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Yoda.sized5 Steps To Analyzing That New Marketing Effort I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it's amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects...

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5 Steps To Analyzing That New Marketing Effort

Category : campaigns, strategy

49

I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it’s amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects have come a long way.

But, one persona in the movie that portrays wisdom relevant in any galaxy is Yoda. Remember him? The little green guy in the swamp that guides Luke on his journey to understanding, “The Force”. One of Yoda’s lines in the movie struck me as extremely relevant in my profession – or any profession for that matter. Luke was having a hard time with something related to The Force and he told Yoda he’d try again. Yoda snapped back and said, “Do or do not. There is no try”

Brilliant! How many times have we heard, “we should give that a try” on our Marketing teams? I’m starting to see the word “try” as an out. When you’re “trying” something, failure to execute is understandable. After all, it was only trying. But, what about all the cost, resource, and time that went into that “try”.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for trying something new. In fact, I encourage innovation and “out-of-the-box” thinking in regards to how my teams market their companies. But, as Marketers we have 100 times the options available to us to connect with our customers than we did 10 or 15 years ago. The Internet, social media, podcasts, webinars, blogging, etc. are offering us bountiful options in which to proliferate and distribute our positioning and messaging. The myriad of choices is daunting for small business marketers and the temptation to dabble in a new medium or technology is great.

But, there is the problem – the dabbling. If you don’t draw up a plan, dedicate resources, and design intended outcomes you risk missing the boat on the new direction’s potential. Instead, follow these steps and put the new effort on the right path:

Article in instapaper that might be good reference

  • Alignment with Goals: Alignment with goals is always one of my first thoughts when considering giving my approval for anything in Marketing. Is this new effort going to support a direction the Marketing team or the overall company is going?
  • What’s the Plan: Simply trying can waste time. What is the measurable result you hope to attain? An “A to Z” plan should be clear so you can get to a certain point in time and analyze whether the intended result was achieved. Too often we get in the habit of giving something a try and seeing what happens rather than knowing what you want to happen first and implementing a plan to get there.
  • Look for Other People’s Experience: A simple search can yield a plethora of perspectives. Perhaps someone else has some experience you can tap. Maybe there are pitfalls or better ways of implementation that you haven’t considered.
  • Consider Resources: You’ve gotten your plan and feel confident that there is a measurable outcome. But, what are the opportunity costs of implementing? If you’re a small business you’re most likely looking at not applying your time to something else in order to implement this new idea. Make sure you have a full scope of what resources are needed and what may get dropped.
  • How Much Will This Cost: This should be a no brainer, right? If your budget is tight – it better be. But, often we don’t consider “project creep”. What hidden expenses are out there that you haven’t considered yet?

As a reference point for some more information on a related topic, I came across this article which I think gives a good perspective on taking calculated risks:

I know there are a variety of perspectives and opinions on this topic so please chime in if you think there are other angles to this discussion!

Brand Positioning Case Study: ibis Hotels

Category : branding, campaigns

17

I was traveling in Europe last week visiting customers and partners and staying in a variety of hotels as it was a multi-country trip. Two of the legs of the trip were in Belgium and the Netherlands where I had the opportunity to stay at a couple of the hotels in the ibis Hotel chain. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in hotel management or hotel marketing but there were some features of these hotels that caught my eye and made me think of a couple very important characteristics of a well-done branding campaign.

Thus, here is a small case study from my experience last week.

I’ve stayed in the ibis hotels a few times on previous trips to Europe and twice on this trip so my sampling for this study is not large. But, I have seen some similarities across the chain that led me to want to highlight them.

The picture to the left is a small stand-up display card located in both of my rooms. The message is letting me know that whatever the problem I may encounter, they will resolve it in 15 minutes or less or the room is on them. Their Quality Assurance page on their website shows the same message in English. In the Netherlands, I didn’t have a problem but there was a minor issue needing resolution. To me it was not urgent and would not have affected my stay, but an out-of-breathe employee was at my door with a resolution in under 15 minutes. He smiled and let me know he had it done in 12. But, the best part – he was proud of it and you could see that.

Other similar displays touching on their level of service were posted throughout the hotel and for each I could probably drum up an example of an employee backing up the guarantee. The advertisements and messaging were created in a main headquarters somewhere – but the execution and strengthening of the message on a daily basis is being carried out by the employees. This leads us to a very key point – a campaign or branding message is nothing without the proper execution of the customer facing employees.

As Marketers we brainstorm creative deliveries of key company brand characteristics but sometimes overlook the importance of making sure everyone understands what we’re trying to accomplish and say. Here are a few key steps in assuring all front line employees can back up your go-to-market efforts:

  • Training: It doesn’t take too long to get key personnel in a room or on a webinar and present a few slides on your branding or campaign effort. The last thing you want is for them to hear of the campaign from a customer. If the customer feels a disconnect between the campaign or message and the employee to which they’re talking, the whole thing has a lot less weight in the customer’s eyes.
  • Give Campaign Material a Dry Run: You’ve got the perfect graphics, presentations, advertisements, brochures, slogans, and imagery ready to roll, but why not take a step back and release it internally first. Yes, you may not hear exactly what you want, but the impressions and feedback from your internal co-workers can help fine tune the materials for the customer.
  • Step Into the Interaction: I’ve made it a habit to travel with salespeople and present our positioning to customers and partners – or watch them do it. How comfortable are they with what they’re presenting? How is it being received by the customer? What questions are generated? It’s not that I don’t trust the feedback if I’m not present, but there is nothing like seeing it real-time.

Again, I’m not a hotel brand expert but the key message is the same across many industries – Employees need to reinforce brand positioning. Any disconnect will trigger a lack of confidence with the customer. I was curious if there was other content floating around about similar topics and there is quite a bit. Here were a few that caught my eye:

Any thoughts from you on this? Any positive or negative engagements with hotel brands you want to share?

Lifetime Fitness Campaign Gets Me Thinking…And Exercising

Category : branding, campaigns

5

Occasionally, I’ll come across a piece of advertising or messaging that strikes me in some way. Sometimes, I’ll be hit by how bad the advertiser or brand missed the mark and sometimes I’ll really appreciate how they connected with me. In this case, I was definitely impressed with the positioning and messaging presented by Lifetime Fitness.

Lifetime Fitness has built itself up in recent years to be the prominent health club in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. They build gyms that appeal to a broad base of exercise interests spawning generations – from kids clubs to seniors programs. My family belongs to Lifetime and actively use many of their facilities.

A few weeks ago as I was exiting the club I caught the banner – pictured here – out of the corner of my eye. The slogan, “I can do it all in my Lifetime” jumped out at me. My first thought was of the Lifetime Marketing team sitting around a table and having one of those “Aha Moments” when an idea or concept materializes. It’s one of those fun moments to be in Marketing. My guess is that happened here. It also spurred me to whip out a camera in a healthclub and take a picture. Probably not one of my better ideas but, oh well – this post wouldn’t be much without the visuals!

I like the concept, alot (the messaging – not me taking pictures in a health club). Two messages jumped out at me instantly. One, Lifetime Fitness is offering me the chance within their gyms to select from a wide variety of exercise options. This is also presented to me visually by showing a variety of options available to me that I may not be able to experience in my lifetime if I wasn’t a member.

But, I like advertising that could have double meanings and makes me think about what those are. This piece also stirred the emotion that if I utilize the wide variety of exercise options available to me, I’ll put my body, mind, and spirit in a better position to experience more out of life. I’d be curious to know from Lifetime if that was the intention or merely a product of me over-analyzing this.

From a campaign standpoint, it was well thought out as well. Below is what appears on their website and they’re also running some print advertisements with the same concept. But, I didn’t see much on their Facebook or Twitter pages about the campaign. It might have been a good idea to carry it through all mediums they’re using to reach out to their customer base. I’m sure it’s mentioned on a post or tweet but I think having the logos present on the social media presence would have carried the message through nicely.

But, overall, the message made me think and helped to position their brand in my mind – isn’t that what we’re all after with advertising and campaigns?

What Stinks? The Febreze Facebook Group Will Tell You

Category : campaigns, social marketing

12

FebrezeOne aspect of social media that I truly enjoy is watching companies, who historically engage in traditional marketing mediums, adapt and change as their audience changes. More and more articles are popping up talking about companies who have jumped into social media in an attempt to meet up with an audience their trying to attract. A recent example I saw on AdvertisingAge focused on Febreze, a P&G brand, and their attempt to attract coeds with a new Facebook campaign.

The relatively young (Febreze’s family of products has been around less than a decade) but burgeoning $600 million brand has just kicked off “What Stinks,” the online and viral campaign for its fabric-refresher spray aimed at college students.

“There are 18 million college kids out there and we’ve never really targeted them,” said Martin Hettich, North American marketing director for Febreze. He said there have been pockets of students that over the years embraced the odor-fighting spray, typically priced between $3 and $7, despite the fact that there has been little in the way of dedicated advertising toward the group.

Citing the fact that “washing is not a convenient part of the lifestyle at college”, the Febreze execs probably took a sizable step outside of their marketing comfort zones and tried something new. With ROI being in such focus for marketers, that’s not an easy step to take, but I love the risk they’re taking and I think it will pay off. Let’s take a quick look at a couple elements of Febreze’s What Stinks campaign. Naturally, the first thing I did was see if they bought the domain. Yes, they did and here is the landing page:

Febreze What Stinks Website

You definitely get the feel for the graphical elements of the Febreze What Stinks campaign. The other aspect of this page that I like is there being one link on the page. So, there is only one way to go from the page and that is to the Facebook group. The page is obviously here for people like me that hear a campaign name and instantly type into my address bar of my browser.

Next, we visit the Facebook page dedicated to Febreze’s campaign:

Febreze Facebook Page

I like the fact it carried over the graphical elements from the website. That consistency typically indicates a well thought out campaign. CO-ED Magazine picked up the Febreze story and also includes the main graphics so Febreze did a good job of branding the campaign.

Now, let’s check out what they did with the “I Tell Febreze What Stinks” Facebook page, which at last check had over 750 members:

Febreze Facebook Contests and Games

Along with a comedy tour schedule, the page contains cartoons, some user generated photos, an intro video, and a potentially viral video game called The Dank Game. Other standard Facebook features such as a discussion board, member photos, and The Wall are also included on the page.

One last element I thought was creative was the Wheel-O-Stink:

Febreze Facebook Wheel

This is Febreze’s subtle attempt to educate the college crowd about their various products and how they might be used. Very creative! Out of curiosity visitors will try this out and will get some exposure to the Febreze product line.

A potentially dangerous aspect of this campaign is the fact they’ve opened themselves up to potentially damaging Wall postings on animal testing and crude stories about smells that could diminish the brand. I noticed a few of those while on the page. The college crowd could easily jump on the wrong bandwagon with some of that.

One other quick note is search engine exposure for the campaign. I went to the major engines and Febreze does not rank in the top 3 or 4 results for the phrase “What Stinks” and they also are not running any paid search ads. People curious about this campaign might head to a search engine and search for details, but may not look far enough down to see the actual Febreze website. A PPC ad could help guide them to the campaign page.
Overall, I think Febreze did a great job with this campaign. They’re obviously taking major steps to make their brand recognizable by the college crowd and they’ve done that by going to where that crowd is hanging out. Am I curious about the results? Yes! Brand appeal will be tough to measure, but if their goal is the college crowd I think they’ve done it right.

What are your thoughts?


Marriott Hotels Offers Travel Guide Ad Insert

Category : campaigns, print advertising

3

Marriott Hotels LogoI’ve been pretty heavy on writing about search engine marketing recently so I thought I’d switch it up a bit and do a small feature on a print advertising method used by Marriott Hotels that I found to be unique. The ad is actually highlighting Residence Inn’s Chicago hotel which is part of the Marriott Hotel chain.

If it’s possible to transform the trend of Local Advertising from search engine marketing into a print advertising format, Marriott has come pretty close. I see alot of their advertising in many of the business and finance magazines I read, but this one stuck out.

As you can see below, the typical advertisement is on the left followed by a very useful insert that can easily be removed. It’s a perforated piece that has a map of the Magnificent Mile area in Chicago with icons pointing towards destinations they’re highlighting – including the Residence Inn Marriott Chicago Hotel.

Marriott Ad in Magazine

The back of the insert has the destinations’ descriptions as well as address, phone number, and relevant date information. It’s a well rounded list of Arts, Entertainment, Sightseeing, Food & Wine, and Sports attractions that would appeal to any visitor to that Chicago area.

Marriott Ad in Magazine Back

I thought Marriott did a nice job with this. I’m sure since I’m in the Midwest my insert focused on Chicago. Other areas of the country probably saw destination information for major cities in their geographical area – or at least I hope that is the way Marriott did it.

Given the fact dates are included for events in the near future says that they’re going after leisure and business travelers planning a trip to Chicago in the next few months. They’ve also highlighted the LaSalle Bank Marathon which draws close to a million spectators. Not a bad target market if you have a hotel in that area!

Too bad they aren’t running paid search ads on the keyword “LaSalle Bank Marathon”!! They’d have no competition as no one is running ads on that term right now. It probably would get the same conversion rates at a much lower costs that the print ad spot.

But, I’m a huge fan of Marriott Hotels and don’t want to take away from what I think is a decent print ad campaign. The insert stuck out, forced readers to look at it, and provided very useful information for people heading to Chicago in the near future.

Verizon New Phone Release: Some Buzz With No Sting

Category : campaigns

10


Were my expectations too high? Did a great new phone release print ad and great landing page create a buzz that fizzled? Was I tainted by the iPhone craze? I think so.I’ll admit, I was intrigued enough by a print ad in a newspaper today to follow-up and see more information online. I’m a Verizon Wireless customer and I signed on with them a few years back because of their good network. But, over the last two years, I’ve started to watch other carriers who are carrying more cutting edge technology in their cell phones.

Could a print ad change my perception of Verizon’s cell phone offering?

It was a half page ad on the back of one of the sections. The ad was all in black with the headline “Next Phones Now” followed by the date “10.3.2007″. Next were a set of 4 cell phones hidden in shadows so you can make out the outlines and a few characteristics, but not much else. Below the phone was their logo and the url – “www.verizonwireless.com/next“.

Being a bit of a technology toy geek, I had to check this out. I guess the fact that my Verizon contract is up in a few months also plays into my intrigue. :)

The landing page is very well done and definitely creates the aura of an unveiling. Here is how it looks:

Verizon Next Phones Now Web Page Screenshot

A clock counting down, soothing music with relevant lyrics, and a spotlight you can move around that lets you uncover some of the mystery are all excellent elements for this landing page. Lower on the screen were buttons to share with friends and add to del.icio.us. Verizon definitely has the pieces in place on this web page to create buzz and potentially some viral social activity.

…yet, I think their follow-through may lack some punch.

Since I typically write about small business marketing I’m always intrigued to watch the big players like Apple throw big money at great campaigns. So, I was excited to look around the web and see all the buzz about Verizon’s new phones.

…looking…still looking….getting bored…nothing….done looking.

  • A search on “New Verizon Wireless Cell Phones” on Google yields only standard Verizon Wireless results. I was sure there would be news stories on the first page about their release or maybe a YouTube video relating to the new phone mystery. After all, this is the era of Universal Search!
  • Their standard Adwords ads were up leading to their homepage. No ads touting their new phones or their “Next Phones Now” campaign.
  • Nothing on their homepage! I thought for sure there would be something obvious there pointing to the campaign and the new phone unveiling. But, nothing!

What if I was in the market tonight for a new phone and provider? If I didn’t see that print ad, I might not know that in two days Verizon could have some great phones available.

In the era of Universal search, I would have suggested this to Verizon:

  • Put some Press Releases out over the last month discussing the new phones. That gives them time to find their way into search results while this campaign is running.
  • Get some influential technology writers some specs – or maybe even a phone – to look at and review (think iPhone). Create some buzz!
  • Do something fun with a video or maybe even a game that let’s users try to uncover the mystery of what they’re about to release.
  • Run Adwords ads on their name and terms like “new cell phone”. Have the campaign name in the ad and promote the mystery unveiling. Cell phone decision making starts and sometimes ends on search engines!

You know what’s interesting? None of my suggestions are “big dollar” marketing ideas. That’s why I think the online marketing – namely search engine marketing – has given small business marketing the chance to compete with the big budgets.

Well, Verizon, I’ll be watching to see what new phones you have, but I’m afraid your viewing audience might not be as big as it could have been. If you’re looking for someone to review the new phones, I’m always available! :)

Should Media Planners Love Or Hate Google?

Category : campaigns, paid search, strategy

1

I logged into my Google Adwords account yesterday and noticed something for the first time. On my campaign summary page there was a tab setup for my online campaigns and a new tab setup lower on the page for Other Campaign Types which strongly suggested I look into Print or Pay-Per-Action campaigns. This could have been there for awhile, but it’s really the first time I took notice.

Screen Shot of Google’s Other Campaign Types

So, I can go to Google for paid search, pay-per-action campaigns, site-targeted display ads, and print advertisements. As with anything Google does, they get bigger and better. What will these services look like in 5 years?

So, what does this all mean for the small business marketing media planner? Can we hand over time-consuming media planning to Google? Will bigger company media planners be out of jobs?

Absolutely NOT! While Google is doing a nice job of expanding their portfolio of opportunities for advertisers, they are by no means replacing the traditional media planner – or even today’s Search Marketer. iMedia Connection made the case that traditional media planners and search marketers will need to do more collaboration in the near future, but their roles are still very important. From the article:

“Nowadays, search marketers are being asked to take on projects that have traditionally fallen to online media planners: buying advertising on targeted sites. Search marketers understand and know the Google system well, but perhaps its time for traditional online media planners and paid search marketers to work more closely together. The opportunities to do so are only just beginning to surface.”

Media planning is a big job that shouldn’t be underestimated. From selecting mediums, defining budget, negotiating contracts and placements, planning messaging and creative, delivering a schedule of placements, and monitoring results, the media planner’s role is by no means in jeopardy. In fact, the case could be made that the role is getting bigger as the options and mediums increase.

The fact of the matter is that Google’s reach on publisher’s websites is not far enough that full industry campaigns can be turned over to their mediums. There are a handful of sites on which I may put display ads through Google, but it won’t certainly include some of the highly targeted industry sites on which I currently advertise. And, since I’m not a newspaper advertiser, that medium is not even on my radar. How many years until Google covers every trade mag in every industry niche? Not sure – but it may be sooner than you think.

Breathe easy media planners! Google has opportunities for you but is no where near replacing your role.


Multiple Impression Advertising Works

Category : campaigns, general marketing, strategy

10

buynow.jpgI wanted to pass along a quick story that I think highlights a point I and others write about often when discussing advertising and customer engagement.

While at SES San Jose conference and exhibits, I had the chance to be the attendee and not the exhibitor in the exhibition hall – meaning I got to walk around and evaluate different products and services that I may be able to use in my job. When I walked in the hall for the first time, I was greeted by a representative from an exhibiting company wanting me to carry around a bag with their logo on it to carry all the little trinkety, cheap giveaway handouts – or better known as “schwag” – that is handed out by exhibitors. Having decided I wasn’t going to pick up any “schwag”, I declined.

Later, after one of the conference sessions, I went back to the exhibition to continue visiting the booths. I was once again approached by the same company offering the bag and again said no. But, as I walked around I couldn’t resist the temptation to grab a few little unique giveaways that I thought the kids might like. Soon, my hands were full and I was thinking how nice it would be to have that bag.

To my pleasant surprise, the same company was there offering that bag and this time, I happily said yes. I then wandered around filling the bag with junk that never would make the trip home with me. But, I was carrying that big, flashy red bag with that company’s logo on it everywhere I went.

My point to this story is to show an example of why multiple brand impressions are important in any advertising/media plan. Engaging the customer at each point in their buying process dramatically improves your chances of a conversion.

Take the BtoB marketplace, for example. When is the last time you heard a buyer of a product or service in the BtoB world say, “I just had to have that! It was an impulse by, but I’m sure I’ll get use out of it”?

I bet never.

Justifying purchases and covering bases is paramount in corporate buying – of anything. So, don’t be naïve and expect that one impression with your product or service is going to turn into a conversion. You need to be there – both online and offline – as the buyer does their research, compares vendors, get proposals, and makes the decision.


Genalytics Releases, Listens, and Responds

Category : campaigns

2

Mack at the Viral Garden recently wrote about companies being more responsive to commentary and news they read on blogs. I had the opportunity today to come across a company that not only was listening but was concerned and very responsive to what they heard. Yesterday, I wrote about a Genalytics releasing news that was of interest to me, but being unable to find more information on their web site. Well, they were listening.

I was contacted by their PR department right way this morning and was given all the information I needed. I was very impressed. They were courteous, honest and diligent about making sure I was informed. Hats off to them.

Now, I can get down to why I wrote my post yesterday in the first place – I wanted to highlight a company who has created on demand targeting tools for businesses wanting to target audiences and discover new markets. Their news yesterday was about a new offering for BtoB direct marketers. Here’s an overview from their press release:

Andover, Mass., June 19, 2007 – Genalytics (www.genalytics.com), a leading provider of data solutions that assist companies in targeting customers, announced that it is now offering On-Demand Targeting for business-to-business campaigns. On-Demand Targeting for business allows marketers to leverage automated predictive modeling techniques to identify prospective business customers.

With Genalytics On-Demand Targeting, organizations are able to leverage advanced predictive modeling, profiling and list scoring without the overhead of traditional analytic approaches, to identify customers and businesses that are most likely to respond to a marketing campaign. Because On-Demand Targeting is automated, agencies, data compilers, list brokers and marketing service providers can offer advanced business targeting for every campaign.

I’m a big fan of any solution that helps me zero in on my target market. Genalytics does just that by using their predictive modeling to help business marketing campaigns identify prospective business customers. This tool could be a huge aid to small businesses who want to ensure that valuable budget dollars being used on a campaign are being used wisely.

Great new product from a very responsive company. Check out more on their site. Thanks to the folks at Genalytics for getting me all the info I needed and pointing me in the right direction. If they provide that kind of service to customers, I can imagine they’d be a great vendor!


More City Marketing In My Own Backyard

Category : campaigns

4

twincities_small.jpgA few weeks ago I wrote about Iowa and their excellent marketing plan to draw professionals to their state. They cited their values and way of life as perks on top of challenging careers. Interestingly, the post was one of my highest generators of traffic in the recent months. Who knew Iowa marketing would be such an interesting topic?! Mike and Claire enthusiastically commented, Drew, Adam, and Spa Clientéle posted about it and Chris had a different take on my perception of this as unique.

As someone who has direct experience with this topic, Chris nailed it – this is not unique – other cities have been doing this for awhile. Yesterday, in my Minneapolis Star and Tribune newspaper the headline, “Coming Together” stuck out in the business page. Minneapolis and St. Paul have spent years trying to convince the general public that they are two separate places with their own set of unique values. But moving forward they will be marketed as one big community to outsiders and visitors.

“”This is the culmination of three years of academic research, market research and hundreds of meetings with business and community leaders to find out the perceptions of the Twin Cities from people who have lived here their whole lives, as well as transplants and people who don’t live here,” said Rebecca Monro, associate director for the Institute for Research and Marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. “People come here to visit for reasons different than we thought.”

It really doesn’t seem to me that it would take three years of research (and probably tax dollars) to figure this out. But, there is probably more to this than I realize. There is a two hour program coming up to discuss the study, but they’re charging $45 to attend. Yikes…you can be sure I won’t pay that to get a better look at this.

That doesn’t mean I’m not curious and interested to hear more – I’d even like to be involved. I do wonder how they’ll market this and what mediums they’ll use to spread their message. Hopefully, they’ll take a look at Iowa’s efforts. But, my feeling is they’re promoting a destination rather than a place to work. Maybe they can convince outsiders we have more than a giant mall!