Daniel Burstein

The Marketing Thank You Box: 12 reasons modern marketers can be thankful

November 15th, 2018
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I hate to admit it. But as I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve become a little cranky.

Sometimes I can be like a marketing version of Grandpa on “The Simpsons” — “I remember when everything was print so there were real deadlines, not like a landing page which you have to constantly optimize. And we’d write ads for The Wall Street Journal, not for phones. Phones were actually for making phone calls. And another thing …”

But when I look outside my office this month, I see the Thank You Box.

It’s an effort to show appreciation for others in the office here at MECLABS Institute. Simply write a note about why you’re thankful for someone.

So, in this month of gratitude, here are 12 elements of modern marketing I’m thankful for:

This is customer intelligence we learn from. These are email subscribers we can help. There are even people who reply to inquire about services from MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization, MECLABS Institute. And we even get nice replies, like this …

“I love your stuff. I share it with my small business clients.”

I’m thankful for those notes. Numbers matter. But hearing from humans you’re serving is especially fulfilling.

  • Digital A/B testing — Sure, you could test with direct mail as well. But not this cheaply. And not this quickly. It’s a great way to learn from your customers’ behavior.
  • Content marketing — Another tactic that didn’t start with the invention of the internet. But it sure has exploded with the growth of digital — from blogs to videos to push-button publishing — partly thanks to the power of social media and organic search. No longer does marketing only have to be an “ask.” Now it can also be a “give.” A very effective tactic.

  • The “Referrals” tab on Google Analytics — I love to see who thinks our content is valuable enough to send us traffic.
  • LinkedIn and Twitter — A great way to interact with and learn from other marketers I’ve never met. Especially helpful for an introvert like me.
  • Read more…

Flint McGlaughlin

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

November 5th, 2018
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The great words of our society have been destroyed by the power of connotation over denotation. The speed of this demise has accelerated with the advent of mass media. Hence, great spiritual words and great social words have been irreparably marred.

“Marketing” is such a word.

Its very mention connotes trickery, subterfuge, propaganda and ultimately deception. Worse, it is considered the cunning accomplice of another blighted (often for good reason) term: sales.

Can the word “marketing” be redeemed (another damaged term)? Should one just start with a new word?

While at the universal level it can be difficult to “purify” the word, at the personal level this task is relatively simple.

But what does it matter? Why should you care? Redeemed or not, the whole concept seems boring …

“Seems” is a dangerous word. Be careful. Be very careful. Consider three challenging, if not outrageous, statements:

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Flint McGlaughlin

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader: 30 years of painful data (that might help you)

October 24th, 2018
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In my field, we often speak of “data-driven decisions.” But for the leader, sometimes the most important data is derived from a source that evades our metrics platforms. Indeed, such data can only be gleaned through brutal self-confrontation.

 

Confessions

The philosopher Kierkegaard reflected that “… the artist goes forward by going backward.” It is a paradoxical concept and yet an apt observation.

If the leader wants a different outcome than the one he is currently achieving, he may do better to look backward rather than forward.

For me, this means doing the hard work of reflecting on my most significant failures, and in particular, the root causes of these failures. This is especially painful because the “root cause” of the “root causes” of my organization’s failures lies within ME.

Looking back over 30+ years of (my) leadership data, I can see patterns … negative patterns. This observation leads to an inevitable question: What can I do to prevent their recurrence?

There is a complex answer; there is a concise answer. Here is the latter.

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Linda Johnson

Emotional Marketing: How to be a killer marketer and have a clean conscience

October 5th, 2018
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I want to be a good person. Chances are, you do too. So sometimes it bothers me when people stigmatize marketers as spammers and manipulators for money. (This happened to one of my colleagues here at MarketingSherpa, Daniel Burstein, recently.)

But marketing is a neutral term. It is simply the way we speak to customers. How we use marketing is up to us. We can be ethical, or not. We can influence people for good, or bad. We can choose to appeal to the best in us or instead, appeal to the beast in us. Actually, when you think of it, marketers wield a lot of power.

It’s true that there are marketers who choose to sell a product by appealing to our baser instincts of greed, selfishness, pride and lust, but you and I don’t have to, and we can still be successful. We can understand our customers as people and tap into their emotions, become a part of the story they want for their lives, not just pushing the goals we have for our business.

That’s why I was really encouraged when I listened to some major insights gleaned from the databank of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising UK. IPA has nearly 1,400 case studies showcasing the most successful advertising campaigns across 30 years, and discovered the most successful marketing campaigns were utilizing emotional marketing that brings out the best in people as opposed to those that simply focus on the surface-level, material desires we may have.

What really drives consumer decisions

The IPA is one of the world’s pre-eminent trade bodies for marketing communications agencies. Marie Oldham, Chief Strategy Officer, Havas Media, stated that the evidence suggests deeper, meaningful need states are driving consumer decisions.

The strongest ones [campaigns] were the ones [that] fully understood how the world has changed since 2008 and the whole credit crunch, how it destroyed some of the things that we thought were the dominant things in life, having a bigger car, getting a bigger job, getting on in life … [instead, customers said] ‘time spent with families and friends or reconnecting with our passions in our communities is really important.’ 

The winning entry for 2012 and also for 2016 IPA effectiveness awards was a TV ad from John Lewis. This chain of high-end department stores has repeatedly created extremely successful advertising campaigns.

The company traditionally used product-focused advertising but decided to shift to an emotional strategy, focusing on the consumers’ higher motivations for buying. It’s not about furnishing a house but building a home. It’s about creating a safe, inspiring and stimulating environment for their children; it’s about realizing their dreams for their family, their health and wealth. It’s not about getting rich, but about living a richer life.

The following advertisement was an immediate success going viral throughout television and social media platforms and catapulting their business forward as a leader in their industry in the UK.

 

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Daniel Burstein

How to Structure a Story in a Presentation

September 12th, 2018
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A MECLABS Institute Research Partner was putting together a major presentation and recently reached out for thoughts on how to structure it. As with conversion and many other areas of marketing, MECLABS (the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) has a specific framework for crafting engaging presentations.

Using a trusted framework can help, because public speaking — whether on webinars, in-person at conferences, to prospects on a sales call, or in an internal meeting — does not come naturally to many people. In fact, public speaking is often ranked as a more common fear than death in national surveys, prompting Jerry Seinfeld to remark, “In other words, at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

How morose. But it points out the need to support whoever in your company is speaking on behalf of your brand — sales reps, subject matter experts, C-level execs, even yourself — with a well-crafted presentation that helps them engage and convert the audience. You want to leverage the power of story and not rely on their speaking abilities alone.

The fundamental marketing challenge behind every presentation

Since presentations are communication and a representation of the brand, they are inherently a marketing challenge.

And like any marketing challenge, the goal is to make sure the value delivered outweighs the cost to the potential customer.

This is true for any call-to-action you have in the presentation, for example, moving to the next step in the sales process for a sales presentation or visiting a website for a presentation at a conference.

However, it’s even true for just getting your audience to pay attention to you. Let’s be real, it is very difficult to pay attention to anything for an extended time in 2018. If the value isn’t higher than the cost of avoiding email or putting down their phone or leaving the webinar or simply zoning out, you will lose them.

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Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: How to get high-paying customers and clients

September 6th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I am so happy I came across your site. Just flipping through and reading this email alone convinced me I’ll learn a lot from you. I am also grateful for the high-value report, I have downloaded it and will schedule time to really consume it.

My current challenge in my business is how to package my services for high-profile clients and charge them the premium fees for what I am worth. My business suffers from [in]consistent cashflow and high-paying clients.

I appreciate your help in transforming my businesses to target the affluent.

Dear Reader: So glad you found it helpful. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you overcome your challenges. This is a very frustrating challenge I’ve heard expressed by business leaders and companies ranging from ecommerce sites to consulting firms.

To charge premium fees you must have a powerful and unique value proposition.

What you offer must be appealing, however, in your situation where you are able to sell the service but must sell it at a low price, the likely culprit is lack of exclusivity in your value proposition.

To illustrate the point, I worked with James White, Senior Designer, MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), on the below visual. Let’s walk through it.

The letters in the equation-looking grouping in the upper right are from the MECLABS Net Value Force Heuristic, a thought tool based on almost 20 years of research to help you understand which elements to adjust to increase the force of a value proposition. As you can see, exclusivity isn’t the only element of a forceful value proposition.

To the left are products and services with a low level of value differentiation. And to the right are products with a high-level of value differentiation.

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Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: Mapping the prospect conclusion funnel [includes free PDF example]

August 29th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel, I’m following up on the conversation started on Twitter about your blog post. My questions are:

– What was the main realization that took you to write this article?

– Do you think that this works for businesses in any industry? For example, some businesses are mostly offline, is it wise to invest time in creating a funnel for those as well?

FYI, this is the article I’m talking about — Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks.

Dear Reader: I wrote the article because I received questions following the publication of this article: Website Development: How a small natural foods CPG company increased revenue 18% with a site redesign

Yes, the funnel works for any fairly complex purchase. This was true before the internet. Think about buying a car before the internet. First you saw the ad. Then maybe you filled out a business reply (BRC) card. Got invited in for a test drive. Test drove cars at competitors. Get to price negotiations. Etc, etc.

The funnel is a human decision-making phenomenon

I’ll go a step further. The funnel works for any fairly complex human decision, not just purchases, and certainly not just online. For example, you don’t instantly decide someone you meet in college is going to be your best friend. There’s a process.

And that begins with exposure to that person in the first place. You made micro-decisions to attend the same club meeting that person did, you approached them after the meeting, you had a good conversation, you invited them to hang out with your buddies, your buddies liked that person (third-party verification), you hung out more and more, you confided trust in that person (form fill with annual revenue info), that person confided trust in you … 40 years down that funnel, your best friend is giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding (the final purchase).

In a vacuum, the funnel still exists

The reader asked if it is it wise to create a funnel. It’s important to note that the funnel exists whether you choose to actively manage it or not. Take the example above. Your best friend didn’t choose to create a funnel to end up giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding. There were a set of decisions that you naturally made to get to that point.

It’s the same with the buyer’s journey. If you’re selling a car, there are a series of decisions a buyer will make on the path to deciding whether to purchase that car, whether you’ve set up a funnel or not.

What you can do is try to discover what these paths to purchase are, and then how you can use your marketing, sales and other resources to help them make that decision.

Let’s look at an example where we map business activities in a funnel to a set of conclusions a prospect has to reach for a B2B services contract.

Prospect conclusion funnel example

[Click here for an instant, free download of a PDF version of the Prospect Conclusion Funnel Example]

Let’s break down the example.

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Email Marketing: Why phishing emails (unfortunately) work … and what marketers can learn from them

August 8th, 2018
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I was riding in the car with my wife’s uncle. And when he found out that email marketing was one of the things I work on, he said, “Oh, so you send spam. I hate spam!”

It goes without saying, spam is bad marketing and I don’t support it. As I’ve written before, email marketing is just a means to an end. And the end should be helping a person.

I bring this up because we’re going to a pretty dark place today: Phishing emails.

Let me be clear. Phishing emails aren’t marketing. They are a flat-out scam. The role of marketing is to help a customer perceive the value and cost of products in a world of choice to — ultimately — make the best choice for them. Phishing emails are just plain thievery.

While phishing emails don’t ultimately deliver value, they do communicate value. Not to everyone, but to a specific audience. And that is why some people act on them.

So let’s see what legitimate marketers can learn from them. Let’s not be close-minded because their intentions are wrong. After all, for the marketer who seeks to grow his personal capacity, there are lessons everywhere. So here are some email marketing insights from email marketing scams.

What is a phishing email?

Earlier in my career, I worked in the IT security space for a bit, and I learned that the weakest link in security isn’t that encryption could be hacked.

It’s you. And me.

And that’s what phishing is, essentially. Instead of trying some complex technological ways to steal, just get people to act of their own volition. It’s a form of social engineering. They are using bait to catch a victim, and the visceral way it is named always reminds me of this scene from “Wayne’s World.”

 

You can see 15 examples of phishing emails here, and I’ve included a few of the most common types below.

 

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What are decoy marketing and price anchoring?

July 26th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

The entire global marketplace is built on transactions. And those transactions occur because a buyer perceives that the value of a product or service justifies the cost (and a major part of that cost is monetary price).

I bring this up because many business and marketing folks think they set the price of their products. Well, they don’t. In a capitalist system, only the market sets the price for your product.

Of course, business and marketing professionals have an essential role in this process …

Marketers present the price, they don’t set the price

This is an important distinction because it’s not only the monetary amount of the price that affects how well it will be perceived and thus how likely it is to be accepted.

It’s how that price is presented.

Which brings us to some common price and value presentation tactics.

Price anchoring

When I learned Economics 101 in high school, one of the first things I learned was that the supply and demand set the price in the market. You can even plot it out with simple curves. When the demand shifts up — boom — the price goes up.

Demand curve shift via Silverstar

It all seems so logical. Just crunch the numbers.

But it’s not. Because supply and demand don’t only set price, price itself can influence demand. And price influences demand because humans don’t run a logical calculation for every transaction they face every day. That is far too complex. We’ve got other things to do.

So we look for shortcuts. We look for signals. And one of them is this: What should the price of this product be?

Here’s where price anchoring comes in. Let’s say you see a box of cereal in a store. It costs $3. Is that a lot or a little? A good price or a bad price?

Wait, there’s some more information. Actually, the regular price of that cereal is $4. And it is on sale for $3. In fact, if you buy this cereal today, you’re saving a whole dollar compared to what it normally costs.

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

July 13th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Most purchases are not an instant decision on the part of the customer. There are several mental steps people must take before making the actual purchase decision.

For a more complex purchase, these steps usually involve learning more about the industry, product and company, until they get to the point of making a purchase. For a simpler purchase, the steps may simply be getting through the product’s purchase path.

And each step on that journey is a decision.

For example, a complex purchase funnel might include steps like this: searching a pain point in a search engine, getting to a content piece on a website, clicking to a landing page for a white paper download, receiving several pieces of email in a lead nurturing campaign, deciding to speak to a sales rep to learn more about the product, going through several stages of a sales process with a sales rep, and then ultimately making a purchase. This may happen over several months.

A simpler purchase might look like this: clicking on a paid search ad, arriving on a landing page, moving to a product page, going to a shopping cart, entering payment info, confirming a purchase. This might happen in a matter of minutes.

Funneling customers to an ultimate conversion objective

A funnel is so named because marketing literature typically depicts this journey in the shape of a funnel.

This is an example of a kitchen funnel.

And this is an example of a marketing funnel.

(from the case study B2B Marketing: Demand generation transformation doubles conversion rate for cyber security provider)

The general idea for the funnel shape is that there are more people at the beginning of the funnel then at the end. For example, more people will visit a landing page from an ad than will purchase your product.

The other idea for the funnel shape is that, much like a funnel channels liquid into a small opening, marketers should channel their potential customers from their first touchpoint to an ultimate conversion.

However, with a physical funnel, liquid naturally flows down into the container pulled by gravity. MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) teaches that this is a flaw in the traditional marketing analogy. Customers don’t simply fall through your funnel naturally pulled by gravity.

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