in-2024/

https://www.inc.com/amanda-pressner-kreuser/4-marketing-trends-your-brand-needs-to-know-for-2024.html

https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/4-more-marketing-advertising-predictions-2024

6 books to help make your marketing more successful in 2024

Navigating 2024: Key Marketing Trends Set to Reshape the Landscape

https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/01/08/marketing-and-sponsorship

https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/marketing/6-market-trends-to-power-customer-engagement-strategies-in-2024/106622082

https://www.martechoutlook.com/news/key-trends-to-boost-marketing-in-2024-nid-3248.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2024/01/05/influencer-marketing-5-tips-for-success-in-2024/

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2024/01/05/top-marketing-trends-2024-value-propositions-loyalty-and-challenger-brands

https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2024/01/09/4-questions-help-build-your-2024-marketing-budget

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/influencer-creator-marketing-trends-2024/703726/

https://www.scmp.com/presented/news/topics/remarketing/article/3247914/why-customer-experiences-are-critical-2024-marketing-success

https://www.fastcompany.com/91006060/embracing-the-marketing-revolution-a-roadmap-for-2024

 

Tagged with: , , , ,

Developing a First Party Data Strategy

A couple blogs ago we discussed the problem with personalization (spoiler alert: bad data). With the phase out of third-party cookies https://developers.google.com/privacy-sandbox/3pcd to gather information about prospects and customers, it is becoming even more important to gather and manage first-party data well. The result of cleaner data will be:

  • better (more reliable) personalization,
  • a richer data set for analysis and targeting, and
  • a base set of data to inform marketing and sales
    • build prospect personas,
    • determine unique selling proposition,
    • develop customer retention strategies,
    • and more…

image of data grid with words First Party DataFirst Party Data Definition

First party data is simply information that is gathered through direct interaction from prospects and customers. It ranges from contact information to web activity on your site or social pages, to purchase history, reviews, and more.

Organize and Clean Your Data

Your data probably resides in multiple databases within multiple departments with multiple intended uses. The first step is to assess where your data is, what you have (and what you don’t) and how you pull it together. This assessment will spark ideas about what you can accomplish with your data.

Get More, But Why?

As with any project, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Developing a goal for your data will help drive the project and the organization of the data. It will also open a key discussion: how will we measure success and what are our KPIs for this project (and marketing and sales in general). Yes, the bottomline is always… the bottomline, but what are the steps to that bottomline?

  • Retention (or more) sales to current customers
  • Penetration of the target market/market share
  • Understanding buying behavior
  • Creating new market personas
  • And so forth…

How to Get More Data

Separately we’ll discuss in detail how to get more data, but the categorical answer is: to ask and to track customer activity with your marketing.

Dang, It’s Still Messy

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably shouldn’t be running the data project. Data is messy, and you’ll never have 100% accurate or complete data. However, you can get enough data to inform decisions for your marketing and what data you want to collect in future interactions with customers. With a commitment to collection and management, your data can become an asset to your marketing and sales by generating new opportunities.

Contact us to discuss your situation and how we can help you organize and utilize your first party data.

SLEckert

Tagged with: , , ,

What is a Brand?

image of logo graphic with the word "logo"When business owners or professionals are asked about their organization’s brand, they typically think of logos and graphics, or possibly a tagline. That is because these icons of a brand are powerfully communicated to us as consumers.

Since we all consume so much marketing, the graphics and images used in advertising and other marketing materials become synonymous with “the brand”.

Brand Quiz

Look at the brands that follow. Take a moment to note what immediately comes to mind.

  • What visual/image first came to mind?
  • What words would you use to describe this brand?
  • Of the thoughts you note, which is the most important one word or phrase you would use to describe this brand if you were marketing or selling it?

Mercedes Benz

McDonald’s

Steelers

How did you answer?

For Mercedes did you say “Quality”? “Status symbol?” “Overpriced?” 

For McDonald’s? “Fast?” “Consistent?” “Yuck?”

Steelers? “Tough?” “Winners?” “Whiners?” 

Your ability to quickly answer these questions reveals that you understand brands. You may have instantly “seen” the Mercedes three-line crest/logo, the “golden arches” or the black and gold jersey or hypocycloids that make up the Steelers logo.

Attributes and Associations

Beyond those visuals/images, the fact that you could think of ideas that those names connote shows that the business activities of the brands have impacted your thinking. Perhaps the product (watching a Steelers game or riding in a Benz) shaped your thinking, perhaps the company’s advertising or messaging guided your answer (“I’m Lovin’ it”). Maybe others’ perceptions impacted your view (online reviews, complaints from a friend, etc.).

The answers I noted show a bit of how perspective matters in how one views a brand. If you drive a Mercedes and I drive a Ford, we may have very different views. If you have kids that eat when you take them to family night at McDonald’s your view will be very different from a family with dietary issues and allergies.

Guess what? I’m from Pittsburgh… so my answers might differ greatly from you on the Steelers. Especially if you are from Baltimore, Cincinnati, or Cleveland.

The reason I included “consistent” in the McDonald’s brand attributes list is that there was a time when this was one of the biggest brand attributes of McDonald’s. For many years, a McDonald’s sign on a long family drive meant consistency: a restaurant layout that the family recognized, a burger and fries the kids would eat (because it was exactly the same as the one 200 miles down the road) and clean bathrooms. Yes, really… clean bathrooms. (Brands change over time.)

A friend of mine lives in Cleveland. For years, he complained about how dirty, mean, and awful the Steelers were. Based on facts…so called. An occasional bad hit, a penalty that went against the Steelers, an injury that was attributed to a “dirty player”.

Here We Go

I, as a faithful Pittsburgher, could list brand attributes of the Steelers for days and not come up with “dirty” or “mean” on my list. My list would focus on the stability of the organization and ownership, the culture of winning, the skill of the defense, and so on…

So, is brand just in the eye of the beholder? Is our brand only valuable because the customer applies value? Yes and no. There is no way to completely overcome a potential customer’s perspective (or prejudice) about our brand.

However, the brand is not beholden to the viewer. The brand is the collection of attributes of an organization. Perspective doesn’t change this. It may assign differing values to the attributes, but the attributes are definitions or descriptors of what the organization embodies.

Let’s get back to my Cleveland friend. We once had a rational, rather than emotional, discussion about the Steelers and Browns (once). When talking more about the teams and owners and organizations, he admitted the attributes of toughness and stability and winning (rather than “whining”) of the Steelers. Those attributes go beyond perspective. He even admitted that he wished the Browns had some of the attributes of the Steelers. That’s a key factor of branding… it must communicate real and true attributes that anyone (almost) will acknowledge.

In the same way, the attributes of your organization are true, and not dependent on the perspective of the customer. Their experience and position affect their view, but not the brand.

To learn more, or if you need an assessment of your brand, contact us.

SLEckert

Tagged with: , ,

The Problem with Personalization

There are many articles, videos, courses, and posts about the importance of personalization in marketing. Personalization is touted as being more effective in eliciting a response from a prospect or customer. This is intuitively true, as well as supported by response data.

That said, personalization can also be like humor… when it doesn’t go right, it goes really badly. That’s why the best advice on humor is to be very careful using humor when selling to make sure the joke won’t be on you.

Intent (or buying intent) data is now being promoted to increase effectiveness of personalized offers and messaging. By gathering data of online usage of a consumer, intent data predicts what the customer is likely to do next. If the signals suggest a purchase is likely or more information/research is required, the marketer can provide a message that fits the most likely scenario. For instance intent data that shows the consumer looking at product options may prompt an ad or email to the customer that specifies benefits or offers a discount.

But When the Data is Wrong

Below is an email I received from an online retailer after a purchase of a business gift for a business customer (the gift was not flowers). The customer’s name who received the business gift was listed twice in the email along with information that it is time to send this guy an anniversary bouquet of flowers. Whether intent data or some other sort of data snafu, this email made some big mistakes with the offer and the messaging.

  • I don’t know the customer’s anniversary (work or marriage or any other anniversary),
  • Even if I did I wouldn’t send flowers,
  • I just sent a gift to this customer, who would send another one so soon for any reason (including an anniversary)?
  • Is it appropriate for me to “Send Love” to a business customer as the button suggests?
  • It’s just plain creepy to get an email about personal (assuming they mean wedding anniversary) information when the relationship is a business relationship. How do they know his anniversary? Why are they telling me?

image of email with bad personalization

It’s data gone bad…whether a cross-polination between data points that shouldn’t have been connected, or just a misapplication of a template in the marketing automation software.

How the Customer Feels and Reacts

Either way, the result is not just that they won’t be making a sale of anniversary flowers to me, but that this message undercuts what was a good buying experience. It makes the reader (me!) much less likely to use this platform again. Bad messaging like this can mean that satisfaction scores drop, confidence wanes, and customers start to look for an alternative source for their purchases.

For prospects, bad data will immediately end reception of a message. Say you get an email but your name is not correct. Personalization with your name hurts the credibility of the message. Reactions are like to be less than positive.

  • “Oh a robot or AI put this message out.”
  • “You’d think they could at least get my name right!”
  • “Click.” (prospect hitting delete key on email)

The results of a blind, not personalized message might have had a better result in such a case.

Start with the Data Wash

Customization and personalization can drive better results. In my experience, databases are not clean and need to be vetted thoroughly as the first step in the process of moving to personalization. It is a tedious, if not difficult, task to confirm our data is as correct as it can be and that external third-party data is valid and appropriate. Still, it is a critical process in order to have confidence that we are increasing (and not gutting) our chances for success.

SLEckert

Update: read our blog about cleaning up your data.

Tagged with: ,

Too Busy to Market

Marketing Roller CoasterOne of the ever-present problems for smaller companies is capacity. When times are good and the company is busy it is “all hands on deck!” to get the work done. When times are slower, there is more time to work on “less urgent” things… like marketing. When the company is busy and time to market is short, sales and communications activities are often set aside. Whether an email newsletter, a press release, a website content update, or follow-up sales calls, the urgent (getting the work on the plate done) is prioritized over marketing.

It is an old adage that you need to be marketing and selling all the time, you can’t wait for sales to slow down. That’s true, but easier said than done. Large organizations have dedicated staff and external resources who are consistently marketing the company, brand, and offerings. For smaller companies, that is difficult when marketing resources are in short supply. If you are reading this as a small to medium size business owner, you probably have been on the resulting roller coaster of sales…. more sales and marketing effort leads to more sales (up goes the coaster) and then less marketing effort (when the company is busy) and sales start to fall off (down the hill the coaster runs). Terrifying.

I define the marketing resources as Time, Money, Expertise, and Will. All of these are necessary for any organization to be able to successfully market itself. I’ve explained the resources in more detail in a previous article. Time is a critical component. Most people ask “How much does it cost?”, but another critical question is “How much time will it take?”. This brings us back to the problem of being too busy to market and sell.

The real solution to this problem is a plan and technology. Yes, you can hire Genius Marketing to supplement your marketing resources with time and expertise. (Great idea!) That’s what we do: help organizations manage the implementation of their marketing plans. However, the real tip is to have a plan in the first place. If your organization’s marketing plan is simply reactive, “What should we advertise this week?” Then your plan is to fail. When time gets tight and no pre-work has been done, the marketing stops. That’s why most newsletters fail. The first issue is epic, the second pretty good and the third… doesn’t happen. That’s why many social media efforts failed. Without a plan, posts can be harder and harder to come by…if anyone remembers to take the time to post at all.

A good content plan (What do we want to tell our prospects and customers, and what do they need to hear?) plus a good tactical plan (What communications media/tools are we going to use to get our messages out?) is the only way to achieve the goal of consistently delivering marketing/sales no matter how busy (or not) the company becomes.

A content plan lets us pre-stock the message cabinet with what we are going to say. Nothing is worse than trying to come up with content as a deadline approaches. Having messages pre-approved makes it much easier to get the tactics out. Having a tactical plan in place lets us use technology to deliver messages on a consistent schedule.

Believe me, it works. I am working with an organization that is going through major organizational and procedural changes. All for the good. However, the marketing and sales effort continues because planning ahead means that the messages and creative were already approved and the tactics were already staged. Execution is much easier because it is only that… getting the tactics launched. If we were having to develop creative and get messages approved in the midst of the busyness… guess what? Marketing wouldn’t be happening.

If you’d like to discuss how Genius Marketing can help your organization develop the plan and processes it needs to consistently market and sell itself, please contact us. Do it before you get too busy…

 

 

Marketing Resources Needed: Money, Time, Expertise, Energy

A common question from companies interested in creating marketing plans or communications is, “How much will this cost?”. A common question from designers, agencies, web firms, printers and other providers is, “Do you have a budget?”. The reasons are obvious… organizations want to maximize the return and minimize the cost. Providers want to know if the way the project is being described is “realistic”.

So cost is important to everyone involved. However, money is only one of four resources that I include in conversations about new marketing projects. Here are the other resources that are critical to success of a marketing plan or project: Money, Time, Expertise, and Energy.

Money – As outlined above, everyone is concerned about the costs involved. That is partially due to the reality that costs for communications tools are perceived as “all over the board”. A website can be free or cost $50,000. That can be difficult to navigate. It’s also due to the finite dollars budgeted for Marketing. No organization has unlimited funds for marketing and they always want to do everything they can to get their message out.

Genius! Marketing How to Brand, Target and Market like a Genius! Stephen L. Eckert

Learn more about marketing budgeting and more in the Genius! Marketing book!

Time – Often overlooked as a marketing resource is time. Time is sometimes used as an alternative to money. Meaning companies think of ways to use their own time to reduce the cost of a project. That is fine… if a company can supply time to a project whether in planning or producing, it does reduce cost. However, we often think we have more time than we do.

Time is also critical in ongoing communications strategies like email newsletters, PR, or social media. I’ve talked to many companies who started a campaign but didn’t allow for the time to continue producing the posts, emails or whatever. As a colleague of mine likes to say, “they go dark”, not producing any new content. That’s a problem. Usually, the media gets blamed, something like, “We tried social media, but didn’t get anything out of it.”

The other two resources are related to the time available.

Expertise – Associated with time is the expertise of people. Many organizations have talented people who are interested in helping with marketing. They want to be involved. That is great! One of the planning steps for a project in the Genius Marketing process is putting together a roster of people who are involved in marketing (they aren’t always from the Marketing Department – if there is one) who have the expertise (and time) to help build the plan, create the communications and manage the implementation.

This expertise within a company is critical for building the processes that sustain a communications campaign. Getting multiple people involved, using their gifts and interests to help promote the company can save external dollars paid for marketing expertise. It also helps build the fourth critical resource.

Energy – I sometimes call it “will”. It’s the capacity of an organization to get marketing done. It’s great to consider internally the time and expertise we can commit to marketing, however, if we don’t have the energy, it’s better to consider buying services. Getting people involved can build energy. However, other factors in a company reduce energy. For instance, if marketing tasks are added to already overwhelmed people’s work load… energy will be low. Or, if an office move, new structure or other major change is in the works, people won’t have the energy to focus on marketing. They may want to be involved, but the other initiatives will reduce their will (or energy) on the marketing efforts.

So, it’s not just about the money. All of the four elements must be considered as part of the resources a company brings to a marketing initiative. That’s why Genius Marketing helps companies build a plan that merges both available internal and external resources. It can help reduce cost, but a thorough plan of how all these resources are included makes the success rate of projects go up. A good plan and mapping of processes results in the right mix of internal and external resources resulting in a “budget” for more than just financial considerations.

If you’d like to discuss how to develop a great project or campaign plan, contact us to start a discussion. We’d love to spend our time and expertise to help you!