The Very Important Difference Between Emotion and Emotional in Marketing

Marketing must go through a dramatic change. This is not a superlative statement to garner interest or generate hype. It is the truth and still so many brands refuse to admit how weak and complacent they have been with their marketing efforts. Are brands really keeping up with their customers and their target audience behaviors?

The Internet, mobile, digital, and social are not over blown, new regime scare topics to create a marketing civil war. They represent the future and a growing number of marketing executives are not ready for the future. “A recent Forrester report surveyed 1,200+ global business executives and … [found] while 74% of global businesses have a digital strategy, only 33% believe it’s the right strategy, and beyond that, only 21% – or less than one-fourth – believe they have the right people setting the strategy.”

One comment that really got me thinking was something Seth Godin said in a recent interview – “The Internet is the first medium invented in 100 years that wasn’t invented to make advertisers happy. The connection between running ads and making money is broken, probably forever. As soon as you take that out of the equation, everything we understand about marketing, manufacturing and, distribution–it all goes away. The new era of modern marketing is about the connection economy. It’s about trust, it’s about awareness, and it’s about the fact that attention is worth way more than it used to be. Attention doesn’t come in nice little bundles anymore.”

For me, yes the connection economy and trust are extremely important. But awareness and attention are just scratching the marketing surface. Awareness and attention often come from hitting on people’s emotions and being content with that “lead generation state.” But hitting people’s emotions is only the beginning. We actually want to create an emotional bond between the brand and the consumer/client. If we continually feed our customer with meaningful content/communication/engagement, then we might actually create an emotional bond rather than just stirring a few one-time hits of emotion.

Consider this correspondence (excerpt from an actual email going back and forth) I had with a sharp entrepreneur in my professional network I have great respect for. He said, “Lots of brands have been targeting our intentions by tricking us with emotions, (selling cars while showing us a hot babe…huh…) but the truth is that if you manage to reach emotions while actually targeting emotions (not intentions), then you win. It’s hard and most people/brands don’t manage to do that (for the past 40 years we’ve had the same lame ads about luxury and fragrances with good looking people in absurd pauses or celebrities with semi-moronic slogans..). They remain on the surface. They don’t go under the skin, and so to speak, to the heart. They tinker with emotions but they don’t grasp the fullness of it.”

emotions and emotional

I agree with his position and I responded, “With regards to emotion – do not mix this up with emotional bond. A brand should aim for getting their target audience emotionally connected to them. This has to happen over a course of time by continually playing to the audiences’ emotions. A good brand appeals to its users by tapping into their emotions … This is a one-time event. But a great brand does this continually to not just drive an emotion, but to obtain strong loyalty and an emotional bond.”

Our digital world has made our audience skeptical of advertisement. People can get real information across the Internet. And at the same time, the Internet/digital/mobile/social world presents an opportunity to continually disseminate valuable information and interact with the target audience.

So in essence what the new digital world has really created is a detriment for marketers that look for quick hits just to stir emotions. But at the same time the digital revolution creates an opportunity of great success for those that are committed to longer-term communication and engagement to build an emotional bond with a potential audience.

Short-term play with emotions = failure.

Long-term commitment to build an emotional bond = success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Social Marketing – Learn from a Nurse, Not a Doctor

Doctors-and-Nurses

This past week, I took my son, Max in for a procedure/operation. (He is doing well.) While this was an obviously concerning and caring moment for all of my family, the event played also like a strong metaphor for social marketing. And as you can tell from the title of the article, the nurses kicked butt and completely out scored the doctors in “user experience” and “brand relationship.” Let me explain …

So my son is 16 years old and went in for his first surgery ever. Not a complicated or life threatening scenario, but he was extremely uncomfortable and uptight, understandably so. Both the nurses and the doctors understand their target audience. They have been at this “business” for a long time and are seasoned professionals. Both the doctors and nurses had an objective of making the user experience as positive as could be. Their approaches to the objective differed slightly, but the nurses generated a much better outcome than the doctors.

The first nurse we met with started a conversation with my son and learned some things about him. She keyed in on the TV shows he watched and discussed episodes with him. The exchange was very pleasant and definitely took his mind off things for a bit.

Later Max met with the anesthesiologist and surgeon preforming the operation. They took a stereotypical approach of talking to a young male about sports. But you see they failed in their objective. Max is not interested in sports. His passion is in the performing arts. Max was uptight to begin with given the fact that the operation was about to take place. And then the irrelevant banter from the doctors worked him up even more. Max’s user experience was poor because the content of the conversation was not applicable to him.

Both the doctors and nurses had the same objective and approached the task with light conversation. But the key difference between the two was that one group listened to what was important to their audience and the other just assumed they understood the demographic. They both communicated and engaged, but one was right on target while the other was far off.

This could be a fable, but it was a real scenario and highlights some extremely important factors for successful social marketing. Have you ever heard the line, “I know I am wasting half of my marketing dollars; I just don’t know which half”? Well if you knew more about the people you were serving, you would deliver them content or ads that are relevant and resonate with them as opposed to broadcasting to the entire audience and serving no relevance to individuals.

To quote David Ogilvy, “Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”

Think about this … follow these social marketing steps …

UNDERSTAND
CONNECT
LISTEN
COMMUNICATE and LISTEN
LEARN MORE
REPEAT

Your marketing efforts will be much more effective as you get to understand your audience better. And understanding your audience is best achieved by listening. Do you hear me?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Nothing Unveils Customer Commitment Like Social Media

As a digital marketing executive, I see two types of clients. Type A wants to increase sales. Type B takes it a bit further and knows that to increase sales brands need to provide an exceptional user experience to sustain continuous and long-term growth.

customer commitment

Let me share with you a correspondence I had this week. I have edited some of the conversation only to respect the privacy of those involved, but the nature and essence of the correspondence prevails free of any poetic justice on my part.

Potential client – “I wondered first and foremost what your fee would be to
help us with our social media page … We are a small company with an extremely small budget.”

My response – “Really more important than getting you on track is you and your team’s ability and bandwidth to keep social in motion. You (or your team) would need to produce constant content reinforcing [your brand value] … Would you be able to commit to an article a week, curating content, and providing a POV (point of view) on issues on a regularly bases? If yes, I’d be glad to discuss how I can help and my fees.”

You see participation and lack there of truly magnifies a company’s/brand’s commitment to their target audience. If you just want to get another number signed up to your company service, social is going to be a bad marketing mix choice for your company. If you want to use social to demonstrate your subject matter expertise, sincere interest in providing solutions, and a desire to listen to what your audience says, social marketing is an awesome addition to your marketing mix.

There is no social media expert that is going to turn your social marketing effort into success unless YOU are a) truly committed to your customer and b) are willing to learn your audience’s digital behavior and adapt or reallocate time and resources to meet their evolved usage patterns? Do you believe this mentality and approach leads to continuous sales growth?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

Footnote – The response I got from the prospect was – “I hear you. I do know that it would take time out of my already busy day. That being said, I’m not so sure if I have a choice if I want to gain greater visibility equating to greater income, or do I? Your question of course is understandable, but I guess it would depend upon the actual process, and just how time consuming it would be.”

An honest assessment that many must ask themselves. I do not typically share specific client correspondence and activities with my audience, but I really think there is a great sense of reality and honesty conveyed here. It is an issue that you will likely need to consciously face.

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Top 7 Reasons Why Brands Fail at Social Media

“Well, the results are in. Social is doing a pathetic job of turning readers into customers. After all the hype has settled…after all the stock clamoring has died down, the truth is staring us in the face: People don’t want to be customers on social media.” Such was the opening paragraph on Entrepreneur.com’s post, “Here’s the Big Problem With Chasing Customers on Social Media.”

success or failureHow many times do you read articles that state something similar? What really gets me is that so many brands continue to approach social media incorrectly and then reports indicate social media failures as opposed to companies’ failure on social media.
So as a first step, I strongly suggest we all get social media right before we start assessing the success of companies’ social efforts. And here are the top 7 points of failure for brand social screw-ups.

1) The wrong person leads social efforts – “66% of CMOs surveyed said their companies are unprepared to handle social media, where the ‘rate of change seems faster than many can cope with.’” There are two types of people responsible for social efforts at a company. a) A young digital millennial that does not have experience driving company KPI (key performance indicators) results, and b) chief strategy/marketing officers that do not understand nor participate in social platforms. This presents a problem where you either have someone that understands social media user behavior or someone that has experience delivering business results … but not both qualities at the same time. What is needed is a hybrid of both and there are few that can bridge both worlds.

2) Going straight to tactics before having a strategy and integrated plan – how many social efforts start with an objective of building a Facebook and Twitter presence? Far too many. A while ago I wrote an article “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.” It highlights the problem of thinking tactics before strategy. Start by addressing integration of social efforts in overall business strategy. Then build your social strategy followed by a plan, which includes tactics.

3) Measuring the wrong thing – today, most social reporting is done by indicating “reach” and “engagement.” Yes these are important factors. But how many executives can relate reach and engagement to their KPIs? The typical response from an executive is likely to be, “Yeah, but does that increase my sales?” And at the same time, I have often stated that social is poor at direct sales. So what you really need to measure are those areas that tee up sales. Think of the sales marketing funnel where awareness, consideration, and post sales loyalty and advocacy parameters are important functions of sales. For more information, see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.”

4) Selling instead of being a valued source – users are immediately turned off by brands that use social presence to sell product. Social should be used to develop long-term relationships and build a reputation as a valued source of information and engagement. This approach will create sustainable loyalty and advocacy. The result is long-term sales, but ironically done so by avoiding a sell mentality.

5) The content is not exceptional – I remember making this point to a boss of mine and he asked, “Does the content really need to be stellar?” Case in point – are you ever wowed by mediocre content? Would you ever share so-so content? There is so much noise in the digital space and you really need to standout. Think like a publisher or a producer who is only successful when they deliver killer content.

6) Talking and not listening – the strongest relationships start by knowing your audience. And the best way to get to know your audience is to listen to them. I love the line – “We have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” As far back as 2009, I raised the issue of a lack of social listening, and the problem is still pervasive.

7) Lack of a social business culture – social success does not come from one person or one group. Ultimate social success will come when sharing, engaging, and commitment to the brand audience comes from every part of the company. I expect to see “social business” be an evolutionary process within companies. This will not just happen overnight and progressing to this culture requires executive leadership.

So as step one, I urge everyone to take their social media efforts seriously and not just wing it. Do the right thing. Then, when we can get enough companies and brands actually delivering a sensible and meaningful social media approach that is compelling to their target audience, let’s evaluate success/failure. Are you ready to…

…Make It Happen?
Social Steve

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Successful Social Marketing – Integrating Content and Community

The ultimate social marketing success is having a platform that stands out as the go to place for your target audience. If your product/service aims to capture an audience with special interests, you should consider a social strategy and plan that integrates content and community. Special interests groups could include fitness minded, wines enthusiasts, tech innovation, pet lovers, executive peer groups and many more.

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As I have stated many times, content is the core of social. So brands should think of themselves as publishers. Every brand should have a digital platform where they produce and curate industry related content of great value to their target audience. Do not think of this as product or service literature. Produce content that addresses the needs and interests of people within your brand’s industry.

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Launch your own brand’s digital blog, magazine, or journal.

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Be committed to continuous production and updates so that your audience is inspired to keep on returning and builds strong affinity for your “Brand Digital Media” platform. You want to build a reputation as being the go to place for your industries information, insights, and entertainment.

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In order to accomplish a “go-to reputation” you should consider a number of different types of content, which include original content, curated content, and UGC (user generated content).

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As example, consider the slide below as the “BRAND Digital Media” content hub for your brand…

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Determine a finite set of topics you will cover. Use the navigation bar to list these topics and allow your audience to click through directly. Build frames to pop in various content types. Try to keep a set template for these content frames so you can condition your audience to access information they desire and know how to easily obtain it. Update at least one frame a day. Include social sharing and follow buttons.

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Once you have established a “BRAND Digital Media” platform, use your social channels to proliferate the content. Include content reference updates on these social channels.

And make sure you are tracking how well the BRAND Digital Media content hub is performing. Consider metrics as follows …

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Once you have built a successful BRAND Digital Media platform, now you are in the position to launch an industry community platform.

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Assuming you have an audience coming to your content hub for information, why not give that audience a place to engage with your brand and one and other.

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As people come to your BRAND Digital Media site for information, give an opportunity to sign up and sign in to your community.

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The BRAND Network is an extension of your BRAND Digital Media hub. It is a place for people to connect, converse, and network.

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While anyone can get content at the BRAND Digital Media site, only members can comment on content, engage with other users, set up meetings, and network with peers. For starters, consider the following BRAND Network feature set.

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The power of having your brand serve as an industry related community is that your brand delivers great value to the target audience. Strive to be the industry digital leading member’s forum. Avoid overt product push. Just aim to be an extremely valued industry information and networking source.

And like any other marketing effort, you need to track success metrics. Consider the following for your BRAND Network …

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So think about what you can do to deliver a BRAND Digital Media hub and BRAND Network. If you deliver stellar content and a networking platform your target will truly value your brand.

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Yes, building an industry leading content and community front takes much effort, time, resources, and budget. But do you want to be a recognized industry leader or is just being part of the pack good enough? If you want to be a leader, demonstrate leadership. Building the industry best BRAND Digital Media platform and BRAND Network demonstrates leadership.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Integrating Advertisements and Social Marketing – Why it is a Must

integrating ads and social marketing

This past week I read an article that sited a study claiming that only 20% of Super Bowl ads actually resulted in a sales increase of the product. In one way, this surprised me … how could brands continue to dump that much money into a non-performing endeavor? And in another way, it did not really surprise me at all … does a catchy ad really get hoards of people lining up to buy? (I think all of us marketers would like to think so.)

The reality is that more and more consumers, and more and more clients are becoming skeptical and cynical about advertisements. But let me plainly state that advertisements are still very important in a successful marketing mix. It’s just that their role and performance objective must change. And social media is the reason why. Brands no longer have complete control of their position and value proposition. It is the democratic public that holds control of brand reputation and outward postings can affect brand position and intended value proposition.

This being the case, integration of advertisement and social marketing is imperative. We must realize that seeing an ad (in print, on TV and online) is not the end of winning the consumer over. It should be perceived as the beginning.

For quite some time now, I have been defining the three fundamentals of social marketing. One of these elements is “Holistic Social Marketing” where I explain the social marketing A-Path and execution channels for the various stages.

A-Path Onsite-Offsite 3

I suggested that “Attention” and “Attraction” were best achieved by going to the existing digital channels where the existing conversations are ongoing and start there. Then work to subtly pull the audience to the brands’ own digital assets (their website, blog, social channels). But maybe a quicker way of gaining attention and attraction is via ads.

So let’s reconsider the objectives of ads. Maybe the best ROI for ads is a sustainable and continuous long-term profitability rather than short-term, one shot sales increase.

The ultimate goal of marketing is to create an emotional bond between brand and target audience. A bond that has deep loyalty and actionable advocacy. We need to view ads as the start of this journey to get brand attention and attraction. But we do not want to stop there. We want to turn the attention and attraction gained from the ads to continue to move the target audience to affinity, audience, and advocacy.

Thus, start to think of the connection points and follow through of ads to convert to affinity, audience, and advocacy. This is most relevant for digital paid media but also applicable for paid print, TV, and radio media.

The target audience perceptions and behavior are changing. So we need to change our approach to marketing to fit the changing audience dynamics. Advertisement and social marketing integration is key to brand success.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Are You Ready to Put Your Brand’s Marketing in Your Audience’s Hand?

That’s right. I am asking what you might consider to be a dumb question – should you put your brand’s marketing in your audience’s hand? The answer to the question is probably an overwhelming “no”. Well I am here to tell you this is not the most prudent response.

But before you discard this article as a piece of sensationalism looking to stir up controversy, let’s face a couple of facts.

1) People are skeptical (and often cynical) about brand’s advertisements and communication.
2) People trust objective friends, family, and colleagues far more than subjective brand marketing.

It kind of reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, “Elf” …

If someone puts a neon sign on the window of their business claiming “Best …,” are you likely to believe them? Or would it be more believable and compelling if a friend tells you “if you want the best … go to …?” Seems pretty simple, right? Then why aren’t more and more brands investing marketing dollars in advocacy programs? Maybe you really do not need to spend $4 million on a 30-second Super Bowl commercial to reach 110 million people. Maybe the answer is reaching far less of an audience, but THE audience that will activate your brand marketing.

brand advocate

So whether it is encouraging reviews, providing content to share valuable information, friend referral incentives programs, UGC (user generated content), contests to activate sharing, or a host of other tactics, brands need to have a keen focus (and budget allocation) on audience advocacy programs.

Many brands are far too cautious about advocacy programs (word-of-mouth marketing). Especially those brands that do not offer true value or have something to hide. Good marketing starts with a great product or service. Once you are convinced your product/service offers true value to a target audience, activate your most loyal and brand-interested customer to do your marketing. The reality is that they will drive better measureable results than you can.

Yes, I know it is a bit discomforting to give up some control of your brand marketing, but the reality is that it is happening anyway. Digital and social technologies coupled with consumer behavior have forever changed and have placed great control in the hands of the general public. You cannot fight it so you might as well adapt appropriately. Unleash your audience to promote your brand and provide trusted marketing.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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