Category Archives: Marketing Industry Insights
Online Personal Branding: You in a Crowded Online World
Caught an interesting presentation today by Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, the developers of Firefox, on “How to Stand out in the Noise of the Internet”.
The focus of the presentation was personal branding. He talked about how he uses a personal dashboard to monitor the masses of internet behaviour online – and that in almost every field, a person’s “job” will change significantly every 2 – 4 years, or more often. He says it’s critical to make your mission clear and simple to the world, and find a balance between “poetry” and “pragmatics”, i.e. your values/beliefs, and the skills you get to accompany them. In other words, don’t just tell the world you’re a pf
Along with this, he could not under-emphasize the amount of information on the web that exists about almost every person. Apparently there are even GPS satellites tracking consumer locations, and telecommunications companies saving records of every text message for up to 4 years! Shocking.
I asked him a question spurred by a CBC radio panel not long ago. The panelists had said something along the lines of, “By the year 2030, there will be ZERO North Americans suitable to run for public office because of all the incriminating and embarrassing things they are posting as teens on the web today.” My question was — will there ever be a way to erase old profiles?
Gary said that there is some work being done in this area — Germany’s privacy commission is working on technology to erase public profiles, and it will take a long time, expense and a lot of legislation to work through some kind of method to do this. Facebook in particular seems to be a long way from this thinking, he said — in particular because their user agreement states that they “own” the rights to all the data that users post — pictures included.
So there you go — be careful what you post online — getting it back may be possible someday, but it could be well beyond your lifetime, or before say, you want to run for office.
P.S. And another good idea: Google yourself regularly, just to be sure of what’s out there!
What is a Promotional Mix?
In business theory, you have probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Promotion means “Promotional Mix” and it determines what actions you will need to take to reach your target customers and get your offerings into the market. Or, put plainly, it’s also about where you’re going to spend your “marketing bucks”. In fact, it’s this “P” that most people understand to be “marketing.”
The Promotional Mix is a combination of 3 kinds of activities: 1) branding and advertising media 2) online presence and 3) your selling processes. This tends to be where people become fixated on the question, “How do I know what works?”
What Are the Best Marketing Methods?
The truth is anything can work, but depending on your business, some things will be less costly, and more effective than others. The answer begins with your target customer.
If you had one target customer and you knew she worked at at a business nearby, what would you do to catch her attention?
a. Pay $3000 for an ad in her favourite trade magazine
b. Send her an email
c. Give her a phone call and ask for a meeting
If you picked “c”, you’re on our wavelength. Certainly, with only one target customer, giving her a call and asking her to meet you, perhaps over a coffee or offering to buy lunch would be the most obvious, and probably the most effective. And yes, it is better than email, because the sound of your voice is much more enticing than plain text can ever be within an email.
Now, in addition to calling her, there’s a good chance she’ll want to check out your website to see what you’re about, so you’ll also want to have a good name, image and information there in place, but remember that the heart of the Promotional Mix is you, or a whoever else will be making that sales call on your behalf.
Now, what if you want to gain 100 customers, and they are spread out all over your city, or perhaps further? Then things get more complex. A sales-anchored approach could still be your best bet, especially if you are targeting people within businesses, although it does take time. Or, you might use “inside sales” – and call them personally, chat, follow up with email or a sample. You could still plan to travel to meet the qualified ones who seem genuinely interested. If these are industry-specific customers, places that give you opportunities to reach several industry contacts at once are also a good idea: trade magazines (and their online equivalents), sponsoring industry associations, and even attending trade conferences. These are also great for your professional development in terms of education.
But what if you want to target say 1,000 or 10,000, or 100,000 customers, and let’s say any female homeowner is your target…now your marketing (promotional mix) has to grind a little harder. You could buy a list of names off a broker on the web, and start telemarketing to try to get appointments, but really the initial sales approach isn’t very efficient here. If you need to see them face to face, it would perhaps be better to set yourself up in locations where they will be walking past you, or within range – and put signage where they will see it.
But there are other ways to reach a mass audience. Many radio stations have predominantly female audiences of a certain age. Women are also on social media frequently. Creating social profiles and posting helpful “how to” content can attract the appropriate people to your website. There are tons of other ways as well — and you need to screen these methods through your “Will this actually reach my target customer?” lens. Here is a list of ideas to give you a kick-start. The price ranges represent “the lowest number for which you can get something professional” to a “sure to knock your customers’ socks off” solutions.
Inexpensive Marketing Methods
Choose a Great Business Name - The business name is a critical element to being remembered – and worth getting right. If you want to do-it-yourself, read our article on How to Name a Business. ($2000 – $10,000).
Design a Logo – A logo is not always inexpensive, but it is a must-have. ($2000 – $10,000)
Write a Slogan – A slogan is a short descriptive phrase. It’s optional, but can really reinforce your offering ($600 – $5000)
Website – Developing a website can be free, or nearly free, from an online template (and we recommend WordPress template, so you can update it yourself) or be a substantial investment. It will cost less if you can write it yourself and supply the photography, but if you aren’t good at it, it’s always better to invest in a professional. To save money, put some really clear thought into what you want first – text and photos, on each page of the site. ($5000 – $50,000).
E-Newsletters – Free templates can be set up using Campaign Monitor, or any number of online e-newsletter programs. ($50 – $1000 as a one time, and sometime a small sending fee.)
Social Media Profiles – Set up your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts so that they are all pointing to your business, and customized with logo, photo, and information. There is zero cost to doing so, and if you’re not sure of their function and setup, simply watch some how-to videos on YouTube.
Write a Blog - Writing a blog is free, and easy to do once you have a WordPress website. Creating a blog helps you keep your website content fresh. If you use the SEO Package that comes with WordPress, you can add descriptions to your content, and headings, so that the content helps your site rank for whatever subjects you’re blogging about. Try to keep the blog content relevant to your business, and if you need ideas for blogs, use the Google Adwords Keyword tool for ideas.
Signage – Signage is a critical component of letting your neighbours know you exist. Signage should facilitate people easily finding your location, but also set the tone for what people can expect. A great sign sets up excitement for your business, and gives it a brand personality. We keep a Pinterest page with interesting signage, if you’d like to see it here, CLICK HERE. (Cost $100 for a small sign – $100K or more!). Go as big as you can get a permit for!
Finding Independent Agents - Finding an agent or distributor to sell for you doesn’t typically cost money, but it does take time to find the right fit, establish a relationship, and then support that agent with marketing materials. If you are reaching out geographically, and if your product requires a personal touch (instead of online sales) it could be your best bet. However, always remember to screen your agent thoroughly, and then collaborate with them closely to make the relationship succeed.
Classified Ads – Whether online or in a newspaper, Classified ads are inexpensive and quite targeted. People searching for specific items can locate your ad by category, and it’s a great way to sell one-off or even ongoing inventory of various products. ($25/each)
Community Newsletters – If you’re trying to reach into a specific community, the local area newsletter is a trustworthy resource. Rates are very reasonable, and businesses using this method are generally perceived to be “the neighbourhood’s own” resource ($50 – $500 depending on size of ad.)
Outdoor Advertising – Outdoor advertising covers a variety of media, from lawn signs and bus benches (0 – $200/month) to shopping mall signs and mega-tron video boxes in football stadiums ($5,000 – $50,000 or more). You’d be surprised that if you want to spend a few hundred or a few thousand, you can make a physical presences in your community and build awareness and credibility quickly.
Not Inexpensive, but Affordable Marketing Methods
If you’ve covered off the least expensive methods, and are ready to reach the next level, consider these:
Video – Videos are extremely worthwhile nowadays because they can be used for website or Television, depending on the quality you shoot. ($2000 – $50,000)
Sales Process Development & Training – If you hire a skilled person to develop your sales process and train your team, it can pay off many times over. ($5000 – $10,000)
Outsource Blogging and Search Engine Optimization – Make sure your website is ranking using the help of an expert. This can ensure your content is working its hardest for you. ($1000 – $5000/mo depending on intensity)
Hiring Dedicated Sales Representatives – Salespeople are not inexpensive, but if you cannot do it yourself, it will certainly be worth having someone handle the role. ($30K – $200+K/yr)
Localized Radio Broadcast Advertising - Getting your name on the radio helps people remember it. Attach with a musical slogan and it can become indelible in whichever market you target. ($3000 – $5000/mo per city of 1MM.)
Localized Television Advertising – Sponsoring or advertising around local television content can be a great way to magnify your presence, and become a recognized brand in the community. It can also be done on a much wider scale to build global brands. (Estimate $5000 – $10000/mo for a city of 1MM)
Local Newspaper Advertising – Newspaper is a way to get “immediate” attention on a single day, such as for a splash sale. It is also a great way to build awareness of sales or promotions of price-sensitive items where listing pricing helps to facilitate the traffic (homes, cars, electronics) ($5000 – $8000 for a full page)
Promotional Products - Items that you might brand with your logo — i.e. pens, clothing, giftware can be a great way to be remembered or to gain attention ….we definitely recommend you check the quality and get good ideas from salespeople here. (We recommend www.cstone.ca)
Direct Mail Campaigns – Some might argue this should have been listed in “inexpensive marketing methods” but these generally are somewhat costly in terms of either time delivering, or mailing costs. ($1 – $3 per household is typical, depending on what you’re sending).
Online Advertising – There are tons of new online advertising vehicles to consider. YouTube Advertising Sponsorship, Google Pay Per Click Advertising, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and more. The good thing is that these ads can be very specific, and appear only when the user types in specific keyword searches that are relevant. The budget can also range from $1/day to $100/day or more — that’s the beauty of it — and you can pay by click-throughs (when someone actually visits your website) or by number of impression, making is very easy to track effectiveness.
Mobile Phone Advertising – How about an ad that goes to a mobile phone — via texting or a through a popular app? This media is still very new — programs are based on daily budget for impressions or clicks, $10- $100/day per zone).
Big Budget Marketing Methods
Of course, if you’re ready to go big or go home, here are some of the upper end methods you might consider.
National Broadcast Television Advertising – National television advertising gets a product brand launched into the minds of consumers. Sometimes it is just plain necessary, especially when a product is something the public wouldn’t normally seek out, for example, a revolutionary health procedure, and it requires the credibility of television to be taken seriously. In this case, a public relations campaign to cover the story of your product would also be recommended as a public interest story. Other consumer products, if more easily understood without advertising, can simply be launched with distributors (such as through chain stores) and promoted using in-store means. ($10K+/mo per market)
National Magazine or Newspaper Advertising – National credibility can also be built using well-established print media. This kind of advertising again has the effect of taking products that might be scary and making them seem more mainstream – think of all the disclaimers on the back of the pharmaceutical ads in magazines like People! ($10K – $250K for a full page+ each – check rate cards, most of which are online.)
Celebrity Endorsements – Finally, if you have the deepest pockets, you can get celebrities to endorse your product. This of course comes with the risk that the celebrity may or may not instantly fall from grace due to drug use or other scandals. It’s a quick ticket to the big time, but it can certainly backfire. Always consult an attorney in this area!
For any major budget investment, we recommend you enlist the help of a professional strategist (such as Tenato) and media buying agency (whom we will enlist on your behalf).
How to Build your Promotional Mix
Choose the promotional mix based on the volume, type, and geography of the target customers you are trying to reach. Choose whatever method is the most direct, the most obvious, and the most likely to give you immediate attention the most quickly — and ensure you allow enough budget to carry your campaign on steadily over time (quick hits are forgotten, whereas brand building takes time!). Avoid methods that offer only a “chance” of being seen by the right people.
And of course, ensure your entire promotional mix is being carefully tracked throughout so that you can measure what is working, and what is not.
Now, we know that this list is not exhaustive….and there really are an infinite number of ideas when it comes to marketing. If you’d like to add your ideas (or if you have a new advertising or promotional vehicle you think our readers should know about) let us know, and we’ll post your comments and links.
If you need a hand in really hammering out your promotional mix, please CONTACT US today!
Give us your feedback below – and thanks for reading!
As Google gets better, SEO matters less
I had an interesting training session with Jeremy Kitson of Pixel Science the other day. Since I’ve been handling a lot of Tenato’s content development, I decided I should not only read online and offline sources on SEO (which stands for “search engine optimization” – activities to help a site rank higher in search engines) techniques, but also get some training from various pros in the industry. If you found this site easily, you may have noticed that we’re ranking quite well now on various search terms related to Calgary, market research, and strategy.
How SEO Has Changed
For a long time, I had been thinking about SEO as kind of a “magic” process whereby highly technical experts inserted special tags, links, and formats to make a site rank well. While this used to be 100% true — i.e. said technical experts could use these techniques to “fool” a search engine into thinking the site was valuable or had good content — search engines have gotten smarter. The real goal of the search engine is to emulate the way a human would judge a site, i.e. Does it actually relate to the search term inserted by the user? Is the content fresh? Is is local? Is it structured well? Not very “technical” criterion. But of course, emulating a human brain is probably extremely technical from Google’s perspective!
Search Rankings at Tenato
This might be why our site’s rankings have improved over the past six months: sheer brute force of blogging! In fact, we haven’t contracted any SEO services in about a year, and when we changed the domain, we pretty well had to start from scratch trying to rank. So, we’ve been writing a lot, and then sharing our content online. Yes, there are a few key other things we’ve done, like making sure we’ve gotten legitimate back-links from industry associations in which we’re involved, but none of this could be described as highly technical. It’s just a matter of making sure that when we join these associations, we’ve got our listing up with all the other members, properly filled out and linked back to our website.
The caveat to this is that the person who originally designed the site DID know SEO, and made sure the site was structured well, but once the site was complete, it still had a long way to go to get good rankings.
Conclusion: Writers Should Handle SEO, not IT Types
The major revelation I’ve had through this is that the art of getting a site to rank would be better left up to good content developers (i.e. talented writers) than it is to IT types. Once a website is built and structured well, according to Jeremy, the only ongoing work really required is thoughtful writing to build fresh content, along with perhaps, a little bit of training on how to post it and get it out on Social Media. A couple hours’ training provided to someone who can write well would do far better job of getting rankings than would leaving it to an IT-type person who can’t write to save his life. And in fact, this was verified by my own experience with content development.
So, what sort of content should you write? Well, my friends, that is a question of strategy — what niche you want in the marketplace. And that is certainly where we can assist you – with developing the right market position, developing the content you need, and maybe providing that little bit of SEO training, just in case you’re a good “do it yourselfer”as I am. Call us to chat today and learn more!
Do the World’s Biggest Marketers Actually Avoid Marketing?
Call it my crystal ball prediction, but I think the world of advertising is in for a major shift… if today’s Mirren conference discussion is any indication.
A bunch of the world’s top advertising agency CEO’s were on a panel, imparting their knowledge to other advertising types as to how they got where they are, and how they bring in the big fish that have put them where they are. In other words, what do the big agencies do to market themselves?
Here are a few quotes I jotted down as they spoke:
“Money follows talent.”
“I don’t look at it [pitching]. I don’t want to look at it at all.”
“I surprise clients with the bigness of our ideas.”
“Avoiding pitching is the smartest strategy of all.”
“We sometimes roll the dice.”
“If you are doing all the right things the growth will come.”
and, regarding making a marketing budget for the agency, “We just look at last year. Did it feel right?”
And these are people who supposedly know more about marketing than anyone else in the world. Paradoxically, they don’t like it. They don’t believe in it. They guess at it. They avoid it at all costs.
I’m sure that if their client said, “We don’t need marketing. We do good work,” there would be guffawing and eye-rolling and lecturing, and condescension. But that’s exactly what these guys are doing.
So, dear clients, I challenge you this: before you hire any company to advise you on marketing your business, ask the marketers how they are marketing themselves. If they don’t walk the talk, walk away. Because they will never understand the pain they are about to put you through.