Month: February 2014

What Athletes can Teach us About Marketing…hint: a lot

By Sue Brady

Archery Head on
What with the Olympics and all, I’ve been thinking about what athletes have to do to succeed in their sport. My son Bryan is vying for a spot on the U.S. Men’s Archery Team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, so the Sochi Olympics captivated my interest all the more. How do you get good enough to perform on a world stage? What does it take?

Passion. Passion is the most important thing, and I heard this over and over again from the Sochi athletes: they love what they do. Loving your work makes it feel like you aren’t working. Not everyone is that fortunate but when you love your work, your passion helps you be your best at what you do. It’s why Bryan is willing to live the life of a pauper while he pursues his dream. He has the passion. And that’s true of any kind of work, not just athletic. I have always done my best work when I’ve loved what I was doing.

Learning. Learning is a continual process. That’s why Olympic athletes have coaches. They learn from them, every day. Bryan is learning from a friend of his, a silver-medal archery Olympian. And he’s learning from his coach, a man who has produced Olympians in the past. And, he reads. He reads a lot. He reads books like With Winning in Mind, and The Inner Game of Tennis as well as current material from sources like Archery Focus Magazine. He wants to learn more about how to keep himself focused.

The same is true in marketing. Since Al Gore invented the Internet <joke>, marketing has changed dramatically. Does direct mail still work? You bet it does. But if you aren’t combining your offline strategy with an online one, you are leaving opportunities on the table. (Read about grabbing some of those pay per click opps here.) I worked at AOL for eight years and saw the business grow from one million to ten million subscribers. I was fortunate enough to work with some of the best marketing minds in the country, if not the world at that time. And I was like a sponge. I learned formative things during those years about taking risks, thinking outside the box (as corny as that sounds), about controlling your testing, watching the competition, and about how to understand your customer. Today I continue to read a lot. I read what Seth Godin has to say, I refer to Ries and Trout and David Ogilvy. And I read about what digital marketers like Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, and Mark Schaefer have to say. Why? Because you can’t stop learning. It’s a career killer.

Sponsorships and Endorsements. In the sports world, sponsorships are huge. Monetarily the benefits for athletes are obvious, and for younger, newer athletes on the scene, sponsorships bring credibility. That’s how young athletes finance their training and competitions, if they’re lucky. It’s why Bryan knows he needs to shoot exceptionally well in the earlier tournaments this year. He wants to attract a sponsor as soon as he can so that at least some of his tournament trips will be paid for.  Brands understand the value of sponsorships perhaps as well as athletes. If Bryan wears Lancaster Archery Supply branding or uses their equipment, the up and coming shooters see it at the tournaments. And their parents see it too and want to make sure their sons and daughters are using the same equipment that the exceptional athletes are using. It’s proven to be effective and benefits everyone involved.

Many brands use spokespeople. It’s risky business because a spokesperson can ‘go bad.’ Doubters need just to remember O.J. Simpson and Hertz or Kobe Bryant and McDonalds. You can read about celebrity endorsement fails here. But the upside of celebrity endorsements is what they can do for a brand. It’s a simple concept: If a consumer likes a certain celebrity, and that celebrity likes a certain brand, then perhaps they too should like that brand.  Movies continue to earn revenue from strategic product placements. It’s an implied endorsement when a star is drinking Coca Cola in his latest blockbuster movie.

Word of Mouth. Why is this important in sports? Because of the section above – endorsements. Those ‘talked about’ athletes get the calls. Look at Gabby Douglas, the young, talented gymnast from the London Olympics. She lit up Twitter during the games. Her talent made people notice her, but her personality extended that conversation. Not only did Philip Krupp produce a Lifetime movie about her (view that here) but she is also doing a celebrity cruise competition on Royal Caribbean Cruise line with Tom Daley and Ian Thorpe. It’s big money.

Word of mouth is marketing gold (tweet that!).  And with the Internet, it can be immediate. Remember the old Faberge shampoo commercial where “they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends?” Never has that been a faster process than it is now. This concept is what is making advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the like successful. Brands want their fans to ‘share’ something about their product, be it an ad, a video or a link to a coupon. Why? Because they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends and before you know it, they’ve gone viral (if they’re lucky!). According to McKinsey and Company, word of mouth is the primary driver of 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Here’s another impressive stat: When a website has customer reviews, 63% of purchasers are more likely to make a purchase (iPerceptions, 2011). Tweet that! And those are typically reviews by total strangers!

Word of mouth is what’s making celebrities out of ordinary, not famous people. Frontline has coined the phrase, Generation Like and it refers to the under 25 crowd. They created a documentary that talks about some regular kids who have gotten themselves noticed on Twitter and Youtube and are benefiting from it financially. Why? Because brands know that if they can get someone who has 1 million fans viewing their Youtube videos to ‘endorse’ their product by wearing it, eating it, or making public appearances on their behalf, that person’s fans will see it and think about trying their product. And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…

Good Sportsmanship. There were a number of examples of this at the Olympics this year. Two of my favorite examples: when the gold medal winner waited almost half an hour to be able to shake the hand of the last place finisher in the cross-country ski event. And when the Canadian coach gave a Russian skier a new ski to replace the one he’d damaged during a cross-country race.

Bryan has told me stories at the archery tournaments where a shooter has a broken piece of equipment and his fellow archers offer theirs as a replacement for use while shooting. These are young men and women who are competing against each other for a few top spots. Less competition makes it easier for them, but that doesn’t make them any less kind.

You might ask what on earth that has to do with marketing. Remember the writers I referenced earlier? They are sharing their secrets for success. They don’t care if their competition reads it. Yes, they want to make a name for themselves or reinforce themselves as thought leaders, but they are happy to share their knowledge in the process.

You can be the best. Remember to be passionate, keep learning, and understand how marketing tactics can help you shoot for the stars (pun intended).

And if you liked this post, please tell two friends, so that they can tell two friends, so that they can tell two friends…

Bryan shoots

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Owning Your Media: Some Content Marketing Basics

By Sue Brady

Typewriter

Owned, Earned and Paid.

All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.

The focus of this article is content marketing for your Owned media.

What is content marketing?  Content marketing refers to published information designed to acquire, educate or engage prospects and customers. Content published in this way needs to be valuable to the reader and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.  Content marketing is not a way to sell…at least not directly.  Rather, it’s a way to provide information that your prospects and customers will find useful.

How can you get started? First, clearly define your goals.  It’s not enough to just publish articles and blog posts. You need to understand what you hope to accomplish with your content. Is your goal to show that you are the thought leader in your field and therefore the place to go for specific types of information? Is your goal to educate your prospects about the capabilities of your products? Is it to dive into topics of interest to your target audience? Whatever you decide will drive how you go about choosing topics, writing about them, and ultimately publishing.

Your content marketing really breaks down into these main steps:

  1. Decide on a strategy to best meet your established goals (see above). To figure out your strategy, think about some basic things: What am I trying to solve for my customers? What type of content do they like to see? What’s my end game (what do I want to achieve)? Additionally, you should think about how you want to use your content. Are there multiple channels where you can use versions of the same content? This step should also include identifying where you want to post.
  2. Identify your audience. You need to know who you are writing for so that you can choose topics of interest.
  3. Decide how frequently you are going to post. This may not sound important, but if you want people to keep coming back, you need to keep your content fresh.
  4. Create an editorial calendar. Calendar-Clip-Art-FreeThis will help you to keep your content organized. There are templates available for no cost on the web. I use a simple spreadsheet with the dates down the sides and the following column headings: Article Title, published/not published, category, and keywords/tags. I try to schedule topics for myself as far out as possible so that I have a working list to guide my efforts.
  5. Start writing. This sounds easy but of course is not. There are a number of steps involved with the actual writing
    1. Generate topic ideas (here are 6 Goldmines for finding relevant topics). In addition to those 6 goldmines, make sure to take a peak at what your competition is writing about to see if their topics make sense for you too.
    2. Consider SEO in your writing.
      1. SEO (search engine optimization) is important for search engines like Google to be able to find you in their searches. Do some research to figure out what terms your prospective customers are searching on and make sure you include those words in your article. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to make sure your content is found.
      2. Note that Google+ is also important for SEO. While Google+ is unproven as a means to gain customers, Google itself considers Google+ presence when ranking content. So open up a Google+ account and post your content there. It’s free and can only help with your rankings.
      3. Once you’ve created your account, make sure Google knows who you are. You do this through Google Authorship and it’s how Google knows to start looking for you when someone searches on relevant terms. You can do that here. Doing this also means that when you do show up in a search, your name will be visible in the listing.
    3. Create an outline for the article. To be honest, I don’t always put this to paper, but I always have an idea, at least in my head, of how I want a post to flow.
    4. After you write your post, go back over it carefully to delete redundancies, fix grammatical errors, and in general tighten it up.
  6. Respond to comments. Once you’ve published an article, check your post for reader comments and respond to them. It’s a great way to engage with your readers and help them to feel a personal connection.

Don’t be afraid to publish that first article. The first time is always the hardest.

You are Losing Sales if You Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Search Terms

You are Losing Sales if You Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Search Terms

This one generated a lot of interest so enjoy the reblog!

Digital Marketing Musings

By Sue Brady

Clicks Based on Search Position Consumer Clicks Based on Search Position

“But why should I spend money on my own branded terms? If someone is searching for my brand, they already are interested in my company.”

Two reasons: Competition and consumer behavior.

Competition: Anyone can buy your branded terms. It’s not uncommon for competitors to buy each other’s terms in fact so that they are showing up alongside whoever the user searched for. And, if you aren’t buying your own branded terms, chances are your competition knows that and may be seizing the opportunity to show up in a search for your brand. Why risk having a prospect click on the competition? As the graph above shows, the higher you appear on the search page, the more clicks you’ll get.

The example below shows results of a search for Ethan Allen sofas. Walter E. Smithe bought the branded term, while…

View original post 764 more words

Facebook for your Business – What Comes After Setup?

Part 3 in the 3-part series of what should happen after those Social Media accounts are set up.facebook By Sue Brady

I’ve covered Twitter (read it here) and LinkedIn (read it here), and now I’ll cover Facebook. With over 500,000 active million users, Facebook is an important tool for your content strategy.

As usual, you need to start by solidifying your goals. You can then craft your content strategy around those goals. Your overall Facebook strategy might be to humanize your company, to position your company as a thought leader, to engage your customers or to show yourself as a company involved with the community. Maybe you want a particular piece of content to be widely shared, or your goal is to generate feedback on your page. Most ultimate goals focus around customer engagement in some way. Whatever your goal is, keep it in mind as you make all of your decisions for your Facebook page.

Some basics things to think about:
1. You’ll need to decide how frequently you want to post, but if you have nothing to say, best not to post anything that day.  A reason often cited for why a fan ‘unlikes’ a page is because the company posts too much.

2. Decide how much time you have to devote to your page. Some business-to-business (B2B) companies feel they don’t need a Facebook page at all.  Facebook can play a role in  B2B, just a different one from business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.

3. You already can see that Facebook is a very visual medium. Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics that show the value of posting with pictures:

  • Posts with photos get 53% more likes
  • Posts with photos get 104% more comments
  • Posts with photos get 84% more click-throughs

Nike post 2

4. KISSmetrics also states that posting with a question generates 100% more comments than statement posts. Get users to engage with your brand by asking questions!

Business-to-Consumer

Facebook is a natural if you are talking directly to your customer and brands use Facebook in a variety of ways. Most important to your strategy, know your target, know your goals and design your content around both. Consumers like to connect with brands. And brands like to put on a human face.  Facebook is a great place to do that. Be honest in your communications and make sure they reflect the tone you want your brand to take.

GAIN FANS

  1. Don’t be shy about asking your personal network to ‘like’ your business page. It’s a great way to get started and generate some immediate buzz and activity on your feed, and helps you to gain exposure to their networks.
  2. Also ask your network to ‘share’ particular posts. You will generate more shares by saying specifically in your post: Please share this.
  3. Advertising. I know a relatively new company who went from a fan base of less than 1,000 to over 5,000 fans in three months. They did it by buying Facebook ads that offered a cents off coupon for their product. Period. They had been on Facebook for around 6-months before they started buying ads. They fielded the occasional customer comment during that time but they couldn’t generate the traffic they wanted. Once they tried advertising, they were able to generate a much wider base. Now they are enjoying much greater customer engagement, with fairly frequent posts from customers on their page. Facebook has some easy to use methods to help you maximize return on your advertising. This post is a great read on the subject.(Little known fact from the folks at Hubspot: you can test your messaging in advance of running your ad by creating unpublished posts, known as dark posts. Dark posts appear in the News Feed but not on your timeline. This article tells you how to do it.If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s another gem from Hubspot explaining the options.

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW
1. It’s no secret that a big reason consumers like brands is because they are hoping for coupons. In a survey by market research company Lab42, they found that 77% of those who had ‘liked’ a brand saved money as a result. Tweet that stat! In the same study, 69% said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.

2. Understand the Facebook Algorithm. Facebook’s goal is to keep users interested, and to do that, they show content they think a particular person will be interested in seeing. It’s important to understand this because it impacts how your posts will be ranked. How is rank determined? Through an algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank was created as a way to prioritize stories in a user’s news feed and referred to the concept of ‘gaining an edge.’ The key elements have remained the same over the years, although according to Facebook, they now use over 100,000 factors:

  • Affinity Score – This is based on an action the user took, his ‘closeness’ to the person posting, and how much time has passed since the posting. Commenting on someone’s posts, or ‘liking’ those posts, increases a fan’s affinity to a brand. Think of it this way: liking a brand’s page gives the brand an edge.
  • Edge Weight – Edges are weighted based on the effort required on the part of the user. For instance, leaving a comment has more weight than leaving a ‘like.’ A video view has more weight than leaving a comment.
  • Time Decay – This refers to the length of time that has passed since an edge was created. As time passes, it loses value. However, if a story is very popular, even if it’s a few hours old, it could be bumped to the top of a feed.

You can read more about EdgeRank here.

3. Promotions. Promotions are a great way to garner fans on Facebook. But there are rules that have to be followed. The rules around promotions continue to evolve, so make sure you are using the most current set. For instance, it is now okay to use the ‘like’ functionality as a way to collect entries. Here’s a summary of the <current> Facebook rules as of August, 2013. You also must follow local and national rules imposed by the government (check with your lawyer!).

Business-to-Business

There are a few ways B2B companies use Facebook.

  1. Human Resources. A common reason a B2B company has a Facebook page is for future employees. It’s a place to gain some insight into the corporate culture and learn a little bit about the company in a more casual way.
  2. Putting on a Human Face. It’s not unusual for someone to reach out to their friend base to gain information on a product or service they might be contemplating for their business. If a recommendation is made on Facebook, it’s a natural response to click over to see that company’s page. It’s also a great place to interact directly with your customers. And remember, it’s Facebook…photos are important.
  3. Leads. Tough in a B2B environment, but to gather more leads some companies will offer a white paper or something else of value for ‘liking’ their page. The user exchanges their email address for information they want to read. As a business, it’s still a person who buys your product, and Facebook can help you to connect. You can also indirectly create leads by posting pictures of an event or something of interest. The key here is that every post can’t be a sales pitch. Think entertaining and/or educational. You can also buy ads on Facebook to reach others who are not yet your fans (see the Advertising section above under Business-to-Consumer).

Final Thought

Be prepared for trolls. Trolls are users who frequently post negative comments on your page. They may feel wronged by your company or just have nothing better to do. You need to have a plan for how to deal with this. In addition, it’s important for management to be aware they are likely to see some negative comments on the company Facebook page. Let them know you have a plan.

Happy posting!