Category Archives: brand marketing

Here is Why Social Marketing is such a Vital Part of Experiential Marketing

This past Tuesday I was watching the news on TV and learned about the horrific train derailment just outside of Philadelphia that killed 8 and injured hundreds. Now I do not mean to be insensitive making light of the chilling event to tell a social marketing story, but something extremely poignant played out. The various news stations could not get the story out. They did not have their team there yet. They were actually getting the story and bringing it to their viewers via social media monitoring of the public’s Twitter and Instagram posts.

That’s right, the public was their feed and source to re-share with their audience. Isn’t that exactly what marketers want to do to create the most effective and honest story telling of their brands? Get the audience to experience the brand, share the experience, and then amplify the information.

Marketers need to look at human behavior. They need to leverage what people naturally do as opposed to creating a story that does not resonate with their audience. Marketers cannot shove interruptive advertisement down the throat of their audience. Marketers need to create experiences that their audience want to share.

experiential marketing plus social marketing

Yes, experiential marketing includes events that everyone wants to share with their friend. Those are the big hits. But a brand cannot put on a Coachella-like event every week. Brand’s most successful marketing efforts come from developing and implementing a continuous series of small customer experiences. This can be as simple as stellar customer service or friendly and helpful engagement.

If we go back to the point I made about understanding audience behavior, you will release that people do not share mediocre or average stuff. They share extremes. Like the cases of the train derailment. People shared this because it was horrific. Your audience will share horrible experiences they have with your brand. But they will also share outstanding experiences with your brand. So marketers (and the entire company organization) must strive to create awesome customer experiences. They must then strategize ways to incentivize people to share these experiences.

You see social marketing is not so much about a brand posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat … (the list can go on forever). It is more about activating a happy and compelled audience to share your brand on the audiences’ preferred social platform. Social marketing is about motivating positive word-of-mouth marketing from their audience. That is power, because their word and accolades are far more believable then claims coming from the brand itself.

In order to accomplish this persuasive word-of-mouth marketing, brands must focus on the entire user experience. This is how experiential marketing must grow. Experiential marketing must focus on ALL the little customer experiences and not just a grand event.

Experiential marketing and social marketing can be a brand’s most effective integrated discipline. Give your audience amazing continuous experience and motivate them to share it with their audience.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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

Anyone Can Lead Marketing – Right?

Twitter just answered the question – “Anyone Can Lead Marketing, Right?” You would think that is their perception given their latest move. The man, who orchestrated the Twitter IPO and current Twitter CFO, Anthony Noto, now has Twitter’s marketing department under his control. “He took over marketing after months of fruitless searching for a chief marketing officer,” according to The Verge. Now in all fairness to Mr. Noto, he was a brand manager at Kraft Foods from 1995 – 1998 as indicated by his LinkedIn profile. All other years of employment and experience have been in the financial management and investment domain.

Twitter was once a very strong company that literally changed the world. Think of the Arab Spring and other worldly events that one could say would have never happened without Twitter. And now Twitter has petered out to something that amounts to a ticker tape of both meaningful and meaningless headlines, inspirations, rants, showboating, etc.

Marketing drives the audience perception of a brand. Can that responsibility really be in the hands of a bean counter?

head of marketing

A good 18 months ago I wrote an article “What Does It Take to Deliver Superior Marketing?” It you read through that article, you will notice that I did attribute some “left-brain” characteristics to superior marketing. Today, marketing requires a strong analytical and number-minded person. It requires someone that pays much attention to detail and operational excellence. But it also requires someone `that is intuitive, creative, and thoughtful of their audience – a right-brain dominant person.

I have been a marketer for long enough to recognize that when times are tough for a company, marketing is usually the first organization to get whacked. Accord to Wall Street, Twitter is definitely heading in the wrong direction. But is it really going to change course with the direction of a CFO? Will a CFO have the creativity to capture brands’ attention and revert Twitter to a strong marketing platform while at the same time not disenchanting the audience of Twitter users? I find this highly unlikable.

Now granted. I have been one that has been critical of marketing leaders in the past. I have found a void of marketing leadership that truly understands and has experience in traditional core marketing methodologies that align to corporate KPIs (key performance indicators) and at the same time have kept up with modern technological and digital advancements that cater to target market usage and behaviors.

But come on Twitter, should you really be paying a CFO $70 million and leave marketing control to him? Have you really exhausted your search for a true marketing leader? Take a mere $1 million and spend it on a competent marketing leader. To you and other companies in a similar predicament, all I can say is, “Give me a call. Drop me an email. I’ll show you how to drive results. Let your CFO manage the street and I’ll manage your partners and audience.” Yes, I can drive successful results, and there definitely are a handful of others that can as well. Yes, you need someone to manage the books and investor relationships, but you also need a different person to manage your brand and the reputation at that brand held by various stakeholders.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, brand reputation, company organization, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve, Twitter

Fantastic Opportunity for Marketers and Snapchat

My kids take selfies all day long and then snap it away. Yes, they represent the general population and behavior of teenagers and young adults. 400 million “Snaps” get sent each day and 77% of college students use Snapchat each day. Sadly enough, only 1% of marketers use Snapchat (Source).

snapchat

In order to understand a marketing opportunity, you need to first understand the target audience you serve. If younger generations are part of your target market and you are not leveraging the social media and other communication platforms they are addicted to, shame on you.

Second, you need to understand how different platforms work and how to take advantage of their features. Very simple and straightforward, Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send and receive “self-destructing” photos and videos. Photos and videos taken with the app are called Snaps. The sender determines how many seconds (1-10) the recipient can view the Snap before the file disappears from the recipient’s device. But I think the greatest opportunity comes if you dig a little deeper and understand some platform features. While doing so, make sure you look at your audience’s behaviors. The intersection of the two yields marketing opportunities.

I see great opportunity with Snapchat’s geofilters. According to Snapchat, geofilters are special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. Artists and designers are encouraged to use this tool to bring their one-of-a-kind style to the Snapchat community. Simply choose the geographic area you want your filter to be available in and upload an image asset. All images must be original artwork and have to be approved by the Snapchat team.

I have watched my kids use geofilters. First off, they think it is a creative way to add something to their Snap. The geofilters also play right into their hand showing off where they are and what they are doing. Last weekend, we were walking around a particularly happening street in Brooklyn and my daughter made a Snap that looked like a postcard with her in it with the use of a geofilter.

One of the great marketing levers to pull (especially for younger audiences) is FOMO (fear of missing out). Marketers should be able to use Snapchat with geofilters for their store, their product/service via a virtual store at specific locations. For instance create a geofilter that says “Shopping for a Prom Dress at Macy’s” and a number of other references of the sort. Restaurants, bars, and clubs could run their own geofilters. Converse sneakers, Obey clothing, and others could establish pop-up store locations.

To date, Snapchat has not opened up geofilters to businesses and logos and trademarks cannot be used. But if you look at user behavior, opportunities for marketers, and revenue potential for Snapchat, I think the planets align … there is a great opportunity for a business/user/platform to eclipse.

In order for marketers to truly be successful with measured results for their brands, they need to understand audience behavior. They need to understand how their audience uses different technologies that hit the market. It is not about interrupting people and pushing brands in people faces, but rather creating a use-case that is not only acceptable by their audience, but motivates individuals to actually act and share. Yes, Snapchat has not opened up geofilters to businesses, yet … I think it is a matter of time. (Snapchat – are you listening?) But brands need to use Snapchat now, because their audience is addicted to it. Simply start posting creative pictures and content that inspires your audience.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Bold Marketing

“Bold marketing” – that sounds nice, doesn’t it? Would you like to be known for bold marketing? For leading a brand that captures the interest of the intended target audience. Well I challenge you to be bold in your marketing. I can tell you exactly how to do it.

bold marketing

I guarantee that if you really take the steps I recommend here within, you will have stronger measured results in your marketing. The most important ingredient to bold marketing is to have a bold marketing objective. So here is the exact objective you need:

Be the first place people think of going when they want information on _____ where _____ represents the subject or category that your brand competes in. Be the subject matter expert and demonstrate to your audience that you are the best place to get helpful content, commentary, and engagement on a particular category. How do you accomplish that? You do that by continually producing four types of content that reinforce your knowledge and commitment to the category.

The four types of content are original, curated, user-generated, and earned media.

First, you need kick-ass original content. Does it really need to be kick-ass content you ask? Well do you think people are going to want to read or view something that is just okay when there are a plethora of other places they can go to get the desired information? Your stellar content creates a reason for getting one’s attention and deepening the individuals’ attraction for your brand and builds affinity for you.

You also need to share curated content that reinforces what your brand stands for. If you really want to be the reference point for a topical area, you must not only have great original information, but also provide coverage on the subject by others. You want your audience to believe you have the topic completely covered from all sides (as long as they support your brand position and personality).

Next, consider opening your digital presence to your audience. The best way to get an audience engaged is to share their content – user generated content. Provoke the audience and literally ask then to share content on the particular topic. Not only does this get them engaged, but it is also likely that they will share the content that resides on your brand’s digital channel.

Earned media is when someone else talks about your brand. You win earned media by engaging and interacting with topical influencers. Aim to build relationships with them. Provide information that makes them better at their job and more successful with their audience.

I started this piece by saying that you should work to “be the first place people think of going when they want information on your brand category.” This past week I was doing consulting for a stealth start-up. I told them these exact words. Now I do not believe that they could possibly be the number one site for information on the brand category they are in, but I am absolutely sure that working with that mentality will deliver powerful empirical results for them. As we laid this down as an objective we talked about a marketing strategy that did not push the solution they offer, but rather how their brand was a key supporter of the industry they serve. It made us really think about how we were going to get people’s awareness. How we would educate them and how this education naturally pointed to the solution they offer. But we were not selling “the product” in our marketing. We were positioning the company as a leader in ___. This approach changed some of the marketing messaging, positioning, and communication. It literally drove us to a point of deeper empathy for the audience to be served and how we would capture their interest and consideration.

This is bold marketing. Letting your strategy, plan, execution, and overall user experience be driven by the goal of being the best source for useful, entertaining, and engaging information on the brand category, not your product/service. Being bold enough to work to win over an audience without directly selling. Winning inbound sales and leaving additional sales to sales folks. But I am not saying marketing does not have a sales responsibility. (See “A Brutally Honest Discussion About the Responsibilities of Sales and Marketing” ) Marketing has to makes sales better. Marketing starts by winning an audience over, not only in awareness, consideration and conversion, but loyalty and advocacy as well. And the way to do this is to work to become the go to place for information, news, and entertainment on the topic you represent. Like I said to my client, it may not be feasible to get to that number slot due to budget constrains and size of current players in the market today. But I guarantee you that if you stick to the bold marketing objective and do everything as if you were aiming for subject matter expertise leadership, that your marketing results will yield very strong numbers in all your key performance indicators (KPIs). Then one day you will own the market’s attention, respect, trust, and pocket share as long as you stay committed to the bold marketing objective.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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5 Characteristics That Define The Future of Successful Marketing

future of marketing

For the past number of weeks, I have been reading many contradictory articles talking about the future of marketing. Some say content marketing has no future; some are bullish on it. There is controversy on programmatic ads, big data, live streaming, and many more forms of technology that are driving marketing innovation. But if you really want to know what will work you need to examine your target audiences’ behaviors. All real marketing experts recognize that the future of marketing is in the customers’ hands. By their actions, the target audience decides what are acceptable practices to gain their awareness, consideration, sale/conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.

The power of the audience and their behavior drives the success of marketing. If you can see how true this really is then take it one step further and understand the five characteristics that define the future of marketing. Here they are:

Listening – Back in 2009, I wrote an article, “I Know You’re Talking, But Are You Listening?” In it I said, … “Know your target audience and find the existing places and communities where they are talking, tweeting, blogging, commenting, etc. Spend some time there and just LISTEN to what they value and need. Understand the way they talk and their vernacular. If you want to be a valued member of the club, you got to talk their talk, not yours.” This is so true, but in today’s world add the fact that everyone wears his or her heart on a social channel. By listening you gain crucial information. People actually tell you what they want, like, dislike. What inspires them? Listen, absorb, and learn.

Understanding – In 2011, I proclaimed that empathy was “The Most Important Word for Marketing.” Empathy is ‘the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.“ How many brands understand their audience to this extent? The successful ones do.

Engaging – I have followed the evolution of ecommerce. In the beginning, ecommerce was merely a way to purchase a product online providing no engagement with the brand. While there was a digital connection to the brand, the personal connection with the brand was as cold as could be. Then brands like Zappos redefined the meaning of engagement with their customers. Ever talk to a Zappos rep as you are trying to figure out something? Do it. Learn what it is like to have a team that truly engages and really cares. Engagement is not limited to online experiences including social channels. Think of multiple touch points and ways you can engage with your audience to deliver assistance and value with a friendly disposition to your potential and existing customers.

Delivering a great user experience – A great user experience starts with engagement, but goes much further. Have you ever stayed at a hotel where the concierge there truly helped to make your stay in the hotel the city you visited enjoyable? Companies, beyond marketing, need to take this approach. They need to cater to the desires of their target audience and make their connection with the brand as grand as a superb concierge does for a hotel guest.

Building trust – We often hear that value is more important than price when it comes to winning customers. Nothing could be more important in the value chain than having a company behind a brand that people trust. Trust is not established short-term. It comes from continually delivering a product and service that is appreciated and respected and then going the extra mile. By going the extra mile, I mean the company works to establish itself as a leader in the industry with every great intention displayed and directed at their customers, partners, employees, and general public.

So remember, the future of marketing is not in the hands of gurus. It is in the hands of your audience. The key attribute to successful marketing is having solid relationships with your target audience. I have defined the five characteristics that get you to strong and binding relationships. Keep your ear to the ground, your vision to the sky, and go drive some killer marketing results.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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ROI (Return on Investment) of a Great User Experience and Social Marketing

This past week, I actually was looking forward to running an errand to pick up food at the market. How many of you can actually say that? I needed to go to Trader Joe’s for some fill in items. I always like going there for a quick short cup of fresh brewed coffee – free. It is a small cup so I treat myself to the half and half they have out.

Yes – this is a great example of a customer or user experience. Now I wonder … did anyone in the Trader Joe’s Executive Team sit and wonder, “Well if we give out free coffee to our shoppers, it cost us X dollars, but we will see an increase of Y dollars.” I highly doubt it. It would be near impossible to track.

Customer experience – how important is it to individuals’ purchase decisions? Doesn’t a user experience help to define the persona of a brand? How vital is a brand persona to our purchase decisions?

user experience

Now, let’s relate this same scenario to social marketing. Social marketing should be used as a brand tool to strengthen user experiences. Use it to understand your audience by monitoring them. Use it to engage with your audience. Make them feel comfortable with your brand. Win trust. Build relationships. There is no doubt that social marketing can optimize your audience’s user experience.

So lets stop and ask the same question as in the Trader Joe’s example. What is the ROI of a great user experience? What is the ROI of social marketing? Shouldn’t every brand look to make their customer experience fantastic? So fantastic they win customers. So fantastic that get customer emotional bond to their brand. Fantastic such that the customers want to share their experiences with their family, friends, and colleagues.

As the use of digital technologies and mobile devices continues to increase, social marketing is another imperative touch point for target audiences. Think about how you can enrich user experiences with social marketing.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Increasing the Chances of Your Marketing Going Viral

Let me say right from the start, for everyone that creates a marketing campaign that goes viral, there have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of marketers that had the same aspirations but were not realized. And then there are the people that were rational enough not to think that something they produced would go viral. “It is not viral unless it is.” (Jay Baer quote.)

viral

But I think it is okay to try to plan for something to go viral … just set realistic objectives such as seeing a significant increase in awareness, lead generation, loyalty, and word-of-mouth marketing. If your campaign goes viral, that is the icing on the cake. But if it doesn’t, at least make sure you accomplish some winning objectives.

I had a meeting this past week that prompted me to write this article. I sat down with a new client and he was explaining to me his marketing efforts to date. I was impressed with many of the programs and communications he had done, but he said to me “nothing has gone viral.” I quickly explained that it was likely that I would not create a viral campaign for him, but I certainly would deliver measured increase in awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy. It is imperative to have real expectations from the beginning.

As long as you have real expectations from the beginning, sure, why not? Why not have that dream of having your campaign go viral. But maybe we can make that more than a dream. Maybe there are ways we can increase the chances of your marketing going viral.

Now back to that client meeting. I won’t go into too much detail on his brand scenario out of respect for our ongoing and unfinished strategy and plan development. But I will share with you one glaring issue or problem … lack of integrated marketing. As I said, the brand had a number of very good endeavors, but each of the marketing efforts felt like a one off as opposed to an orchestration of strategies, plans, and activities to create synergy yielding greater brand recognition. Let me explain exactly what I mean with regards to integrated marketing.

Always start out with your audience. Who are they? What are the different segments (demographically and behaviorally)? What are their sources of information and entertainment? Who do they trust and look up to? Understand as much as you can about your audience AND determine the best way to get in front of them at multiple touch points in a non-intrusive and appealing manner.

This is the key to integrated marketing … “getting in front of your audience at multiple touch points in a non-intrusive and appealing manner.” One message on one channel is not likely to produce a convert. Think of an overall theme to convey and engage upon. Think about how the theme will differ in communication and engagement on various marketing channels – online and offline. Think about communication or marketing programs creating synergy on various channels. You cannot just compile a number of great posts to put on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and sit back and see how they resonate and proliferate. You need to orchestrate your marketing touch points to create increased interests and desire to hear more.

When I comprise a marketing strategy, I imagine and plan how my audience is going to see recurring communications. How we are going to continually stay engaged with the audience as a whole? How are we going to help potential influencers with their audience – not how are they going to promote our product or service. All of this while increasing interest in the brand and not having the audience feel like “oh, that brand again… I am so tired of them.”

If we are extremely creative and attack marketing from this integrated fashion you are likely to meet the objective of increased awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy. And maybe, just maybe, you will be lucky enough to have something go viral. Don’t count on it, but be happy if luck lands in your lap. Luck is the residue of design.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve