Tuesday Oct 30, 2012

How to Waste Your Marketing Budget

International MoneyPhilosophers have long said if you find out where a man’s money is, you’ll know where his heart is. Find out where money in a marketing budget is allocated, and you’ll know how adaptive and ready that company is for the near future.

Marketing spends are an investment. Not unlike buying stock, the money is placed in areas the marketer feels will yield the highest return. Good stock pickers know the lay of the land, the sectors, the companies, and trends. Likewise, good marketers should know the media available to them, their audience, what they like & want, what they want their marketing to achieve…and trends.

So what are they doing? And how are they doing?

A recent eTail report shows nearly half of retailers planned on focusing on SEO, SEM, and site research technologies in the coming months. On the surface, that’s smart. You want people to find you. And you’re willing to let the SEO tail wag the dog and dictate the quality (or lack thereof) of your content such as blogs to make that happen.

So search is prioritized well ahead of social, multi-channel initiatives, email, even mobile - despite the undisputed explosive growth and adoption of it by the public. 13% of retailers plan to focus on online video in the next 3 months. 29% said they’d look at it in 6 months. Buying SEO trickery is easy. Attracting and holding an audience with wanted, relevant content…that’s the hard part. So marketers continue to kick the content can down the road. Pretty risky since content can draw and bind customers to you.

Asked to look a year ahead, retailers started thinking about CRM systems, customer segmentation, and loyalty, (again well ahead of online video, social and site personalization). What these investors are missing is social is spreading across every function of the enterprise and will be a part of CRM, personalization, loyalty programs, etc. They’re using social for engagement but not for PR, customer service, and sales. Mistake. Allocations are being made seemingly blind to the trends.

Even more peculiar are the results of an analysis Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins made. She looked at how much time people spend with media types and how marketers are investing in those media. 26% of media consumption is online, marketers spend 22% of their ad budgets there. 10% of media time is spent with mobile, but marketers are spending 1% of their ad budgets there. 7% of media time is spent with print, but (get this) marketers spend 25% of their ad budgets there. It’s like being on Superman’s Bizarro World. Mary adds that of the online spending, most goes to search while spends on content, even ad content, stayed flat.

Stock pickers know to buy low and sell high. It means peering with info in hand into the likely future of a stock and making the investment in it before it peaks. Either marketers aren’t believing the data and trends they’re seeing, or they can’t convince higher-ups to acknowledge change and adjust their portfolios accordingly.

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Image via stock.xchng

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

4 Ways Your Brand Can Jump From the Edge of Space

jumperCan your brand’s social media content captivate the world and make it hold its collective breath? Can you put something on the screen that’s so compelling that your audience can’t look away? Will they want to make sure their friends see it so they can talk about it?

If not, you’re probably not with Red Bull. I was impressed with Red Bull’s approach to social content even before Felix Baumgartner’s stunning skydive from the edge of space. And then they did this.

According to Visible Measures, videos of the jump scored 50 million views in 4 days. 1,700 clips were generated from both official and organic sources. The live stream was the most watched YouTube Stream of all time (8 million concurrent viewers). The 2nd most watched live stream was…Felix’ first attempt Oct. 9.

Are you ready to compete with that?

I ask that question because some brands are still out there tying themselves up in knots about whether or not they should tweet. The public’s time and attention are scarce commodities, commodities they value greatly. The competition amongst brands for that time and attention is intense and going up like Felix’s capsule. If you still view your press releases as “content,” you won’t even be counted as being among the competition.

Here are 5 lessons learned from Red Bull’s big leap:

1. They have a total understanding of their target market and audience. Not only do they have an understanding of it, they do something about it. They act on it. They fill the majority of their thoughts with what the audience wants. They hunger for wild applause from that audience. They want to do things that embrace the audience’s lifestyle and immerse in it so the target will identify the brand as “one of them.” Takeaway: BE your target market.

2. They deliver content that strikes the audience right where they emotionally live. If you want your content to have impact, you have to make your audience’s heart race, or make them tear up, or make them laugh. Label them “data points” all you want, but humans are emotional creatures. No message connects that’s not carried in on an emotion. Takeaway: You’re on the inside. If your content doesn’t make you say “wow,” it’s unlikely it will register with fans.

3. They put aside old school marketing and don’t let their content be degraded into a commercial. Their execs seem to understand the value in keeping a lid on the hard sell. So many brands just can’t bring themselves to disconnect advertising and social content. The result is, otherwise decent content gets contaminated with a desperation the viewer can smell a mile away. Think the Baumgartner skydive didn’t do Red Bull any good since he wasn’t drinking one on the way down while singing a jingle? Analysis company Taykey discovered that at the peak of the skydive buzz, about 1% of all online conversation was about the jump. Mentions of Red Bull constituted 1/3 of 1% of all Internet activity. Views of other Red Bull videos also shot up. Takeaway: Chill out with the ads. Your brand will get full credit for entertaining/informing fans in a relevant way, provided you do it.

4. They don’t hesitate to ask, “What can we do next”? Most corporate cultures are a virtual training facility for “we can’t do that.” Few are encouraged to innovate or think big, if think at all. Thinking big involves faith, and work. It means freedom and letting employees run a little wild with their ideas. There will always be the opportunity to let fear of everything that moves creep in and kill grand visions dead in their tracks. Experimenting must be allowed. Failure must be allowed. Red Bull didn’t think big. They thought mega. They tried to outdo themselves. Felix could have gone ahead and jumped halfway up, thinking, “This is still relatively high up. Good enough.” But that wouldn’t have left us breathless. Takeaway: Go for it. Jump.

In putting up social properties and gathering fans of your brand, you’ve basically invited people to a party. A good host doesn’t just set out warm beer and stale chips because that’s inexpensive and easy. Be on the lookout for ways to make your guests walk away saying, “That was epic.”

Friday Oct 12, 2012

The Social Enterprise: Gangnam Style

chalkboardAre only small and medium businesses able to put social strategies in place, generate consistent, compelling content for customers, and be nimble enough to listen and respond to the social communities they build? Or are enterprise organizations eagerly and effectively adopting social as well?

It depends on whom inside the organization you ask. A study from Attensity looked at who “gets” social inside enterprise organizations. The results were unsurprising. Mostly, Generation X and Y employees who came of age with social as part of their lives and as a key communications vehicle understand it.

Imagine being a 25-year-old at a company that bans employees from accessing Facebook at work. You may as well tell them they can’t use phones and must do all calculations on an abacus. To them, such policy is absent of real-world logic and signals to them the organization is destined to be the victim of an up-and-comer.

After that, it’s senior management that gets social. You don’t get to be in senior management without reading a few things and paying attention. Most senior managers are well aware of the impact social has had and will have, though they may be unsure of what to do about it.

The better ones will utilize those on the inside who do inherently know how to communicate and build virtual relationships using social. The very best will get the past out of the way for these social innovators, so the new communications can be enacted minus counterproductive dictums, double-clutching, meeting-creep, and all the other fading internal practices that water down content and impede change.

Organizationally, the Attensity study found 81% of enterprise companies believe failing to embrace social will result in their being left behind. Yet our old friend fear still has many captive in its clutches. 79% feel overwhelmed by the volume of social data available, something a social technology partner with goal-oriented analytics expertise could go a long way toward alleviating.

Afraid manThen there’s the fear of social having a negative impact. This comes from a lack of belief in the product, the customer service, or both. The public uses social not to go out and slay brands. They’re using it to be honest. If the fear is that honesty will reflect badly on the brand, the brand has much bigger, broader problems than what happens on Facebook.

Sadly, most enterprise organizations still see social as a megaphone, a one-way channel with which to hit people with ads. They either don’t understand social relationships, or don’t want any. The truly unenlightened manager will always say, “We help them by selling them our stuff.” “Brand affinity” is a term, it’s just not one assigned much value in enterprise organizations.

Which brings us to Psy, the Korean performer whose Internet video phenom “Gangnam Style,” as of this writing, has been viewed 438,550,238 times on YouTube. It’s bigger than anything a brand will probably ever publish. Most brands would never have seen the point of making or publishing it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Internet success. The video literally doubled the stock price of Psy’s father’s software firm. NH Investment and Securities said, "The positive sentiment has attracted investors just because of the fact the company is owned by Psy's father and uncle.” The company wasn’t mentioned or seen in the video in any way, yet reaped tangible rewards just for being tangentially associated with it. Imagine your brand being visibly and directly responsible for such a smash and tell me it’s worthless.

When enterprise organizations embrace the value of igniting passions, making people happier, solving their problems, informing them, helping them have fun, etc., then they will have fully embraced social, and will reap the brand affinity rewards of heightened awareness, brand loyalty and yes, sales.

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