Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Corporate Creativity: Managing your marketing team (and career) to balance innovation and execution

October 28th, 2014

You, my friend, are a knowledge worker.

All marketers are.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was first coined by management guru Peter Drucker in the 50s.

Of Drucker’s six factors for knowledge worker productivity, the one I want to discuss in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post is:

“Continuing innovation has to be part of the work, the task and the responsibility of knowledge workers.”

This sounds like the perfect description of the challenges facing the modern marketer today.

 

Come up with out-of-the-box ideas (while sitting in a box)

Corporate CreativityNo longer can you rely on reaching potential customers by running a TV ad on the three major networks. Marketers must find innovative ways to use an endless (and growing) array of channels to reach customers.

They must combine smart uses of data and metrics to understand what their customers want and make sure they are delivering that content effectively (while proving the effectiveness to business leaders).

They must also combine this innovative thinking with persistence and process-orientation. After all, marketers must be able to execute these campaigns in complex corporate environments while managing budgets, agency and vendor relationships and corporate policy.

Essentially, marketers need corporate creativity.

 

Is corporate creativity an oxymoron?

“Creativity” is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

Also, the connotation of “corporate” is “Oppressively awful in that numbingly ‘cubicle in a hermetically-sealed office’ kind of way: lacking good quality, morality or ethics, excellence, creativity, spontaneity, kindness, love, integrity, beauty or intrinsic worth and meaning,” according to the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary.

In other words, these two aspects of marketing success do not necessarily go hand-in-hand  — innovation and execution.

It is your challenge as a marketing leader to make sure your team (and even your agencies and vendors) never lose that wild spark when working on your brand and campaigns.

Yet, they must be able to execute, manage projects and deliver on time and on budget.

Quite the conundrum. It’s a challenge that deeply interests me, so when I recently came across an article by Joe Robinson in Entrepreneur magazine, “The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off,” I knew I had to talk to Jeff Stibel, CEO, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of Wired for Thought from Harvard Business Press and Breakpoint from Palgrave Macmillan Trade.

Read more…

Content Marketing: How a farm justifies premium pricing

August 19th, 2014

“We often feel like we have a sales force of thousands of loyal customers looking out for our best interest.”

We’ll get to how content marketing enabled the example in that quote in just a minute, but first, let’s start with the incredible, edible egg market.

The egg market is a perfect example of how value, and marketing’s role in the communication of that value, can be added to what was previously a commodity in order to produce higher margins.

Take a look at the market for eggs. There’s white. Brown. Hormone free. Antibiotic fee. Vegetarian fed. Grass fed. USDA organic. Free range. The list goes on.

Of course, there is a range of prices for these different attributes, ranging from $2.78 per dozen to $5.49 per dozen in a recent Consumer Reports article, for example.

This creates a dilemma for the consumer and a challenge (and opportunity) for the marketer.

 

The Marketer’s Challenge and Opportunity: Communicating value when markets are filled with choice

This is, after all, the heart of marketing: enabling choice and communicating the value of those choices.

So let’s look back at the egg market. Remember, not too long ago, eggs were just a commodity. Then, all of these product claims came along. One could argue that all of those claims create more value for customers, and thus, justify the higher price. That may in fact be true, but they would miss the point.

The real ability to charge a premium price for having any of those words on an egg carton is the customer’s perception of that value. After all, how many customers really understand what goes into raising an organic egg?

 

It was beauty (the content) that killed the beast (the commodity)

Commodity products are very dangerous for companies. It means their only lever of survival is to focus on operational excellence and cost-cutting to constantly stay one step ahead of expenses and the competition.

This is where content can be so powerful. Companies that really are producing something of greater value (e.g., the organic egg) can use content to show the story of how their products are made so the customer can see for themselves what the value is (e.g., justifying the higher cost for an organic egg).

Effective content marketing isn’t only happening online. Let’s take a look at an example of how one egg company is using content marketing to show this distinguishing value.

 

In-package newsletter

If you buy Country Hen eggs off your grocer’s shelf, when you open the carton, you will see “The Country Hen Farm News.”

country-hen-newsletter

 

Content marketing = show your work

At first glance, it’s easy to miss how profound this in-package newsletter is. After all, the company basically bought a truck. So what?

Surely, customers must assume that their eggs make it from point A to point B to eventually their grocery store shelves in a truck of some sort. How does that add value?

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, explained at Web Optimization Summit 2014. (You can read a 15-second synopsis of his research in Takeaway #2 of Web Optimization Summit 2014 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways to improve your testing and optimization).

 

The difference between showing and telling

It’s not simply the fact that The Country Hen bought a truck that adds value, but rather, how it uses the newsletter to show product value. The magic is in the writing. This newsletter shows the value in three subtle, but brilliant, ways:

  1. Shows the work – As mentioned above, it shows how these farmers are working hard to get your eggs to you.
  1. Shows the passion – This isn’t some mega-corporation with commodity eggs. These people really care. For example, “Our girls will not have their vital nutrients in the care of a less than reliable vehicle.”
  1. Establishes its place in the market – Again, this isn’t a mega-corporation. They’re the underdog, the little guy. By spending more to buy Country Hen eggs, you are supporting the small farmer. After all, it’s quite charming how proud they are of a used truck: “The truck has only 188,000 miles and is capable of transporting 24,000 pounds of our certified organic cuisine.”

This company could have ran a TV ad campaign with stock farm footage of dewy mornings and hay bales being loaded into trucks and a ruddy-voiced announcer reading lines like, “We’re working a little harder for you.”

That would be telling. It would be hype. I would argue, it wouldn’t have been as effective because it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t win over today’s skeptical customer.

Pamela Jesseau, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS, is the person who gave me this newsletter and suggested this blog post. She described it like this: “I spend twice as much money on these eggs because they tell me about their truck. I’m never going to buy another egg ever again as long as The Country Hen is on the shelf. I want to find out what is next. I feel like they are my hens, too.”

After reading the newsletter, I wanted to share some insights from The Country Hen with you to help improve your own content marketing. So I reached out to Kathy Moran, the signatory of the newsletter, to get some background and tips for you.

As with any marketing department we write about, they aren’t perfect by any means. They still have work to do on their digital side. But I thought it would be helpful to hear how they create content with a small team and limited budget. Her responses were so good and real, I didn’t even pick up my editing pen.

Read more…

Blog Awards: Nominate your favorite marketing blogs

April 20th, 2012

At MarketingSherpa, our job is to help you do your job better. But we’re not the only place you turn to for helpful information.

So to help your peers find quality marketing information, we’re launching the MarketingSherpa Reader’s Choice Awards. What marketing blogs do you find most valuable? Simply make a comment on this blog post with the name of the blog and the category you would like to nominate it for.

Here are the categories:

  • Best B2B Marketing Blog
  • Best Email Marketing Blog
  • Best E-commerce Blog
  • Best Inbound Marketing Blog
  • Best Copywriting Blog
  • Best PPC Blog
  • Best SEO Blog
  • Best Marketing Strategy Blog
  • Best Social Media Blog
  • Best Viral Marketing Blog
  • Best Marketing Operations Blog
  • Best Design Blog
  • Best Optimization/Testing Blog Read more…

Marketing Career: 4 questions every marketer should answer (and what you need to know to start asking them)

March 16th, 2012

Very few of us, especially marketers, know what next year or the year after will look like. Things are constantly changing and progressing with new approaches, better analytics and a greater level of sophistication in our industry.

The good news, while those aspects continually evolve, there are a few things you as an individual can do to ensure a productive and prosperous marketing career. They may seem obvious, but consider them carefully because your choice will mean the difference between a rewarding and frustrating career.

First and foremost, according to research I conducted for the 2012 Executive Guide to MarketingSherpa Marketing Personnel,  80% of marketers take assessments  to identify key competencies and personality traits. (An assessment is an examination, test and/or survey(s) that measures specific behaviors, values and/or skills that provide insight into an individual’s abilities and capacities.)

However, what comes next is disappointing … our study also showed that less than half of the assessments were actually used (by companies) to help ensure you are in the right marketing position. So, if you work for one of the companies not using assessments, your career satisfaction and success is entirely in your hands.

“People don’t pay for average.” — John C. Maxwell

And neither do marketing departments.

While you may enjoy multiple aspects of the marketing process, if you really want to excel in your career, you must ask yourself: “Which aspects do I enjoy the most and which am I best suited for?”

The reality is that you may be fairly competent in several areas, but no one is good at all of them — plus, each area is growing in the level of sophistication so rapidly that it is easy to quickly fall behind the learning curve. So what do you do?

  • Obtain a copy of your assessments and make an appointment with your manager or HR specialist who had those tests run. Identify what you want to learn about your behaviors, strengths and weaknesses before the appointment that apply to the field of marketing you most enjoy.
  • Have the individual go through the results with you thoroughly. Ask questions during the process. Yes, you will hear a lot of things you already know, but it is essential you see your competencies from another’s paradigm, not just your own. Let them identify your strengths and weaknesses based on the data.
  • Use the comments you obtain from the debrief session to help you develop a plan.The plan should consist of:
    • How to use your strengths in your present position
    • How to reduce the weaknesses that might inhibit your professional growth and development
    • Try to codify what developmental resources you will need to obtain, either through or outside of company resources
    • Assign priorities and time frames, then implement your developmental process. Do not wait on a manager or  HR to do this for you. You may have to wait a long time for other’s help.

  Read more…

Is Your Company Embracing ‘Fear-Based’ or ‘Fear-Less’ Marketing in 2012 and Beyond?

December 22nd, 2011

Does fear rule and dictate your company’s marketing strategy?

Seriously, think about the question for a second because it’s a problem that is prolific around the globe today.

For example, did you know one of the number one reasons why businesses, big and small, elect not to embrace the power of content marketing and social media is because of fear?

Yep, they’re afraid their competition will learn about what they’re doing successfully and copy it.

Sadly, that little bit of fear is what’s keeping businesses around the globe from truly being great at social media.

 

Secret Sauce Doesn’t Exist 

I like to put it this way — As businesses, we’ve got to stop thinking our “secret sauce” is anything more than Thousand Island dressing.

Speaking of “secret sauce,” how many books, case studies, television documentaries, etc. have been produced regarding the business model that is McDonald’s? As you already know, the answer is well into the thousands.

McDonald’s has been poked, prodded and scoured more than any scientific experiment that ever existed. Yet notwithstanding this reality, how many fast-food companies have successfully copied Ray Croc’s masterpiece?

Zero.

None.

Nada.

McDonald’s has no secrets. The business is out there for the world to see, yet no one can successfully mimic the golden arches.

But this little example is simply a single representation of how it works in every industry around the world.

Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers – Part 2

December 9th, 2011

Last week’s marketing career post explored how marketers should implement Steven Covey’s first habit, “Be Proactive,” into their job hunt. Scott Howard, Executive Director of Operations, MECLABS, helped to draw out applicable and helpful tips from the bestselling book. This week, we’ll hear from him again on the next two habits: “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Put First Things First.”

 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

I find this to be one of the most important habits for job hunters. Why? Because it is the foundation on which all following habits build. Without an end vision, you won’t know how to best direct all the energy you put into the other habits.

So how do you create this vision? Covey instructs you to create an image, picture or paradigm of the end of your life just as you want it to be. In a job seeker’s case, picture the job you want to have not just now, but also the one you want in the future. Using this reference, you will then determine your behavior and actions now and in the future. It also works on the principle that all things are created twice, once being mental, followed by the physical. Beginning with an end in mind focuses on the mental construction. (The physical will start to take shape in the next habit, “Put First Things First.”)

Scott says, “You need a destination. You can’t know how to get somewhere without first knowing where you want to go.”

Envision your ideal career path. Where do you want to be in five, 10, 20 years? Know the general direction you want to go, and focus your job search on positions that support this vision. In essence, you will create your own personal mission statement.

As a job seeker, I know how tempting it can be to apply to anything and everything. Having a job is better than not having one, right? Well, not necessarily. A résumé riddled with short employments or unrelated job positions does not look good to potential employers. Don’t continually apply to jobs you know you will leave in six months, or that have nothing to do with your end vision.

In The New York Times’ blog, Room for Debate, Katherine S. Newman, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, explains it further, “…if [your] biography doesn’t match [your] aspirations, it can be a tough sell when newer, less ‘scarred’ job seekers flood the pool from which the boss is choosing.” In other words, taking that unrelated job could hurt your chances of following your ideal career path.

This habit helps to narrows down your job search. Focus on what you what to be and do, then determine the steps, values and principles that will get you there.

Try writing this statement for yourself, and fill in the blanks to it is applicable to you …

“I want to be a (digital marketer, B2B marketer, community manager, etc) so that I can (list your contributions and achievement here). To get to that destination, I will (take an internship, apply for specific job descriptions, further my training or education, build my network, etc).”

 

Key Takeaway:

  • Envision your idea career path. Once you determine your career destination, hone your job search to focus on this ideal direction. If you’re not quite sure where you want your career to go, try reading through MarketingSherpa case studies to get a deeper understanding of certain roles and organizations.

  Read more…

Marketing Wisdom: Your peers share the surprising foundation that shaped their marketing efforts for 2011

December 6th, 2011

Please forgive me for opening this post with a trite statement, but I simply cannot believe we’re already approaching the end of 2011.

(That was for my dad, who spent most of his 50s lamenting the speed in which 365 days can pass.)

Platitudes aside, the end of a calendar year marks a time of reflection, where marketers look back at the year, and use this knowledge to better plan for the one ahead.

This also means that it’s time for you to send us your wisdom for the MarketingSherpa 2012 Marketing Wisdom Report (sponsored by HubSpot). Our 10th annual collection of anecdotes, ideas, test results and inspiration from marketers like you, will be distributed for free in January to all MarketingSherpa and HubSpot readers and customers.

As I prepare to digest a slew of submissions for this year’s go-round, I felt it was only right to take one last look at the 2011 edition, to see where we were a year ago, and what we’ve learned along the way. While combing through the pages, I was reminded of some notable pieces of advice, as well as a prominent common thread that ran throughout:

Communicate.

You’d think with all the exciting new technologies that have come about, 2.0 would have dominated the marketing landscape in recent years. But that’s not what marketers told us in our last wisdom report. No, it was the basics — the most fundamental marketing practices — that helped marketers achieve success in a questionable economy.

In 2010, you sowed the seeds of “back-to-basics” efforts, all centered on communication, and built forward-thinking campaigns around them. From stories of elaborate, innovative social media outreach, to the most basic expressions of thanks, it was clear that communication – both internal and external – was a foundation of your 2010 marketing efforts.

Below are some of the memorable entries from last year’s report. Read on to see if last year’s wisdom still proves valuable as you prepare for 2012.

Read more…

B2B Marketing: Focused top-of-the-funnel campaign fills day-long workshop in target market

October 25th, 2011

Marketing and Sales alignment is always a hot topic. When the two business functions are working together marketing efforts are more effective and Sales’ job becomes easier.

At the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco this week, Michelle Mogelsen Levy, Associate Vice President Marketing Programs, ECI Telecom, presented a case study on a successful quick-hit, top-of-the-funnel effort that had the side benefit of getting already close Marketing and Sales teams into even closer alignment.

Sales’ challenge for Marketing

Sales at ECI Telecom came to the marketing team and asked for support to penetrate a brand new geographic market in a very limited time frame – under 30 days – and fill the top of the funnel with high-quality leads.

The resulting effort was a proprietary workshop in Sweden, a new market Sales was targeting. Marketing’s challenge was finding a way to get relevant prospects to the event with an eye on being cost-conscious. And the goal was to register 20 participants for the eight-hour workshop.

The strategy was an inbound effort combining Sales leveraging its connections through email and social media with Facebook posts and other outreach, and Marketing taking advantage of the existing database along with reaching out to anonymous web visitors from Sweden. Turning unknown website visitors into known visitors was a key goal in the effort.

ECI Telecom went out and found a vendor that was able to provide a tool that allowed for segmenting Web traffic and delivering relevant messages to those visitors, and allowed for real-time intelligence on site visitors and behavior. Read more…

Marketing Metrics: Is the emphasis on ROI actually hurting Marketing?

October 21st, 2011

In speaking with many, many marketers over the past year, two words — well, actually one word and one acronym — stand out in my mental word cloud when thinking about marketing in 2011: revenue and ROI (return on investment).

The first is a term more commonly seen in financial reports and tossed around the conference table during company meetings. The second is another financial term.

And I’m not just dreaming that these words have infiltrated marketing. Research from the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report found that 54% of surveyed marketers think “achieving or increasing measurable ROI from lead generation programs” is a top strategic priority for 2012.

Click to enlarge

I know I’ve written about Marketing proving its worth within the company in terms of revenue generation or measuring ROI more than once over the last year.

Menno Lijkendijk, Director Milestone Marketing, a Netherlands-based B2B marketing company, says the emphasis on ROI in marketing should be reexamined.

Menno’s main point is unimpeachable — return on investment is a financial term with a specific definition that has a very specific meaning to the C-suite in general, and particularly to the CFO. His concern is, not only is the actual ROI of some marketing activities overemphasized, the term itself is gathering too much marketing “buzz.”

He provided an example of a comment left on an online video of his that referenced “intangible ROI,” something he (rightly) says does not exist.

“There is no such thing as intangible ROI. The whole definition of ROI is that it should be tangible,” Menno says.

He continues, “This term — ROI — is now starting to lead a life of its own, and is being used by email service providers to explain to their potential customers that doing business with them will give them great ROI on their marketing investment.” Menno also mentions email providers are not alone in using this sales pitch and cited search marketers, social media markers and other agencies.

“There is more than just ROI, and the real value of marketing may require a different metric, or a different scorecard, than just the financial one,” he states.

Read more…

Crisis Communication: The first 48 hours of 9/11 from inside American Airlines headquarters

September 9th, 2011

Tony Wright, founder and CEO, WrightIMC, had a very unique view of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. — he worked for Weber Shandwick on the American Airlines account, helping with corporation communications and interactive marketing. One of his key responsibilities was optimizing AA.com for search.

“When 9/11 happened, it was an all-hands-on-deck type of thing at Weber Shandwick. [American Airlines] called us because they needed help and support,” explained Tony.

He immediately drove over to the Fort Worth, Texas, airline headquarters and began tracking news about the event and his client.

Read more…