What does Donald Trump have to do with Earned Media?

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As recently as two-weeks ago, I bet if I’d asked how many people knew what the term ‘earned media’ Reportersmeant, few would have known. But thanks to Donald Trump, the word is spreading!  I heard it mentioned in two separate news stories this week alone.

There are three categories commonly used to describe the various types of media:

Paid Media, which refers to TV advertising, ads you encounter while surfing the web, direct mail, and the like.

Owned Media, which refers to your company’s own assets, such as your website, your Facebook page, blog etc.

and Earned Media, which is what Donald Trump is teaching us all about. Earned Media is news coverage, word-of-mouth, reviews. It’s called ‘earned’ because you don’t buy it (typically) or own it. Marketers love Earned Media because it’s free.

Politicians especially love Earned Media because they can gain tons of coverage without spending money they’ve raised. And Trump has lead the field by far, of any candidate ever, in free media coverage. In fact, he has hardly spent anything at all on paid media. And clearly, at least so far, he really hasn’t needed to. According to The New York Times, he has had almost $2 billion dollars’ worth of Earned Media! The downside of course is that Earned Media isn’t always positive, something Trump hasn’t seemed to care much about. In fact, it’s his shocking and ridiculous statements that bring him the most coverage…likely there’s a strategy there.

At the least, there’s a lesson here for marketers: if you make yourself newsworthy (in a positive way!), you’ll benefit. Perhaps a let-down of a payoff but think about it. If you can do something to pick up news coverage, the benefits can be immense. Give back to your community, forge an alliance with a non-for-profit that you care about, donate a part of your sales to a good cause. And make sure you find a way to get some media coverage as a result. Don’t be shy!

Sometimes it’s good to toot your own horn…and hope that others join in.

As Seen on TV!

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By Sue Brady

As Seen on TVPhilip Kives died last week. You might not realize that you know him, but you do. He revolutionized marketing by inventing the infomercial. Some in fact might call him the founder of direct response marketing.

Kives brought these classic products to us: the Pocket-Fisherman, the Miracle Brush, the Veg-O-Matic, and the Mood Ring.

Remember those commercials where the greatest hits of an era would play while the song list scrolled up your TV screen? You guessed it, Philip Kives. He had a great idea and he made millions with it.

He grew up poor, living with his parents on their farm in a tiny town in Canada. After graduating from high school, he successfully sold products door to door, such as vacuum cleaners and cookware, earning $29,000 in 1959, a small fortune. In his early 30s, he figured out that TV would be a more efficient way to reach people, and so the infomercial was born. And in 1963, Kives founded the company called K-tel International.

The very first infomercial ever produced was for a Teflon non-stick fry pan, and it was produced by Kives. He was 32. Turned out that Teflon might help keep food from sticking, but it didn’t stick so well to the frying pan itself. So Kives looked for other things to sell. He bought a bunch of products from Seymour Popeil, father of Ron Popeil, the guy who coined the phrase “but wait, there’s more,” and was successful using TV to sell huge volumes.

Three years later, for no apparent reason, he traveled to Australia with an infomercial he had made himself, selling the Feather Touch Knife, another product he bought from Popeil. In five months’ time, he had sold a million knives, earning $1 per knife for himself. Popeil decided to stop selling his products to Kives, instead selling his products himself through his son’s company, Ronco.

That change forced Kives to start finding and developing his own products, and that’s when he hit on the jackpot: compilation hit song records. His company sold 500 million albums by 1983!

Kives perfected the all important call-to-action. His messages were compelling and simple, and his audience responded. Tell your viewers what the product does and how it benefits them, create a sense of urgency, and encourage them to buy.

“Only available through this very special TV offer”

“Buy now while supplies last”

“Snap up one of the first 30,000 LPs”

Eamonn Forde (@Eamonn_Forde) writing for The Guardian summed up Kives style perfectly:

“His approach to sales was unapologetically mainstream. The marketing language was simple and unswerving at a time when, as illustrated by Mad Men, the advertising industry was attempting to elevate itself to a level of erudition and sophistication that perhaps it didn’t quite deserve. For Kives, the sales message should have no space for indulgence or purple prose.”Veg-o-matic

You’re probably familiar with the ‘As Seen on TV Logo’. Yep. That’s Philip Kives. For many years, this trademarked logo could only be used if you paid for the rights to do so (and you were selling a product that was sold in this way). Now this iconic image is considered a part of the public domain, so anyone is free to use it.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t we wish…

The Perfect Couple: Content Marketing and Direct Marketing

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!
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By Sue Brady

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

Direct Marketing and Content Marketing are often seen as two very different aspects of marketing. But in fact, as Wayne Hendry @ideakid88 so aptly tweeted: They are two sides of the same coin.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the ‘guest tweeter’ at Content Marketing Institute’s content marketing Twitter chat (#CMWorld is the hashtag and there is a weekly chat on Tuesdays at noon Eastern). The topic was how Content and Direct can (and should!) work together.

I have pulled together some of the conversation here. Great insight and learnings from the crowd and hopefully you’ll pick up some ideas to help with your own marketing. This was a lively group of intelligent marketers!

The first question helped define what direct marketing actually is, along with why content marketers should care:

Direct Marketing (aka direct response marketing, aka DM) refers to marketing efforts aimed directly at a consumer to drive a specific action. It’s all about finding out what resonates with your audience so that they’ll respond.

Mike Myers ‏@mikemyers614 Direct marketing and content marketing are perfect compliments…getting a targeted #audience to do something specific in both.

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Next question was about using DM to inform your content.

Question 2

Angela J. Ford ‏@aford21 uses customer response to direct marketing and turns questions she hears into to blog posts with step by step solutions.

And Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital:

Direct marketing and direct engagement give you SO many content ideas – it’s straight from your clients! What are user questions? Issues? Ideas? How can you take that information and provide REAL value? CONTENT!

The real key here is seeing what your audience responds to in DM and using that to inform your content.

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:

A great way to develop content is by seeing what resonates with your audience. What do they respond to? Write that.

Remember that one method of communication with your audience can inform all your communications. Listen to your audience when they talk to you!

Rosaline Raj ‏@creativechaosc:

When you have direct feedback from customers, you have a major advantage in creating valuable content.

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Crowd Content ‏@CrowdContent

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Question 3

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And some quotable tweets:

From Varun Kumar ‏@varunkr842 – Direct #Marketing is the gas station for your #contentmarketing vehicle

And from Liliana GH ‏@Liliholl – DM warms up your leads and content marketing helps them to convert.

And from Blue Fountain Media @BFMweb – With direct marketing you’re saying check this out and with content marketing you’re saying here’s why

Liliana GH @Liliholl reminded us: You want your DM to have the customer asking for more.

Question 4

 

There are many answers but consider what content is read most. Test those themes in a mailer, DRTV or space ad. And if some of your content creates social media buzz, use that in your DM to engage your audience.

Regarding how social and community management can support DM programs, think about how you can use your social posts to reinforce messages from your DM. If DM is touting a product benefit, soc. posts can talk about the same.

Social and community are all about listening and responding to customers:

Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson: I think they go hand-in-hand. Your strategy should be integrated for better reach and exposure.

Lynn Suderman ‏@LynnSuderman also reminded the group that “affiliate & refer friend programs are an easy 1st step.”

Jeremy Bednarski ‏@JeremyBednarski “Your content, DM and social should all work together for a consistent message.”

Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital “It gives you the language for copy that your audience is using to understand the need for your service / product.

SurveyGizmo ‏@SurveyGizmo “If you know what your audience is talking about, you can better respond, and put yourself in the position to be of relevance.”

Importantly too, social and communities can ID hot buttons. If you hear ‘they use cheap materials,’ test a message around quality in your DM.

As always, keeping a tab on your competition is so important and social/community can help you do that, while giving you great ideas for your DM (and content).

The Gary J. Nix ® ‏@Mr_McFly When listening, you’re not only listening for brand mentions. You have competitors, industry thoughts/changes, sentiment, etc

Vanessa LeBeau ‏@VanessaLeBeau2 Social media is a great way to learn what your competitors are offering and how their consumers are responding

I’ve only just skimmed the surface! You can read the full transcript of this Twitter chat here.

3 Critical Steps to Identify Your Target Market

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By Sue Brady

Archer targets with Bryan

Knowing your target is critical to your success. Once you know what your typical customer looks like, it’s much easier to find others who look just the same. Especially if you are selling as a business (B2B), it’s important to remember that your product is bought by a person, not a business. You will be more successful selling if you can identify commonalities among your buyers.

Step 1: Analyze your current customer file to tease out the demographics.

 

If you sell directly to the consumer (BtoC), you need to know, at a minimum, three basic things:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income.

It’s also helpful to know education level, where they live, occupation and/or employment status, ethnicity, children in the home, and marital status.

If you are selling B2B, gender and age of the buyer is still important, but add to that:

  • Job title
  • SAIC code (business classification code)
  • Company size (employees and revenue).

This analytical exercise will help you paint a picture of your target and make it easier to find ‘similar’ buyers. You’ll be able to better target both your online and offline marketing.

Step 2: Determine behavioral characteristics of your buyers.

To figure this out, again turn to your current customer file. This is easier (IMHO) if you are targeting customers directly, but also has a B2B application.

In the case of B2C it’s important to know what your customers like to do. Do they tend to be outdoorsy, are they car fanatics, do they love to cook? Knowing this information will make your customers easier to find. If they like to cook, try running ads on recipe sites, if they like to hike, look for them on hiking trail sites. You get the idea.

There are a number of ways to figure out what your customers like to do:

Look at the Twitter feeds of some of your most active buyers. Do some analysis to see what they are tweeting about. Visit the links they share. See if you can determine any patterns. You might find that a portion of your buyers spend time doing research on cars. Perfect! Now you know where to target some advertising.

Analyze your Facebook posts to see which ones resonate more with your followers. Do you get a lot of engagement when you post about your company’s charitable activities? If so, think about how you can use that in your marketing.

Analyze how much time your website visitors spend reading various content. Especially in B2B, if your visitors tend to gravitate towards particular topics, you can continue writing about those, you can reach out to influencers in your field to see if you can publish on their blogs or you can figure out appropriate conferences and see if you can speak on that topic. The goal is to establish yourself as an industry expert on a topic that’s important to your buyers.

Step 3. Do some research.

For both B2C and B2B, survey research can yield dividends. There are many tools available that enable surveys (paid and free!). Don’t be afraid to reach out to past buyers to ask questions. SurveyMonkey is an easy to use tool that has a free and paid version. You can survey without revealing who you are, or as your brand. You can run a survey on your website, or rent a list of folks who have opted in to take online surveys. Do your research to come up with a list you know is ‘opted-in.’ Be sure to consider survey bias with online surveys. You might find that there are different behaviors with people who have opted in to take an online survey vs those who haven’t (they might be younger, older or have other characteristics unique to the group). Always ask demographic questions (age, gender, income, etc.) in your surveys and use those answers in aggregate to see if they look similar to your customer base.

Once you survey your customers, you can ‘cut’ the data in a number of ways to see where nuggets of information might exist.  For instance, you may discover that one product feature is more important to your male buyers, and another to your female buyers. Or that your older buyers tend to buy your product for others, or that your tech savvy customers spend more.

Do some research on your competitors’ customers too. Why are they buying from him instead of from you? This type of research will take more time than surveying your existing base because it may be harder to get a statistically significant sample size, but is a great way to gain insight into why your competitor sometimes wins out. For instance, if you sell Internet service, you can ask questions like: What Internet service do you use? What is the most important feature your Internet service delivers? Do you know the speed of your Internet service? There are a few options for these types of surveys. You can hire a survey company to find appropriate email lists that might include both your customers and your competitors’ customers, or try to find lists yourself. The information gathered can be enlightening!

This is the 2nd in a 3-part series. Original post is here.

How to Use Goals to Be the Best You Can Be

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By Sue Brady

Racers

Last month I briefly covered some important marketing planning topics. My next few posts will focus on each topic one at a time. This post focuses on goal setting.

Setting goals is incredibly important. But why? Without clear goals, your department will be unfocused and is unlikely to take your business where it needs to go.

Goals are a tricky thing. If you are in a position to set goals for your department, you want them to be achievable, while at the same time not being an easy slam-dunk. Goals should encourage employees to stretch a little bit. You want to have over-achievers, not ‘business as usual’ experts. Tweet that!

The methodology of setting goals definitely varies by company. I’ve worked in places where the goals were simply ‘10% higher’ than the year before. I’ve also had goals set through careful analysis of run rates to determine where the business has to be (and yes, those sometimes ended at 10% higher than the year before). And, I’ve had goals set for me that look at run rates and go up from there.

Use goals to motivate! I’m a believer that if you set goals too high, where you know the chances of them being achieved are low, all you end up doing is demotivating your staff. You really want the goal to be one everyone can get behind and strive to reach. I don’t mean easily reach by doing what they’ve always done, I mean stretch to reach because they are incented to do more, or to do things better.

A story:

While at AOL, I spent some time working in the Customer Retention department (no snickers please!). My boss set the goals for the department, and one particular year he put a goal on ending customers, the number of total customers the company would have by year-end. He came to the number through analysis, gut, and the knowledge of programs we were launching to entice customers to stay with us. It was not an easy number but we all knew what that number was. We watched our monthly numbers like hawks to drive to our goal. And guess what? In a year where we had over 10 million customers by year-end, we ‘missed’ our number by 71. 71! We celebrated the huge win!

Hitting your targetThe point of that story is, however you set your goals, they should serve to motivate. Most places I’ve worked have weekly meetings where sales numbers are reviewed. The reason for those meetings is to keep everyone focused and on track.

Use Goals to Drive Innovation. Someone at my current employer decided to launch an initiative called ‘Leave no Customer Behind’ as a way to achieve one of the goals for her team. It’s brilliant! Her group is totally focused on uncovering points where we lose customers, and closing those gaps. Not only is it innovative, it has given her staff clear direction on where to focus because there are goals associated with the effort.

Review what’s key to your business success. Is it sales, leads, cost per order, social sharing, hits to your blog? Create goals to drive achievement of each important metric, make sure everyone knows what those goals are, and work together to achieve them.

Good luck!

Please send me a message to let me know of other topics you’d like to read about.