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The Radical Idea: Outsourcing that touches the customer is penny wise, but pound foolish

October 14th, 2016

Think about how hard you work, how much time and resources you put in to get a customer’s attention.

It may be that you have methodically built up a content marketing powerhouse that pulls in new and returning customers. Or you invest a big part of your budget in social media advertising or print advertising. Maybe you’ve spent hours and hours scrubbing your list squeaky clean and creating valuable newsletters and a finely tuned, marketing-automation fueled drip campaign.

Whatever your marketing focus, you realize that getting customer attention for your marketing efforts is costly…and valuable (not to mention a privilege).

Now what if I told you that companies are throwing this valuable asset away every…single…day?

No, it’s likely not you and your peers in marketing. It’s probably the team in the Logistics Department. Maybe in your company they call it Fulfillment. Or perhaps it’s someone in some other department that is involved in product delivery.

These product delivery decisions are about so much more than cost and speed. They also affect customer perception because they touch the customer. Customer touches and those valuable moments of customer attention are just as valuable after a purchase as they are before a purchase.

When I brought up this idea to Shane Cragun, Founding Principal and CEO, SweetmanCragun, and co-author, “Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption,” he told me that “customer touchpoints can also be called ‘moments of truth.’ They are connecting points between the company and customer where the customer leaves with a renewed perception of the company.”

Cragun said that these moments of truth touchpoints can only do one of three things:

1) increase customer loyalty
2) decrease customer loyalty
3) maintain the status quo in the buyer’s mind.

First, a personal anecdote to understand the challenge, and then a few reasons why you’re missing an organic opportunity to connect with current and future customers and ensure that you increase customer loyalty (or at least maintain the status quo).

That can’t be for me

I recently bought a clothes dryer from The Home Depot. The driver calls me and says he’s 15 or 20 minutes away. A little while later, I hear what sounds like a big truck driving down my street. I look out the window, but no, it’s just a pickup truck towing a plain, white trailer. Not a truck from The Home Depot. Must be a roofing contractor working on another house in the neighborhood.

But then I hear the truck noise again. Apparently, the truck had turned around in the cul-de-sac at the end of my block, and was in front of my house. So I walked out of the house and talked to the driver and, sure enough, they were delivering my dryer. The driver happened to be wearing a GE shirt, and I had ordered an LG dryer.

Now you may be thinking — Daniel, who really cares? What’s the difference which truck they were driving or what shirt he was wearing? Value perception, my friends. Value perception.

Marketing’s job is to turn actual value into perceived value

When you think of the marketing function today, there are likely many processes and tasks that come to mind. Managing a database. Making sense of analytics. Setting a drip campaign in a marketing automation platform.

But all of those activities are secondary. Marketing’s primary job is to influence perceived value. And you do that by clearly understanding and leveraging the actual value delivered to the customer.

In my case, the actual value delivered was spot on. The delivery people were helpful and nice, and they delivered and installed the appliance quickly and correctly. Really, everything a customer would expect in a home appliance delivery.

So it wasn’t the service itself. It was the perceived value of the service. And that is marketing’s job to influence.

But if you’re a marketer, here are four reasons you should own or influence as many customer touchpoints as you can:

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How to take storytelling risks through publishing

October 7th, 2016

“Brands suddenly realized, 30-second spots aren’t working. There’s got to be a better way for us to tell a story,” Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award-Nominated Director, Super Size Me, said in our MarketingSherpa 2016 Media Center interview. “That’s when they started looking at creative ways to make content tell stories.”

Since making POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Made, where Morgan worked with brands to finance the entire film, he’s realized that there are a plethora of compelling brand stories to tell. It’s just a matter of recognizing them. He’s worked with companies like General Electric, Toyota and Haagen Daz doing short film series.

“The beauty of where we are right now, as a content creator is, you can tell stories everywhere now,” he said. “There’s this incredible access to short-form digital content, we can tell a story that’s two minutes, three minutes, and find an audience for it. Not only find an audience for it, but have it be seen world-wide by millions of people.”

A fantastic recent example of how brands are doing this is with Starbucks’ Upstanders series.

According to the site, “Upstanders is an original collection of short stories, films and podcasts sharing the experiences of Upstanders – ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. Produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Upstanders series helps inspire us to be better citizens.”

With absolutely no mention of coffee or the brand within the stories, this content is able to connect with something positive and real in the communities the company works in. These stories focus on people who serve their communities with more than just coffee.

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What marketers can learn from The Onion: Interview with founding editor Scott Dikkers

September 28th, 2016

Change. Is. Scary.

There was a time, not very long ago, when marketers were the only ones that had the resources to get the message out about products. And they did it through print, TV, and radio ads.

And because of this one-sided power, advertisers would pretty much just say whatever ridiculous bunk they could come up with to sell their product. Like this ad from 1931, in which a “doctor” shills for cigarettes.

According to the Stanford School of Medicine, “The doctors depicted were never specific individuals, because physicians who engaged in advertising would risk losing their license. It was contrary to accepted medical ethics at the time for doctors to advertise, but that did not deter tobacco companies from hiring handsome talent, dressing them up to look like throat specialists, and printing their photographs alongside health claims or spurious doctor survey results. These images always presented an idealized physician wise, noble, and caring.”

Not surprisingly, customers became skeptical over time. And marketers’ jobs got harder. But that was nothing compared to what was about to happen.

dikkers interview blog pic

The digital revolution

In the year 2000, 50% of adult Americans were using the Internet, according to Pew Research Center. By 2013, that number hit 86%.

With the advent of the web, more and more customers were given an outlet to express their opinions about products and services. This exploded further with social media. No longer did marketers and brands have the market cornered on communication about products and services.

This was a massive change that made marketers’ jobs exponentially harder. Sure, there was the splintering of media. But the real challenge was in the change in brand voices. The Internet created the most skeptical generation yet. If marketers could no longer get away with ridiculous boasts, what should their voice be to customers? How could they convince and connect with customers in the age of the Internet?

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Millennials something Snapchat something something

September 22nd, 2016

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.

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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.  

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

September 9th, 2016

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…

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Promotional Marketing: How to use promotional marketing to build brand awareness

July 5th, 2016

I’ve gotten the nickname “Coupon Queen,” because I love a good deal. It’s hard for anyone to turn down a 50% off sale from their favorite company. Promotional marketing uses special offers to raise a customers’ interest, to influence a purchase and to even stand out among competitors. As marketers, our main goal is to use tactics like this to boost awareness in order to build the community for our brand.

A few months ago, I wrote a post on building customer experience by looking at event marketing while we prepared for MarketingSherpa Summit. Before getting started with the event marketing process or the launch of your content, the truth is there is a whole production that begins before that. You have to start with your promotional work. As we are now gearing up for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, I interviewed Erin Fagin, Senior Marketing Manager, MarketingSherpa, on her role with promotional marketing.

Promotional marketing includes advertising, public relations and sales promotion. Whether you want to inform the market, increase demand or differentiate a product, here is an introduction to promotional marketing that can help you drive the traffic that you need for your product.

 

Phase 1. Establish your objective

Erin is responsible for the MarketingSherpa brand, with majority of her focus being on MarketingSherpa Summit. She said this includes the “entire brand perception, experience and voice, and how we are positioning ourselves to our followers and customers.”

As a marketer, the first question you want to ask yourself is, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Everyone’s goals are going to be unique to the company; for example, our main objective is to grow our community. This is where your past can become handy in the future planning process. Take a look at past campaigns and data collected to analyze what previously worked and areas where improvements can afford to be made.

Erin has built a portfolio of ideas that were inspired from past campaigns. However, she strives to involve her team in as much as the process as she can. A collaboration session is key in this step.

 

Phase 2. Build your strategy

Research is the most important asset in your strategy, whether formal or informal. Using that available data on your current or past audience engagement is going to benefit your campaign heavily. Organizing your route to the end goal while showing the value is going to be challenging yet rewarding in the end.

Marketing with internal stakeholders provides the beginning foundation, and external stakeholders can also provide a valuable perspective to the strategy. Here is where the buy-in from those involved comes into play. Your team and leadership has to be convinced to change the nature of the existing or previous strategy to be on-board from the very beginning, because as you move on to the next step, that buy-in is going to be to be crucial.

Budget is a piece to always take into consideration at this stage. If you have the flexibility to share a budget with other departments, utilize the resources to combine efforts to cut costs. With the remaining funds, you may have room to experiment with your strategy.

 

Phase 3. Execute your plan

Three core components in creating this plan to execute are:

  • Clearly defined goals
  • Establishing resources
  • A realistic project plan

Identifying the milestones needed to achieve your goals is going to be the first step. In this marketing optimization post, I walked through steps that similarly tie into building a promotional strategy when improving marketing efforts.

The content messaging is one of the core pieces in your promotional plan. Think about, what you want to say to your customers and how you want them to interpret your content. At the end of the marketing asset, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. How likely are you to be motivated to take action by clicking on the CTA or sharing the information?

In a Buzzstream article, “How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan,” Stephanie Beadell presented a well-developed framework to building a successful campaign. What I found thoroughly valuable were the starter questions for marketers to ask during the crafting section:

content-promotion-plan

 

Erin added that she begins by taking a crack at developing the content needed for her promotions and then solicits feedback from her colleagues on the marketing team. The content team is brought in the process as well to copy edit and ensure that the voice of the brand remains consistent. Utilize as many departments as your company has available. You also want to change your copy to reflect where it will be shared, she said, whether with a segmented audience and of course for unique social media channels.

Determining when and where your content is distributed is the final step.

Ensure that you aren’t overwhelming the audience with multiple sends, and map out your promotional periods in advance if you can. Understand your audience and where their motivations are, whether it is through direct mail or email. But don’t be afraid to take risks and test new mediums. Establish how technology can be of assistance as well – can paid search, print ads and retargeting help in your marketing efforts?

When your team comes within reach of the objective or achieves the overall goal, celebrate with your colleagues because your hard work has paid off. Communicate the success with your entire company and internally share the information. And don’t forget to use this promotional marketing strategy you’ve created as a baseline for the next one.

 

You may also like:

How Companies Fail, and Why the Customer Always Wins in the End

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016

When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]

 

Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.

 

Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

Read more…

Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

May 24th, 2016

We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers. In my role as chief evangelist for MECLABS Institute, MarketingSherpa’s parent company, I get to talk to marketers and thought leaders daily.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. When I read the report by Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, on “revenue road blocks,” I wanted to see what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting six key focuses right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

Brian: What inspired you to do your research on revenue road blocks?

kristin-zhivago-president-cloud-potential

Kristin: Actually, it was our day-to-day experience working with company managers that drove us to these conclusions, combined with our research on the best practices of digital market leaders in more than 28 industries. The gap between the companies that are successfully using the newer methods and those who are not is growing wider by the quarter.

What is really concerning is we are seeing otherwise solid, successful companies slipping behind their more digitally adept competitors, and they can’t figure out why. They’re doing what they’ve always done, and it’s not working anymore.

Of course, that’s the problem. Buyers have radically changed the way they buy, especially in the last couple of years, and these sellers haven’t changed the way they’re selling. Mobile and the cloud have changed everything; today’s buyers are not the obedient, pass-through-your-funnel buyers that we used to be able to depend on. They are looking for any excuse to say no, because they are sure that there’s another solution only a click away. There is absolutely no risk for them to reject you. In fact, rejection is the safest option for them.

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Maximizing Multiple Marketing Platforms for Success

May 20th, 2016

After 35 years in the industry, Chinese Laundry, a privately held women’s footwear company, continues to expand its influence season after season.

During Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) 2015, MarketingSherpa’s Courtney Eckerle spoke at the MarketingSherpa Media Center with Scott Cohn, Vice President of Ecommerce, Chinese Laundry.

Scott spoke about how marketers tend to establish processes or utilize platforms that work for specific projects or campaigns, but don’t always think about how it affects our customers.

“The biggest challenge we had is that they [platforms] were perpetually out of sync. So our inventory, pricing and a whole variety of other things that a customer expects to be consistent across channels, just weren’t consistent,” he said.

Whether you are looking to condense your blog platforms to update your content strategy or want to build product awareness, Cohn shared two key takeaways on maximizing multiple marketing platforms:

 

Be on the lookout

When undertaking a technology innovation, how do you begin to think about where you pain points lie?

Read more…