Archive for September 2015

The Value of Understanding Motivation in Marketing

September 29, 2015

Have you ever lost an entire afternoon diving into an incredible book? Despite the numerous decades that have passed since the publication of countless works of classic literature, people still manage to lose themselves in the words. They imagine themselves as a part of the plot– trying to understand the characters and their motivations. They root for their favorite hero or heroine while cringing every time that famed nemesis appears.

We are all accustomed to trying to understand the motivations of our favorite characters. We know that if you do not make an effort to comprehend the ‘why’ behind the actions, the book will lose much of its appeal. Humans are naturally complicated! We relate far better to well-rounded characters than the more superficial ones.

Although we all have the skills needed to complete this type of analysis, most marketers neglect doing it in one of the most essential aspects of their jobs: understanding Google.

The Struggle of Marketers

The past 18 months have been big for marketers. The mobile update that hit in April sent many brands scrambling to make sure their sites were ready. There were also Panda updates and a suspected Phantom update, just to name a few. Each change impacted countless sites both positively and negatively. Some sites saw their rankings plummet– and with it their traffic and their business. Others saw their sites suddenly appear on page one of SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) for the first time and experienced a much-needed jump in traffic and revenue.

Many professionals dedicate their time to trying to correct whatever errors might have hurt them in the last update. When the Panda update hit, they learned that thin content was frowned upon, so they spent time trying to beef up certain pages that were damaged by the update. When Google made the announcement that sites could expect a mobile update in April 2015, numerous marketing and IT departments found themselves scrambling to make sure their sites were mobile ready.

The problem with these techniques is that the site is always one step behind. If you are always trying to catch up to the latest Google update, then you have already lost your spot on the SERP. If you want to have a successful site, you need to be one step in front. Just like targeting the motivation of a character in your favorite book, you need to understand the motivation of Google. You want to know the ‘why’.

The why is actually simple. Google does not care about your business. Google cares about making their users happy, which in turn means delivering sites that answer their queries. Every one of the Google updates has been designed to better sort through poor websites and track down the high quality ones to display for users.

If you want to create a website that is successful, you need to focus on the end user.

You need:
– Content that provides immediate value and is not just a superficial, general treatment of your subject.
– Text that is easy to read, skim, and digest.
– Vocabulary that matches what people tend to put into search engines to help them find the material.
-That same vocabulary present in page titles, meta data, URLs, and other parts of the page that Google and users examine to see what your site discusses.
– Careful analysis of how your content performs in the short term and the long term to identify the types of content people respond to the best.
– Analytics that do not just look at the number of views or shares, but actually measure leads and conversions.

Understanding the whys behind behavior is important for understanding a great book, and for understanding Google. Rather than always playing catch up with algorithm updates, get out in front of it by focusing on the same thing Google does: the end user.

If you are ready to get a new marketing campaign off the ground, contact us to get started.

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Overcoming Negativity

September 22, 2015

Irish author James Joyce once said that anything you don’t feed dies. He was talking about spirituality, but the statement applies to just about every facet of your life from your stomach to your imagination.

Positive energy is something each of us benefits from in several ways. It helps generate positive feelings within us, but it also transfers to the people we come in contact with. A smile can make a significant difference to someone who happens to need one at just the right moment. But what happens when you cultivate negativity, instead?

Appropriately used, sarcasm can be quite entertaining and revealing. But at its base, sarcasm is an expression of negativity. Even when the ultimate message is a humorous, positive reversal, the delivery of that message through sarcasm is negative. Yet some people seem to thrive on delivering a kind of satirical sarcasm. However, while these folks may be seen as clever, they are rarely perceived as happy individuals.

Negativity and pessimism are just as contagious as optimism and positive attitudes. They have a certain toxicity that becomes a shared experience. Negative people spread negativity like a disease, while positive personalities spread the warmth of optimism more like the vibrancy of good health. And really, what this is actually about is health, because few things in life make you feel better about yourself than a positive outlook. Few things make you feel less good about yourself than a negative one.

You don’t have to be arrogantly negative to spread a negative outlook. Even humor and light-hearted expressions of mock jealousy can color a situation with a darkness that partially blocks out a portion of the comedic effect. As funny as Rodney Dangerfield’s "poor me" approach was, it still left us feeling a little bit genuinely sorry for him in some way.

Being negative can devalue the spirit. It can tarnish the soul. It defeats you with your own words. Refusing to allow negativity to take hold and control you is a daily objective that can literally turn your life around, as it has done for many.

There is an old Native American tale that bears witness to this fact in an entertaining way. As the story goes, one evening an elderly, Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that constantly rages inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves fighting inside us all. One wolf is evil. It is anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, lies, guilt, self-pity, envy, jealousy, resentment, false pride, superiority, inferiority, and ego."

He continued, "The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, truth, humility, kindness, benevolence, hope, serenity, empathy, generosity, compassion, and faith."

The grandson thought about this for a moment and then asked his grandfather, "If it is a battle, which wolf wins?"

The wise, old, Cherokee brave replied, "The one you feed."

Building Anticipation for a New Product or Service Through Marketing

September 18, 2015

Marketing materials that you put out into the world aren’t just a great way to introduce a new product or service to your target audience. If done properly, they can also be an invaluable way to create a huge amount of buzz and anticipation surrounding an upcoming product or service launch. That can then translate into increased sales when it is eventually ready for release. By keeping just a few, key things in mind, you can use hype to your advantage and build the type of momentum that most businesses can only dream of.

Master the Art of the Tease

One of the major lessons to be learned about building anticipation for a new product or service through marketing is to master the concept of teasing. If you were still a year out from the launch of a new product, for example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to send out a mailer detailing all of that product’s functions right away. Not only do you not want to "give the game away" just yet, so to speak, but a year is an incredibly long time in the world of business. Things can change, so you don’t want to lock yourself into something that you may end up dropping down the road anyway.

Instead, you can send out a mailer talking about the exciting new product that is on the horizon and detail all of the hard work that you’re putting into it. Instead of talking about what it specifically does, talk about the problem in your customers’ lives that it is designed to solve. Talk about the overarching goal of the product in a way that both gets people excited and makes them want to learn more.

It’s About Steady Updates

Another major technique to make use of when building anticipation is to check in periodically with your customers prior to launch. You wouldn’t want to send out a mailer teasing your product and then not check in again until it’s ready to launch. You would want to send out materials two, three, or even four times during the year, revealing larger bits of information each time. Not only does this give you a chance to build the hype surrounding your product or service a little more each time, but it also helps to keep it in the forefront of a customer’s mind – even though it isn’t released yet. Not only will your customers have a higher level of anticipation, but they also won’t have a chance to forget about what you’re up to.

Learn From Hollywood

If you want to take a master class in building anticipation through marketing, look no farther than movie trailers. Every Hollywood blockbuster usually follows the same format when it comes to their previews. First, roughly a year from release, a teaser trailer makes its appearance. This preview is usually around a minute in length, gives away virtually none of the plot and really just broadcasts the look or spirit of the movie. Six or so months later a longer, full trailer is released, which is usually about two minutes. This expands on the promise of the teaser, gives a way a bit more of the plot, but still leaves a lot to the imagination. A final trailer is released in the weeks before the movie itself, which is usually around three minutes and not only lets you know exactly what the plot will be, but also showcases amazing images that you immediately need to see more of. Building anticipation is all about escalation and Hollywood seems to have created a formula that works wonders, regardless of the type of business that you’re in.

Marketing is one of the best tools that you have to not only announce a new product or service to the world, but to build the type of anticipation that always translates to increased sales.

Finding the Recipe for Successful Marketing

September 15, 2015

Sara was excited. Her grandmother had just given her the recipe for her famous peanut butter cookies, and she could not wait to make them for her friends at school. She had never been much of a cook, but she figured that with the recipe she should be ok. After all, how hard could it be?

Sara enters the kitchen and begins to gather her ingredients. She notices that the recipe says she needs two bowls, but when she looks in the cabinet and sees that she only has one, she figures that should be ok. She then sees that she needs some baking soda, but only has baking powder– that should be close enough.

Sara begins to get everything into the bowls. The recipe calls for her to mix the sugar with some softened butter, so she sticks the butter in the microwave. Thirty seconds later, the the butter is just a puddle. Well, that will make it even easier to mix it into the recipe, right?

Twenty minutes later, she sticks everything into the oven and triumphantly sets the timer. When she returns after the ding, she pulls them out eagerly and then stops. Wait a minute, these do not look right. They did not rise properly and just look ‘off’. Confused, Sara thought back to her cooking. Did those little details about the butter and baking soda really matter that much? She supposed so. She decided to try again the next day. Tonight, she would pick up some more butter and some baking soda.

Developing Your Marketing Recipe

If you have ever made cookies, you most likely noted Sara’s mistakes right away. You knew that those cookies would not turn out right. Recipes use very specific ingredients because they have particular roles. If you do not use the right ingredients then the food will not act the way it is supposed to.

When you are creating a marketing campaign, you will similarly need to follow a recipe. The difference is that you will need to develop the recipe yourself. You know that you need a variety of different ingredients, such as direct mail, social media, online content, and paid advertising. You then need to mix these different techniques together to engage your intended audience and create the perfect recipe.

Often, determining the exact recipe of success will require some experimenting. You will need to explore where your customers spend their time online and what types of information they are seeking. What types of designs and offers do they respond to best in direct mail? What social media platforms are the most important to them?

Unlike with baking cookies, when you mess up a marketing recipe, it will often not be as obvious that there was an error. If most of your marketing campaign has a decent amount of success, you might not notice right away that your paid advertising campaign was not bringing in customers unless you closely monitor your different channels. If you do not identify the problem, however, you risk needlessly spending money.

To be successful in marketing, you are going to combine several different techniques into a unique recipe that helps to get your message in front of the right people at the right time. To ‘taste’ the recipe, however, you need to make sure that you regularly use analytics to gauge how well the campaign works together. You can use this data to refine your efforts and become even more successful.

Creating a successful marketing campaign does require careful thought and the precise combination of different parts. If you are interested in starting a new campaign, contact us today to get started.

How to Create a Successful Marketing Event for Your Business

September 11, 2015

If you truly want to draw attention to your business and potentially attract a whole new variety of customers, there are few better ways to accomplish this than with a great marketing event. Regardless of the type of industry that you’re in, a marketing event is a great way to get a hold of some people who wouldn’t normally have your business on their radar. To accomplish this, however, you need to keep a few key things in mind.

Go Beyond the Sale

One of the most important things to remember about a successful marketing event is that you need to give people an experience that is truly worth leaving their homes for. Getting a person to open up your direct mail material is one thing – after all, you’ve sent it directly to them and they don’t even have to get in the car in order to open it. Getting them to come to your physical location, possibly for the first time, is something else entirely.

Consider a marketing event that a bookstore might have. Instead of just holding a blowout sale (as a customer can typically find similar prices online if they look hard enough), a bookstore might hold a signing with a famous author. Suddenly, you’ve given those people a reason to actually come into the store, especially if the author isn’t one who makes local appearances very often.

Once all of these people are in your store, then you can hit them with sales and other promotions in an attempt to increase revenue. Simply offering discounted prices should never be the most enticing thing about the event that you’re throwing, as most people won’t find it a good enough reason to attend in the first place.

Set a Goal

Another one of the biggest things to remember when creating a successful marketing event is what it is that you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. Are you looking for a way to increase existing customer satisfaction and give back by way of a memorable experience? Or are you looking for a way to reach an entirely new market? The goal that you set at the outset will dictate every choice that you make thereafter.

Give Yourself a Way to Capture Contact Information

As with all marketing techniques, one of the major goals of a marketing event is to capture leads. After all, even if you’re just looking for a fun and exciting way to give back to your existing customer base, the chances are high that one or two of them might bring some friends along with them.

To truly take advantage of a marketing event, make sure that you’re giving yourself a built-in opportunity to capture contact information in the most efficient way possible. Even if it’s something as simple as giving people a chance to win fun door prizes if they fill out a contact information survey, you’ll need something to use when the event is over to keep in touch with all of the new people that you’ve attracted.

These are just a few of the tips that you can use to create a memorable and successful marketing event for your business that people won’t want to miss. If you continue to hold these events on a regular basis, you will have a great chance of reaching people who you may not have otherwise been able to get to without them.

The Return of the 90’s Sitcom

September 8, 2015

For anyone who grew up watching the popular 90’s sitcoms, the past few years have been particularly exciting. It seems as though now is a popular time for studios and actors to bring back some of the shows in the form of spin-offs.

Take "Boy Meets World." This popular show followed the young Cory Matthews from school through college and all the fun times and drama that came with friendships, school, and finding love. The show is now being revived into the form of "Girl Meets World," which features Cory and his childhood sweetheart, Topanga, now raising their own family.

Similarly, the show "Full House" told the story of a single dad trying to raise his three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law. This show now follows the next generation with a spin-off that is being called, "Fuller House."

These newer shows are providing many people with the chance to relive their childhoods and share their favorite characters with their own children. While you sit back to enjoy the latest episodes, however, you might find that they have a few things to teach us all about our latest marketing campaigns.

The Power of Relationships

The strength of both shows was in the powerful relationships that dominated the series. In "Boy Meets World," the friendship of Cory and his friend, Shawn, as well as his relationship with his future wife, Topanga, was something that drew many people to the show. People were able to relate to the struggles of Cory as he worked to navigate these different relationships, and loved being able to see how everyone was there for him.

In "Full House," the relationships between the three sisters and their friends and family were the driving part of the show. The girls had to learn how their own relationships were going to mature. The entire family had to be a major source of support for each other as they all struggled to find their way with the loss of the girls’ mother to a car accident before the show began. Single parents, families with multiple siblings, and extended families who all lived under the same roof could understand many of their relational experiences.

In marketing, relationships are also your driving source behind your success. You want to build relationships with everyone you meet and your customers need to know that you are there for them and can help them solve their problems.

You also want to build a strong network of relationships with other professionals. It can be a great, professional asset to have others in your industry with whom you can discuss ideas. Networks can provide you with the opportunities to build relationships with other people who can pass work along to you according to your strengths when the opportunity arises.

Finding Your Place

Both sitcoms largely revolved around the characters’ coming of age. They matured from young children into adults with their own paths. The shows followed them as they found their place and role among their social groups and wider society.

You will need to find your place within your own industry, as well. You need to accurately identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Learn how to market to your niche based upon those strengths, and demonstrate why you can solve the pain points of your customers.

Enjoying spin-offs of your favorite 90’s sitcoms can be a fun pastime, but it can also provide you with some valuable lessons about how to succeed in your own marketing endeavors. If you are interested in beginning a new marketing campaign, let us know. We would be happy to help you get started.

Wearable Devices: A New Frontier in Marketing Opportunity

September 4, 2015

Though the Apple Watch has only been available to the public for a few short months, make no mistake: wearable technology is here to stay. Not only are these devices a bold, new way to impact the lives of consumers in terms of both productivity and monitoring their health, it also represents an incredible, new marketing opportunity that cannot be ignored.

Behavioral Data

One of the key benefits of wearable devices to consumers is the huge amount of behavioral data that they’re designed to collect – even more so than a traditional smart phone. Location data has been a huge emphasis of devices like the Apple Watch, for example, as this information is typically leveraged to help people keep track of the number of steps that they’re taking in a day, the number of calories that they’re burning, and more.

On the marketing side of the equation, this means that you can now use a customer’s location to your benefit in ways that weren’t possible just a few, short years ago. You could literally send a message to customers automatically when they enter a certain radius of your physical business, for example. Automatically sending a coupon whenever someone gets within three blocks of your store is a great way to entice them to come inside and look around, even if they weren’t necessarily planning to do so.

Unfettered Access

Another one of the major benefits of wearable devices from the consumer side of things is that people now have a device that they essentially have instant access to at all times. They no longer have to take their cell phone out of their pocket or purse to check their e-mail, read a new text message, or more – they can have instant access to that content just by simply raising their wrist.

From a marketing perspective, this means that your audience will also no longer need to take their cell phone out of their pocket in order to see your marketing materials. As a result, the content that you’re putting out into the world becomes that much harder to ignore – for better or for worse.

If a consumer both knows they’ve just received a marketing message from your brand, and is then reading it in seconds, the benefit of this is that you’re now connecting with that individual in a way that is more direct than ever before.

The potential downside is that because these types of e-mails are no longer as easy to ignore as they once were, it could become easy for a consumer to feel jaded about the whole process. If you send too many messages and a customer begins to feel overwhelmed by the amount of contact that you’re trying to make, you’re suddenly that much closer to losing a potential lead who feels you’re being too direct. A certain degree of caution will need to be practiced and restraint will need to be emphasized for the best possible results.

As is true with any new type of technology, using wearables for the purpose of marketing is something that will certainly require a degree of trial and error moving forward. Even though these devices are essentially designed to collect as much information about a consumer as possible, privacy concerns regarding how and where that information is used will still need to be addressed moving forward. If you’re able to properly use that data in a comfortable, engaging and organic way, however, you’ll find a new avenue through which to connect to your target market unlike one that you’ve ever had before.