In today’s world of political correctness and social interconnectedness, the world of civilized capitalistic society is increasingly assumed to be a smoothly lubricated organism where we humans, as a race, are racing forward and are finally seeing the greatest potentials for human (if not societal) endeavors… in many ways via technology and/or chemistry, which we think we are pretty hot stuff… every day. That said, and beneath this carefully crafted veneer of cooperation and coopetition, there is a stunning and ironical counterpoint: the business world is still a competitive jungle with real winners and real losers every day and there are still some instructive lessons to be learned by looking backwards into history and that can separate ‘the men from the boys.’
One of my most favorite lessons in this regard was from a former boss who was a brilliant marketer with vision but who also had his own special brand of street smart practicality. In one of our first marketing and sales team meetings, he looked around the room at his new charges and said, “Can anyone here tell me who discovered America?” Sensing an opportunity to get ahead and to suck up to their new boss, the apple polishing segment wildly charged forward and waved their hands and, as the approval seeking crescendo mounted, one individual could no longer restrain himself and blurted out, “Well, anyone knows that, it was Christopher Columbus!” The rest of us thought, “Well that’s that, Smith has broken ranks again and scooped everyone…” Until an absolutely THUNDEROUS “NO, THAT IS INCORRECT!” came back at us from new boss. (What? Smith was kind of a jerk and a colossal brown-noser but he was rarely off the mark). And then came the next verbal volley, “…IT WAS AMERICO VESPUCCI WHO FIRST DISCOVERED AMERICA!” This ignited a major “Huh?” that rolled across the meeting room like a wet blanket and was followed by a collective thought bubble to the effect of “Who the hell is Americo Vespucci?”
Our new leader then painstakingly rolled out his explanation and it became known to us as “The Christopher Columbus Syndrome” and it goes as follows:
Even though Americo Vespucci preceded him, Christopher Columbus is thought of as the first person from the Civilized World to discover America because he did his own marketing and PR via the 15th century Spanish Court propaganda machine and by strategic word-of-mouth campaigns. He did this through other history-making communities such as the ship builders, the sea captains, and the seaport taverns and therefore effectively and relentlessly solidified his explorer marketing positioning as the first explorer to discover America. In essence, he grabbed what today we know as the first-to-market advantage and clutched it to his breast and masterfully built the market perception that he so desired. And, in our current age of self-satisfaction, you may say “So what?” and, for some of the more timid souls in the audience, do your thing and return immediately to the rat race. But for the more adventurous of you who want to win the commercial race, I suggest you think about this fact: the Christopher Columbus brand has established and held market leadership for around 500 years and has done so without big marketing budgets, lawyers, PR agencies, etc. Christopher made his claim at the right time and with the right marketing resources to back him up, he made it believable to his key target audiences with the right evidence, and it has stuck like glue in history books and most of our collective consciousness and become even more effective over time through repetition.
The moral of the story is that it’s great to win and it’s great to be first, but, unless you make some noise and break through the clutter with your claim that you’re first, you’re probably going to get, at best, the Americo Vespucci bridesmaid treatment… and really, how much fun is that?
If you’d like to discuss this anecdote further or talk about your latest go-to-market challenge, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Christopher Columbus, marketing
In the world of social media there are as many ways to measure success as there are ways to cook eggs. When all is said and done, it comes down to what matters most to you. Are you using social media as an engagement tool, a means to drive traffic to your website, or for social selling? Each has its own unique recipe to measure by.
Social Media Measurement ProfilesCommunity BuildersHere we care about nurturing a growing community and making sure clients feel they have a voice. The important measurements here are: growth of followers, likes, retweets, @mentions, sentiment (if you can, more on this later in the month…), and true conversations that are had.
Traffic Jam We want to be overrun with website traffic and we want it yesterday. Measurements to take account of here: clicks on links, referral traffic to site, conversions to leads, reach and click-through rates.
Social = Customer ServiceIn this case, we’re looking for the easiest, fastest way to answer questions, take care of issues and turn a client’s frown upside-down. We need to look at: comments, @mentions, direct messages, and reviews.
Sell It to Me It’s all about the units, services and Benjamin’s. You’re going to be looking at: direct response sales, conversion rates, direct traffic, and lead-to-customer metric.
Here at Exsilio we use an arsenal of tools to measure our social media success as a company. I love the painlessly easy and free Twtrland because it gives the forest-for-the-trees view of our Twitter profile. It shows us quickly what we need to look at, who our followers are and how our engagement is doing.
For our daily goings on, scheduling of posts and reporting on KPIs for all things @exsilio social, we use Hootsuite Pro. The integrated way that Hootsuite shows you your overlap with Tweets and posts to our Google Analytics keeps us coming back for more. It’s just the ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment we search for when trying to find the ‘why’ behind traffic.
No matter your social purpose, there are certainly ways to measure your ROI and what that truly means to your business.
Tags: audience engagement, best practices, community management, Facebook, Exsilio Solutions, marketing, social media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Tools, Twitter
Marketing | Social Media
If a tweet falls in the woods, does it make a sound? You bet it does. Remember when we used to have to actually watch commercials on TV? Remember the De Beers ‘A Diamond is Forever’ ads and how it was a beautiful double entendre to describe the sturdiness of the stone as well as the depth of the marital commitment? Well Twitter could launch their own “A Tweet is Forever’ campaign to describe the fact that whatever you say on the web, stays on the web, be if for good or for ego/corporation/relationship killing evil.
For example: @kitchenAidUSA knows quite well the power of a tweet, both the bad and the good ones. Everyone remembers the inflammatory comment that was made about Barak Obama’s grandmother during the last election. Yikes! While it cost a certain community manager their job, Kitchen Aid’s CMO was able to change this ‘yikes’ into a ‘whew’ with some serious CYA messages sent to nearly every offended person on Twitter. Moral of the story, don’t use the same device for your personal account as your business account. #palmface
@celebboutique allowed their ego to get the best of them when the term #Aurora began trending in July of 2012, the UK based retailer assumed it was their well selling dress bearing the name or at least something just as cute, when in all reality Colorado was facing one of the worst mass shootings in its history. Lesson: Don’t assume everything that’s said on the internet is about you. Do your research!
@McDonalds launched their #mcdstories to try to create customer engagement through sharing heartwarming and good customer experience stories on their Twitter feeds. Alas, it turned into a forum for disgruntled customers to vent and rip them apart in 140 characters or less. My favorite story being the Dutch model who wound up with blood in her fries and was told by management that she should probably get tested. Which brings me to…
There are hundreds of examples of various Twitter #fails from celebrities or companies. Some are silly mistakes from a community manager who just didn’t think before posting, others were calculated and vetted social media campaigns (e.g. @jello’s #FML campaign), but whatever the situation, remember when something goes wrong, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle it and you have a very limited window of time to make things right in the eyes of your audience.
Tags: social media fail, social media, marketing, Twitter
Tags: social media, marketing, content, Pinterest
Utilizing social media at events such as fundraisers or expos is a no-brainer. Its versatility and potential to have significant impacts on impressions make it a great medium for an event of any size. After all, one of the core functions of a social network is the ability to share one's experience regarding an event. Also, social media allows campaign managers a high level view of the event’s overall reception, almost instantly.This weekend, we’ll be able to witness just how large scale a company’s social media campaign can run, at one of America’s largest events.Over a hundred million people are expected to tune into this year's Super Bowl [between the New England Patriots and New York Giants]. Of these 100+ million folks, 60% will be online. This, coupled with the fact that NBC is providing live, online streaming of the game, leads me to believe that this 60% will be watching their social streams and feeds along with the game.Dubbed the “Second Screen Phenomenon,” advertisers and marketers are recognizing that there is an increasing amount of online usage at events. We humans obviously like to share our experiences, which explains why your social media feed might include many one-line, exclamatory reactions to a game on Sundays. I’m sure I’m not the first Twitter user to have trouble finding noteworthy content on Sunday nights due to the multiple, frequent, “Falcons! NOOO!” or, “Really? Fumble?” tweets.Coca-Cola plans on tapping into this potential with their new campaign on CokePolarBowl.com. Here’s a quick summary of what will be going on:• The website, hosted on Facebook, will feature two polar bears, watching and reacting to the game live.• Commercials spots throughout the game will direct the audience to the campaign site.• The stream will also be available on Twitter, ESPN.com, and other ad placements throughout the web.• The bears’ reactions, which will be shareable via Twitter and Facebook (i.e., retweeting a happy response from the bear that’s a Giants fan), will even be made for the commercials.With this campaign, Coke will be cashing in on the potential for over 60 million unique impressions in one day. And that, my friend, is how you run a social media campaign.For a complete rundown of the campaign, read Karlene Lukovitz’ report on Media Post here.
Tags: customers, social media, smartphones, mobile marketing, marketing, marketing strategy, Twitter, Facebook, events, impressions, audience engagement
Data, it makes the world go round. In the realm of SEM, it is the lifeblood that justifies the changes I make, the improvement I seek, and the outcomes I chase.
Here is the catch - when a new account is established and you are launching into the dark with a new set of keywords, ad copy, and targeting – data is a little hard to come by. Sure, there are tools to estimate keyword traffic, bid amounts, and competition. But SEM is based a human element of resonance with an ad. Computers don’t click the ad, humans do. As such, the first shot at launching an account is shooting into the dark with confidence that “the data” will arrive shortly.
Now we arrive at one of my first projects on the job: optimizing an account that had impeccable structure, logical organization, and a substantial keyword list. On paper, this account looked like it should exceed.
But “the data” said otherwise. This account had a high impression rate, low click through rate, and minimal conversions. When diving into the performance of the account, it was clear that there were some keywords that were generating conversions – and others were pulling from budget that should be focused on the keywords that actually had positive performance.
Additionally, there were ads that had a high impression volume, but a shockingly low click through rate, and no conversions. What does that mean? – The human element is not resonating with the ad copy before them on the screen.
The symptoms had been identified, and the solutions are relatively simple:
1. Build out more experiences surrounding the keywords that are working well. 2. Restructure account to accommodate for these new experiences. 3. Shift budget from ad groups that are not performing, to ad groups that are driving conversions. 4. Develop and test ad copy based on the top performing ads in each ad group keeping in mind the relevancy between both keyword and ad title. 5. Stop spending money on terms that are not converting. 6. Build out negative keyword list to include terms that do not convert.
How are things performing now? – Glad you asked. Within 24 hours of making these changes, impressions have doubled and click-through-rate has tripled. No word on conversions yet, but I am confident those results mentioned previously will increase conversions.
If not, this process starts again.
Tags: Search Marketing, marketing, SEM
Marketing | Search | SEM
Over the last several months I have had the pleasure of working on what is easily the largest project of my career… The Server & Cloud Platform from Microsoft. This new site brings Microsoft’s server, cloud, and security products and solutions together into one easy to navigate platform. After months of content review, editing, and site build, I would like to present Microsoft’s Server & Cloud Platform! Thank you to all involved for making this project a huge success.http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/
Tags: Cloud, marketing, Microsoft, project management
Marketing Campaign Evaluation – Sunscreen
The Product: SPF 150 sunscreenTarget Audience: One 3-year old, independent, and strong-willed little boy.Method(s) of contact: Viral, direct, word-of-mouth, and promotional giveaways (bribery)
We began by marketing use of the product virally, with a full week of gentle suggestions from several individuals in the target audience’s space. The messaging conveyed through this method was that the use of sunscreen may be “awesome”, and “super”. The target seemed to have an elevated interest level due to this approach.Direct contact was made with the target audience when the Marketing Manager directly requested, several times, that the target put some sunscreen on. This was unsuccessful, with the target audience running away, arms flailing, loudly speaking out against the product. Needless to say, this was not the desired result.The third phase of this campaign included testimonials from people that our demographic had traditionally identified as trustworthy. This included two family members, a neighbor, a stuffed frog named Edgar, and two super hero action figures. When these efforts had little effect, a crafty technique called sleight-of-hand was used to falsely put the product on several of the audience’s familiar items, including, but not limited to: several LEGO people, a basketball, a fire truck, and a lamp. This was not a successful method, with the target becoming quite agitated.Finally, utilizing historical data of past marketing wins to this demographic; I developed and deployed a promotional giveaway, offering each participant who used sunscreen a free package of gummy snacks. This method worked wonderfully, though there were concerns that it was more akin to bribery, and after some debate, we settled on the word “incentive”.Summary: This consumer group shows considerable resistance to most traditional marketing approaches, but with a lot of hand-held guidance, a little patience, and a few gummy snacks, your clients can have their day at the beach without risk of dangerous UV rays.
Tags: marketing, marketing strategy, work life balance
Marketing | Randomness
I recently ran across this interesting TED talk by Dan Cobley, director of marketing at Google. He draws some great parallels between physics and the world of marketing. For all you marketers out there, physics can teach us a few things about how we can better manage our brands. Here are some of the insights that Cobley shares.
Newton’s Second Law
Newton’s second law of motion states that Force = Mass x Acceleration (F = ma). Based on this law, the larger a particle is, the more force is required to change its direction. How does this relate to marketing? The bigger a brand is, the more force is needed to change its positioning and reputation in the marketplace. Cobley offers the examples of Arthur Anderson choosing to launch Accenture instead of trying to convince people that Anderson could stand for anything other than accounting, and also Hoover having a hard time convincing consumers that it stood for something other than vacuum cleaners. This is one of the reasons companies like P&G and Unilever keep their brands separate instead of having one big parent brand.
The Scientific Method
You can’t prove a hypothesis through observation but you can disprove it. You can collect data to support your hypothesis and it will strengthen it, but you’ll never be able to conclusively prove it. However, one solid, contrary data point can easily disprove your theory. This can easily be applied to the marketing discipline. A brand can spend decades building a stellar reputation with consumers, but one company misstep can easily destroy all those years of perceived integrity. A couple recent examples are BP and Tiger Woods. BP spent years marketing itself as a pro-environment company only to have that reputation shattered by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. And before all of his dirty laundry was aired to the world in 2009, Tiger Woods was seen for many years as the quintessential brand ambassador and one of the most admired professional athletes in the world. After having a reputable image for years, both BP and Tiger Woods have been permanently damaged by their scandals.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
This theory asserts that you cannot measure the exact state, position, or momentum of a particle since the act of measuring it by definition changes it. In marketing research, it is a challenge to get completely accurate information from consumers. With the act of observing consumers, it changes the behavior of consumers. Cobley offers the example of a group of mothers who would never admit in a focus group to feeding their kids junk food although it’s well known that McDonald’s sells millions and millions of Happy Meals every year. He also mentions that when people are asked if they view porn online, very few people admit to it, although it’s the most common search on Google. The marketing lesson here is that you should try to measure what people actually do rather than what they say they do, and fortunately this is becoming easier to do.
I’d recommend watching the full video if you can. If you’re not familiar with the excellent TED talks, I’d also suggest checking out a few of them. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to “ideas worth spreading” in the areas of design, entertainment, business, science, and global events.
Tags: science, physics, marketing, TED
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