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Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Marketing’

Inbound Marketing: Do you care about the quality of your brand’s content?

August 20th, 2019
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If I had to break down the world of content marketing into two groups, it would be these:

  • Those who care about the quality of their content
  • And those who don’t

Ouch. Seeing those words in writing, my statement is a little harsh. So let me try to rephrase:

  • Those who only see content as a means to an end
  • And those who view content as an (often free) product that should have value in and of itself

To further refine this split, we could say there are two content marketing approaches we can simply label:

  • Quantity
  • Quality

Of course, every piece of content offers some level of value. You need a certain level of consistent production for even the most high-quality content. And there are shades of gray between the two extremes.

That said, I’ve noticed more and more of a focus on the “high quantity/means-to-an-end” approach as the content marketing industry has matured. Brands that seem like they don’t care about the quality of the content they’re producing, or at least not nearly as much as the volume. I thought this would make a fitting topic of exploration in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa inbound newsletter.

Content pollution

Content marketing has shown impressive growth as a marketing tactic. One reason for that is the proliferation of digital platforms and the growth of computing power allowing for less expensive production of content.

If you’ve ever listened to a talk by content guru Joe Pulizzi, you know that content marketing isn’t necessarily new. But when the means of production transitioned from a printing press and six-figure Avid system to a free blogging platform and smartphone, it was inevitable for content marketing to grow.

But there’s another reason it grew as well. It was effective. And it was effective because it was disruptive.

The traditional advertising and marketing model was built around selling to the prospective customer. The core of content marketing is helping the customer. When done well, customers sell themselves.

The low barriers to entry and “free” cost compared to paid media led to explosive growth in the amount of content. This has created plenty of helpful content. But content creation has also been used as part of a major quantity push by companies viewing it as a means to an end to attract traffic.

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Landing Page Optimization: Original MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook now available for free download

June 13th, 2019
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I recently received an email from a MarketingSherpa reader asking how he could point people to the Landing Page Handbook. He ended the email by saying …

 

“I still think the Landing Page Handbook is the best resource on the topic that has ever been produced.”

— Ken Molay, President, Webinar Success

 

And the data shows it. The MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook is one of the most popular resources we have offered in 20 years of publishing. So we dug into our archives, and are now offering this handbook free to you, the MarketingSherpa reader.

 

Since it’s publication over a decade ago, the Landing Page Handbook has been a frequently cited resource throughout the years. Some examples:

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE LANDING PAGE HANDBOOK

 

And of course, generated plenty of discussions when its second edition was released in 2007:

 

When it was first released, it elicited these testimonials:

This book is astonishing and you should read it. It’s astonishing because it will tell you very obvious things that you don’t know, didn’t realize and weren’t taking action on. As the person who invented the term Landing Page in 1995 (right after Al Gore invented the internet) I can tell you that we’ve waited a long, long time for this sort of common sense, hands on, verified info. The bad news is that you are now out of excuses.

— Seth Godin, Author, www.SethGodin.com

 

“I wanted to drop you a note telling you how incredible your Landing Page Handbook is. The handbook is clear about what works and what doesn’t work with loads of data to support its claims. I am in the process of implementing changes and fully expect massive improvements to my metrics. Once again, you have shown why MarketingSherpa is the only source we need to improve our Web presence.”

— Brett Hayes, RentQuick.com

 

“I want to thank you for putting out the landing page handbook. I found that document instrumental in getting one of our clients a 400% lift in conversion response.”

— Elliott Easterling, VP Sales and Marketing, Co-Founder, Red Bricks Media, www.redbricksmedia.com

 

“My honest advice? Buy this report, copy what others have done to increase their landing page conversion rates, and make more money. It’s as simple as that.”

— Nick Usborne, Publisher, www.excessvoice.com

 

“I bought the Landing Page Handbook. I was in two minds about buying it for ages. I am a one-man band so $250 is a lot when your sales are so low. Within the first 50 pages I was 10 for 10 on the common mistakes made on landing pages. I started applying the book’s recommendation to my site. I have gone from +-1 sale a week up to 3 a day and climbing consistently for the past 3 weeks. All the ‘Experts’ told me to up my spend on Adwords to up sales and I did. I now realize I was just wasting my money till I read this book and made the changes. Great book, worth every cent.”

— Peter Mercer, Director, Network & Perimeter Security Services

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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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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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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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Marketing 101: An intro to social listening, why you should become an undercover social media agent (and where to begin)

July 3rd, 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.

In the early 2000s when social media networks like My Space and Facebook first came out, many of us thought they were just a passing fad. We were wrong.

These social networks have been so successful because people are hardwired to be social. And they want to share on social platforms.

Then businesses began to realize that customers were reacting more positively toward this gentler inbound strategy as opposed to the traditional, more aggressive outbound methods. Today, social media marketing is a vital part of most companies.

Yes, social media marketing is here to stay, and statistics show that it reigns as king of the mountain in the business world, being one of the most widely used lead gen tactics.

Most Widely Used Lead Gen Tactics

If you have been trying to avoid learning hashtag lingo, retweet etiquette and analytics, then chances are your business won’t last long among its many competitors. Because THEY most certainly are utilizing social platforms to their advantage. You, on the other hand, are trying to execute your business strategy blindfolded.

Some benefits of social listening

Even if your business doesn’t have the budget for a dedicated social media analyst or the latest and greatest social monitoring tools, you can still go ahead and set up some accounts. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the most popular ones but you should conduct some sleuthing to determine which social media platforms are the best fit for your ideal customer.

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Selling and Marketing to Senior Citizens When Your Team is Very Different From the Customer

April 26th, 2018
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“Nobody reads direct mail letters anymore.” “Everybody has the latest iPhone now.” “I would never read that.”

Let’s unpack these sentences. What they are really saying is:

  • “Nobody (I know) reads direct mail anymore.”
  • “Everybody (I follow on Instagram) has the latest iPhone now.”
  • “I would never read that (but I’m not the ideal customer for the product).”

We humans, we’re a self-centered lot. And we think other people are much more like us than they really are. Psychologists call this false-consensus bias. And it is a significant challenge for the CMO or other sales or marketing leader in charge of a team that is very different from them.

I discussed this topic with Denis Mrkva, general manager of Aetna’s HealthSpire subsidiary, right before I interviewed him about a landing page optimization effort that increased leads 638% for a call center. Denis’ ideal customer is interested in Medicare Advantage. So his fairly young team is selling to senior citizens.

We also discussed hiring and creating the right culture, how senior citizens use digital channels, and how Denis’ team helps his customers navigate the digital environment. You can watch the video below or jump to the full transcript.


Customer-first sales and marketing

In discussing the customer, Denis had some good advice:

“Put them and their needs first — and listen. And try to understand not only their needs for the product they want to buy, but their lifestyle, the important things in their life.”  — Denis Mrkva

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Email Open Rates: 9-point checklist to get more opens for your email marketing by reducing perceived cost

March 21st, 2018
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The Radicati Group predicted that the average business user would receive 97 emails per day in 2018.

97 emails per day.

So why should they open yours?

To help you optimize your open rate, we’re giving you a nine-point checklist for minimizing the perceived cost of the email open. This checklist is from the Email Messaging online certification course taught by MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization).

You can click here to download a PDF of the Email Open Cost Force Checklist (no form fill required, instant download), and I will walk through the checklist step-by-step in this blog post.

EMAIL OPEN COST FORCE

For macro decisions, like a purchase process, you likely spend significant time and resources ensuring that customers understand the value of the product.

However, it’s all too easy to overlook the smaller decisions your customers are taking every day — the micro-yes(s) — like email open.

Every decision you ask prospective customers to make has a perceived value to the customer as well as a perceived cost. The “force” of value or cost is a term designed to discuss the strength of the effect of those elements on the customer’s decision-making process.

Put simply, if the value force is stronger, your customer will take the action you are asking. If the cost force is stronger, your customer will not take the action.

Now, this isn’t the actual value or cost of an action. It is the perceived cost or value before customers take an action. After all, they don’t know what value they will really receive until they act.

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Business Intelligence: If only more of our customers were like Larry David

February 23rd, 2018
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I usually watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm” through the eyes of a fan. But recently I watched the popular HBO show through the eyes of a marketer.

And it struck me — Larry David is an extremely valuable customer. And not just because he has all of that “Seinfeld” money (some $900 million of it, according to Adweek).

Larry is valuable because he actually tells brands what he is thinking. Commonly derided as “complaints” or “rants,” in reality, Larry is offering up valuable customer intelligence.

Complaints are business intelligence

In a recent episode, Larry is staying at a hotel. When asked by the front desk employee if he had any feedback on his stay, he suggests that they shouldn’t tuck the sheets in so tight when making the bed. Who sleeps like that?

But Larry isn’t the normal, quiet customer. He’s a super-suggester. And he goes far beyond replying to a question from an employee asking for feedback. He offers unsolicited advice on topics the hotel doesn’t even think to ask about.

While the hotel brags about cookies made by its pastry chef, Larry isn’t buying it. He says the cookies are from Pepperidge Farm.

And Larry is none too happy about the cookie retrieval system the hotel has set up in its lobby. Larry doesn’t want to use tongs to grab the cookies — he is afraid the cookie will get crushed — and he suggests a wider cookie layout system so guests can pick cookies with their bare hands without touching an adjacent cookie.

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Screw the Competition: How to avoid dreaded commodification

February 16th, 2018
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In high school, I never quite found my niche. I wasn’t a jock or preppie, neither freak nor geek. I just had to be me.

In other words, my focus was on my intrinsic value proposition, not what the competition was doing.

Competitive analyses are valuable, don’t get me wrong. They are necessary to ensure you have a unique value proposition. After all, your product isn’t for sale in a vacuum. I’ve worked with a competitive sales office in the past and you can learn a lot from win-loss reports as well.

But don’t go too far with this business intelligence. My point is this …

Don’t let the competition define you

At some point, you have to say, “screw the competition.”

If your focus is on the competition, you’ll just be another Why Bother Brand.

And if your focus is on the competition, it’s in the wrong place. Your focus should be on the customer. That’s the way you create differentiated value.

Here are three examples of focusing on the customers, not the competition, from otherwise commodified industries:

Example #1: Southwest Airlines

Airlines have become a dreadfully commoditized industry. Just look how they move in lockstep. One airline adds baggage fees, and then every other “me too” airline jumps in behind it.

Not Southwest Airlines. I’m sure it has analyzed the competition. I’m sure it is aware of fee revenue.

But that simply doesn’t work for this brand. So Southwest offers “No change fees. No matter what.” And communicated that value proposition cleverly in a recent TV ad about a coach who believed in his basketball team so much, he already booked tickets to the championship game.

The kicker, of course, is that the team doesn’t make it to the championship game and has to change their flight plans. Cue the tagline — “That’s Transfarency. Low Fares. Nothing to Hide.”

Does this mean you’ll fly Southwest every time? Probably not. I know I prefer non-stop flights. And you might have a favorite frequent flyer program.

But I tell you this — next time you’re charged $200 for canceling a flight, you’re going to remember that Southwest commercial. And if you go through negative experiences with your current airline enough, you may choose not to shop only on price but to favor flights from Southwest Airlines.

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