Tag Archives: marketing budget

Two Realities No One Wants to Admit about Excellent Marketing

MARKETING TIME AND BUDGET

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

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Why Your Budget Must Include Website Re-Investment

Yes, it is that time of the year. Sure the leaves are falling and nature reinforces her beauty, but I am not talking about that. It is budget season and everyone is looking at what they have done in the past year and tweaking allocation numbers.

But before you finalize your budget by simply modifying last year’s budget, you need to take a fresh look. What will truly yield growth of brand awareness, consideration, sale, loyalty, and advocacy? I’d expect website revitalization was not on last year’s budget. I will also bet that many say, “websites – oh that is so ‘90’s,” but I will tell you a “correctly designed” website is so 2020’s. Let’s explore why.

website reinvestment

First, let me state that I am very bullish on social marketing as a way to win over an audience and turn them into your most valued customers – advocates. But if we look at social media platforms today, we see that the platform evolution now hinders brand engagement with target audiences. Just look at Facebook. They have practically eliminated organic reach of brand postings. And you know just about all social platforms main objective is to optimize their own monetization. They also look to appeal to their audience. Not the brand’s audience. Social platform’s first concern is their success; not marketers success. Don’t be naive.

Second, I always state that marketers must have complete empathy for their target audience. Culture has been transformed by digital technologies. More people get information online (social networking, mobile, and the Internet) as a primary source. This consumer/client behavior means your website would be extremely compelling if it was a) dynamic with continuous content updates (posts), b) more interactive and social, and c) mobile ready.

The first step in revitalizing your website is to start thinking like a media company. Think about being the “Buzz Feed” for your brand category news, information, and entertainment. Produce original content regularly. Curate relevant content and include it on your website. Think about what it takes to be a resource for your audience such that they want to go to your website daily to get up-to-date information.

The next step in revitalizing your website is to make it more interactive and social. If we look at human behavior, we see that they do want to engage with brands. That is, if the brand makes it worth their while. Converse with your audience. Listen to your audiences needs and wants. Produce compelling content based on their input and comments. Build sustainable relationships. Facebook and other social networks have clamped your ability to engage. So bring that functionality to the digital platform you own and you control – your website. Consider building a community integrated within your website. True, you may not get as many subscribers as Facebook likes or Twitter followers, but certainly you will get individuals that want to remain engaged and are likely your best customers/clients.

At the same time, various social platforms do continue to be an important part of your marketing mix. They should be used to proliferate the content on your website. Additionally, paid media of social platforms is a very important budgetary consideration. The greatest value of paid media on social platforms is the ability to target specific demographics. I have seen paid media deliver very strong click through results (back to your website).

I hope it goes without saying that your website MUST be mobile ready. More and more people access the Internet via mobile device. Do you really want to eliminate access of your website to a majority of the population because you have not made the investment to make it mobile ready?

I have given you the three areas to focus on with regards to the revitalization of your website. Staying consistent in numerology, there are three reasons why website revitalization must be part of your 2015 budget:

1) Audience use of digital is not only ubiquitous but their individual use is very strong,
2) Your website is something you completely own and control … you do not have to worry about the usage rules being changed, and
3) Your website is likely the strongest digital source to monetize your brand.

Make sense? Can do?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Social Media – Should Make Companies Rethink SEO

I feel this article might be combustible, but I have been itching to write it up for some time now.

I’ll get right to the point … Social media should make companies rethink budget allocations for SEO. I suggest they re-shift their SEO budget to social media. Yeah, many of you will think this is self-serving, but hear me out …

First, I want to clearly state that SEO is important and should not be ignored. I am simply suggesting that no budget should be allocated to SEO. I’ll get to my SEO suggestions in a bit, but let me start by addressing why I suggest social media capture the budget:

1) SEO is push; social media is pull. That is, your company is “pushed” to an audience via search. If you use social media correctly and provide valuable information and content to your audience, you will be “pulled” to them.

2) As social media becomes more prevalent, people will rely on their friends and network for recommendations as opposed to using search. Case in point … I needed new tires for my car. I asked my friend who always seems to get the best deals where to go. He recommended tirerack.com (never heard of them before, but I do now recommend them to you). I go to the tirerack website and find that the tires on my car are priced at $105 a pop and get a poor customer rating. I find another tire that I never heard of (Kumho) at $75 each and very good rating. I ended up buying 4 Kumhos and they are working out great. No search used, just socialization to find where to go and then I look for customer reviews to help me make my buying decision.

3) A good social media implementation delivers increased search rankings. This is probably the most important point. If you administer a winning social media program, the natural residual result delivers your SEO. In Michael Stelzner survey/report, “Social Media Marketing Industry Report – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses,” 52% of the surveyed respondents sighted “help us rise in the search rankings” as one of the benefits of social media.

SM and SEO pic

If you look at the first two benefits (“generated exposure for my business” and “increased my traffic/subscribers/opt-in list”), these are the exact benefits SEO looks to increase. You can have it all with social media.

To further highlight how social media naturally increases your search ranking, listen to this … I was talking to someone I recently met and he was telling me about how his social media efforts were targeting influencers in his space. The specific social media campaign was aimed at attracting some of the most respected newspapers and magazines (yes print, not online). They were successful … the Wall Street Journal and Business Week both did a blurb on his site and mentioned their URL. This drove traffic to their site and as a result of all the traffic, increased their search ranking – a winning double whammy.

So you get your search ranking anyway! Social media should be your priority.

As I first mentioned, this is not to say that you should ignore SEO, BUT are you really going to pay an “expert” to do this for you? Google’s ranking algorithm is tightly guarded. It might be the only trade secret more guarded than the Coca-Cola formula. If no one really knows the algorithm, what is an “expert”? The best source (and it is FREE) for SEO suggestions is http://www.top10seotips.com/. There are other good ones as well. Here, Steve Wiideman has 10 simple tips that a web developer and marketing manager can implement collaboratively. He also provides other suggestions.

You want to win using the web – I suggest you have a social media plan that is integrated with your marketing and operations plans as well as a simple SEO implementation. The expert required is someone who can provide the bridge between your marketing and operations plan to a social media implementation, not an SEO expert (and for that matter, not one labeling oneself a “social media expert”).

I realize that SEO is a strong “spend” industry and thus I have really stirred some controversy, but if we as marketers are going to be accountable and take a leadership role in driving measurable success, we must spend wisely and deliver maximum results – even if initially unpopular.

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