Daniel Burstein

Millennials something Snapchat something something

September 22nd, 2016
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Skeptical Millennials (defined as ages 18-34) are a notoriously hard-to-reach demographic for marketers. But a new social media outlet can help – Snapchat.

Millenials-Selfie

For experienced marketers unfamiliar with Snapchat, it’s like direct mail, in that you can send messages to potential customers with images. But it’s like weird direct mail that disappears after 24 hours. Because it was sent by a magician or something? No one knows for sure.

But we do know that means you should send heaps of snaps to your customers when you chat. Send snaps constantly and without pause, so they can never escape your product. Just keep ruthlessly going after customers like your company is the shark in Jaws.

Spoiler alert: you’re gonna need a bigger budget.

Just kidding.

scott-dikkers-colorAt MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, one of the featured speakers will be Scott Dikkers, co-founder and former owner and editor-in-chief of the notorious news satire publication, The Onion. Which got us thinking … what would MarketingSherpa look like if it were written by the editors of The Onion?

So I got together with one of my Summit co-hosts, Pamela Jesseau, Director of Marketing, MECLABS Institute, and we had a lot of fun coming up with the headlines at the bottom of this blog post that really, really should run on MarketingSherpa … but of course never will.

It’s an interesting exercise. Comedy, and satire specifically, is the perfect vehicle for constructive criticism. It’s funny because there is an element of truth to it. And the process of identifying the satire helps draw attention to areas (of society in general, or in our case, marketing) that can be improved.

It’s important to step outside of our industry and discover how customers see it. MarketingSherpa’s mission is to share inspirational stories of customer-first marketing. We’ve learned that sustainable success comes from putting the customer first – that means thinking like they do, even if it means poking fun at ourselves.

Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

MarketingSherpa Awards 2017: Customer-focused campaigns drive significant conversions

September 12th, 2016
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MarketingSherpa has always been about customer-first marketing. Those are the stories we love to tell, and the marketers we love to talk to.

That’s why, in this year’s judging process, we made customer focus a pass/fail criteria. It has always been more heavily weighted than other aspects, but we still considered and discussed submissions that were lacking in, or ignored how customers were actually affected.

This year, no matter how otherwise intriguing the campaign was, it was dismissed if our seven judges unanimously agreed it was not customer-focused.

On top of that, all of the selected campaigns had to meet these criterion:

  • Be transformative
  • Be innovative
  • Offer transferable principles that marketing peers can apply to their efforts
  • Display strong results

After 50 hours of pre-screening 198 submissions, and 15 hours of deliberation, we’ve narrowed it down to the marketers and campaigns that have put in that work. These four campaigns deserve to be celebrated and studied by you, our readers.

Please review the finalists below, and vote for the Reader’s Choice nominee that stands out the most to you. After voting, please share your favorite nominee or insight on social media.  

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Five tips from a personal care industry CEO for setting (and getting approval for) your marketing budget

September 9th, 2016
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When we ask marketers about their biggest challenges, budget issues are usually at or near the top. Ecommerce marketers say size of marketing budget is the biggest challenge to their companies’ ecommerce operations. B2B marketers say lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time are the biggest barrier to overcoming their top challenges.

Everybody is challenged by the budget in some way.

So to give you a business leader’s perspective on key budget questions: What should you prioritize in your budget? How should you work with the rest of the organization? How do you get your key priorities approved?

I looked outside of the marketing-sphere and interviewed Stuart Benton, President and CEO, Bradford Soap.

Budgeting Advice CEO_Sherpa_DB

Stuart has a unique perspective on budgeting, as he was formerly Bradford Soap’s CFO, and has a perspective on selling products as well from a previous stint as Director of Sales and Financial Operational Planning at Veryfine Products, a $250 million juice company (at the time).

To give you some context, Bradford Soaps is a 140-year-old, $100 million organization with 700 employees that develops and manufactures soap for Dove, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine, Dr. Bronner’s, and other brands.

“We make the majority of all the specialty bar soaps in America,” Stuart said.

Here are some tips from our conversation to keep in mind as you set your next budget…

Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

How to move beyond industry-speak, and start a conversation with your customers

September 2nd, 2016
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“We knew that the content was there, but [customers] weren’t sure how to interpret that. We used very industry-specific terminology,” said Abby See, Director of Online Marketing, Sunrise Senior Living.

Visitors to the Sunrise Senior Living website are often looking for immediate senior care options or are researching senior care providers for upcoming care needs. The issue was, that research wasn’t coming as easy to them as it should have.

In the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, Abby told me that through user experience testing, she and her team found what was a surprising insight at the time – customers were actually requesting a questionnaire.

“They said, ‘it would be great if you could offer some sort of tool that would help me determine what I need for my mom or dad,’” she said.

The result of that insight was the development of a Care Questionnaire, which leads those customers through an emotional point in their lives, where they are trying to determine what the best next move is for a family member.

The questionnaire is a non-invasive overlay, she said, so customers don’t lose whatever page they were on, and they’re able to access it from every channel.

“They have choices from there.  They can reach out to a resource counselor, or just do nothing with the results and continue on with their research,” she said.

This puts the customer in control, she said, which is especially important because, “it’s such an emotional time, so we want them to feel comfortable and confident before they reach out to us.”

The advice Abby gave for other marketers who might want this kind of customer insight, was to, “create a survey [through email marketing,] you could have some detailed information and surveys on your site, and really tailor the sales experience to that information you learned from the customer before you reach out.”

Since the launch in September 2014, the impact of launching a Care Questionnaire to foster meaningful off-site engagement has been measured by more than 19,400 users completing the survey, resulting in a 12% lift in on-site leads and a 4% lift in total site conversion rate.

The best results, thought, might be anecdotal in what See and her colleagues have seen in personal interactions with customers.

“There was a woman, she took the Care Questionnaire, it told her that her mom needed assisted living. So she did her research that night, and called several other competitors, but was able to book a tour with us at seven o’clock at night. Other competitors wouldn’t take her at that time, “Abby said.

That customer was able to quickly go from online to offline, knowing what she wanted to do and comfortable in her decision. Having the Care Questionnaire allowed Sunrise Senior Living to help her in a way that competitors couldn’t.

Abby and Sunrise Senior Living were selected last year by blog readers as the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Reader’s Choice Award. This year’s Award is going up on Monday, September 12 – please be sure to visit and vote for one marketer who will present their campaign on stage at Summit, held February 13-16 in Las Vegas.

You might also like…

Mobile Marketing: How a private jet charter provider’s app averages 500 downloads a week using customer-centric booking experience – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Inbound Marketing: How SAP drove 9 million impressions with targeted content campaign – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Email Marketing: Extra Space Storage uses a customer-first approach for a 50% boost in email conversion rate – A Reader’s Choice Award 2017 nominee

Daniel Burstein

Startups 101: How and why a green retailer chose to bootstrap instead of accepting venture capital

August 26th, 2016
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If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup and begin to find some success, you will likely face a crossroads:

  • Should I bootstrap, funding the business myself with personal savings and/or ongoing revenue?
  • Should I procure funding and give away ownership interests to a venture capitalist or private equity firm?

To help you make this decision, we interviewed Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO, Sustainable Supply. He is an entrepreneur who has weighed the pros and cons of each option and made this decision for his own startup.

Brian and his wife launched Sustainable Supply seven years ago as a business with a social mission. “The core of what we were trying to do was sell products for commercial buildings that save water and save energy,” Brian said.

Profitable from day one

They started the business without any outside funding, according to Brian.

“Bootstrapping has forced us to be profitable from day one,” Brian said.

Without a cushion of outside funding, the company had to be creative, and launched with a “drop shipping” model, in which products are shipped directly to customers after they purchase and not to a retailer’s warehouse.

“We signed up dozens of suppliers that were willing to drop ship on our behalf, so we were able to become a virtual distributor, never taking possession of inventory,” he said.

Not only did the drop shipping model allow Sustainable Supply to start operations without the need to invest in inventory, it also tied into its social mission by reducing the carbon footprint and pollution generated from shipping products twice (first to the retailer, and then to the customer).

Success brings offers of capital

Sustainable Supply was successful, and was named the fifth-fastest growing retailer on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. This attracted the attention of venture capitalists interested in investing in high-growth startups.

This decision has worked for his company for two reasons. First, Brian would have diluted his ownership if he accepted the investment.

“Our growth after that has [grown four times over] since we made the Inc. 500 list. Had we brought on investors, we would have given away too much too early in the process,” Brian said.

Sticking to its social mission

In addition, his company has a social mission. Its tagline is “Build. Work. Green.” While there are a few exceptions, most venture capitalists are focused on growth and profitability, and less concerned with a social mission.

“Each venture capitalist has its own specialty, not a lot are specialized in sustainability…there’s not a lot out there that have a social component to them,” Brian said.

You might also like

Inbound Marketing: Medical startup increases website traffic 600% year-over-year with content marketing

Email Marketing: ‘Go Green’ campaign lifts revenue $30K for bookstore chain

Watch more interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016

Daniel Burstein

The Radical Idea: Why investing in the physical world should be part of your social media marketing budget

August 18th, 2016
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What do you include in your social media marketing budget? Most marketers focus on elements like software and tools, paid advertising, social media management, and content creation.

But let me introduce a radical idea – the physical customer experience is a worthwhile investment as part of your social media marketing budget.

Sounds crazy, right? That’s in someone else’s department. It’s someone else’s focus.

But I bet you would have thought I was crazy if I told you just a few months ago that two men would fall off a cliff chasing a pretend monster on their mobile phones (fortunately, both were rescued by firefighters and only suffered moderate injuries).

One thing the Pokémon GO phenomenon should teach all marketers is that – thanks to the evolving way customers interact using mobile devices – the digital world is not a vacuum.

Nowhere is that more true than in social media. Because companies do not own the conversation about their brands on social media. They can participate and engage and boost and shape and share the conversations about their brands. But they cannot control them.

So an important element of positive word-of-mouth about your brand is how customers interact with your brand in the physical, real-world environment. To put it in terms of an overused cliché – think outside of the digital box.

Here are three ideas to help you create unique ways to leverage the physical world for social media impact.

Idea #1: Invest in the product

This may be the most radical idea. Product cost is not usually considered part of the social media marketing budget. The usual (way overly simplified) thinking is: price – cost of goods sold = margin.

But what if you didn’t attribute all of the cost to produce the product as a manufacturing or R&D expense? What if you looked past simple production costs to consider what extra, special, unique touches you could add to a product (or service) experience that sparks enough extra joy in your customers that they’ll want to tell everyone about it on social media?

Wouldn’t this be a worthwhile investment? Specifically, a social media marketing investment? In fact, it might be worth more than, say, a paid Facebook ad.

To spark some ideas, watch this story from the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center showing how an exceptional product experience naturally flowed into social media exposure and value.

 

“They actually were going to Instagram and posting very natural photos of what their experience was like when they received that box. They’d put their children in and want to take pictures of their babies in this box brimming with broccoli and kale,” said Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics. “And all of a sudden, we realized that they were taking and sharing that joyful feeling. It was all over social media, and it was ours to embrace.”

Some products have a more expected passion behind them than others. And in this case, Door to Door Organics is an online grocer that delivers natural and organic groceries, a product that typically has a passionate following and lends itself unsurprisingly to social sharing.

However, any product experience has the potential for social sharing. All experiences are relative. When you create a better product experience than expected, you increase the odds of a positive customer experience on social (on the flip side, the same effect works in reverse when you don’t meet customer expectations).

If you’re serious about social, don’t leave that just up to product managers. Put some (budgetary) skin in the game to deliver positive surprises for customers.

Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

How a B2B Tech Company generated 650% ROI with a Retro-Cool direct mail campaign

August 12th, 2016
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“We have a pretty small market at Intronis, it’s manage service providers, mainly in North America,” said Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing, Intronis in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at Summit 2016.

He explained that the sales staff wasn’t able to get many conversations going from that group with traditional methods like phone calls and emails. They needed something special to differentiate them from all the other phone calls and emails their prospects were likely getting.

Inspiration came from an old school method: a direct mail campaign.

Delahaye and his team were told to think big, but also keep the customer in mind. So after one idea – which unsurprisingly never came to fruition – to give a car away with every purchase was vetoed, he decided to look for a tech gadget that would especially appeal to their customer base.

“I landed on possibly the oldest, but maybe the greatest tech gadget of all time. Which is, you can now get an Atari game console for about 30 bucks, so that became the core piece of the campaign,” he said.

Customers would receive a box with the Atari, with a note on top that encourages them to “open up for some office fun, courtesy of Intronis … unfortunately, not all technology is this retro-cool. You need to upgrade your cloud service storage.”

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Customer-first Marketing: Understanding customer pain and responding with action

August 5th, 2016
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It’s all too easy to think of our jobs narrowly: “I’m a marketer. I’m in ecommerce. I’m in the apparel industry. I work in tech.”

But what we really do, or at least what we should be doing, is much too big to be constrained by a single job title or industry.

To give you an example, I came across an interesting story while conducting interviews at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016. As you would expect, most of the interviews focused around hot ecommerce topics like Amazon Marketplace, Snapchat, and funding a startup.

But I had a deeper conversation with Joe Peppers, the Ecommerce Market Sector Leader at The Weitz Company.

But previously, Joe went to West Point and served three tours of duty in Iraq as a Captain in the U.S. Army, before going on to work in ecommerce for Amazon, Apple, Fanatics.com, and now The Weitz Company.

I discovered some interesting lessons from military service that can be applied to ecommerce, so we sat down to talk about it…

Personally, I have two big takeaways from this conversation.

Read more…

Paul Cheney

Content Marketing Generated a 5,100% ROI for Health Care Innovator Optum

July 27th, 2016
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The promise of content marketing is that all that’s needed to provide value is creating high-quality material that gets noticed. The material then does all the pre-selling for you so your company closes more deals with greater efficiency.

No need for cold calls, pushy sales tactics, or throwing money at direct mail.

But the question since the beginning has always been, “does it ROI?”

According to Karen Thomas-Smith, VP Provider Marketing and Reference Management at healthcare giant Optum, it absolutely does. She led a team in a pilot program at Optum that completely turned the company’s traditional campaign-based strategy on its head.

“We literally flipped all the roles on their side,” she said.

“We don’t even want to talk about campaigns. We want to first look at a list of all the content, all the topics we need to be talking about, then build a campaign.”

It worked. Swimmingly.

Thomas-Smith’s strategy generated $51 for every $1 spent on her pilot program, alongside the following results:

  • 12 million impressions
  • 10,000+ downloads of gated content
  • $120+ million in sale pipeline

Watch the video to see the full strategy below:

Time Stamps:

1:00 – Quick look at the preliminary results

2:20 – Background on Optum

3:16 – Evaluating the team based on a marketing maturity model

6:00 – Why content marketing is important

8:15 – Aligning the organization around content

12:32 – Building customer personas

17:36 – Creating a content strategy

20:36 – How Optum takes care of their client champions (for content)

22:25 – Creating compelling content

25:45 – How Optum maximizes its content production with content nuggets

28:00 – The overall content machine and how it works

31:25 – How marketing works with sales in Optum’s model

33:43 – Optum’s four lead nurturing phases

37:45 – Optum’s results to-date

38:19 – Thomas-Smith’s top takeaways

You might also like:

Content Marketing: Healthcare B2B generates 9 million impressions through multi-channel effort

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733%

Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing

Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124%

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 | Aria, Las Vegas | February 13-16

Selena Blue

Website Optimization: How Brian Gavin Diamonds overcame ‘mobilegeddon’

July 22nd, 2016
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For most companies and its marketers, ensuring good placement in search engine results is crucial.

In 2015, Google updated its algorithm. The update earned the name “mobilegeddon.” Why?

“If someone is doing a search on Google using their mobile device, Google is going to show websites that are mobile friendly before websites that are not mobile friendly,” said Danny Gavin, VP, Director of Marketing, Brian Gavin Diamonds, in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE. “You can imagine that people who don’t have a mobile friendly site they lose a lot out because naturally they’re going to fall to the bottom of the first page or even on the second page.”

Danny sat down with Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, to discuss how his company addressed the update and the impact seen from the rollout.

As a high-end jewelry retailer, Brian Gavin Diamonds didn’t see the early mobile traffic burst that some companies saw online. Danny shared how their mobile traffic was very small in 2012, but steadily increased as the years went by.

“As we saw that our customers are using their mobile device more so naturally we need to make sure that our website is more mobile friendly,” Danny said.

This became even more evident with the announcement of Google of the new algorithm.

Read more…