Category Archives: marketing

4 Musts for Your Social Marketing This Year

It is the beginning of the year and you want to make sure you kick off your marketing to drive success in your company. With this in mind, let me give you four musts for your brand social marketing.

must do social marketing

Throughout my entire marketing career, I have continuously examined brands’ audiences to drive strategy, plan, and execution. I label marketing as the “psychology of business.” And with this in mind, I have identified four areas that you need to focus on with regards to your social marketing efforts to drive audience adoption, brand preference, loyalty, and advocacy.

1. Listening and Responding

There are three types of social marketing listening that are required.

a) People talking to your brand – there are going to be people that use your brand’s social channels and other channels to talk directly to your brand.
b) People talking about your brand – while not directly speaking to your brand people will mention your brand in the vast digital world.
c) People talk about a subject relevant to your brand – while not mentioning your brand, people touch on a subject area that speaks directly to a topic that is relevant to your brand.

You must monitor for all the cases listed above. In the first two cases, you must monitor and respond. The best way to tell your audience you don’t care about them is to not listen to them, or not respond to them. Only respond to mentions if you care about their business … that should include every mention. In the third case, you have an opportunity to expose a new audience to your brand. Do not respond with product information, but rather valuable information. Gain awareness and start to build a great reputation by delivering unexpected help.

2. Content

The way to keep your brand in the minds and hearts of your target audience is produce content they value. The way to prove you are worthy of people’s business (beyond having a truly valued product/service) is to be helpful and entertaining. Brands are often shared between people via content. Thus your brand needs to think like a publisher and produce weekly content (at a minimum). But your content plan should not be limited to original content. Consider how your content strategy will include curation from other sources as well as UGC (user generated content). Your content strategy should also include a plan to capture earned media. This leads to the third focus area …

3. Influence Marketing

In influence marketing, first you identify those individuals and publications that influence your target market. Once you identify the influencers, you work to build a relationship with them by providing them information that is valued by THEIR audience. It is not about pushing your agenda, but finding the intersection of what your brand represents and the information that identified influencers want to deliver to their audience. Influence marketing will continue to gain importance because objective advocacy is much more compelling than subjective brand communication.

4. Personalization

I touched on personalization when discussing “listening and responding.” But personalization needs to go beyond listening and responding. Users are tiring of email blasts and other brand communications that are nothing more than an extension of advertorial programs. What if the brand communication was driven by consumer intelligence? What if you integrated digital behavior and purchase history to deliver contextual relevant communication to your audience? Certainly your audience will feel “special” if you deliver communication and content relevant to their history, interests, and behavior. Personalization means that brands deliver contextual relevant communication and content. Look into tools that allow you to correlate and integrate different data points to produce a data driven view of your consumers.

The four areas of focus I suggested above are not driven by technology or marketing hype, but rather by examining user behavior spawned by new digital technological advancements. Far too often predictions are driven by technology hype rather than user behavior driven by new technology advancements. If marketing is the psychology of business, understand your target audience behavior and implement social marketing accordingly.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, content marketing, influence marketing, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

4 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Difference Between a Marketing Expert and A Marketer That Consistently Delivers Marketing Excellence

marketing successWebster defines an expert as “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.” There are a number of people that fit this description. People that have numerous years of marketing experience; scholars that have examined the subject of marketing for years and continue to produce thought leadership; and those that have done both.

But I have known and seen a number of so-called marketing experts that have failed to deliver empirical marketing excellence. Individuals that are Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Strategy Officers, Marketing Executives, Professors, and talking heads on conference circuits. And think of your company. Would you rather have a ”marketing expert” or a marketer that consistently delivers marketing excellence?

It is a rhetorical question. So what separates the two?

With this question in mind, consider what the great Peter Drucker said about marketing. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” The customer is continually evolving. And their behaviors and actions have recently taken dramatic change due mainly to technological advancements. The primary technology change has been digital – the Internet, mobile, and social media. The combination of these three digital elements allowed the consumer to:

1) have a loud voice directly affecting brand position and reputation,
2) have access to trusted data that identifies product/service strengths and weaknesses,
3) compare products and pricing during real-time shopping scenarios,
4) not worry about geographical limitations to purchase goods/services, and
5) establish their own reputation and degree of influence in a particular area or vertical, even against well-established giants.

If our focus as a marketer is on our customer (B2B or B2C) it is easy to see that living on laurels of expertise is not sufficient. The target audience is changing dramatically and in order to be the marketer that delivers consistent excellence, you must be an adaptable marketer.

So when you are looking for marketing leadership at your company, make sure you find someone that not only has expertise but also is adaptable. Make sure they have participated in new technologies your target audience uses. Knowledge of the new technologies is not enough. If you really want to “know and understand the customer” (as Drucker suggests) you have to swim in their waters.

I have seen far too many marketing executives dictate brand strategy without having been active in the technologies and platforms they recommend. This is a mistake.

Marketing success will come from leaders that are 1) experts, 2) experienced, 3) adaptable, and 4) participative. All four are required. Being an expert with substantial experience is only 50% of the requirement. A marketing leader must be adaptable and participative to ensure the delivery of marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

5 Comments

Filed under brand marketing, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

The Secret to Successful Integrated Marketing

Straight to the point I am not going to drag you along with an anecdotal story and make you wait to get to the secret of successful integrating marketing. The secret is simply – follow the customer journey.

customer journey

When I worked at the Ryan Partnership agency, we would often display the customer journey as pictured above. This spaghetti-like diagram is actually a simplification of a customer purchase path for a potential healthcare/beauty product. The diagram shows the consumer:

1) getting input from their friends, family, and colleagues, through social networks and other direct communications,
2) reading product reviews in print and online,
3) comparing competitive products and considering places to purchase,
4) taking actions at home before going to a store such as reading emails and searching for coupons,
5) using mobile apps while shopping,
6) sharing product experiences with friends and more widely via participation on social networks, and
7) experiencing in store displays and promotions.

Granted, the purchase journey will vary a significant amount based upon the product/service being sold and whether it is a consumer or business solution. The important point is to identify the journey and touch points for customers seeking a product/solution that your company offers.

Once you have identified the customer journey, you need to orchestrate marketing creative ideation, themes, memes, personalities, stylizations, and voices across all relevant marketing channels. Your brand and direct marketing needs to play like a Hollywood script across all marketing endeavors and channels. One brand story and supporting promotion that triggers repetitive purchase decision considerations and brand loyalty.

If you look at the different marketing groups that need to be involved as defined by customer behavior you should recognize that integrated marketing is really more about complete collaboration as opposed to integration. John Bell, former Global Managing Director at Social@Ogilvy, makes the point that “Collaboration Trumps Integration in New Marketing.” I recommend reading his article to gain insights on collaborative behaviors.

So when you wrap it all up, the secret of successful integrated marketing really boils down to behaviors. First the customers’ journey and target audience behaviors that define the focus of brand marketing efforts. And secondarily, the organizational collaborative behaviors that truly yield customer brand preference and loyalty. Is your marketing team taking this approach?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under behavior, brand marketing, brands, customer relations, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

University Social Marketing Presentation

On December 2, 2013, I had the pleasure of delivering a social media marketing presentation to students at St. John’s University. The presentation is short, but contains valuable information. Here it is …

Ready to drive social marketing success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

4 Comments

Filed under marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Who Gets Your Brand Persona?

A brand persona is the social role or character your brand plays. Does your brand have a (formally) defined persona? Before I even ask if your audience gets your brand persona, let me ask this … Does your entire company get your brand persona? And most importantly, does your social marketing person or team thoroughly understand the brand’s persona? The social manager needs to live the brand persona more than anyone else in your entire organization. Your brand’s social presence must be a total reflection and reinforcement of the brand persona.

persona

I always knew the great importance of an established and solid brand persona, but it really hit home this past week … My son and I were watching the TV show “The Voice” (a guilty pleasure for both of us). The show was eliminating two contestants. There were eight singers from the previous days sing off and the three with the least votes from the television audience were in jeopardy. On the night we were watching, one contestant would be saved and continue in the competition. The show’s host asked the viewing audience to tweet “#thevoicesaveyourchoice“ within the next three-minute period and the contestant generating the most tweets would continue in the competition. Both my son and I thought one contestant should be the obvious one to be saved. I said Max, “Why don’t you tweet to save Matthew?” He said he agreed but that he did not want that on his tweeter stream. The indirect point he was making was that tweeting something in reference to The Voice was an infringement on the persona he wanted to portray on his social presence. In fact, I felt the same way. That is why I did not tweet a “#thevoicesaveMatthew” because it did not support my musical persona. (As I said, The Voice is a guilty pleasure.)

Subconsciously, both my son and I were totally tuned into our individual brand persona in our social presence. Not that we actually took time to think about “marketing” and “branding” when it came to ourselves. It was just a natural reaction. But we instinctively knew what type of postings support and deviate from the social presence and persona we wanted to portray.

Now let me ask you a question. How close does your brand’s social person or team produce a reflection of your brand’s persona on social channels? Every post, every engagement, every exchange in your brand’s social presence must fit your brand persona. Your social manager needs to be as sensitive as that teenager who worries what everyone will think of his/her post. The social manager needs to stop for a second before every social exchange and ask, “Does this reflect the personality and voice of our brand.”

While I recognize that what I am saying here may not be new to you, I am challenging you to make sure you REALLY execute.

1) Have a formal brand persona defined and distributed to everyone in your company.
2) Reinforce to everyone that if you are to get your target audience emotionally attached to your brand, the company as a whole must act and present itself in one unified personality and persona.
3) Train your social manager. Make sure he/she completely understands the brand position, personality, voice, values, and persona. Test the social manager from time to time to make sure they represent your brand presence 100% correctly.
4) Listen to your audience and insure your brand persona resonates and appeals with them. Make modifications to optimize the intersection of your brand position and your target audiences wants, needs, desires, and motivations.

Strengthen your product/service with an outstanding persona that creates an awesome extension of the brand user experience.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

3 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

What Does It Take to Deliver Superior Marketing?

Technology has changed marketing. Actually, technology has changed consumer behavior, both B2C and B2B, and these behavior changes demand a new marketing approach.

superior marketingIf you look at recent studies you will see that by and large, companies get a low score for their marketing efforts and capabilities. Consider some recent examples. While digital marketing has become an imperative marketing practice, only 8% of companies think they have strong digital marketing in place. Forbes recently asked “Why Does Most Marketing Stink?” And eMarketer just showed the overwhelming disparity between marketers and customer expectations.

Now the title of this article asks “What Does It Take to Deliver Superior Marketing?” And then I give you studies that say most marketing sucks. You might be led to believe that simply having good marketing would be satisfactory. This perspective is a major mistake. Jim Collins taught us that “good” is the anti-Christ of “great.” And probably more important than Collin’s assertions think about the abundance of media brands throw at us. If you want to standout, you must be superior.

So as marketers our first step is to acknowledge we have a problem. But this problem can be fixed looking at three areas:

1) experience
2) skill sets
3) playing field

So first, let’s look at experience. As one Twitter profile I read said, “It takes a year to learn marketing, but a lifetime to become an expert.” Well, maybe not a lifetime, but I would agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule”, that claims that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be successful. Today, many young digital natives are placed in marketing leadership roles due to their digital prowess. What about their marketing prowess? And at the same time, I have seen way too many strategy and marketing leaders that lack digital knowledge and hands on experience. Superior marketing requires a leader that has lived through wins, mistakes, and an abundance of practice hours. But that is not enough. The experienced marketing leader must be an “adaptable marketer.” One who is a constant student of changes in technology and consumer behavior.

The second challenge in delivering superior marketing are the skill sets required. Granted this may be somewhat subjective, but I believe that marketing skills require the widest breath of proficiencies. Consider the diagram below …

marketing skills

On the y-axis, you see that marketing requires a big picture thinker. Someone that can put together a grand strategy that plays like an Oscar winning film that captures an audience, intrigues them, and motivates them to take action. At the same time you need someone that is extremely detailed and can plan and manage every meticulous aspect. Marketing execution is tough and not managing the delivery of one little task can ruin the vast orchestrated delivery. If you look at the x-axis you see two opposite ends of the gamut – strong content and writing skills and strong analytically skills. It is rare that someone is stellar in both of these areas. Thus you need to have the right people on your team. But at the same time, the leader needs to have complete understanding of content production and marketing analytics even if they have a subject matter expert executing these areas on their team.

The last category to consider for superior delivery of marketing is where marketing is channeled. Specifically online and offline. While digital marketing is getting the share hold of attention, offline marketing remains an imperative element of direct marketing and establishing brand preference. Most brands require a strong balance of offline and online marketing. This means that there must be integrated, coordinated, and collaborative offline and online marketing activities. A marketing leader must be experienced and skilled in doing so.

From my perspective, today’s marketing activities remain segmented due mainly to the issues I have raised in this article. If marketing leaders want to have respect at the executive table, they need to bring together all the disparate elements that today’s technology and consumer behavior demands. These technological and consumer changes demand an extreme marketing makeover. Does your company have the guts and leadership to drive superior marketing?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

2 Comments

Filed under brand marketing, brands, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Social Media Posting vs. Winning Brand Preference

Are you just aimlessly posting or are you working to drive brand preference in your social marketing efforts?

brand preferenceLet’s be clear. The objective of social marketing is to create brand preference such that when individuals are ready to make a purchase decision in the brand’s category, they repeatedly prefer your brand. Brand preference can be measured by a Social Brand Index that considers awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. (Note – I developed and use the Social Brand Index when working with brand clients.) Social marketing success is measured by the degree of brand preference you capture. You need to “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like” before you start your social strategy, plan, execution, and collection of data.

So if you are responsible for your brands social presence, recognize that each posting is a small opportunity to create brand preference. Many can come up with a cute or humorous post, but how many can pull together a social presence that:

1) creates continuous brand preference, and
2) integrates across all other company activities?

Let’s take these one at a time. First, what does it mean to create brand preference via social marketing? It means that

• every posting,
• all the listening on brand social platforms and elsewhere in the digital space,
• every piece of content production,
• every digital conversation, and
• all promotion opportunities

are aimed at

• influencing positive brand perception,
• brand loyalty,
• brand love, and
• growing word of mouth marketing for the brand.

How many social effort areas are truly choreographed to accomplishing this? While social marketing posts must by timely and spontaneous (real-time marketing), opportunistic content and postings must still be aimed at achieving and deepening brand preference. Before you post something, simply run a litmus test … Ask, “Is this post aimed at further creation of obtaining brand preference?” This is what I mean when asking what the difference is between social postings and creating brand preference.

But the social marketing effort is not done there. It must be integrated with all other company areas that affect and touch the target audience … That would most likely be the entire company. Remember, the job of social marketing is creating brand preference. Thus, social marketers must collaborate with direct marketers (advertisement, promotions, PR, email, event, SEO, display, etc.), executive branches, customer service, and all other support services. The collaborative nature with other functional areas in the company must be give and take. That is, social marketers must deliver target audience information and perception to the company as a whole as a function of social listening. Social marketers must also capture activities (plans, strategy, stories, programs, thought leadership, etc.) from the extended company functional groups that should be shared to the target audience to help shape brand preference.

Far too often, brands take on social marketing because they think it is a must for their business without understanding what the objective should be and how to measure the results. From a strategic perspective, this means developing a plan, activities, and metrics that will yield true brand preference. From a tactical perspective this means stopping for 5 seconds before posting to ask, “Is this post incrementally helping to yield brand preference.”

Brand preference is established by having (at a minimum) a satisfactory product/service, but that offering is then supported by unwavering commitment to the buyer. Social media is a prime opportunity to demonstrate target audience commitment. In social marketing, the commitment shown by production of superior content (valuable information and/or entertaining media), listening and taking action on applicable posts on a variety of platforms, and engaging in conversation with socially active users (especially influencers).

What are you doing in your social marketing activities to create brand preference?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, customer relations, marketing, social marketing, social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

The Future of Social Marketing – It Might be Going in the Wrong Direction

wrong direction We are at that time of the year where everyone will start to make his or her predictions for the coming year. I am not here to be viewed as the great prognosticator but rather I do hope to get social marketing on the right track.

Digital/social is not hype. If you look at the vast universe of user behavior in digital/social you must believe brands need to leverage these environments for overall success. And when I look and see how a majority of brands act and deliver on social channels, I literally get infuriated.

This week a study revealed “Only 8% Of Brands Believe Their Marketing Team Is Strong Across All Digital Marketing Channels.” How can this be acceptable? If you are part of the remaining 92%, what are you doing about it?

This past week I had a conversation with a CEO of a big agency. A colleague set up this meeting as I am currently looking for a leadership position in digital marketing. The CEO proceeded to share with me that he had acquired a social marketing agency that he was going to fold into the agency. “Why do I need a separate CEO and CFO? I think the current agency roles, the creatives, the account people, can do social as part of what they do.”

In the world of mergers and acquisitions, you probably do not need an extra CEO or CFO and other executive, general management, and support functions. And yes, we should expect everyone to play a social role as part of his or her job function. But I asked the CEO a question, “Don’t you think you need someone to orchestrate the entire social presence for a brand?” He avoided answering this question.

And in there lies the erroneous direction of brands’ social marketing. I believe that everyone in a company needs to be a social extension for the company. Yes, the creative folks need to make sure their productions include social distribution and engagement; the account folks need to make sure information is captured from social listening; and on and on. But there needs to be a chief engagement officer, chief customer officer, chief social officer, chief digital officer, chief marketing officer … Call them what you want … Place the responsibility in an appropriate place … but someone needs to take charge. Someone that is really competent owning the brand personality. Someone owning the customer engagement. Someone measuring and analyzing empirical results.

I see growth in social marketing participation throughout the functional areas of companies. And that is a good thing. But if anyone thinks that greater use of social media across various groups within an organization means that there is social marketing integration, they are wrong.

If companies want to see true ROI from social efforts, there needs to be a leader that is responsible for orchestrating and delivering strategy, plans, operations and measurable results. In my six years of social marketing, and ten years in digital marketing I continually see chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, chief digital officers, chief whatever officers that really don’t understand target audience behavior and use of digital/social. I see sharp but inexperienced digital marketers in roles that they are not prepared for.

This scenario has caused many to question the value of social marketing. Social marketing will not have value if its responsibility is not placed in the right hands. I have a sense of optimism given that studies are being conducted that unveil how significant the problem is.

If there is one trend that must change in 2014 in the world of digital/social marketing it is competent leadership and responsibility. Let’s put it in place. Then we can start assessing the true social value.

Wake up.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

5 Comments

Filed under behavior, brand marketing, company organization, leadership, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, social media performance, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words, What is the Value of a 6-Second Video #Vine

Everyone gravitates to the new hyped digital platform or app. Hype doesn’t lure me, but rather I examine user behavior to determine emerging digital opportunities. That said, I am very bullish on Vine.

Vine has the ingredients that appeal to most digital users … visuals for people with short attention spans. And while Vine has this inherent attribute, the app provides awesome elements of a holistic integrated marketing plan. I am quite surprised that more brands are not exploiting Vine.

Vine Marketing

Many of you that have been followers of The SocialSteve Blog are familiar with my Social Media A-Path. I refer to the A-Path in many of my writings. If you are not familiar with my A-Path approach you can get a sense for it in the article “Using the Social Media A-Path to Capture Ultimate Customers.” So let me relate Vine opportunities to the Social Media A-Path.

The A-Path starts with Attention and then seeks to grab Attraction. This is probably the greatest asset of Vine. If you create a compelling Vine (or series of Vines), they serve as introductions and teasers to the more in-depth brand content you produce. Think about creating a Vine that is the equivalent to an entertaining elevator statement. The purpose of a Vine is not to tell a story, but rather peak interest. An interest that leads people to want more information. The next step in the A-Path is to build Affinity for your brand content. Use Vine to introduce your audience to your brand content and drive them to the portfolio where your brand content resides. Maybe your content portfolio includes a series of Vines that people keep coming back to see or share and introduce their network to your brand.

There are some brands that are doing good things with Vine. If you are interested in seeing some examples you can check here and here. I also like brands using Vine as part of UGC (user generated content) programs. Disney kicked off a compelling Vine UGC program.

So think about how you want to direct your potential audience to your brand content. Think about how you can use Vine to stimulate interest and drive people to your digital presence. Have a messaging strategy for Vine as well as a distribution plan. Where will you place your Vines to attract your audience?

While some brands are starting to use Vine, I do believe it is a highly under utilized app that can drive strong brand interest.

How high can you reach? How far can you see? How big can you dream? …

Make It happen,
Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under brand marketing, content marketing, marketing, social media marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing