A Daily Marketing Experience

February 15, 2010

Hey, that Brand is my Friend

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 9:39 pm
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I was fortunate enough to hear Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg talk about Facebook and its use in Business Marketing. Even though the Keynote was very Online Marketing 101 (basic notions), it did point out some interesting facts from which it is possible to extrapolate some conclusions.

  1. To understand where technology is headed, it is indispensable to analyse what technologies and what mediums are teens using nowadays. In that sense, the trend seems to be (you guessed it): Text. Only 14% of teens use e-mail.
  2. Facebook has 400 million users and it has been translated into 70 languages. Interesting enough, the translation was made not by Facebook employees, but by users (French was translated in 24 hours) showing the growing importance of Online collaboration.
  3. Facebook has 100 million mobile users and it’s the most downloaded iPhone application. This is another example (as in the first point) of the importance of mobile.
  4. Facebook fastest growing demographic is 35 and over. Even though each segment uses the site in a different way, it shows that Online communities are not only for teens.
  5. In the UK, 50% of the time spent surfing is in Facebook  and 10 million people (worldwide) Fan a page each day. This figure shows that it is a must to leave the silo structure of a webpage and start interacting with your segment in other meaningful ways.
  6. The most important conclusion from this presentation and that applies to all social media sites, is that these types of technologies (social media) give a brand the alternative to have authentic two-way communication. It presents a way to transfer the inefficiency of word of mouth into a powerful “massive” reality. This is just a more precise example of point number 5. It is a must to step away from the Online Catalog structure and move into the real conversation model.
  7. And last but surely not least something that did not come from her speech; something that is starting to get attention amongst the industry experts: Project Titan. It looks like Facebook is going to enter the world of e-mail allowing POP and Imap. However, you could only receive e-mails from your friends, groups or fan pages. Your address would be your vanity url (Facebook short name) @facebook.com. If this change truly happens, e-mail campaigns will achieve a new meaning.

All in all, the opportunity is there for brands to embrace mobile and the easiness that such technology provides to be part of the “social” environment. The key will be highlighted in the effectiveness of companies to show its brand as an honest entity. A figure that listens, talks and intereacts to consumers in a human way. A company with soul. A company that I can easily call “my friend”.

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January 7, 2010

I’m a professional, I know more than you

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 4:46 pm
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When you decide to employ a focus group to explore customer’s attitude towards a new development (advertising, packaging, name, good/service, etc), you do so to truly see if there is potential for it and, if, changes need to be made.

As not every new idea will work, you are bound to find circumstances where the customers will disagree with the proposition at hand. The brand owners, the creative team, the design crew, or in general terms the development coalition will face a difficult situation: “a clash of perspectives”.

How to clearly understand and interpret that the customers’ perspective has nothing to do with your ability to predict, apply and execute new advancements?

Well, Focus groups are a part of market research, and as such, it gives great qualitative feedback that can be used to explore the feelings and thoughts of customers in a precise manner. In addition to other market research data, experience, and/or intuition, it can become a powerful tool for decision making.

However, don’t fall in the trap of disregarding negative feedback to your “project” just because you are trying very hard to make it work. Do not force it. And most of all, avoid ignoring the negative feedback on the basis that you are an expert and knowledgeable in your field (marketing, advertising, design, etc), and they (people in the focus groups) are not!

Refrain from thinking that because you are a professional you know more. That will only skew your final decision towards something you want and not towards something your target market wants.

November 22, 2009

To fail or not to… that is the question

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 3:08 pm
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Amazon finally failed…..

After years of buying from them, I finally had to make a customer service claim. And guess what? They didn’t disappoint me again. Their respect, understanding and most of all commitment to make online purchases as safe and reliable as possible has made me write this post. Kudos! Amazon for a great customer service!

Now that my public service announcement is out of the way, I can get to discussion at hand: the customer service paradigm.

What would you rate as a better customer service:

  • A company that never fails?
    or
  • A company that fails and swiftly responds with a solution?

(keep in mind that I will play the Devil’s Advocate for both sides)

A company that never fails: You are having a love affair with it. Your relationship cannot get any better. You demand, they respond. So far the client-customer relationship has been impeccable and it’s impossible to trace an ink of disgust from your part. As this relation gets deeper, your interaction becomes stronger and more frequent.

Then there, the probability of not performing increases (the more you get on an airplane, the more changes you have to experience a plane failure). You start thinking what would happen if suddenly something goes wrong. Can they amend their mistake? Are they willing to take responsibility? Are they prepared to respond?

Perhaps now you start questioning your trust in this company.

Nonetheless, nothing has gone wrong, so why would you expect for them to fail?

A company that fails and swiftly responds with a solution: Now you are in a relationship with ups and downs. You love each other but external and internal factors have contributed to the encounter of “little” slip-ups . Yet, you recognize that no one is perfect and that mistakes are bound to happen (all of them in good faith). The best of it all, is that you see the other side fixing its faults and getting better everyday. It has become reliable in a sense that you can expect them to take ownership of the problem and come up with solutions.

Then there, why would you be with a company that fails if there is another one that doesn’t? You start thinking how much better your life would be if you didn’t have to communicate with its customer service department. Are they going to keep on failing? What if this was not just a one time thing?

Perhaps now you start questioning your trust in this company.

Nonetheless, you understand that there are external factors that are sometimes unpredictable. So far they have listened to you and executed their solution in an optimal manner.

So the paradigm arrives: what would you prefer? what is better customer service?

November 17, 2009

Is Online Copy Off-line?

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 5:54 pm
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The biggest difficulty when writing Online copy is making the reader take that extra step; to engage him/her enough so that it forces a click, whether it be a banner ad, a text ad, an e-mail or an e-article . In the Offline world the reader has already opened the magazine/newspaper, already tuned in to the commercial, or has already made visual contact with different tangible elements. Jordan Gold of Freedom, Inc says it very clear “You put the same headline that you use in a newspaper article online, and it’s not interesting”.

At the same time, there exists the argument that your Online reader is different from your Offline one, and that you should respond accordingly. One person reading an article in a physical newspaper is not likely to read the same article if he goes Online. For what reason did he/she preferred the tangible option? is it inferable that he/she could be group into a different segment from that of the Online reader of the same article?  If the first person goes Online, what does he/she read? and why? How can I write copy for both if they have different reading patterns, interests, motivations or education?

Then, the value of knowing your audience and the reasons of why they prefer one platform or the other, really peaks. Figuring out your buyer persona and communicating to them in terms they fancy, will greatly improve your copy. And don’t worry if “this writing” is not what your teachers taught you, or if goes beyond the invisible standard of what’s good. The overall objective is to communicate and engage, and if you are doing it in the language of your audience, your getting results.

So if you are in charge of making copy for both platforms, don’t make the mistake of duplicating. Research both audiences and write accordingly.

November 13, 2009

The Importance of Headlines

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 9:28 am
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This is a re-post of a blog post by Geoff Livingston that clearly talks about the importance of headlines to drive traffic and interest.

————

Headline writing drives traffic

A writer’s opening salvo must burst with interest—here’s why and how

From Twitter and e-mail to document and blog post titles, your ability to write great headlines (or 140-character writing) matters more than ever. Great headlines drive traffic and interest.

Attention spans have shrunk, and if you can’t interest someone right off the bat with a great, witty headline, then you’re out.

Here are five basic tips on writing headlines:

1) Active versus passive: It drives me crazy when I see one of my post titles using a passive verb. People want exciting, fun titles. Active headlines inspire emotive responses, while passive ones invite the reader to visit someone else’s feed! Passive headline writing means I’m sloppy and didn’t care enough to review my work thoroughly.

2) Get sassy. Throw some edge into it. You can call it tabloid; I call it interesting. Who wants to read business writing anymore? How exciting are all of these press releases? No, thanks.

That doesn’t mean you should write sexual entendres into every communication. Great writers infuse edginess and excitement into their writing without resorting to juvenile tactics (at least most of the time). This is a great segue for…

3) Genuine headlines: Your headline serves as a preview. It should be genuine in describing the actual content, as opposed to teasing readers into a false experience. Consider this: You want them to come back, right? So write authentic headlines that relate to your copy. Back the headline up right away in the first paragraph with a great thesis statement.

4) Less (Fewer) words: My dad used to be managing editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. Growing up with him editing my documents was a Dantean experience at times. His mantra: Cut the fat! What can you cut? How can you say a six-word headline in four? What words can you replace with a new, singular word. Take the time to relentlessly review, and cut the fat.

5) Intentionally incomplete: Sometimes I’ll just drop a phrase or even one word as the headline. It accurately depicts a part of the story, but the open-ended nature teases readers. The post or document must be well described by such a phrase so the headline’s abstract depiction still resonates.

What would you add to these tips?

——————–

*6) Know your reader: this is always my first rule in Marketing Communications. Don’t try to write “one for all”. Understand who is going to be the primary reader or audience of the article and adjust accordingly. Subtle changes in headlines (that express the same thing) will give you different response rates.

November 9, 2009

Are you a font person?

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 9:51 am
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Many of you have heard Steve Jobs talk about his love for Calligraphy (just in case here is the video) and it is evident that it shows in all of Apple designs. I am also a true believer that a stylish written phrase can impact more than the same phrase written without style.

  • Which One Is Better?
  • Which One Is Better?
  • Which One Is Better?

There are millions of websites, press releases, PPT presentations and e-mails that forget to make use of this simple principle. As a Marketing Communicator, I understand the importance of getting people’s attention through stories that are clear, concise and precise. But if I have the ability to make these stories and texts more effective, why not use it?

Now the web is full of great fonts. Everyday there are new ones. Everyday we can make our communications and designs a bit nicer and with greater impact. I found this great Blog about typography that I completely recommend if you want to know what’s new with fonts and to see great examples of how to use them. The Blog is called I love typography and it has become my fonts source.

From now on, you can increase the impact of your communications by using the right type of typography. However, do not forget who your target audience (buyer-persona) is and plan your communication accordingly.

November 3, 2009

Twitter Lists – let’s ride the trend

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 7:50 am
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All right, so twitter lists are finally here. It was not long before every thought leader started to comment on how to use them and the benefits that they provide.

Hubspot’s blog gives a pretty good explanation and has various links to further understand this new feature.

I have made a Marketing list which anyone can follow and which I am expanding everyday.  To see it and follow it click here – My list

My take on them (twitter lists) is that in the near future, lists are going to be a good source of reference on someone’s influence. Perhaps is not how many followers you have but in how many lists you appear that will tell your level of appreciation. In other words, lists and their titles will give a clearer explanation on people’s perception about you and your area of influence.

At the end, is going to be good. It will give people feedback and will surely help manage postings in a more meaningful and organized manner.

So what great lists have you found?

October 30, 2009

Top 10 Integrated Marketing Trends

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 2:52 pm
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This is a repost of an article published by Marketing Charts which states the top 10 trends to help integrated marketers navigate the choppy waters of 2010.

1- Less will get done until we learn to do more with less: While the year 2009 was marked by extreme economic turmoil, the marketing industry won’t feel its full effects until 2010. Right now, marketers and their agency partners are focused on simply “getting work out the door,” with  reduced headcounts and budgets. However, if they learn to align resources with more singular and powerful integrated marketing programs – at the perhaps necessary expense of  individual marketing tactics –  the breakthrough ideas and greater productivity will be the norm again.

2- Marketers will mistakenly ‘whack’ a medium of the marketing mix: With reduced marketing budgets, Franks said, “something has to give.”  Unfortunately, marketers are making wholesale cuts to specific marketing/media channels in the process. Though the most dramatic cuts have occurred this year in newspapers and magazines, she cautions marketers to carefully consider if other media in the marketing mix can really compensate for these cuts, especially in terms of the consumer behavior.  Though Franks believes that reduced resources should not affect a well-crafted, integrated, multi-channel mix, she does expect that such blunders may occur in 2010.

3- Marketers rush to employ ’social networking’ strategies: Marketers are in what Franks calls “a mad rush” to enter the social networking space with ‘tweets’, ‘widgets’, ‘apps’ and ‘fan pages’. However, she asserts that social networking is not, in itself, a marketing tactic; nor is it a surrogate for a brand’s social experience or a line item on a marketing plan, a specific channel, or a form of content. In Franks’s view, social media is an outcome, and no single channel has a lock on the ’social’ nature of content. Rather than scrambling for social media programs, Franks cautions marketers to step back and realize that “most any medium can serve as the ‘originating’ medium in a journey that can take a great piece of content across channels and into vast networks of hearts and minds.”

4- More data but even less ‘understanding’: Web analytics are making online campaigns easier to measure, while more studies are emerging from more sources – including media measurement companies, foundations, academics, marketers and the media themselves. While all this data clearly point to a highly fluid, highly interactive and mercurial media landscape, these data sets are – at the same time – less projective when the media world changes so quickly. So, while marketers may have a better understanding of what happened last week, last month or yesterday, they cannot take this understanding too far into the future. In this respect, Franks likens today’s environment to  a “Wild West” era of integrated channel planning.

5- Lines between media will continue to blur: In the coming year, more prime-time TV content will show up in more places than ever before. Fans will have multiple access points into shows that used to be an ‘appointment view’ controlled by network programming executives. Such models as live view, live+3 day views from a DVR, video on demand, Hulu, network owned websites, and shared distribution deals (ala DirecTV and NBC for Friday Night Lights) it is no longer clear as to where one screen medium ends and another begins. Marketers will do best to understand that “it’s all a screen,” and plan accordingly, Franks said.

6- Push vs. pull will become less relevant: In 2010, the classification of marketing experiences into ‘push’ vs. ‘pull’ will become less relevant because the best content (both programming and commercial content) will increasingly become ‘push’ and ‘pull’ at the same time. For example,  American Idol is both a ‘push’ medium because it’s broadcast during primetime on Fox, and a ‘pull’ medium because of the plethora of votes, downloads, and chats which result from the broadcast.  The reverse is also true. Given the vast reach of social networks, a viral experience that is pulled along by a small group of fans will quickly amass reach without too much effort on the part of the original sender.

7- Great content will travel at the ’speed of share’  while ‘average’ experiences will evaporate: In 2010, marketers will continue to wrestle with a sense of time because messages can travel at ‘the speed of share’ which renders the speed of traditional content distribution obsolete. With the click of a mouse, or a mobile phone, consumers can advance a great story/ad/video/picture/newsbite to vast, ‘networked’ communities of hearts and minds. However, content will only travel at the ’speed of share’ if it is worth sharing in the first place. There now is much lower tolerance for mediocre content, and consumers in 2010 will have even more means of disposing of, and/or avoiding it.

8- The adult 18-49 demo will become even less relevant as a target cohort: Though the diversity within the 18-49 adult demographic isn’t new, the dramatic differences in media use and consumption for an 18 year-old relative to a 49 year-old are becoming increasingly pronounced.  The great divide between internet-raised and television-raised consumers may indeed become big enough in 2010 for integrated marketers to finally realize that this broad and unrealistic target cohort doesn’t hold up.

9- Symbiosis will create interesting and – at times strange – partnerships: Though many forecasters are predicting wholesale collapses in media channels, Franks believes that the media and marketing landscape will be affected more by the laws of symbiosis than the laws of natural selection. As an example, the relationship between YouTube and TV – which at first appeared on the surface as a competing interest – continues to evolve into a symbiotic relationship. These emerging relationships will continue to develop among what appear on the surface as competing media channels.

10- 2010 will become the year of the good idea:  The recent past suggests that integrated marketing, as an industry, has become hyper- focused on the dynamics of channels to such an extreme that it has taken its eye off the ball. However, when a collective realization is made that marketing channels serve only as pipelines for content and that only great content can be both ‘pushed’ and ‘pulled’ along at the new ‘ speed of share’, the good ideas will begin to flow again. Without a good idea, the content will simply evaporate.

Link to the article.

October 29, 2009

Social Media: its role in Inbound Marketing

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 9:49 am
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Finally Bing and Google announced that they have finalized agreements with Twitter to begin incorporating Tweets into their search engine results. Not only that, but Bing also will start incorporating Facebook Status Messages in its SERPs. According to PC Magazine “Only status updates that users have chosen to share publicly will be included in real-time search results. Microsoft has a stake in Facebook and an existing relationship, which might explain why Google is apparently not even trying to negotiate a similar arrangement.”

There is a beta version of this new social media search in Bing: bing.com/twitter

The important part of these announcements as a marketing professional is the, now more than ever, importance of social media as part of your overall inbound marketing strategy. Not only is it necessary to communicte with your customers and to promote content, but it has become yet another tool to generate traffic and leads.

It is hard to now how the search algorithm is going to be influenced by this new social media search, but what it is clear, is that in the near future being on top of the social media part of a company’s Online marketing strategy is going to be as decisive as the optimization of websites and the creation of content.

October 1, 2009

Marketing Lessons In A Supermarket!

This is a marketing perspective that I have been interiorizing  for a while and it all happened a couple of months ago while I was in the supermarket with my wife.

We as men, if we “ever” stop by it, go straight for what we need and if told to buy something we carefully plan our corridor route and get it over with. However, for women, the supermarket is a different place: they take their time, compare prices, ingredidients, calories, they check expiration dates and carefully calculate storage capacities in the house versus goods bought; for me all this consideration is a magical event and a pristine ability that women have.

Taking all this elaborate procedure to go supermarket shopping, I’ve always tried to avoid being sucked into this never ending experience. Nonetheless, my approach is different now a days. As a marketing professional I know that a high percentaje of purchase decisions are made at the Point Of Purcahse (POP), but what I did not notice is how swiftly does a state of mind or a thinking process change, in this case, in the supermarket.

To explain it, I will take the trip to the supermarket with my wife. We have recently acquired a cat, so it could be said that there are three of us in the family. As soon as we go in, her state of mind is that of a house wife, thinking about the overall necessities of the household. So you can call this State 1 – The Wife.

After checking her shopping list, she goes directly to the vegetables (produce) section. She is still in State 1, thinking about what benefits our health and making comparisons on expiration dates and freshness. Suddenly, she arrives to the Pet section and her mind changes to what I am going to call State 2 – The Feeding Mother.

In this State 2, she is now preoccupied by the price of each “buyable” product. She is no longer checking ingredients, brands or recommendations; price and quantity is all she is reviewing.

The next corridor takes us to the female section. She now changes to State 3 – The Women. In this corridor prices and quantity are no longer a factor. Buying intentions are made on brand reputation, trend and performance.

Just by going into 3 different corridors, she changed the way she approaches buying a product, from State 1 to 2, to 3 and switching somewhere during the rest of our Supermarket trip.

So what is the lesson learned? if we know that almost 70% of people’s buying decisions are made right before picking the product at the store, then it becomes relevant to understand in what state of mind is the person at that precise time. It would be risky to assume that people will only buy based on a single variable in a single period of time (in this case in the Supermarket).

As I learned, my wife went from being a wife, to a mother, to a women and in each state changing her buying pattern.

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