The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 2

So we’ve discussed Proof and why it’s critical to demonstrate that what you do and what you say means something to customers.

Now let’s discuss what you can do to demonstrate that Proof — go get yourself some Presence.

  • Presence — You can’t prove anything to anyone without having a Presence. And not just in terms of being there when there’s a need, or having an ad in the right place, or dropping a direct mail piece at the right time. Presence is also being there when there’s not a need. Presence means providing knowledge. It means creating or defining needs in addition to meeting needs — for example, by providing content and establishing credibility as an expert.  Or using customer interaction and knowledge to develop meaningful solutions. Presence helps you deliver the Proof.
    There are many ways to have Presence — and you need to be knowledgable about all of them, from traditional tactics like emails and direct mail, to online tactics like Google keywords, to social media engagement tools like Twitter. Maybe you don’t need them all, depending on your audience, but you better know their strengths and weaknesses. 
    And you better make sure your Presence evolves with your customers.  Otherwise, they move on and your Presence is meaningless.  There are alot of things you should be doing to stay up-to-date on new aspects of social media that allow interaction and dialogue with customers. Like Google Wave, for example. Your customers may be in all these social media nooks and crannies, and if you’re not there with them as part of the conversation then you have no Presence.
    Sure, you can still have 20th century Presence.  We still need it!  You can still send direct mail and email, run ads, hand out samples and all the other marketing tactics we develop and refine with great effort.  Hell, traditional marketing works wonders when done right. Yet if your bag of tactics has not expanded to include social media in whatever ways and websites and widgets your customers love and interact with — then you will now find that your traditional marketing has alot tougher time succeeding.  Competitors who create interaction are too easy to find, and they’ll steal your business with with their Presence.
    Presence is scalable, and it depends on your customers.  It may require people who live and breathe social media every minute of every day — bloggers, Tweeters, Tumblrs and Diggers. Or it may require a simple Facebook fan page.  And it certainly requires a mix of traditional marketing in some form.  So it must be guided by someone with comfortable vision of both traditional and new.

Next post discusses the third P: Persuasion.

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Social Media Revisited

I’m not even sure that’s the right title for this post. It seems like everything we do nowadays involves social media — maybe this should be called “Social Media Yet Again.”

Anyway, in the past I’ve focused on things like measuring social media ROI and the demands of doing social media right. I took a good, long look at a couple articles recently that I want to pass along, since they highlight several important points about the evolving nature of social media.

  • The 5 Phases of Social Experience — this CRM magazine column from a Forrester analyst makes a compelling case for the evolving nature of social media and your social experience online, ultimately climxing in the Web becoming a completely social, customer-controlled experience driven by portable identities, personalization and relevance. Do you know what phase we’re in now? Read up.
  • Social Shepards — also from CRM, this article point out the tenuous relationship between social media and corporate liability, transparency and risk. The growing number of employees who participate in social media on behalf of brands, as well as in the interest of building strong personal brands, increases the liklihood of inappropriateness or information-sharing that could negatively affect the company. Don’t think you need a social media policy? Read this and then go start working on it.
  • The New Currency of Social Media — yet again from CRM, this article highlights this solid key point:

    “We spend most of our social media energy passively capturing from the information any feedback we can…Passive feedback loops give us a good understanding of how things are now, but they don’t give much hint about where things are going…you’re essentially driving by watching the rearview mirror.”

    The point is you need to actively engage customers to learn about customer needs in the future. Can be much more important than passive listening. Want to know why? Read up.

  • How Speakers Should Integrate Social Into Their Presentation — an insightful post that highlights ways that speakers can not only counteract negative audience reaction in the backchannel, but act on and incorporate real time backchannel feedback into their active presentation. Have no clue what that first sentence means? Don’t think real-time audience reaction is important? Do you speak alot? Run events where people speak? Then read this article now.

I also want to highlight one last key point, highlighted in a CRM recap from some Twitter conversation. A very sharp @dmscott (speaker and author David Meerman Scott) chimes in with this:

“Social media is like a cocktail party. Do u shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”? Ask for business cards? Or just meet people and talk?”

Perfectly said in terms of how you should charge ahead into Twitter. It’s amazing how many people and companies don’t get it right.

When Sales and Marketing Don’t Mix — Part 1

I know what you’re thinking. You’re simultaneously saying “They never mix” and thinking of all the things those annoying sales people down the hall have done to you, from using outdated materials to sending customers letters and emails wrought with incorrect grammar and off-brand language. I mean, the notion that sales and marketing butt heads is not a secret — go Google “sales and marketing get along” and you get 57.5 million results.

GoogleScreenshot

Believe me, there is many a day that I side with you. I had one recently. Fortunately, in this case I wasn’t the marketer being wronged. I was actually on the receiving end of ill-conceived, ill-delivered, and out-of-context communications from over-eager sales folks. It’s the perfect example of what happens when marketing and sales don’t mix right (i.e., don’t have a unified, buttoned-up approach to the same business goals).

The guilty party is a company called Point It. The company is actually a notable and expert SEM/SEO agency with a great message and blue chip clients. They offer several valuable, free webinars and whitepapers on various aspects of SEM — and I love to attend and read that stuff, so it was a good match. This is a great way to engage potential customers. I gave them some basic contact info to access their materials.

A few days later I get an email out of the blue from someone at the company (withholding name here). I mean, it’s not totally out of the blue — you know that if you register for these things, you get contacted by a sales guy, it’s the third certainty now behind death and taxes. Yet this person, who knows nothing about me, proves that he knows nothing about me. Because the message is all about him. The subject line is about the company — actually, it’s the company’s name. And the message starts with “Thank you for your interest in Point It.” Really? When did I say that? I was interested in your whitepaper, yes. I guess that implies more. Fine, I’ll be flexible. “Attached is some basic information about our company.” So, you started me off with rich, deep content about the market and about SEO, and now follow it up with basic information about the company. Odd, I can find that on your site if I needed it. “When would be a good time for us to discuss search?” Did I say I wanted to do that? My flexibility ends now. Why start out with something so customer-centric — free whitepapers, free knowledge — and screw it up with a hard sell, me-talk-you-listen approach that alienates the customer? If I look for myself in that message, do I find myself?

To top it off, the entire rest of the email was about the company. Nothing about the customer. Nothing about me. No more free knowledge, no intuitive questions to learn more about me. No dialogue.

Email body copy

Email body copy

The good news is this can be fixed and these mistakes can be avoided. Sales and marketing do not have separate roles — marketing does not stop when someone raises their hand, so sales can pick it up and run with it. It’s your job as a marketer to equip your sales team with the messaging they need to engage. Marketing and sales need a unified strategy for the entire process of customer engagement. The standard is different now — it’s not about delivering leads so they can be closed. They must be engaged. That’s why social media and social networking are so powerful. You must listen first, have dialogue, and learn what you can do to provide value and be relevant. Relevance and engagement trumps spiffy sales pitches.

Now charge ahead and sell that to your sales team.

What Matters Right Now? (and Other Key Questions)

Have you taken a good, long look lately at your mix of tactics? At your communication frequency? Your investment (time and money) in social media? Do you know what tactics matter most right now to your customers?

Everything in your strategy has to be up for re-election in this economy. If it’s not making the grade, or more importantly, if you can find better ROI elsewhere…throw that tactic out of office!

Social media is becoming more important than ever according to several sources. That has to change things. You have to find your way into more places where customers are sharing and experiencing and passionate. What’s your plan to do that? Is it Facebook, LinkedIn, or somewhere more niche? Is social media an acquisition tactic for you, or an experiment? Is it authentic and customer-driven, or are you turning users off with brand messages?

There’s also word that email marketing will increase. Really? How is that a good thing? Isn’t it enough right now? I’m not sure how more email could be good in any way — despite its offer of lower costs for tighter budgets. I know I’m not increasing my email no matter what, but I will be increasing the relevance of my messaging, that’s for sure. I’m going to let my competition email more, annoy people, and get opted out. And my less frequent, more relevant emails will be the last man standing, showing up at the right time in a pristine inbox (sounds like a fairy tale, no?). Same for my keywords — I’m gonna drill down, find those long tail keywords that provide return, and fine-tune my strategy on Google and other search engines.

Working on a great whitepaper on Web 2.0 for B2B media companies. Stay tuned for that next week.

Takeaways from 2008

Took a little holiday break, recharged the batteries, and now I am back and ready to blog. Hope you all had a good holidays.

The thing I thought of the most over the last few weeks was listing the key things I learned from the 12 slow-grinding months of 2008. What things were most impactful, what did I spend time on that was not worth it, what worked and didn’t work, and what things do I need to be aware of for 2009. Here’s a few things on the list, take a good long look:

Heed the Importance of Integrated Search Strategy
Everyone needs an ISS. It’s no longer just buy a few keywords and add some meta tags to your site. You need to tie in your paid buys with everything from site content to link text to URL strings. And you need to understand the metrics that provide the ROI you need to refine your strategy.

Cost Doesn’t Matter — It’s Value
Even in a disastrous economy like we have now, price-cutting or giving something away for free isn’t necessarily the answer. The answer is ensuring your customers find value in what they get for what they pay. So focus on improving your product, your offer, your knowledge of customer needs, and the way you communicate your value proposition.

Get Closer to Customers
No groundbreaking revalation there, yet it always pops up to the top of my lists. Without systematic, frequent and measured analysis of customer needs and perceptions, how can you do important things like deliver value?

Be Prepared for the Worst
No marketer plans to fail. Yet we all know that things happen to throw us off track — bad economies, last-minute changes, website crashes, even some knucklehead hijacking your Twitter account (a Twidiot, if you will). So put your time into crafting a solid strategy, yet be aware of what the options are if the bad happens.

Best of luck in 2009. Charge ahead.

Further Update on Targeting AdWords to Mobile Devices

Just a brief mention that Search Insider has an insightful post on the benefits of AdWords targeting to mobile devices. It elucidates some of the differences between iPhone and G1 and underscores the main points that a) the number of mobile devices is only going to grow; and b) it includes other devices, now and future, beyond the pillars we typically think of (iPhone, G1, Storm). Enjoy.

Google Continues to Connect Marketers with Customers

A terrible economy is a great time to make life easier for marketers.

Enter Google yet again. On Monday the giant announced an option that lets AdWords users target ads to mobile devices with full-HTML browsers like the iPhone and G1.

You can even target campaigns specificially to mobile device owners. And not only is Google investing time on the front end to customize results pages for the iPhone, they’re also providing broken-out performance reporting on the back end so you can take a good, long look at ROI for your mobile ads. That’s a good thing, given that impactful statistics are yet to surface on how users interact with AdWords results on mobile devices. Although one study says upward of 50 percent of iPhone users conduct searches on their devices.

There’s some Web debate over the mobile ads driving users to desktop landing pages, instead of mobile-optimized ones. And there is valid concern over that. At the same time, enabling non-mobile-savvy marketers to charge ahead into mobile search — without becoming savvy at mobile optimization of landing pages overnight — is a good thing, especially in this economy when all businesses are dying for customers. Not to mention channel-specific reporting, so evaluating ROI on mobile search is easy to do.