Archive | October, 2010

Are you hitting the mark?

25 Oct

Are your efforts paying off? Is your marketing achieving results?

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How do you know? Obviously, the first sign is that you are generating numbers: sales, impressions.

But how do you know what people think about you, your product, your service and your marketing efforts? This is a harder question to answer. If people don’t attend your event, it could be for a myriad of reasons (don’t have time, costs too much not interested). Same thing with your product or service. How do you know why people aren’t buying?

It comes down to requesting feedback, and to listening to what your audience has to say.

First, you should ALWAYS request feedback from attendees to your event and people who buy your product. Make it easy for people to provide comments on your website. Have an email address specifically for feedback.

Second, listen to what exactly  is being said about you in the comments  you receive. Also,  cast a wider net: check out SocialMention (or other social media monitoring tools) to see what is being said about you or your brand.

Last week, I tweeted to a local marketing networking group that they were sending me too many email messages. In fact, it got to a point that I would just delete rather than read. The organizational response to me via Twitter  was to tell me they would be happy to remove me from the list. I told them to take my comment seriously. I was giving them FEEDBACK. They didn’t want to listen.

You will not know if you are hitting the mark with your marketing efforts if you don’t make an effort to gather feedback. You may get some people to buy your product or attend your event, but you may be missing a host of others.

 

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Can you keep your promise?

21 Oct

When you are trying to market your services or your product, you will naturally try to make the product or service look appealing. That’s fine, as long as you are not overselling or over-promising. If you oversell or promise something you can’t deliver, you will run into problems.

Let me give you an example, drawn from my experience this week with the US Postal Service.

My mother sent me an express package on Monday. It was guaranteed to be delivered by noon on Tuesday. It wasn’t. I called the 1-800 to track it and find out where it was. After some problems with the automated attendant (that is a whole other issue), I got through to a representative. She had no idea where my package was or when I would get it. At one point, she put me on hold. During this interlude, I found out that:

For delivery you can rely on, choose the United States Postal Service.

Is that supposed to be a joke? My “express” package arrived more than 24 hours after it was “guaranteed” to arrive. And as I learned from the customer service agent, the guarantee is really about your money. They don’t actually guarantee the arrival of the express packages at their destination, but rather, if your package doesn’t arrive when they say it will, they will give you your money back.

I guess that when you absolutely, positively need it there by a certain time, don’t use the USPS, use Fedex (or UPS). For those of you who don’t remember the Fedex ad, here it is

The quickest thing you can do ruin your reputation is to promise that you will do something that you can’t or won’t do. And reputation is important in marketing. What do you think my impression is of the USPS?

So, when you are prepping your marketing materials (and especially your tag line), be careful about what you say.  Daily Blog Tips has a great post on 10 Tips to Improve Your Sales Copy Today. Note that their number two tip is:  Don’t Make a Promise You Can’t Keep.


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An easy marketing tip

18 Oct

Do you want to easily market yourself? I have a great tip: make your content (blog, website, social media stuff) shareable. I don’t mean that you should simply create stuff people want to share–which is a given–but make it easy to share. By this I mean have a social media sharing button/widget on your blog or website (such as the one at the end of this post). If you don’t know how to get one, here are a few to try:

You can find other individual service sharing buttons at this Wiki:

WordPress.com recently started its own sharing widget.

Find one that works with your blog/website and deploy it. By allowing your content to be easily shared, you will increase your reach. The word to note is EASILY.  There are ways I can share your content without your help…but if you make it easy for me, then I will most likely do it. And that is why you create great content, right?

Important clarification for WordPress users : If you have a WordPress.org blog (self-hosted), you may be able to find these buttons as plug-ins. WordPress.com users CANNOT use plug-ins, but can add these manually to each post or find the WordPress.com sharing button.

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Blog Action Day

15 Oct

Today is Blog Action Day (and I would link to the website but it is down) and the topic is water. I found out about it from Daria Steigman’s post “Water is Life” and also from a post on Conversation Agent: “Ten Facts About Water.”

The idea is to get bloggers to post on a common topic to get the word out. Just yesterday, I wrote about the death of mass communications and in a sense, Blog Action Day is a way to use social media in our extremely segmented world to inform people and get them to act around a common cause.

When I visited Australia in 2008, there was a lot of talk on the media about bottled water. Tap water in Australia is drinkable and yet people were spending money (and at about $3 per 1/2 liter, a lot of money) for bottled water. The problem with bottled water of course is waste. The bottle is not always recycled.  Australia is mostly desert, and in the summer, it can get very very dry. Australians tend to be active–always running, walking, swimming, surfing.   Since it is necessary to keep hydrated,  having access to water is a necessity and bottled water can be very convenient. How do you change people’s habits?

Another water habit that I encountered in Australia was a campaign to reduce showering time. In my hotel in Melbourne was a card and a timer inviting me to keep my shower to four minutes. I always wondered why this wasn’t done in the US too. Australia was certainly in a drought state. The United States is not there yet, but could be. Again, how do you change people’s habits? How do you get people to think about the length of their showers and how this impacts the environment?

Do you think Blog Action Day can help make a difference? What would a mass information campaign look like in our social media age?

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Mass comms

14 Oct

Back when I was in grad school, I studied mass communications. The theory was that advertising, public relations and journalism all reached mass audiences. Back then, there was no Twitter, no one blogged or even had a website. Cable existed but lots of people still watched the broadcast channels. People still read the newspaper. Magazines were everywhere. Mass media was alive and well.

Today, mass media are dying. Witness the declining numbers for the broadcast channels. An article in Fortune Magazine about Oprah said that one of the reasons she is going to her own cable channel is because her audience on regular TV is declining. We have all seen magazines disappear and newspapers shrink (and become more irrelevant).

The question is how do we communicate messages to the masses when the masses are getting more and more segmented? People are demanding personalization. No one seems to listen to the radio anymore, they listen to their own playlists on their MP3 player.  In social media, we follow those we want to follow.

There are messages that must get to the masses.  For instance, last year we had the H1N1 “pandemic.” Health information had to be sent out to the largest number of people.

What got me thinking about this is that we have had an increasing number of pedestrians being struck and killed by cars here in the DC area. Clearly, more people are driving either drunk or distractedly, and are speeding on top of it. In the past week alone, we have seen more than half a dozen people KILLED not to mention others who are injured. How do we combat this? How can we get the word out if there is no mass medium that is effective?

In the age of Twitter, where  would a PSA make real impact?

 

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You must know tech

7 Oct

Amy Webb, principal of Webbmedia Group, spoke yesterday to a Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Executive communicators brown bag lunch.  She is very knowledgeable and highly enthusiastic about technology and has made a business consulting on the various trends and applications of the new tech stuff.

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Some of us are a bit recalcitrant about tech stuff.  There  are so many changes that it is hard to keep up.  Most of all, tech is changing the way things are done and change is hard.

However, we must learn about tech and how it is affecting the marketing/communications space. Just this week, long time Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz announced he is leaving the Post to go to the online-only Daily Beast. Print is giving way to online more and more.

Amy Webb talked about being in the space where the consumers are–even if you aren’t on there–places like Facebook, Foursquare, Tivo and mobile apps. She sees the world of media (traditional media, the web, mobile, e-readers, tablet pcs) as all connected by social media. Social media is part and parcel of all forms of media, not a separate entity.

Webb divides the social media world into:

  • Geo social (Foursquare)
  • Corporate social (Yelp)
  • Social commerce (Groupon)
  • Social content (YouTube)
  • Mobile social (Loopt)
  • Pure play (Facebook)
  • Social curation (Digg, Delicious)

Other key take-aways from Webb:

  • Keep your taglines and messaging simple for sharing
  • Curation is huge right now simply because there is too much information out there to make sense of.
  • Personalization is becoming more important. Journalists don’t want mass press releases or multitmedia releases but rather personalized content.
  • Whatever you have done on line can be found by anyone with a bit of research knowledge
  • Before launching a brand–make sure the name you want is not being used on social media.
  • Tablet PCs are really big, witness the huge sales for the IPad, and there are many more on the horizon

My conclusion is that you must know tech. As Amy Webb suggested, read Mashable and/or Techcrunch every day to keep up with technology.

How is tech affecting your marketing life?

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Who is your rep?

5 Oct

Your representative could affect you reputation. And yet, how many times have you seen big firms and/or top tier colleges represented at a job fair or college fair by a young, inexperienced person? When you go to trade shows, who is sitting at the booths? Top brass? Fat chance–most likely, exhibitors at a trade show are represented by someone from the marketing department.

Have you ever gone to a networking event and met someone from a company who does not have any idea of what the company message is?

The other day, I was at a fair here in Bethesda. A very young girl handed me a flyer for a political candidate. The flyer tells me the candidate “has the experience to work for us,” and yet her representative was probably not even out of college. The rep did not back up the message.

I got a phone call the other day from a marketing company.  I had been seeing their name pop up on my caller ID for weeks, calling at all hours and on the weekend. When I finally answered it turns out they were representing a charity. I thought it was a telemarketer and I told the young man at the other end of the call to remove from his list. He launched into the rigamarole about charities are exempt blah blah. And then I said I was irritated that they kept calling me never leaving a message. He then started to tell me how the charity is busy helping people in need (so my concerns are not quite as legitimate). I hung up. He was not a worthwhile representative for the charity.

Who is sitting at your front desk/reception area? Who is out a chamber events representing your company? Do you know? What have you taught your representatives about your key messages? Can they give an elevator speech for your company?

Remember, your representative is you.

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