Category Archives: audience development

A Case For Changing Up Your Marketing

Time for Change - Ornate Clock

If you have been a regular reader of the Social Steve blog, you may have noticed that I have not posted for a bit – apologies. I have been blogging for about seven years and posting a weekly article, regularly. Recently, I have felt that my posts got a bit stagnant. I continually emphasized the importance of listening, engaging, and creating the ultimate customer experience for your audience. After about 300 articles, I find myself thinking maybe I have covered the topic in too many ways.

I had gotten a bit bored with my own writings so I figured maybe my audience had too. (Although I continue to get a strong number of pageviews – and I am very thankful to many for reading them.) But that is not always the case – especially when it comes to consumer or professional brands. I know it and you know it. We have all experienced a decrease marketing results at some point in our career.

Unfortunately I find an abundance of marketers that are “stuck in the same story” challenge. Each morning I Google “marketing” and look at the latest news. As I have suggested to others, “Great Marketers are Perpetual Students”. I want to keep up on everything – the latest trends, success stories, and information from experts. But I have to tell you that lately when I Google “marketing”, I feel like I am reading the same thing over and over again. I am bored and uninspired. The marketing world and people covering it need a kick in the @$$.

Could this be happening to your target audience – they are bored and uninspired because they are getting tired of your digital and mobile presence. Are you saying the same thing over and over again with a slightly different tone or shade of color?

If you want to continue to keep your audience engaged, interested, and advocating on your behalf, you must change it up a bit. Make sure you have data that shows what people are coming back to read. What people interact with, comment on, share, and like. And then everything else, change it up.

I have been leading social marketing and audience development for a startup since July 2015. In this position I had been producing a very good increase of marketing results as measured by growth of audience, followers, subscribers, and other KPIs (key performance indicators). In the past couple of weeks however, things began to diminish a bit. So my team and I started experimenting with some new things – the way we present our content, the content we cover, using new writers, curating different types of content. Mixing many things up. After a week and a half of doing so, we are seeing measured results snap back.

As I mentioned, I have been doing this since July 2015 … less than nine months. In that short period of time, it is easy to get overwhelmed by numerous responsibilities and stay comfortable in what you present to your audience. The lesson to be learned is that you need to regroup and brainstorm some new approaches to keep your existing audience engaged and excited while at the same time assessing new ways to capture a larger audience. I am sure your experience dictates that you need to do this. So …

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under audience development, change management, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Successful Marketing – Here It is in a Nutshell

successful marketing in a nutshell

At the end of the year, many bloggers and/or self accredited experts put out their end of the year lists. These lists most often start with titles that entice readers to click through. Titles like, “8 Best Ways to Make Viral Content,” or “5 Biggest Marketing Trends for 2016.” As we have learned from digital marketing data collection, starting a title with a number provokes user behavior. And furthermore, the promise of unveiling information in a list is very compelling to users.

While I question the validity of the content in so many of these articles, I am guilty of producing similar titles (not here but certainly have in the past). But hopefully, you trust that the information I provide you leads to well thought out and proper marketing strategies and implementations. (Trust – we will revisit that issue shortly.)

I’ve looked at the 60 plus articles I have published (here on this blog and elsewhere) and I find particular themes for winning marketing solutions for the new consumer/client –driven world. There are 2 paramount evolutionary characteristics that have caused the need for marketers to morph their approach and tactical executions. 1) The consumers/clients control your brand reputation more so than you do. Brand position is reinforced and rejected by your target audience in full force and outcome. 2) Technology has changed allowing customers/clients to have a dominant role in brand marketing AND allow brands to market to consumer/client behaviors in a most accurate way.

Early in the year, I penned an article “5 Characteristics That Define The Future of Successful Marketing.” Successful marketing lies in a brand’s ability and commitment to

• Listen (to the target audience)
• Understand (their needs)
• Engage (on a personal and broad scale level)
• Deliver a great user experience
• Build trust

Listen, Understand, Engage

The key to marketing success is to truly know your audience. What turns them on, turns them off, and motivates them to take action. Think about it – your audience’s behavior literally says “Marketers – Be There When I Need You.” If you are there when your audience needs you, there is a very strong likelihood that the audience will support your brand with both purchase decisions and advocacy. You can only be there for your audience when they need you if you listen to them (by monitoring what they say about your brand and topics important to your brand), understanding their wants, needs, desires, and then engaging with them.

It is extremely important that your marketing communications are not old school broadcasting. You need to engage with people directly. Consider the recommendations defined in the article “Mastering and Scaling Personalized Marketing.”

Great User Experience

One aspect that truly makes a brand standout and win audience, customers, and advocacy is a great user experience. We look to create an emotional attachment between brand and target audience. The best way to accomplish this is to create an awesome user experience. Think about extending your product/service differentiation by providing an absolute stellar user experience. The user experience should consider every aspect of consumer/client – brand interaction. Interactions online, offline, experiential. Digital and experiential marketing should intersect. This is touched upon in the article “Here is Why Social Marketing is such a Vital Part of Experiential Marketing.”

If you are not convinced of the importance of a great user experience checkout “ROI (Return on Investment) of a Great User Experience and Social Marketing.”

Trust

Marketers can no longer make bogus claims. The general public is now the judge and jury via their communication proliferation using reviews and social conversation. In this past year, I really emphasized “Successful Marketing is a Matter of Trust.” In the referenced article, I highlighted ten ways to build trust. The end result becomes “In Brands We Trust, Or Maybe Not.” If you want to increase trust:

• Review regularly
• Show empathy
• Talk naturally
• Act fast
• Become the hub of the issue

Learn more about this.

Ultimately, you want “Magnifying Business Integrity to Market Brand Trust.”

Building an Audience

Remember, there is a slight nuance between sales and marketing. Marketing is really about building an audience. An audience that is queued up for sales conversion. An audience that continues to value your brand. An audience that becomes an advocate for your brand. There are “5 Keys to Audience Development” :

1) Monitor and listen
2) Engage
3) Find influencers
4) Have a content strategy
5) Use paid media

Social marketing is a key to audience development and “Understanding Social Marketing Means Understanding Audience Development.” But if you implement social marketing to build your audience, “Digital Marketers Should Start to Build Relationships Off of Their Home Court.” In this referenced article, I highlight the importance of engagement and audience development on social channels, forums, and blogs that are not your brands digital assets. Go where the conversation is happening and engage. Do not expect to have all conversations on your brand’s digital assets.

But marketing should go beyond audience development. Audience development is step one. Step two means developing something a bit deeper than an audience. Work to build a community. Community is a deeper connection than an audience. If you want to learn more about this see “In Marketing, A Community Trumps an Audience.” Here are some suggestions on “Building a Strong Community.”

Two other points I think you should consider to up your marketing game. The first deals with connecting with influencers to strengthen your marketing reach, perception, and overall reputation. Many think they can just find subject matter experts with a large audience to get them to push their brand. Wrong. My recommendation – “Stop Looking for Influencers, Find Great Partners.”

The second key point I want to make is that “Great Marketers are Perpetual Students.” Are you doing what is required to stay on top of changing audience behaviors and new technology? If you want to be successful, this is a must.

So there you have it – The Social Steve yearly summary. A summary that should help you to be most successful in the coming year. Not a list of unfounded trends. Recommendations you need to consider and implement. Make it a great year. Make it a successful year.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under audience development, behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brand trust, brands, community, experiential marketing, influence marketing, marketing, social marketing, social media marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve, user experience, Word of Mouth Marketing

Here is an Example of Why I Love My Social Marketing Job

One of the things I love about being a professional social media engager is that I get to connect with people. There is nothing better than getting the feeling of helping someone. Are you doing this with your social presence?

social media helpThe best way to win people over is to help them. This seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but how many brands actually do this. Social platforms are a strong enabler for helping people and not enough marketers are leveraging social in the proper way.

As some of you know from my recent blogs, I head up audience development for DivorceForce. DivorceForce is a safe and supportive community for people navigating all aspects of divorce. Recently, I was monitoring Twitter and other platforms for people looking for help as it related to their divorce. I came across one user that merely mentioned she was pursuing her divorce. My response is below:

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A simple, “wishing you the best” type of response. A small expression of caring. She then responded with a “thanks”, but the second response really surprised me …

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Friends were not there, but she thought the response was from a bot. I quickly replied …

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Once she followed DivorceForce, I DMed her my email to contact me. This opened the door for a more personal engagement, opportunity to help an individual, and shine as a brand. I love this! What more could a professional look for? An opportunity to help people and at the same time represent a brand in a positive light.

Now I know that DivorceForce has a natural social mission of helping people. Not all marketers have this luxury with their brand as it relates to having a most positive social presence. But I do believe that EVERY brand has an opportunity to make a positive difference for their audience.

If you want an example of a brand that does not have an inherent social mission, but creates great care and value for their audience with their social presence, check out Dove. Just Google them. Look at what they do for self-esteem for women.

Now, I want to give you a challenge. We are approaching the end of the year for 2015. How about you make a commitment to using social to help people for the rest of the year. How about you use social, not to push your agenda, but to help your audience. I will bet that if you take this challenge you will hit 2016 with great momentum building your audience and building advocacy for your brand. Are you ready?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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The Theory of Relativity – Marketing Relativity That Is

theory of marketing relativity

Albert Einstein defined the theory of relativity by stating that measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers. So for example, if you are riding on a train that is going 50 mph and another train passes right by you at a speed of 75 mph, your perception is that the train passing you is going 25 mph. If someone is standing on the side of the track they see the train going the true 75 mph, which is substantially faster than the perceived 25 mph.

The point is, as it pertains to “marketing relativity”, that marketing communication and claims are interpreted differently dependent upon where your audience member stands.

Every brand must do a deep and true assessment of their target audience’s perception of their brand as well as the industry the brand competes in. Having this understanding will allow brand marketers to evaluate the messages and claims they make to the target audience. Marketers will understand what messages will be perceived as accurate and compelling.

While every brand wants to make the bold communications filled with superlative adjectives and superior positioning statements, these claims may not be believable by the people you are attempting to attract. If you are an unknown brand, the first step is to create awareness. If people are not aware of your brand you may not be able to successfully claim your superiority straight out of the gates. Remember, we are talking about the Theory of Marketing Relativity here. Your audience needs to start to build trust before they will believe all your communication.

This is the crux of Marketing Relativity – BELIEVABILITY and TRUST. You need to understand where your audience members stand in order to craft compelling communication and engagement. If you met someone for the first time and they said, “I hold the record for …,” wouldn’t you be skeptical? Even if it was true? This is what so few get when it comes to marketing. You must build relationships and condition your audience before you make all your superlative claims. Even if they are true.

If we go back to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the example I posed at the beginning, the person on the train traveling 50 mph does not “feel” that the train passing them on the left is really traveling at 75 mph. They do not “trust” that the train is traveling 75 mph even though it is the truth. Their own perception causes subjectivity.

If you understand your audience’s subjectivity, you will have a much greater appreciation of what they are willing to believe and how much trust they will give to your brand. If you have a strong degree of empathy established, you are much more likely to develop a communication and engagement plan that resonates with your audience. This is the foundation of “The Marketing Theory of Relativity.” You must always be must sensitive to the subjectivity of your audience and whether what you say is believable by them – even if it is the truth. Build trust first. Then you are in a position to make bold statements that your audience believes. If you have earned your audiences’ trust, they will not only believe what you have to say, but they will share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Why Companies Should Eliminate Marketing Positions

As a marketing professional, I have found that the marketing departments of companies around the world (and at agencies) are in continuous flux. People join; people move on; people get laid off. In good times the marketing department grows; in poor times it shrinks. Companies’ quarterly and annual revenues most often dictate this. And at the same time marketing is not sales.

So what is it about marketing that makes it so vulnerable within a company’s organization? Today, marketing is way too company self-absorbed. Companies build brand stories without enough consideration about and feedback from their target audience. Marketing needs only one objective – audience development. Audience development is outward focused; not inward.

Social engineering concept

Thus, what used to be called marketing should now be called audience development. This is not just a cute label de jour, but rather a complete representation of focus and purpose. Every “marketing” activity should be directly related to audience development. “Marketing” has become a company inward focused position. Most people in marketing emphasize corporate communication, advertisement, and other activities that attempt to highlight who they are and what they stand for. I propose that these activities be put on the back burner. Yes, it is very important for companies to have a well-defined position and know exactly who they are. But now this is ONLY important to help define how they communicate and engage with their target audience. Audience behavior and response MUST dictate brand communication. Brand position and definitions are the starting point for communication. Know who you are, but modify communication based upon audience behavior.

If we change all marketing positions to audience development positions, we must make sure that we balance both long-term and short-term objectives. Let’s start by using the traditional sales-marketing funnel as an initial guide for audience development objectives. Audience development means that you create brand awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. If you actually traverse your audience through these stages, you are driving real meaningful results.

social media marketing funnel

The secret is to build a strategy that includes long-term brand development that is most compelling to your target audience while executing tactics that drive the five stages of the sales-marketing funnel.

I want to drive the point that the difference between marketing and audience development is that the first is inward and the latter is outward. As people have more and more control and influence on brand reputation (due to the prolific social and digital world), brands must transition from their historic “this is who we are” communication “push” marketing to audience empathy, focus, and engagement.

Changing marketing to audience development is not window dressing. It is the first and most important step in changing your brand focus on your audience and to drive real “marketing” results. Maybe if brands make this change, the “marketing department” will not be in such a flux.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under audience development, behavior, brands, change management, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve