Acceptance of Circumstances, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, Objectives Setting, online advertising, social media, staying current, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment

Happy (I think?) 25th Anniversary to the Internet!

As with all national days and unique holidays celebrated via social media, I’m going to take the news that “today marks the 25th anniversary of general public access to the internet” with a grain of salt; however, it’s fitting that I learned of it via Twitter.

I didn’t grow up as a “digital” marketeer. I’m proud and glad to date myself. I broke my marketing teeth in the world of traditional advertising and public relations. Think “Mad Men” vs. Mark Zuckerberg. While my very first marketing-related position was at a national market research supplier, Market Facts, where I oversaw or was involved in conducting primary research for large consumer brands like Stop & Shop and Gillette, all subsequent positions have been more marcom (marketing and communications)  focused.

My earliest marcom roles were at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA and Bay State Federal Bank — back in the early 1990’s through early 2000’s — when companies were just dipping their toes in the promised power of the internet. Companies felt compelled to launch and maintain Web sites and set up e-mail addresses at which they could be contacted, but I don’t believe marketing professionals, or any professionals for that matter, appreciated then the extensive impact the internet would have on traditional marketing, the role of a marketeer, or life, in general, as we knew it.

Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photo

I have to digress and take my fellow marketeers down memory lane for just one minute. Remember the days when advertising options consisted only of print, radio, network T.V., and vehicles like billboard and transit? And the days of needing to mail camera-ready ads aka slicks to media for publication? Yes, those days when e-mail blasts, social media influencers, pay-per-click and banner ads, and vlogging and blogging didn’t exist?

I’m guessing the majority of my readers will agree that there are pro’s and con’s to a world ruled by the internet. Below are what I believe to be the most critical impacts of the introduction of the “World-wide Web” (for those who don’t remember or know that’s the origin of “www.”). Given my profession, I focused on those that affect marketeers, but obviously, there’s been immeasurable impact on the day-to-day lives of all human beings.

Pros

  • It’s easy to find like-minded people or individuals facing similar challenges or opportunities, and to hold a conversation with them.
  • The opportunities to target individuals who enjoy certain hobbies and interests, belong to certain demographic groups, and/or who serve in particular business roles seem endless and are abundant.
  • Smaller organizations without deep marketing pockets can play the advertising game as well as, and sometimes even better, than larger advertisers via integrated online campaigns that are much less costly to execute and run (partly because of low or no production costs associated with online ads vs. the higher production costs often associated with print or broadcast advertising).
  • You can use the internet to research or locate just about anything or anybody.

Cons

  • Advertising $ have become quite diluted. The size of average marketing budgets has held steady and marketing monies now need to be spread across numerous media since target audiences are no longer listening to a limited number of radio or TV stations or reading a limited number of print publications. Per my Getting More Bang For Your Marketing Buck post, this means an advertiser’s marketing spend may not be as impactful, making it harder to achieve wished-for awareness or sales objectives associated with an ad campaign.
  • Marketeers may be pressured by external and internal clients to put the bulk of their time, energy, or budgets into online advertising and communications, such as social media or pay-per-click ads, when that may not be the most-effective vehicle for reaching a client’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer targets.
  • Maintaining an online presence on social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. is time-consuming, and marketing staffs may not be large enough to support the appropriate time expenditure on both traditional and digital marcom activities.
  • It’s become almost impossible for public relations (PR) professionals to know who and how to outreach to regarding covering certain topics and stories. Some publications employ different staff to handle their online vs. print communications and won’t share e-mail contact information. Instead, they encourage you to communicate with staff online. This evokes another “con”– it’s hard to have a private conversation these days as some social media users and bloggers don’t offer the capability for you to e-mail or message them, thereby forcing you to share your message with both them and the rest of the world.

What’s the key takeaway? As you set budgets, develop marketing plans, and hire staff for your next fiscal year, give a lot of hard thought to the target audiences for your products and services — not only where do your target audiences hang out, physically and virtually, but when and how do they best like to be communicated with? For example, they may be hanging out on LinkedIn because they’re conducting a job search or trying to do business development there, so that may not be the best time and place to bombard them with an ad about your business services. You and they might be better served by a more traditional marketing activity — a direct mail piece delivered to your targets’ physical office mailbox.

I’m always available to discuss any and all of the above and look forward to your thoughts. Depending on your feelings regarding the internet, take this 25-year celebration as motive to post and tweet away, or to take a walk outside and say “hello” to your neighbor in-person.

 

 

diversity, marketing consultant, staying current, Target Marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment

The Many Wins Of Speaking To Your Many Target Audiences

I have found the fact that more brands are acknowledging and presenting same-sex couples and parents in their advertising quite refreshing, and hopeful. Kudos to Chobani for having the courage — and great wisdom — to create advertisements that speak to a demo that doesn’t get a lot of speaking to — women in relationships with other women. Sure, as you’d expect, there’s a variety of groups up in arms about it, but Chobani, I believe you are doing the right thing. You are keeping pace with the, thank-goodness, open times and making a target audience feel very welcomed by a well-known, and well-loved brand — something that hasn’t happened too often in the past, but is starting to happen with much more frequency. So, I say, “keep up the great work!”

And, I’m giving equal kudos to Cheerios, Honey Maid, and State Farm for recognizing there’s all types of families in this world — many are mixed race, are made up of adopted children and adoptive parents, and many have two parents of the same gender.

Let’s face it. If you’re a consumer goods company, in general, it’s likely that your product is used by individuals of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and the list goes on. Don’t all your loyal and prospective customers have a right to view advertising that represents them and their lifestyle? Imagine how good it must feel to those populations who have been over-looked up until recently to have large well-known and well-loved brands acknowledge their lifestyles, and even just their existence. Not only are the brands that are creating advertising that represents over-looked audiences creating good will with those audiences, they are creating good will with the friends and family members who love those over-looked audiences and believe they have a right to be represented in and acknowledged in advertising.

Keep it going, you aforementioned great brands!  Despite the naysayers, I believe you’ve got it right on so many levels.

brand promise, differentiation, good will creation, marketing consultant, Memorability, Understanding Your Environment

Branding At Its Finest

Any marketing professional worth their weight in salt is both in awe and envious of the successful branding run of the Morton Salt Girl. The Girl is celebrating 100 years and never looked so young and hip!  Kudos to all the internal and external marketing and advertising folk who kept her looking fresh and current throughout the years. She’s had some great stylists!

Who doesn’t love the Morton Salt Girl? I mean what’s not to love? Despite the fact that the Morton Salt Girl is wearing clothes de jour, if you’re an adult, she still takes you back to your days of youth when you enjoyed being out in the rain with your umbrella, splashing in puddles, and getting your shoes as wet as possible.  And, if you are a child, there’s an immediate connection because of the clothes, and the fact that she, like you, knows the joys of “singing and dancing in the rain”.

The Girl still looks down-to-earth, and similar enough to the Girl we’ve seen throughout the decades in various styling stages, that she continues to support Morton’s brand promise to us that the Salt she promotes will bring all good things — like old-fashioned cooking, low-key suppers with family and friends, folks gathered around the kitchen and dining room table. Just general togetherness and slowing down for baking and cooking activities, i.e., more traditional activities, and the ability to step away from the fast-paced high-technology world for a minute. That’s a lot for one GIRL to convey, but she does it just wonderfully by her simplicity and her commitment to obliviously enjoying her day in the rain — with no desire or interest in being the sun or spotlight.

What memories does she conjure up for you?

Learn more about the Morton Salt Girl here: http://www.mortonsaltgirl100.com/.

fundraising/development, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, online advertising, staying current, Understanding Your Environment

Online Advertising Isn’t Just For For-Profits

While I’ve spent much of my career working in the non-profit world, most of friends, family, and colleagues don’t make the connection that I have. This is probably due to the fact that, while many healthcare organizations and health insurance plans are non-profit/not-for-profit organizations, their size and extensive advertising campaigns which I’ve overseen cause others to think of them as for-profit organizations.

In light of the above, despite volunteer work with non-profit organizations like “Home for Little Wanderers” and “Relay for Life”, many few me as a new kid on the block as far as developing and executing marketing and fundraising campaigns goes.  Luckily, I’ve had the good fortune of working with organizations that the general public readily views as non-profits on both a paid and pro bono basis — organizations that provide social services and funding to vulnerable populations.  And, what I’ve learned from this is that many of the marketing and communications tricks that work well for for-profit organizations also work well for non-profits — whether they are looking to create awareness of their organization or raise funds for their organizations.

A prime example is online advertising, specifically paid search and display advertising. I worked with a well-known Boston non-profit to create an ad campaign to support a holiday fundraising event, and am now managing it. Because individuals are equally interested, if not more interested, in researching both fun things to and charitable things to do, as they are researching business matters, the search and display ads are receiving a pleasing number of “click-thrus”, which my client and I hope and anticipate will lead to increased ticket sales from last year to this year.

I’m really hoping that more non-profits, particularly those that are indeed viewed as charitable/cause organizations, will be interested in speaking with me about the cost-effective and budget-maximizing activity that is online advertising.  My last blog post spoke to “Missed Opportunity”.  I believe for a non-profit to dismiss the possibility of employing online advertising to promote their organizations and/or raise funds is another “Missed Opportunity”.

differentiation, diversity, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, online advertising, staying current, Understanding Your Environment

While You Wait, Educate

I’m keeping the “ate” rhymes going in my topic header that I started with my recent To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate post, but the topic of these two posts are quite different. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to launch a new business, including a consultancy.  And, there are a lot of starts and stops along the way.  You get very excited about a prospective client meeting and spend hours preparing for it, so you are able to communicate what you know about your prospective client, their industry, their competition, and particularly their pain points. It’s particularly important that you be able to demonstrate what specific skills, experience, and activities you can bring that will help minimize or eliminate a client’s pain. Unfortunately, even when you are able to demonstrate your value proposition, prospective clients aren’t always ready or able to make the leap to engaging your services for a project or ongoing contract work.  They may already have relationships in place with organizations offering similar services, or they may need to obtain approvals from several levels higher up in their organization before they can start working with you, and/or they just may not have an immediate need for your services. Lastly, while you may be able to address one of their pain points, they may have greater pains that may need addressing first that aren’t in your area of expertise. You may be offering services to help them with a belly ache when they’ve got such sharp, shooting back pain that the belly ache, while troublesome, is not the area that they feel needs the most immediate attention.

As I advise friends who are seeking permanent, contract, or consulting work to do, I make every attempt to use any time where I am not doing client work and/or presenting to a prospective client/networking to educate myself on topics important to my industry and line of work. While I wait for my client work pipeline to grow, and when I feel I need a break from networking and selling myself and my skills, I attend webinars and phone discussions with/offered by experts in online/digital marketing.  I read blog and web site content about digital opportunities/marketing, and particularly, about improving SEO (search engine optimization) and optimizing pay-per-click/paid search advertising. If someone reaches out to me to attend a webinar — most are free — or asks to have a phone conversation about new digital marketing technology or any topic related to online presence, I’m almost always glad to listen in, have a conversation, etc.

I know keeping myself well-educated on all the ongoing changes and improvements in digital, traditional, and integrated marketing will make me a more valuable consultant to my clients.  Being well-informed just adds more and more tools I can add to my doctor’s kit, so that when faced with a client’s or prospective client’s pain point, I can share a variety of options with them that will help them minimize or eliminate their pain in an effective and efficient manner.

Continuously educating myself on topics related to my area of expertise and interest will mean that when a current or prospective client comes to me with a new pain point, I’m more likely to have the tools to address it.  In fact, the next time a client needs help with their back versus a toe, I may be able to help or have made a connection who can help (which will also create good will with any client). I don’t ever plan to stop growing and learning professionally, and I hope you won’t either.  It’s a great way to remain fully engaged in any industry or profession. You’ll remain enthusiastic and draw other enthusiasts toward you, including new customers who recognize you as being knowledgeable about their particular challenge.

Acceptance of Circumstances, Enjoying What You Do, marketing consultant, Understanding Your Environment

Dance to What Is

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-amazing-dance-red-flag-beach-female-dancer-image31641336

“Dance to what is” is an expression I apply to and share with individuals in all aspects of my life — family, friends, and co-workers.  A co-worker from my days as a marketeer at the former Bay State Federal Bank, a community bank acquired by a larger bank in 2004, shared this with me.  The expression wasn’t his invention, but he told me the story of how a friend of his found himself on a business trip in a less-than-glamorous location.  While the friend would have rather been in NYC or some place more exciting, he decided to make the best of being in a rural town by fully engaging in the activities going on at the local bar.

I loved this story and expression so much, I started sharing it with co-workers in situations where I felt we needed to “dance to what is”.  For example, as many of us have learned throughout our careers, senior management at an organization have the final say on various matters.  We may not always agree with their decisions or pronouncements, but we have to execute them.  “Dancing to what is” means not spending a lot of time trying to change things we can’t change, i.e., accepting things and moving forward vs. spending time crying over what employees may consider “wasted” work or time.  But most importantly, “dancing to what is” means “making the most of whatever situation you find yourself in”.  You wish you were in Paris, but find yourself in a much more modest location.  Make new friends, visit the local ketchup museum, and learn what makes that area special.  There is fun and learning to be had in almost all situations if you are open to them.

As I look to establish my own marketing, communications, and research firm after 30 years employed in the financial, healthcare, market research, and higher education industries, and to launch successful marketing and communications activities for clients, the foundation to my approach will be recommending strategies and tactics that “dance to what is”.  I believe any strategy and tactics selected should be founded on research, i.e.,  on an understanding of what is really going on;  in other words founded on “what is”.  For example, are sales off because of pricing, quality, poor service, or undesirable product or program features?  Are the wrong prospective customers being targeted?  Are the wrong media being used to reach those target audiences?

Saying “it is what is” has an air of resignation to it, but “dancing to what is” means enjoying and celebrating as you really pay attention to the music that is being played.