IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT UNDERSTANDING YOUR CONSUMER

I read an interesting article by Morgan Steward on Email Insider that commented and compared two different panels hosted by two Email Insider Summits (one in May and one in December). The panel from May provided insights into how college students use email and the one in December highlighted moms usage. The writer provides a synopsis of the differences between the two target groups that should be noted by marketers;basically, college kids (who have the luxury of time) are looking for interactivity, connectedness, and engagement, while time-starved moms are looking for facts, structure and streamlined communications. Steward surmises, Seems to me that in all the conversations we have about being relevant or about the influence of social media on email, we need to acknowledge that there is a fork in the road. Moms’ use of email (and the Web in general) is incredibly utilitarian, while students use of the Internet is incredibly interactive.

Here was my response: Marketers need to remember that e-mail is simply another medium, another way to deliver their message. The differences shown between college kids and moms is merely indicative of the multitudinous ways that the medium is used. The visual is not a fork in the road; the image that comes to my mind resembles the myriad computer cables that snake under the floor of the stock exchange! There are as many ways to use e-mail as there are consumer groups that use the medium. Just think of the television. Most providers offer over 600 channels from which to choose — not two. Marketers need to look at their messages and find out how best to convey their message to their audiences, on HGTV, ESPN or Nickelodeon, in fifteen second spots or thirty minute infomercials. Email, just like television, is just the medium. The marketer’s job, AS ALWAYS, is to understand their consumer–their media consumption habits and desires so that they can deliver their message in the most impactful, compelling manner possible. 

At the end of the article, Steward re-poses a good question posed by someone at the Email Insider Summit: Have we even really scratched the surface? 

If you are involved in email marketing, evaluate your data. Email stats can be tracked in order to give you information — for free! What messages or offers are getting response? What patterns can you find that can help you further segment your lists? In short, what can you do to understand your consumer?

TECHNORATI STATE OF THE BLOGOSPHERE 2008

It’s hard to keep up with all the technology available to marketers today, but in order to serve my clients in the most thorough manner possible, I feel that I need to keep investigating all the options open to those who want to strengthen their brands. Anyone who talks with me knows that I am a huge advocate for digital marketing avenues–social media, blogging, email campaigns, etc.

Technorati has just come out with their new research document about blogging….who’s doing it, why, how, and what the avenues for profitability are. It’s a really great look at blogging today, backed up with tons of facts and figures. Have a look at the report at: http://technorati.com/blogging/state-of-the-blogosphere/

My blog is posted with Technorati through http://technorati.com/claim/zmgvthexmq

GEN X MOMS VERSUS GEN Y MOMS

ontinuing the discussion of my last post, I just read a bulletin put out by MediaPost’s Research Daily that recaps a study done for Parenting Magazine

http://www2.worldpub.net/images/parenting/pdf/MomMatters_JulyAug.pdf

The study shows the differences between Gen X moms and Gen Y moms in terms of where they are going for information and parenting guidance. Here’s what it showed:

What Gen Y Moms Are Most Attached To
Gen X EA* Index Vs Total Readers  Gen Y EA Index Vs Total Readers
Take/send photos with phone 106 127
Text message on phone 91 132
Maintain online profile 78 148
Own blog 71 149
Watch TV shows online 110 151
Create/share own video 96 154
Online community of moms 105 156
Read others’ blogs 86 160
Source: NewMediaMetrics, August 2008 (* Emotional Attachment (predictor of consumer purchase and media behavior)
What Gen X Moms Are Most Attached To
Gen X EA Index vs. Total Gen Y EA Index vs. Total
Shop online 124 105
Rate/review products online 127 125
Use online photo site 129 116
Source: NewMediaMetrics, August 2008 (* Emotional Attachment (predictor of consumer purchase and media behavior)

So if you are going to grow your base with the coveted 18-34 year old crowd, you cannot ignore the social aspects of the internet. Join in the conversation and get engaged. You’ll find out quickly that your consumer is already there and already talking!

SWEARING IN TIMES SQUARE

I saw a billboard in Times Square the other day that was advertising the television series Gossip Girls. It pictured a couple making out, and the headline read “OMFG.” My reaction to it was strange: on the one hand, it was clearly aimed at the 18- to 30-year-old crowd. I give them kudos for understanding their target audience and speaking their target audience’s language. It’s a good lesson to remember that, now in the midst of multicultural/diversity communications, we now need to speak the language of the various generations. It’s just another language to learn.

But on the other hand, I was disappointed in the agency that developed the ad and the brand manager that approved the ad. My reaction was, “Okay, so now, this is the way that we get around standards? Is it okay to swear in headlines, as long as we don’t actually say the words?”

I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but it just didn’t seem right.

Business Week Blogs

Did anybody see this week’s Business Week article, cover story on “Beyond Blogs: What Business Needs to Know.” This article is a recap or an update to a cover story done three years ago that stated “Blogs Will Change Your Business.” The article talks about how technology has dramatically changed over the last three years. Anyone following media can see how quickly social media has blossomed and is changing. The major forces of YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Wikipedia are all discussed briefly. If you are not up to speed on any of these digital phenomenon, if you are not figuring out how you can incorporate these into your marketing efforts, you are completely missing the boat. I highly recommend this article. But understand that it only scratches the surface. There is so much now that can be done with social media marketing; where are you engaging with your customers?

Managing Your Digital Identity

In my last blog, I talked about social media audits. Once you have the analysis of what is being discussed (or, sometimes just as importantly, what is NOT being discussed) you can move into action.

How do you do that?

Get help. There are also companies that will help you manage your on-line positioning and help you shape how people see your brand. Social media is not something just for college students anymore. Whether you are a Fortune-500 company or small start-up, you need to think about your online image, both in terms of a website but also in terms of the blogosphere. Are there positive things being said about you? Are negative things being said about you? Engage in the conversation! Hire a firm that specializes in social media to jump in to the blog/forum/video-sharing site/social network/message boards on your behalf and communicate YOUR message. This allows you to a measure of control in today’s user-generated world during a time when many advertisers feel out of control.

If you are “old school,” you may think this is SPAM. It’s not. It’s conversational marketing that has a leg up on traditional marketing it’s completely measurable. Activating this type of a campaign can radically improve your results.

Ask anyone who’s tried it. Welcome to the twenty-first century. Enjoy the ride.

Are you in the Blogosphere?

This is for those “old school” marketers whose marketing plans still consist wholly of TV, radio and newspaper. Amazingly, I still find in my travels clients who are not concerned with their digital identity.

Social Media is a quickly evolving marketing tool. Several years ago, nobody knew what “social media” was. Now there are companies that can give you a social media audit for your brand, your industry, or any topic you define. They will monitor what is being talked about, what people say about your brand (or your competitors), the discussions surrounding your industry and a whole host of other measurements. When choosing to do a social media audit, make sure that the information that you’re getting is actionable. 

What do you do with this information once you get it? Well, you shape your business accordingly. There are companies that have learned what people think of their industry; there are companies that have learned what isn’t being offered in their industry. They’ve been able to identify gaps in the marketplace simply by listening to what’s happening in the social media world. Sometimes specific brands are mentioned, more often not. Usually it’s the industry or topic that is mentioned. 

You may feel that your brand or your industry is not “interesting” enough to be discussed in a general blog, but perhaps you can take it up one level. I was having discussion with someone about whether pudding would be a discussion item. You may say pudding is not interesting, and pudding is not exciting enough for someone to talk about on-line. However, kids healthy snacks is, and so maybe there’s a way for you to find out what moms are saying about kid snacking. That then can lead you to somehow developing a unique position for your pudding. 

The opportunities to learn about your consumer through social media are endless, and I encourage you to take a good long look at what you can use, analyze what’s being said about you and your industry, and then act!

“a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

I was reading a blog about “Informing or Evangelizing: Turn Down the Volume”, that can be read in its entirety here: http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/2008/04/informing-or-ev.htmlÂ

The idea discussed in the article was that evangelizing has many positive connotations from the standpoint of new media and social media but can have a negative connotation from the standpoint of evangelizing leading to skepticism. Lewis Green states that “Evangelists are blinded to reality by their beliefs.”

To me, it’s just semantics, whether you call them evangelists, ambassadors, junkies, or enthusiasts. No one seems to have difficulty with the term “fans.” How is that any different? “Fans” come from the term “fanatic,” which certainly connotes someone a little “over the edge.” Go talk to a Chicago Cubs “fan” if you want to talk to someone “blinded to reality by their beliefs.”

Regardless of what you call them, they are all people who are advocates for your brands–people who believe in what you have to provide and so will tell the rest of the world. Any marketer worth his salt should want to provide this. If you are in business, you should be providing such a service that everyone thinks you’re fabulous.

Over-deliver.

Exceed their expectations, and you will build loyalty beyond belief. People should be delighted with your product or service experience. This is the pinnacle of marketing of any business. Creating passion for your product or service is the most cost effective way to go to market because:

 

  1. You don’t have to pay for someone else to talk about how great you brand is.
  2. It is authentic. People will believe someone else telling them how great a product or service is, much more so than you telling some one great your product or service is.

In the article, he talked about “Turning Down the Volume” and using the older phrase “word of mouth marketing.” The problem I have with that phrase is that it doesn’t connote the passion that “evangelism” evokes. Now nobody wants to hear from someone who is “blinded” to anything. I understand the negatives associated with the word, but it is used precisely because it connotes such strong feelings. Everyone should be looking for a way to provide a product or brand experience that delights the consumer such that they would tell someone else how fantastic it is.

Rather than worry about the semantics, worry about what you are creating. Does anyone talk about your brand? Great! If not, get to work! There is tremendous opportunity to do this in today’s media market. If you can find a way to get people talking about your brand, you’ve done something right. Â

 

Delight your customers and you will create evangelists/fanatics/ambassadors/advocate/enthusiast/junkies. Most importantly, you will have created revenue. And THAT smells very sweet!

The Risks of Building Buzz

Marketing in today’s world is messy. I was reading an article about Nike’s video on YouTube to create buzz on their new hyper-dunk basketball shoe. They have a 53-second video, showing Kobe Bryant jumping over an Aston Martin car. It’s not real footage; obviously it has been doctored.Well, at least it’s obvious to me. The question is, is it obvious to kids?

There’s a lot of buzz in the internet about whether it crosses the line between building a fun video to get people talking or does it encourage kids to try to jump over cars themselves. Some say kids are pretty savvy and can suspend their disbelief just for the sake of the video, but that they do understand that this is a created effect. But there are others who worry that this will promote kids jumping in front of cars. Whether or not this ends up being a good idea has yet to be seen, as this sort of video does build buzz but does it build the right kind of buzz? Advocacy groups are going to continue to monitor this sort of viral word of mouth campaign, especially when it comes to kid marketing. 

One way to make sure to avoid this sort of an issue is to make sure that everything you do fits with your brand. If you are true to the personality of your brand, then there’s less likelihood that things will not turn out in your favor. Nike has launched this in order to see its new product launch, which doesn’t come out in stores until late July. This risky move can benefit them, but it might hurt them just as well. You’ll eliminate that risk if you stay true to your brand and make sure you only do things that are within your brand.

Managing Customer Information

Anyone who knows me knows how passionately I believe you need to know everything there is to know about your customer. You just can’t tell anybody about it. There is a law suit that has been filed against Blockbuster for participating in Facebook’s Beacon Program. The Beacon program tells members about things that their friends have bought on-line. As a part of their viral internet marketing campaign, Blockbuster intended to tell others what kinds of great rentals they have and their friends have gotten. When the program started out, you had to opt out if you didn’t want the rental information set. Four weeks after launch, they revised it so that you had to opt in. Needless to say, there were a lot of controversy around making this information public. 

What is the lesson here? As you move forward in your marketing campaigns and find out more and more information about your customers, just make sure you guard that information very carefully because with greater information comes greater responsibility.