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There have been many changes in the marketing industry during the past decade. These changes are rapid and demanding, meaning that marketers are continually running to catch up with the evolving environment. Just this week, for example, 'Mashable' published an article about Facebook's latest pitch to convince marketers that click-though rates are irrelevant, and that reach and frequency are more important. Another article from 'Search Engine Land' discusses the death of SEO. At the same time, 'Fast Company's' October issue featured an article by Wendy Marx commenting on the need to change from promotion to education marketing. These are only a few examples of the current challenges that B2B marketers are facing the list is in fact a lot longer.

Published in The Marketing Edge

A key part of any successful marketing campaign is clearly identifying your target audience. Crafting a message that speaks directly to your potential customers is equally important as the manner in which you reach them.

One way to start is by taking a look at your current customer base and dividing it into three columns: 'great,' 'OK' and those who cost you money to do business with (I'll leave it up to you to find a pet name for that group). Now, take a closer look at the list of those you selected as your 'great' customers. What makes them great? How much profit have they generated for your business in the past 12 months? How long has each customer been doing business with you? Do they pay on time? Are they in agreement with your business process policies? Are they willing to be of reference?

Published in The Marketing Edge

My greatest reward as an entrepreneur is experiencing the loyalty that our clients have for our little business. To me, a contract renewal is worth a lot more than just the financial incentive attached to it. It gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment to receive my client's continued vote of confidence and commitment.

This week I experienced the best day of my life as a small business owner. One of my clients, who owns several retail stores throughout Maine, had been solicited by another marketing firm for a couple of months a huge, national organization. My client's supervising office had given this other marketing agency their blessing to court all of their franchisees, and was even willing to offer financial support for those who signed up.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:56

When good enough is just not enough

I consider myself a straight shooter. From time to time, I've been accused of seeing things in a black and white sort of way. I just don't have time for nonsense, and I don't have much patience for it either. What does that make me? A tough customer with high expectations. But there is a good part about being a pain in the neck, as some might put it: I am continually judging the quality of my own work, which helps me not to fall into complacency.

My first and most memorable boss in the business world used to say that achieving success is easy - the hard part is sustaining it. Sometimes, success can drive a business into complacency, which is a very dangerous path to be on. When things are good for a period of time, people become overly positive about their success. They tend to think that their business will continue on that growth path, which can lead to a false sense of security and lack of a strong business strategy.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:01

Smart marketers learn from their mistakes

Forbes recently reported a new research study from Stanford's business school, which suggests that individuals who tend towards feeling guilty when they do something wrong exhibit strong performance as leaders. The study involved 520 people and three separate experiments. For each of these experiments, researchers subjected participants to online personality tests that measured their tendency to feel both guilt and shame, among other traits.

Many (if not most) people think that guilt and shame are the same emotion. Psychologists, however, feel that this is incorrect. The difference, they say, lies in the actions a person performs subsequently. After doing something wrong, guilt-prone people often want to correct their mistake to make things right. Those who experience shame, on the other hand, tend to feel bad about themselves, but do nothing to correct their errors.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 14:35

Do Facebook Ads Work?

The short answer: Yes and no. To many marketers, Facebook advertising is a challenge. Most brands want to maintain contact with their target audience globally, using the most widely-adopted social network - but doing so is more complicated than it first seems. The truth is that most marketers haven't yet been able to prove the success of their Facebook advertising campaigns through verifiable conversion rates, but rather only through an increase in their fan base on the platform.

According to an article written by Ben Bunz of BusinessWeek, Facebook 'likes' have become a devalued currency. 'Liking [has become] as common as blinking, and a like' no longer signals that a consumer loves your brand,' said Bunz. Most organizations do not experience interaction with all of their fans; in fact, most fan interaction is at the other end of the spectrum, averaging less than 1 percent per day.

It's hard to convince business owners and marketers to continue to invest money into Facebook advertising, as they haven't yet been able to reap the fruits of their past investments on the platform. One striking example was the recent announcement that GM is going to withdraw its $10M Facebook advertising budget this year. Why? Among many reasons, including budget cuts, there is a simple one: Facebook hasn't been able to prove that their ads work.

Published in The Marketing Edge

With so many marketing channels available and competing for your advertising dollars, it's hard not to fall into the trap of marketing fragmentation. Each advertising channel will offer a 'better solution,' with a 'higher ROI,' and 'guaranteed exposure.' These offers are, of course, very appealing to business owners and marketers coming out of a recession with an enormous thirst for business growth.

In reality, 'integrated marketing' is simply what good marketing should be! The over-use of the word 'integrated' has turned it into another buzzword. Any good marketer knows that consistency is the most important ingredient in a successful marketing campaign.

To test how integrated or effective your marketing program is, take a look at all of your campaigns and see if they are all communicating the same message. Marketing integration is a lot more than using your brand's colors, logo and tagline. As a matter of a fact, unless you're Apple, Google or IBM (the top three most recognizable brands in the world, according to an Accenture report) most people will not remember this information if asked on the spot to describe your brand.

Published in The Marketing Edge

Small business owners and sales people are usually very good at summing up the benefits of their products/services in a way that triggers the start of a more in-depth conversation. This skill, also known as "the elevator pitch," has been in practice for many years, and it can pave the road to successful business development that is, if you have a winning message.

The main purpose of an effective elevator speech is to capture your audience's attention quickly. Following are some ideas to help you craft a new elevator speech or check if your current one is as good as it can be:

1. Always begin with your name, job title and affiliation

2. Explain your business offer and how your audience could benefit from it think value or solution to a need.

3. Explain with carefully chosen words what sets your business apart from the competition what makes you unique, and why should the listener care?

Published in The Marketing Edge

In today's increasingly social media-driven world, user endorsement is key. Sure, a well-targeted and attractive advertising campaign can increase your brand's exposure and promote growth, but nothing inspires action in a person as well as an endorsement from their friends, family or co-workers. In fact, it's one of the primary ways people differentiate between truly valuable content and spam in an online realm that has become saturated with promotions, promises and often-desperate sales pitches. This is the principle behind viral marketing and business growth: Users share content through social networks and content aggregators, and that content becomes popular because of already-established trust between the people sharing and the people seeing what their friends have shared.

Facebook, understanding that user-driven connections have the potential to produce more successful advertising campaigns (and therefore happier advertising customers) than general targeted ads, expanded its feature set to include what they call Sponsored Stories. But how do they work? How can you best use them to promote your brand? In order to answer those questions, we need to take a look at the four types of Sponsored Stories Facebook offers: Domain, Page Like, Page Post, and Check-In stories.

Domain Stories are intended to drive traffic to your business's website. When a user is logged into Facebook, visits your website, and 'likes' it, Facebook generates a sponsored news feed (or sidebar) story announcing the 'like.' Because Domain Stories take users directly to your website, they are a great way to boost online sales and generate leads.

Published in The Marketing Edge
The marketing world is changing at very fast pace, and many organizations - including marketing agencies - are struggling to catch up. I recently attended a marketing seminar where I noticed that many of my peers were talking about being challenged by their current and prospective clients about cost and performance.

It seems that being a marketer has become fashionable - perhaps even a fad - lately. People with little or no qualifications have opened their 'agencies' (often in their homes) and are promising the world amazing returns - typically via social media. But how can a customer have confidence that they are doing business with qualified professionals if a marketer has no credentials? Of course, one can learn on the job, but would you trust a doctor without credentials? How about a lawyer? Prior to becoming a marketer, I spent eight years of my life in a university classroom pursing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and have continued to invest heavily in my professional development over the past 15 years.

Published in The Marketing Edge
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