Archive for November, 2010

Dare To Be Different In Your Marketing

Do you want to attract the attention of more potential clients and customer? Then it’s time to dare to be different. Over the last five years our marketing departments have become complacent. Rather than come up with new concepts, ideas, and marketing plans way to often we only revisit someone elses idea, change a few things and call it our own.

Do you want to create buzz about your products and services? Would you like people to take a look at what it is that you have to offer over your competitor? If you answered yes to either of these questions then this year I dare you to be different.

Develop new ideas; actually spend time brainstorming to firm up your own company’s marketing message. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Quit comparing your creative ideas with others.

It’s time we learn that adopting the tactics and strategies of another company is just simply not enough. It’s still important to do your research regarding your competitors. However, it’s more important to listen to the needs of prospects and current clients. Truth be known most marketing companies have stopped listening. When did it become ok to quit paying attention to our markets? We want a quick fix, a fast campaign, an instantaneous idea. We’ve stopped putting in the time necessary to be effective.

Daring to be different doesn’t have to be difficult, often enough it’s as simple as getting back to the basics. You can do it in four easy steps. To get started consider the following:

  • Define your products and/or services.
  • Define the needs that these products or services fulfill.
  • Survey and listen to your current clients and customers and figure out what it is that they like or don’t like about your product. Ask them how you can make them better. Ask them how they found out about you and what it was that brought them your way.
  • Develop a marketing plan for the next 6 months using the three steps above.

I’ve seen way too many marketing professionals burn out and stray away from the basics. When this happens it just becomes “easier” to begin to do what everyone else is doing. Realize that I said easier not more effective. I’ve also seen marketing professionals turn their careers and their marketing departments around by adopting the basic principles that they abandoned. I challenge you to revisit your marketing campaigns, apply the basic principles, and dare to be different. I think you’ll be surprised at the difference that it will make in the effectiveness and the excitement of your own marketing campaigns.

By: Laura Lake
About.com

Promotional Campaigns – What Is the Purpose?

Email marketing has come a long way since the early years of the modern internet. Marketers have moved beyond the traditional batch and blast approach in an effort to deliver campaigns that are more focused, personal, and effective. Technology has moved the industry forward in a big way, and left behind a variety of useful tools in its path. Keeping up with these tools is critically important for those who wish to continually reap the benefits of email marketing.

The Business Then and Now

In the beginning, email marketing made its reputation as a reliable method for connecting with a large audience, offering benefits that could be compared to the internet itself in terms of reach. Most of the initial rage was attributed to it being more cost effective than traditional channels. Those days saw marketers sending plaintext messages to one large list and generating very positive results. A few years later, HTML emerged, extending itself from the web to the email platform. Today, it provides a way for marketers to communicate far more effectively and create a better experience for consumers.

The past days of email marketing were largely based on sending messages to as many people as you could as fast as possible. Reporting was limited to viewing general data related to opens, clicks, and conversions. These days, savvy marketers are relying on segmentation to achieve relevance and personalization, while analytics is available as a tool to track everything from website activity to engagement. The industry is currently blessed with techniques that enable businesses to deploy campaigns with a greater level of sophistication, and gain deeper insight into their success with technology that was not available before.

The advancements in email marketing tools have added tremendous flexibility to a tactic that was always known for its power. Today, it can be integrated with a variety of different methods and channels that make it possible for businesses to tap into new markets. It is an ideal match for traditional vehicles such as direct mail, as well as newer channels such as blogs, social networks, and mobile platforms. These integrations not only significantly enhance the value of email, but also other methods and channels. More importantly, they offer the power to strengthen your overall marketing efforts.

Observe and Adapt

Technology has had such an impact on email marketing, that it has delivered useful tools we will likely rely on for years to come, while rendering many others obsolete through the process of evolution. It is important for marketers to understand that consumers have also evolved. So, in addition to staying on top of technology, we must continuously make an effort to better understand their evolving wants and needs. The key to enjoying long lasting success in any industry is one that calls for its players to observe and adapt. This has been proven time and again by the many businesses that have applied the same approach to email marketing.

If you are considering using promotional items to promotion your corporation brand, please contact us for more information. We have all of the expertise you’ll need.

Provided by DMG Promotions.com

Direct Marketing Continues To Grow

According to the Direct Marketing Association’s yearly report, The Power of Direct Marketing, direct marketing is anticipating growth in all areas, including expenditures, return on investment (ROI), sales and employment this year. This is despite an economy that is lagging in most areas.

“For the first time ever, direct marketing represents more than 50 percent of total advertising expenditures in the US, growing faster than total advertising spending and the US economy as a whole,” said Dr. Peter Johnson, the Direct Marketing Association’s research strategy and platforms vice president, and lead author of the report. “Marketers are moving dollars into direct marketing because of its higher ROI relative to other forms of advertising. This makes ‘direct’ a more reliable engine for sustaining sales, incomes, and jobs at a time when the mortgage and energy markets are heightening economic uncertainty.”, as noted on the DMA website. “Overall,” said Johnson, “business performance this year is likely to be measurably brighter than it would otherwise be, thanks to the effectiveness of direct marketing.”

The direct mail market predicts $173.2 billion in advertising expenditures’ by the end of this year, showing a 4.4% increase over last year. The ROI for these expenditures is $11.69/dollar spent, when taking into consideration the $2 trillion dollars in subsequent sales this year. The final numbers for 2006 were affected by the steep decline in the housing market, increases in energy costs as well as a decrease in auto sales. Up to a 5.5% increase in response rates is expected in commercial email, Internet marketing and direct mail.

The report also shows that direct marketers could realize up to a 5.2% increase in sales, which is 1.5% lower than the growth realized in 2006, due to the continuing economic slowdown. Direct sales could hit $2.025 trillion in 2008. The revenue forecast for next year in the report anticipates a 6.6% growth.

To what is this continued growth attributed? It’s felt that marketers continue to source money in to direct marketing due to its ROI when compared to other forms of advertising. With an economy that is continuing to lag, direct mail marketing allows companies to see hard results for their advertising dollar. While many industries continue to see a increase in their direct mail marketing investment, there are still some that are cutting back their direct mail advertising.

According to the report, manufacturing, financial banks, and education services are among many industries that continue to dump significant money into direct marketing advertising. Lags are seen in areas like petroleum, real estate and furniture industries.

Johnson notes that he feels that direct mail marketing will “continue to help sustain the overall US economy.” This estimation is based on the fact that as much as 10.2% of the US GDP, or $1.41 trillion of demand is represented by direct marketing.

Employment in direct marketing in 2007 is responsible for 10.6 million jobs. A prediction of a 2.2% increase is expected for next year. Internet marketing has predicted expenditures of $23.6 billion in 2008, which is almost a $4 billion increase from 2007.

Despite this growth, many company’s marketing departments are concerned about the state of the economy. If the housing market continues to stagnate and fuel costs keep climbing, it is possible that overall marketing expenditures could be adversely affected. Considering direct marketing’s effect on our GDP this year, a decrease in its economic viability is something to be concerned about.

 

From: Scott Allen
About.com

Niche Marketing: Targeting The Best Prospects

Many entrepreneurs think that selling to the widest possible market is the likeliest path to success. They are afraid to pursue a market niche because they fear they’ll lose business by turning away customers. But this ‘take all comers’ approach is not very effective. It’s hard to stand out when you market your business without a distinctive set of prospects in mind.

Occupying a niche means you won’t be competing with a lot of similar businesses solely on price. And because you will be selling products and services that are customized to the specific needs and predispositions of a select group of people, you can often charge more. Your products and services serve a market that can’t easily find alternatives.

The process starts with market research: analyze your best potential customers, your competitors, your market’s predisposition toward your products and services, and your ability to serve these people so well as to make you their vendor of choice.

Market research is like sticking your toe into a lake before jumping in. If you figure out exactly which group of people you want to reach, and what their needs are, you avoid wasting time and money. Once you know, you can alter your product or services to fit the needs of your target market more closely, and you can craft a message that reflects your business and your customer.

Market research does not require expensive consultants, surveys or focus groups– it can be as simple as asking your best customers the right questions. To determine if a particular niche is right for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have an identifiable target population with similar interests and needs?
  • Is the market large enough to support my business?
  • Can I tailor my products, services, and business identity to address that market’s particular needs?
  • Is my target market currently underserved?
  • Can I reach my potential customers in a cost-effective manner?

Your niche will give your marketing efforts a natural, sharp focus. The more you specialize, the more your market will see the value of your services because you speak directly to their unique situation. Assuming your niche is large enough, you can do quite well by becoming a provider of products and services that can’t be found anywhere else.

Larry Klein discovered his target market from the inside. A successful financial advisor, he retired from his primary job and became a marketing guru to other financial professionals. He knew they needed marketing help, but as he talked to them and worked with them, he discovered that what they wanted most were ways to reach seniors.

Klein explains, “I’m not 60. So, you don’t have to be a member of your ideal marketplace. But if you talk to enough people in that market group, you’re going to get it. You have to be awake and aware and be listening for what it is.”

All the information you need to target and succeed in an ideal marketplace is out there waiting to be found,” says Klein. “You can take the guesswork out of building a business.”

Having talked to enough seniors to understand their needs, Klein refined a series of methods for approaching them with investment opportunities. Now he offers seminars and writes articles about these strategies and has defined himself as a specialist in this area. You and I may not have heard of him, but within his targeted sector of the financial planning community, Klein is slightly famous.

 
From: Steven Van Yoder
About.com

Creating Powerful Promotional Marketing

The Promotion Trends Report by Promo Magazine, revealed that promotional marketing was part of an overall marketing strategy for over two-thirds of all firms. The line is blurring between advertising and promotions budgets. This signals a strong trend of businesses adding promotional marketing to their overall advertising budget.

What is Promotional Marketing?

Promotional marketing is a business marketing strategy designed to stimulate a customer to take action towards a buying decision. Promotional marketing is a technique that includes various incentives to buy such as:

  • Contests: We all enjoy winning something for free. Contests offer an attractive marketing vehicle for small business to acquire new clients and create awareness. You don’t need to run a billion dollar giveaway like Pepsi, just a valuable prize to your target market.
  • Coupons: According to CMS, a leading coupon processing agent, marketers issued 302 billion coupons in 2007, a 6% increase over the previous year. Over 76% of the population use coupons, according to the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) Coupon Council. Coupons still work and provide an affordable marketing strategy for small business.
  • Sampling: Do free samples work? Giving your product away for free may seem profit limiting but consider the case of Seth Godin. Godin released a book called “The Idea Virus” in 2000. Unlike other authors, he did not charge for the book instead gave it away for free as an e-book. In less than 30 days over 400,000 copies were downloaded. This created a buzz about the book and even through free, people bought the hard cover; making the book #5 on the Amazon best seller list.

Creating Powerful Promotional Marketing

Before starting a promotional marketing campaign for your small business take the time to carefully plan the incentives and objectives. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you planning to collect names as leads or discount an item as a loss leader to gain a larger customer base? Determine the reason for the promotion.
  • Who is the target of your promotional campaign? Is it your competitor’s customers or existing clients who have not made a purchase in the last 12 months?
  • What incentive works best for your customer group? Coupons, sweepstakes or sampling?
  • What is your available budget? Choose an advertising vehicle like direct mail, email, or in-store that will not exceed your promotional budget.
  • Will you run the promotion in-house or hire an outside promotional agency? Choose in-house if you have a limited budget and time to learn more about promotional marketing.
  • How will your business decide if promotional marketing is a success? Select a clear goal and do not forget to measure the results.
  • Is your promotion in compliance with State and Federal laws. Promotional marketing incentives must comply with the law. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission states “when a “free” offer is tied to the purchase of another product, the price of the purchased product should not be increased from its regular price.”

Any contests or sweepstakes offered by a company that require a purchase to enter are illegal in the United States. Check your country or state government agency to make sure you comply with regulations and laws.

The continued spending by small and large companies on promotional marketing is a clear indication that promos work. Apply promotional marketing to your small business and experience a sales boost.

From Darrell Zahorsky
 About.com

Brand Management Lessons from the Gap Logo Debacle

On October 4, 2010, retail giant GAP quietly unveiled a new Gap brand logo on its website, and someone noticed.

In the seven days that followed, professional journalists, bloggers, fans and critics frothed the media with social commentary. Some called the move haphazard brand management, others a brilliantly conceived stunt to revive languishing sales. By midnight, October 11, the “new” logo was gone.

Any Port in a Storm

Like a Weather Channel reporter, company spokesperson Louise Callagy spent eight days standing between her public and a deadly storm. At first, she said the new logo signified Gap’s evolution from “classic, American design to modern, sexy, cool.” But Gap fans disagreed violently, describing the new mark as “horrible,” “ugly,” “childish,” and “clip-art.” Some fans even suggested GAP’s brand manager should be fired.

Writing for BrandChannel.com, Abe Sauer said the logo change “demonstrates a prototypical brand panic move. With things not going in its favor, the brand decides to change the one valuable element it has going for it.”

By day three, Gap was running for cover, redefining the angry dialogues as “passionate debates.” Gap said it loved the new logo, but was interested in seeing other ideas. In an attempt to quell the furor, they hinted at a crowd sourcing project. But designers – at least the ones posting on Facebook – revolted. Gap’s well-intentioned crowd source initiative was interpreted as a “spec work stunt… completely appalling and beyond unethical!” Another “fan” said crowd sourcing was “completely insulting to the industry, and to [Gap’s] designer as well.” And a handful threatened to retaliate with a boycott.

A small contingent of Gap fans, like Jamie Lyons, used their Facebook accounts to speak out, in support of Gap. “If this is a publicity stunt Gap, I say great job. If it’s not, I say great job.” And Taylor Wyant admonished his peers, saying, “suck it up and move on, it’s JUST a logo, it’s not like it’ll affect your life.”

By day seven, Gap relented. Marka Hansen, President of Gap Brand North America, issued a statement indicating the company would roll back the brand and resurrect the iconic blue box logo. The online community declared victory.

Publicity Stunt or Act of Desperation?

On October 12, just one day after Gap recalled the failed logo, critics were performing the post-mortem. Vanity Fair contributor Juli Weiner dismissed the whole affair with a mock obituary, claiming the logo died “after a brief and ignominious battle with stage IV banality.” Writing for Bloomberg, Ryan Flynn hinted that the change may have been connected to Gap CEO Glenn Murphy’s focus on reviving sales. Blogs and columns began to surface, claiming that the whole episode was nothing more than a media stunt.

Whatever the motive, Gap’s unexpected brand shift bears striking similarities to other companies’ failed attempts to breathe life into withering brands. Cable television and internet service provider Comcast rolled out the new Xfinity identity in February of this year, hoping to dissociate itself with its own reputation for poor customer service and high pricing. Last July, The SciFi Channel changed its name and logo mark to “SyFy,” in an attempt to better relate to its young audience, only to discover that “syfy” is a slang term for syphilis. In January of 2009, Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice abandoned its “straw-in-the-orange” brand symbol in favor of packaging which consumers labeled “generic-looking.” Parent company Pepsi, just one year earlier paid the same agency (Arnell/Omnicom) $1 Million to develop a new Pepsi logo (whose only redeeming quality, in this writer’s opinion is that the white stripe, which widens as the calories increase with each product in the line, serves as a gentle reminder of the effect the product will have on consumer waistlines).

The Crux of the Matter

Whether Gap’s failed introduction of the “new” logo was a media stunt or a rebranding strategy, one thing is clear: the process lowered most observers’ opinions of Gap. Luckily for Gap, people have short memories.

But I think there’s a bigger issue on the table. Bigger than cause, and bigger than effect.

At the heart of this historic social media event is the question, “Should a company define its own brand, or should they allow their customers’ preferences to define their brand?” Of course, the simple answer is “yes.” Marketing experts have long recognized the importance of resonance with the market. Market research, audience segmentation, message mapping, surveys and focus groups all pay homage to the power of resonance. But a more accurate answer might be “the feedback of any audience should be understood in the context of the composition of the group of respondents, and weighed against the mission behind the issue in question.” Huh?

Social media like Facebook provide brand owners with powerful tools for communication – two-way communication. The sheer numbers of media like Facebook can be inspiring, intimidating, facilitating… and misleading, in two ways.

As marketers, we need to stay mindful of the effect that a representative sample has on our ability to project opinions of the sample group to the wider population, with validity. In Gap’s case, I suspect that feedback from the sample group who self-identify (by virtue of their Facebook membership, their “fan” status and their inclination to voice unsolicited opinions on issues they don’t control) might be representative of Gap’s target audience. I do not suspect, however, that all target audiences share these characteristics, and for that reason, I would encourage any brand owner to consider (and probably to proactively manage) selection into the sample group – especially when that sample group is contained in social media.

More importantly, a brand owner must understand the mission behind the brand, or in the case of a changing brand, behind the evolution of the brand. If, for example, an organization intends to lead by the power of its brand, then it would behoove that organization to act with the courage of its convictions – to do what it believes is right, regardless of feedback, and limited only by the impact that a backlash may have against its future ability to affect the change dictated by its mission. Or, to put it in the vernacular of the street, “You can’t lead by following.”

 Article Source: EzineArticles

Content Marketing – Understanding The Why And How

What is content marketing? Content marketing is using relevant and valuable information to attract potential customers to you. This information will not only attract but, if done correctly, will engage your target audience and drive profitable action to your business.

I’m always amazed at the looks and responses I get when I’m speaking to a client and I explain to them they need more content. I’m then almost always questioned “why?”

Think of content as a way of interacting and communicating with your customers without selling.

Need proof it works? Think of an article you read that captured your attention and really engaged you. Did you look to see who the writer was? Were you interested in the company that they worked for and the products or services that they offered? If they were using the skills of content marketing, I can almost guarantee you did.

A great article can market your product or service in a way that the consumer is not interrupted. You are using that article to educate your consumer and create awareness on information that is important to them. This makes your potential buyer more intelligent.

A successful content marketing strategy will deliver consistent valuable information to your target market, when this strategy works you turn the consumers you have targeted into buyers.

Look, it’s no secret that consumers are tired of traditional marketing. This is why you see a rush to social media and permission based marketing rather than intrusive marketing that doesn’t allow consumers to make the choice of when they want to be marketed to. Why do you think consumers skip commercials, tear out magazine advertisements, and turn on online ad blockers? Because they are taking back control and they will decide when they want to be marketed to.

As a business, you have to be smarter in your marketing efforts and this includes writing content that is not only interesting but relevant and valuable to the market you are targeting.

How do you know if your content is marketing for you? It’s easy really. Answer the following questions when reviewing your content or use them as a guideline when creating new content.

  • Is it targeting a specific market? If not the content will be too broad to attract a targeted audience.
  • Is your content informative, relevant and valuable to those you are targeting? Or is it just a sales pitch?
  • Does it educate your target audience about your industry without being too sales oriented and pushing just your products or services?
  • Does your message include a subtle marketing message that grabs the reader’s attention and gets them interested in what you offer? The key is the marketing message must create an interest and a desire for what you have to offer without trying to close a sale. Think of it as leaving a faint fingerprint on the mind of the consumer who is reading.
  • Does it leave the reader wanting more?
  • Does it stir emotion within the reader and inspire action?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you have a good piece of content that you can use to market the products or services that you offer. If you were unable to answer “yes” to all of the questions you will want to tweak your content until you can.

You can use content marketing in all areas of your marketing including print, media, events and online. You want to make sure that your website has content that markets to your audience. You also want to make sure that if you have a blog, you are also using it for content marketing. Content marketing is valuable and often leaves a longer impression than any other method of marketing.

By Laura Lake
About.com

Personalized URL’s

One of the best ways to connect with your customers is to personalize your communications.  A new trend in eMarketing is using personalized URL, or PURL, which is a customized web page or microsite with a unique address for each customer on your list. Incorporating PURLs into your direct mail and or email campaigns, gives you a greater opportunity to connect your messaging with the interactive capabilities of the Internet, which will help convert more direct mail recipients into qualified prospects and valued customers.

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A common example of a PURL is a web page or microsite with a URL such as www.xyzcompany.com/johndoe, in which “John Doe” is a recipient who receives a direct-mail or email message that encourages him to visit the web page or microsite. For each recipient on the list, the web address is unique to the recipient, as is the content of the web page. Also, if a visitor to the web page or microsite is asked to answer a few questions or provide information, the answers provided can be immediately used to determine which secondary pages the visitor is directed to or what specific information is included on secondary pages.

Because a PURL site is personalized, a conversational or more direct tone in the language of the site content can be used to enhance the visitor’s sense of engagement with the organization. However, try to avoid overly detailed and personal level of information on your PURL, this may lead a visitor to feel his or her privacy is being invaded.

Utilizing PURLs are a great way to connect with your customers and prospective customers:

  • Enhance marketing campaigns and messaging
  • Gather and update key customer data
  • Track activity and preference
  • Measure campaign successes
  • Educate potential customers about your company in a fun, interactive way

The costs for a PURL campaign will vary depending on web page or microsite design, programming/data integration, the number of recipients in your list, and the time length of the campaign.

If you are considering using a PURL in your next campaign, please contact us for more information on how we can help you take full advantage of this cutting-edge marketing tool. We have all of the expertise you’ll need.