Category Archives: brand marketing

The New Way of Getting People Motivated to Do What the Brand Wants

motivate audience

I get it – marketing is all about getting your target audience to move in a direction that is beneficial to the brand. It is a company initiative that must turn measureable results. It is a business function that must be accountable to company goals and objectives. It is not an altruistic function.

But something has dramatically changed. Your audience is skeptical of your marketing ploys. Your audience rejects your marketing push if it is interruptive and lacks relevance. Remember, your audience engages with their own network. They often market for your brand and also against your brand. Your audience’s behavior and influence of your brand success has changed, so you must change your marketing approach.

In marketing, we aim to have our audience respond to brand “call to actions.” But we can no longer go straight for desired brand outcomes. We must first build relationships, build trust, and cultivate our audience. Old school marketing communication no longer works. Marketing communications cannot push brand agenda and be a way one pushes brand content. Audiences no longer react positively to this form of brand marketing.

Look, I know I go by the pen name “Social Steve” so you would expect me to push the importance of social media, social marketing, social media marketing – call it what you want. My recommendations and actions are driven by one facet – audience behavior. Current audience behavior dictates the need for you to change your marketing approach. Not social media hype, but mainstream audience behavior.

Last week I presented to 60+ top level executives at an executive forum. I stressed the importance of their need to change their understanding and participation in social marketing. I would say my message resonated with about 1/3 of the audience. The other 2/3’s of the audience seemed very uncomfortable with my push for them to change their marketing approach given current audience behavior. Far too many seasoned professionals are stagnant in their leadership approach. The need to change makes them uncomfortable. All I can say is “shame.” If you are a leader, you must lead based upon the behavior of the audience you want to capture.

So what is the change that must occur to “Getting People Motivated to Do What the Brand Wants?” From a theoretical approach that is easy. You want to build relationships so that your target not only loves your product or service, but they love your brand as well. They love what you stand for and your commitment to customers. The hard part is the execution of this because it takes times. There is rarely love at first sight from a customer to a brand. You must earn their trust, love, and commitment to your brand.

I’ll give you an example. I currently head up audience development for a start up. I am constantly under pressure to increase the number of subscribers. I understand that is the company’s main objective. I get directions from my executive management to communicate, “respond by signing up today.” I know that I cannot ask for that call to action until I have built up some trust from the individuals I look to convert. While my management measures my success on number of sign ups, I must stay committed to building relationships with my audience. I cannot give in to the pressure of pushing for sign ups too early. That will not turn winning results. So while everyone wants results immediately, I have been cautious not to push my audience too early in the relationship. Now, four months into my stint at the start up I am seeing inertia and momentum. I am building strong relationships with the target market and our audience is responding most positively.

Moral of the story, it is easy to give into the objectives and KPIs (key performance indictors) of your company. But in the long run, the results will not be successful. Patience and commitment is required.

If you want to motivate your audience and drive brand objectives, understand your audience first. Play to the audience’s whims and do not be myopic to your company goals. This may sound trite, but play nice, make friends, and then ask for what you want to accomplish. Think about it.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under behavior, brand marketing, brands, change management, leadership, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

A View for Executives: Why Social Marketing Is a Must

This past weekend I presented at The Executive Forum. My message to the top level executives in attendance – “Why You MUST Understand and Use Social Marketing.” I am concerned that seasoned executives are not staying current with their audiences’ behavior and the ways they learn about and adopt brands.


The presentation keys on four areas:

Audience Behavior – audience behavior dictates the need to have a social marketing strategy, plan, and execution.

Connecting Social Marketing to Company Goals, Objectives, and KPIs (key performance indicators) – you need to understand how social marketing aligns to overall company goals.

ROI and Measuring Effectives – First you need to understand what social marketing can accomplish in a realistic manner. Then define the parameters that should be measured.

Audience Development – Successful social marketing equals successful audience development.

Check out the presentation for more detail.

Hope this helps.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under social media, SocialSteve, Social Steve, socialmedia, marketing, brand marketing, social media marketing, CEO, social marketing

5 Keys to Audience Development

audience developmentMarketing must change because audience behavior has changed. Customers and clients are skeptical of brand claims. They no longer accept brand advertisement and most of their communication. Brands must build strong relationships with their audience in order to build emotional connections, convert customers/clients, and motivate advocacy.

Recently I suggested that “Companies Should Eliminate Marketing Positions.” I emphasized that marketing communication aimed at the push of brand messages is obsolete. “Marketing” (as it is practiced by an overwhelming number of companies today) must change. A marketing approach must now be aimed at audience development. Commitment to audience development yields winning long-term brand success.

Audience development takes time. Everyone wants to have a million followers that connect with their brand on multiple social channels and convert (sign up or purchase) on their brand site. The reality is that people are not going to just connect on the channels that you want; they will connect on the channels they want. Thus, you must be active on all the key channels that your audience participates in. And audience development will not happen over night. (That is why it is called “development” as opposed to “conversion.”)

There are five key elements to audience development. Invest and stay committed to the following:

1) Monitor and listen. We have two ears and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we communicate. Monitor all digital platforms, channels, and forums for keywords within your brand category. Listen to what people say. Learn about their needs. Make sure you monitor for your brand name. When people mention you in a positive light, make sure to thank them. If someone says something negative, take the high road. Apologize and whatever you do, do not try to win a debate. There comes a time to just let it go.

2) Engage. When you find someone that mentions a topic applicable to your brand category, reach out to him or her. Offer help, information, and/or inspiration. Be congenial; do not push your brand agenda. Make a friend.

3) Find influencers. It is great when you have others helping you to build your audience. But remember, influencers are not compelled to build your audience; they are compelled to build their audience. Thus you need to find a reason that influencers would want to work with you. For more on this see “Stop Looking for Influencers; Find Great Partners.”

4) Have a content strategy. Content helps to get the word out of your brand. Brand content serves a number of winning purposes:

a. It helps to establish the brand as an authority in a specific category.
b. With the use of social marketing it is a way to proliferate valuable information that gets associated with your brand.
c. It allows others to share your brand.

Get more information on setting up a content marketing strategy and plan here. Consider the different types of content you need to manage here.

5) Use paid media. Consider using digital paid media such as Facebook ads and SEM (search engine marketing – Google ads). These types of digital ads integrate well with your organic audience development endeavors. They are low cost ad vehicles that can be implemented in a non-user-intrusive manner.

I believe that marketing communication has reached its useful end. While brand communication remains important, it must be executed with the objective of audience development. Not as a method to pound brand position. Customers/clients behaviors drive the need to change this mentality. Brands need to change and have a build audience mentality, strategy, plan, and execution.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve


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

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


Filed under audience development, brand marketing, brands, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

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

Two Realities No One Wants to Admit about Excellent Marketing


Let me start off the article by asking, “How important is marketing to the success of your product or service? Do you need marketing to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build loyalty for your offering? Produce advocates for your brand?”

If you have answered yes, let me ask you one other thing. When you look for results, are decent results good enough or do you want stellar results? I know all of these questions seem a bit rhetorical. But I am laying them out for a purpose. The questions point to two realities that no one wants to hear or admit. Excellent marketing takes time and money.

We are in a culture where we want everything today or if not today, then certainly tomorrow. It takes time to build an audience. Look at any major market shareholder – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and the list goes on. Every one of them had challenges and hurdles to overcome. Their massive success did not happen overnight.

Brands should definitely measure results. But the expectation of results should be realistic. Look for continuous incremental growth. Companies that experience sustainable and long-term success usually start out by seeing incremental success for a decent amount of time. Then something happens where they see a “hockey stick” curve if they are lucky. But is the hockey stick curve growth really luck? Or is it the result of continuous focus on strategy and execution? The latter of course. A hockey stick curve growth and with continuous sustainability takes time.

I believe it is imperative that you work each and every day to understand your audience, your competition, and your brand core competencies. You continue to tweak a strategic formula that takes all these factors into consideration. Your brand journey must be a continuous learning one. It is rare that a brand sees immediate massive growth and maintains their market share in the long term.

So one of the realities of marketing excellence is that it takes time. One marketing campaign will not yield long-term brand success. The other reality is money. It cost money to build awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy.

Now I realize no company has an endless budget. In fact I have made some tough decisions with regards to marketing investments. Just this past week I decided to use a “cheaper” marketing platform than one that really was far more robust. It is like comparing a Mercedes to Hyundai. I would much rather have a Mercedes, but the Hyundai serves my purpose for today.

But I find way too many companies making an economical decision before a rational value decision. I will eventually invest in the “better” platform. Today, based on my audience size the “cheaper platform” (and less valuable) suffices. I have told my executive management that I intend to purchase that more expensive, greater value platform when we reach a certain audience size, revenue plateau, and number of employees. We will spend when we need to.

I find that this issue of company budget is especially true when it comes to the hiring of digital marketers. I have seen a number of companies hire inexperienced digital marketers just because they use digital and social platforms well. The question is whether they know how to use them to develop an audience. Do they have rich marketing experience that allows them to develop marketing strategies and apply them in execution to a digital world? Here, I have seen many companies opting for less experienced, cheaper solutions rather than investing in individuals that will drive strong results for their company. Yes, maybe the personnel and solutions they deploy are less expensive, but the brand rarely experiences results they seek.

I think I have just scratched the surface with regards to the reality of time and money required within marketing to drive superior results. But for now, I just want to touch a subject that few are comfortable discussing. If you are compelled and brave enough, please chime in. Add your perspective.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


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

There is Something More Important than “Disruptive” to Win an Audience

Sometimes in the business world, people overuse particular words. I would put disruptive in that category. It sounds startling, super-advanced, and mind-boggling. In fact, disruptive sounds infinitely better than the three words I just used to describe it. I guess that is why people really love to use it.


There are only two companies that come to mind that succeed with disruptive offerings: Apple and Google. (I am sure you can name a few others.) Yes, disruptive offerings work for a slim few. But there are a number of other successful companies that are not necessarily delivering disruptive innovations but are realizing strong results anyway. Companies like Virgin America, Zappos, and Nordstrom.

What is it about these companies that make them successful with their target audiences? The answer is an outstanding user experience. I would argue that a great user experience trumps all other facets.

If we look at consumer behavior these days, we see a handful of interesting characteristics that drive brand preference.

1) The truth comes out. The reality is that consumers have such a strong and powerful voice. Brands cannot create a fictitious position. If they do so, if they misrepresent what they are about, the public will call foul. And the consumers’ word spreads.

2) People genuinely respond well to brands that show they care. If a brand delivers customer service or engagement that goes beyond expectation, the consumer starts to build an emotional bond to that brand. Repeated brand action of over exceeding expectation leads to strong loyalty.

3) Brand sharing continues to grow. This is true with regards to positive and negative aspects of user experiences. Now, it is more important to activate your audience to share positive experiences about your brand than to do other social marketing activities such as posting. (Yes posting is still important, but there should be greater emphasis on audience activation and communicating about your brand than the brand actually doing the communication.)

When I studied for my Master’s degree in marketing a number of years ago, academic marketing experts placed heavy importance on product/service differentiation to win a target audience. I am not sure that is the number one characteristic to win an audience these days. I would argue that if your product/service has parity with your competition, but you deliver a superior customer/user experience, you would win market share.

People have numerous decisions with regards to the brands they favor. Just look at any shelf in any store. Do a search on the Internet for a brand category. There has never been such an abundance of choices. So much competition. The best way to win an audience over is to genuinely demonstrate that you care about their business. Bend over backwards to make sure they know you are equally concerned about delivering excellence for them as driving revenue and profit.

I have made my argument that a user experience is more important than a disruptive offering. Your turn. Chime in. What are your thoughts and perspective?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


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