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seven habits_infographic_2.ashxMcKinsey & Company recently pointed out that companies need to approach digital marketing differently, on a fundamental level. Among their points in “The 7 Habits of Highly-Effective Digital Enterprises” McKinsey notes the ineffectiveness of companies that assign digital marketing to a staffer or set up an internal team. They suggest it is a skill set to be acquired through external resource.

Let’s look at this another way. Social media is the latest marketing touchpoint. Advertising, public relations, direct marketing, web development, and sales promotion are among social media’s predecessors. How many companies attempt to assign those duties to a staffer? Very few. It is arguable that very few companies execute these marketing touch points well internally.

The missing ingredient? The creative talent.

Why creative talent largely resides outside companies is a discussion for another day, but the work of very few in-house departments approaches that of outside agencies. The same applies to social media. Like the others, social media is a distinct and separate marketing skill. Creative acumen is a critical issue in social campaigns as well. Companies that simply push social media off to someone internally run counter to historical precedent and risk falling behind competitively.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 2.23.31 PMGuest Relations Marketing will be extending our ‘Zealotry Marketing’ practice by taking on a new assignment – handling online customer service issues for client Milani Cosmetics. This assignment is an unusual twist for a traditional marketing or ad agency. Typically, agencies handle the external media brand communications, but not the follow-up.

In this particular case, Milani views the online service as a logical extension to the social media work already being handled by GRM. Our ability to respond quickly and in brand voice was critical to their decision to place this additional program with GRM.
For us, it is a validation of not only our relationship and work to-date with Milani, but the increasing value of building marketing from the basis of referral. As we like to say, turning customers into Zealots.

On the subject of social media, our group recently had not one, but two Facebook posts go viral.  One surpassed 647,000 likes with 7,800 comments, and another passed one million likes. When you consider what it costs to place an ad that is read by 647,000 – you start to tap the value in social media. Add to the equation that it provoked 7,800 people to ‘comment’ and another 11,000 to share it to their friends. Now the real impact of engagement becomes apparent.

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We like to say social media can be direct mail on steroids. No better example.

“This post was spawned through the success of a previous post,” explained Sarah Crytzer, GRM’s head of online media. “Through experimenting, we’ve learned that people are encouraged and motivated by posts that are positive in nature. This particular post, specifically, is a no-brainer for those who view it. It’s wonderful news, the cake is fabulous, and it makes you WANT to click ‘like” or “share.” For those who have been affected by the disease – it’s encouraging. For those who are advocates of the cause – it’s motivating. And, even if you are somebody who has no relation the the topic – it’s an easy like.” 

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If the adage “add more talented people than you” is true, then GRM is doing it right.

We welcome Alexis Foster to our staff as Marketing Coordinator. Alexis hails from University of Tennessee (SEC fans, please keep the catcalls down), graduating Summa Cum Laude with a PR and Communications emphasis. In addition to her academic endeavors, Alexis’ talents include making it as a finalist on the ABC show Duets and sharing a doubles state tennis championship with her twin sister. Yep, already picked my partner for the next tennis outing.

In the wake of continuing digital media changes, CEOs are re-examining how they engage management in marketing. McKinsey recently advised CEOs to engage their boards to a greater extent in marketing. In particular, McKinsey recommended three key points:

1. Consider a customer-engagement planning day to take stock of the broadest strategic implications of changes in the marketing environment and of the company’s position with customers.

2. Consider expanding expertise of the board, given the fast-changing nature of marketing. For example, including more board members with public-sector experience—including political-campaign skills—can provide valuable counsel to today’s ever-more-exposed CEOs.

3. Keep board involvement strategic in nature and clearly aimed at governance issues and not the day-to-day management of marketing activities.

GRM has historically conducted customer/prospect research aimed at uncovering engagement points and how to be distinctive from competitors. Lessons, even for smaller businesses, as the digital-marketing revolution continues to unfold. Are you mapping customer engagement? Customer engagement is a CEO directive ultimately. To be effective and encompassing, operations, marketing, sales, customer service, R&D and now – IT – all need to be on the same page.

Passing along from our friend Larry Melnick:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.01.07 PMA psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” Remember to put the glass down.

Quicken and Warren Buffett put an audacious prize out there. The fact that it is almost totally unlikely to be won makes it all the more brilliant.  He is offering $1 Billion for a perfect March Madness bracket.images

A perfect example of creating buzz, viral media, massive following, whatever jargon you care to use. The trick: it’s not the $1 Billion prize – that is not the rub – it is likely insured for far less than the actual prize. The real answer: a company with the juice to put something out there that is not simply copying what someone else has done. No, win two tickets to the next Super Bowl is not likely to garner ESPN’s attention or develop viral action.

You gotta go big, bold and unusual. Which is why creativity is still a fundamental keystone of great marketing.

Read More.

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UnknownWorld Series game one drew a smaller audience than an NFL Monday Night game featuring two teams with a collective one win. Baseball has clearly lost to football as the sport of preference to viewing audiences.

Perhaps it is a tale of touchpoint preference. Baseball grew with the  evolution of radio. Baseball broadcasts still remain one of the hottest programming packages for stations. Football on the other hand, grew in popularity hand in hand with television.

How does this relate to your marketing? Maybe nothing. But, consider if there is a media or touchpoint that best showcases your business.

From the same industry that once bragged about saving $1 million by removing stale lettuce from pre-packed sandwiches, comes this startling new discovery:

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Airlines are shifting their focus from fees as penalties to fees for enhancements, reports Scott Mayerowitz in an Associated Press dispatch (9/30/13). Where “the first generation of charges … dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight.” For example, airlines “are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first-class meals in coach … Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.”

The airlines also “will soon be able to use past behavior to target fliers.” For the moment, such data is mainly “used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost,” but this is changing. “We have massive amounts of data,” says Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings.” In addition, airlines increasingly can “sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding.” – Cool News.

 

 

When I first saw this headline on a blog post, I was intrigued. The author was quoting Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern’s Medill School and the “father of integrated marketing” at the recent Content Marketing World conference. Mr. Schultz was referencing a ten-year study on brand preference in a number of categories which shows a decline in brand preference and corresponding increase in acceptance and use of generic brands.

In a recent Forbes magazine article, Mr. Schultz gave this explanation of the study and conclusions he and his co-author, Martin Block, have reached:

Based on preliminary results of a new ten year, longitudinal study of social media and social media users, (1,100,000+ online questionnaire responses , covering 73 fmcg categories and 1,500+ individual brands) a new research study conducted by professors in the Integrated Marketing Communication Department at Northwestern University’s Medill School, found that heavy users of social media (primarily Facebook) when asked for brand preferences in various product categories, showed higher levels of specific “No Brand Preference” as a brand category choice, than those who used less social media. Also, as social media usage increased (primarily Facebook) over time by respondents, there was a measurable decline in specific product brand preferences in a majority of the product brand categories covered in the study.

The study also found that only 11% of the respondents “regularly asked for or sought advice” from others, indicating that social media is used primarily for “social conversations” among users, not to provide product recommendations to others. At the other end of the spectrum, nearly 19% of social media users said they “never seek or give advice” about products or services through social media or other forms of word-of-mouth.

Findings from this study seem to confirm that social media usage is primarily for “social purposes” and the potential for marketers invading social media vehicles or encouraging social media users to become product advocates is not only limited, but, may actually be counterproductive in terms of building brand value and brand relationships. (my emphasis).

After viewing other presentations of this study made by Messrs. Schultz and Block, I have only one conclusion to make.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This finding is based on a large sample from a very limited source. – primarily Facebook users. Putting aside my own personal feelings (mostly negative) about Facebook, I am very surprised that The Medill School at Northwestern University (a highly respected institution) would allow this study to be presented under their auspices. The fact that Drs. Schultz and Block found that only 11% of users want to hear about brands on social networks when the study was primarily from that medium seems rather naïve. I suspect that if you asked anyone if they want to hear about brands on a mass medium, the results would be similar.

But the real naiveté is concluding that this means that marketers and brands using social media are “killing their brands”.

Correlation doesn’t automatically mean causation.
I’m not surprised that heavy Facebook users have increased their statement of “no brand preference” in favor of more acceptance and usage of generic brands. Nielsen sales results shows that many people, not just heavy Facebook users, feel the same way. Just because the number correlate, doesn’t mean there is a cause and effect relationship.

This statement flies in the face of many other positive studies on the value of social media, as many marketers report that they get good results from social media. An IAB study released in July reported that 90% of consumers back brands after interacting via social media.

The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner reported that 89% of the 3,000+ marketers they surveyed indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure and 75% reported positive increases in brand traffic.

Can social media kill brands?
Yes. There are plenty of bad uses of social media vehicles by marketers.

Does social media kill brands?
No. When brands use social media as a legitimate tool for disseminating relevant information and value to a community, social media works.

Even when heavy Facebook users are turning to store brands!

– Don Morgan

Don Morgan is 2013/14 President of PSAMA, and Head Rainmaker at Raindance Consulting, a branding, social media, and business development consulting company in Seattle. He can be reached at dmorgan@raindanceconsulting.com.

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