Friday, November 22, 2013

A digital strategy isn't a commodity

A digital strategy isn't a commodity, yet in my 10 years’ experience working with many different agencies (B2B and B2C) so many agencies treat a digital strategy like a commodity looking at it from the most simplistic outcome and goal.

Why is this? As indicated by Digiday here, and with ClickZ in an interview with OMI here there is a significant shortage of digitally savvy people at agencies.  The result is people that view a digital strategy in the simplest way they know how, cost.

This is further compounded by marketers having limited faith in their own skills as highlighted in this MarketingProfs post. Because of this marketers are relying on agencies to help guide strategy, yet we know there is a skills gap there.

Marketing is amidst an evolution, marketers agree that in the past 2 years marketing has seen more changes than the past 50 years (Adobe Study). This mindset of being focused on cost will drive limited reach, engagement, brand impact and limit the scope of executing a smart strategy. A smart digital strategy is about understanding goals, tracking, testing, optimizing, all while understanding that marketing is a long game.

So what is a marketer to do?
  1. If you are working with an agency – have they proven themselves as a thought leader? Do they understand content marketing, agile marketing, data driven marketing and analytics, marketing automation/nurturing, mobile, social, etc. or are they just media buyers? Talk to them and understand the skill sets and where they bring value to the table.
  2. Take a step back and understand what your goals are. Are you tasked with X number of leads per quarter? Ask why that number, how was that number determined?  What other metrics are you aligned with? Engagement, reach, conversion, sharing, these are examples of other metrics you might be tasked with or should consider. If it’s simply leads, is that volume reached by backing out from sales conversion rate and sales goals? A better digital strategy (and not one based on CPLs) likely means more effective conversion rates which can change your goals if they are based on solely on lead volume. Take time to ask these questions and explore here.
  3. Find a trusted resource. Identify which of your trusted resources are the experts in digital tactics and learn from them. Who has done the research, who has proven experience in a smart integrated digital strategy? Use those proven partners to help guide and structure your digital strategy.
  4. Bring the passion back to marketing. This evolution and these changes are exciting and open a huge opportunity to learn and grow careers.  The CEO of my first job taught me something I still find true to this day, there are 3 things an employee needs to be happy in their career, first to be challenged and learn, second a good company culture, and third respectable compensation. As said in the ClickZ video “learning is happiness”.  Use this huge shift in marketing to learn, grown, and bring back the excitement to marketing. 

A digital strategy isn’t a commodity; it’s a commitment to smarter, more efficient marketing. It’s not about doing more with less; it’s about getting more out of what you are doing.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

What your #1 goal for November should be (aside from growing a mustache)

This weekend like many other marketers I was thinking about the upcoming holiday season. However I wasn't thinking of holiday specials, promotions, or even Black Friday. So what is left after all that for holiday marketing plans? Dinners and parties with friends and family.

It’s a small world – and often our work lives cross over into personal. For me, many of my closest friends are those that I have the most in common with (work and personal interests included alike). Many of my longtime close friends in the offline world also happen to cross paths with me professionally and online.  Those from only the online world that I am most intrigued by or follow closest have several traits in common with me. Most are marketing based, but those that are also into biking, skiing or other similar hobbies of mine capture further interest.  That interest builds and turns to trust quickly.  

As I was thinking through this, I realized that when I sit with my friends and family in the upcoming weeks (for me many of whom are fellow marketers). In the course of small talk we will undoubtly end up talking shop at some point.

Nice weather huh? How is work? Busy, oh yea, me too….Anything cool or new going on there? And there you have it, a HUGE opportunity for all marketers to get their advocates to talk about their product or service with likely minded people. People that are like minded to your current customers are likely a good fit to be future customers.

For me I have been wildly excited about some of the data visualization tools like crazyegg lately and will likely end up talking about how cool the service is to my marketing buddies.

So there you have it. Your number 1 Marketing goal of November should be increasing the number of Advocates you have. Be the topic of conversation at the holiday parties.  

Why do you need Advocates?

Advocates as shown here – can drive huge impact to sharing your message and promoting your brand.

“90% of Advocates write something positive about their purchase experience.” If you can harness those comments and feedback, its valuable “earned” impact.

“Offers shared by trusted advocates convert at a 4x-10x higher rate”

 Need more? That trust I mentioned above, well we trust peers (IE Advocates) more than we trust communication from brands. As Jill Rowley said on twitter recently: “Why Employee Advocacy? Company-to-Buyer trust = 33% vs Peer-to-Peer trust = 92% Nielsen Research 2012  #SocialShakeUp”

How do we create more advocates?
As noted in the above slide share about Advocates – “50% of advocates recommend because of a good experience”. Focus on user experiences – from good content all the way through the buy “funnel” to the sale. Users are going to self-educate with content about 10+ times for complex purchases, if 1 in those 10 experiences isn’t absolutely great, they might not become an advocate. November should be about great mustaches, good content and better user experiences.

If you don’t understand the mustache reference, November is also Movember, (a good cause) so grow a mustache or donate! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

3 Lessons learned in building brand loyalty

As marketers we can’t always control our products, but we can influence the perception of them. So how do you build brand loyalty? Let’s learn from a couple of today’s strongest brands: 

Apple: Speak your users language

Like them or not, Apples brand power is un-deniable (see this article and this one for more about their brand power). Apple created a cult like brand loyalty by speaking their users language. Apple knew early on in the 80’s that their users were the creative types and “geeks”. They embodied that with their product marketing and aligned their brand with the same values of these buyers. At that time being a geek wasn’t trendy or cool, it was just different. Apple didn’t try to be everything to everyone, they spoke to their audience. 

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                Take it further:  If your brand has multiple types of people you are looking to engage with, utilize buyer personas to foster and develop this high level of loyalty. For example in IT buying, most large companies (1,000+ employees in size) have buying teams of 10+ people.  Generally you will have 4-6 different personas involved in the decision. An example of this might be a IT staff member vs a C-level executive vs a procurement specialist. All have different pain points, product needs, outlooks and personas. Adapt content to speak to each persona this will increase the brand loyalty from multiple groups at the same time. 

Harley Davidson: Listen and Bond

In terms of product, Apple and Harley-Davidson are very different, but both have created Brands with unparalleled loyalty. Harley built their brand loyalty by listening to their audience, and by relying on humans need for brotherhood.  Harley was doing very poorly in the 60’s and made a huge comeback through listening to what riders wanted. Beyond that, they also tapped into humans need for social interaction. They develop a club for Harley Owners (Harley Owners Group, HOG). Through this they helped encourage fellow owners to ride together, and share brand experiences. This has strengthened the bond the brand has with its customers, and the bond customers have with each other. These two efforts have worked to magnifying brand loyalty.  

Both of these brands have such a strong loyalty built around them people are willing to display the logos and names on their bodies. Do you customers go that far? That’s loyal:

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How do you replicate this success?

1 - Identify who your audience is

2- Speak clearly to them, and their needs. Remember no body wants to hear how great you are, they want to hear how great you will make them

3 - Integrate social elements on every level of your brand engagement.

Leave a comment, tell me what are you brand challenges, how are you working to overcome them?