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Posts Tagged ‘marketing insight’

Content Marketing: How to serve customers when they shouldn’t buy from you

January 14th, 2014
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You have a great product to sell. So you pour time, creative ability and life’s energy into making sure customers know just how great that product or service is.

But, just between friends now, that product isn’t right for everyone, is it?

If you answer that question honestly, it naturally brings up another question.

 

How do you give your customers what they want even if you don’t have it?

Content marketing is about serving customers, not pushing product. Only once you serve those customers (and build up trust) can it become an effective vehicle for selling. And oh brother, can it ever be effective.

Here are two ideas for serving customers when your product isn’t right for them.

 

Idea #1. Help customers decide not to buy your product

Limited shapes and designs: Because fiberglass pools are built from a mold, the consumer is limited to the shapes and sizes offered by the various fiberglass pool manufacturers.

The above line is from a blog for a company that sells fiberglass pools.

What? Why?

“Fiberglass might be too skinny, but if you’re looking for that size, it can be good for you,” said Marcus Sheridan, Co-owner, River Pools and Spas. “We tell potential customers, ‘You know what, fiberglass might not be for you. And that’s OK, we’re going to figure it out together.’”

The results? The “problems post” garnered 176 comments, 396 inbound links and 43,867 page views. For a small pool company. In Virginia.

You can read more at “Competitive Messaging: Tell your customers what you can’t do.”

 

Idea #2. Help them get what they want

Sometimes customers can’t find what they want from you because it simply doesn’t exist yet.

Since the best marketing messaging is based on how the customer expresses what they want, hopefully you’ve been:

  • Listening in on social media
  • Engaging with customers service
  • Learning from Sales
  • Doing research in relevant target audience-focused newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Testing value proposition expressions using A/B testing

In doing customer research, you will naturally come across these gaps of unfulfilled customer desire.

When you do, it’s a chance to work with product development and business strategy to test your company into new products and services to better serve your customers’ unmet needs.

But sometimes, you simply can’t produce that new product or service.

What to do? Check out this brilliant idea from Eventful, the Best in Show in the E-commerce category in MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014, sponsored by ExactTarget.

Here’s how the event Web service handles an unfulfilled customer desire.

I’ll be the example. I go to Eventful.com to search for a Pearl Jam concert in Jacksonville. But Pearl Jam doesn’t have any concerts planned for Jacksonville (really, Eddie, really?), so I’m greeted with this pop-up that states, “Would you like to be notified when Pearl Jam comes to Jacksonville?”

 

The other option I have if I close the pop-up is:

“Bring Pearl Jam to Jacksonville! Demand it!”

  Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

September 10th, 2013
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Once upon a time, I was the new kid at school. Since I was a fairly athletic kid, I soon found myself in the midst of a pickup football game at recess. Imagine my horror when, despite my lack of knowledge about the competition, I was selected as a team captain.

I remember asking kids to explain to me, as quickly as possible, why I should choose them for my team. Some kids gave excellent reasons. “I’ve got good hands,” says one. “I’m the fastest kid here,” chimed in another. Many of the kids, however, never offered any answer to my question. Some of them ended sitting out the game because they couldn’t articulate why they should be picked. In football, as in social media, the key to getting picked is selling yourself.

You’re probably used to selling your products, but do you sell your social media?

Here’s what I mean.

 

How does value proposition relate to social media?

The fundamental value proposition question is:

“If I’m your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?”

I’ve even heard the phrase expanded in an academic environment to include this add-on phrase: “or do nothing at all?”

The “do nothing at all” is an important distinction because given a set of equally depressing options, a consumer may elect to forgo any product purchase at all.

Therefore, the smart companies tailor product development efforts in such a way the value proposition question produces a satisfying answer in regard to product offerings.

This leads me to another important question.

If product developers know that answering the value proposition question effectively is the key to successful product development, then why can’t a similar logic be applied to your social media efforts?

 

Whose problem are you solving?

The biggest problem I see with most social media marketing campaigns is usually a paradigm problem. It’s also the primary reason why a company won’t ultimately become successful in the medium.

When companies launch marketing efforts, it’s generally to boost sales. But social media, however, is only successful when content solves a customer problem, not a lack of sales problem.

In other words, most companies are not asking the right value exchange questions. Let’s take Twitter for example.

The prevalent mindset is a company-centric focus of “how can we sell products using Twitter?” instead of a customer-centric focus on “why should potential customers engage our Twitter feed rather than any of our competitors’?”

Consequently, it would do well for marketers to stop and ask the fundamental question, “Is there any true value in our marketing proposition?”

 

From my experience, when marketers begin to ask these deeper questions about their social media content, the conversational ratio of their posts begins to change – usually for the better.

Here’s another fantastic illustration of my point.

 

Do this:

 

Not this: 

 

Notice how Publix has given the visitor a solution to their problem of wanting to eat more fish. They’ve included a free fish recipe, and a mouthwatering image of a completed meal.

The value of this post is clear and easily recognized. I want to engage with this content because doing so will enable me to cook a great fish meal for my family and achieve my goal of eating more fish.

The hoodie retailer, on the other hand, clearly has no answer to the question of why a user would want to engage with the content. Other than the gratuitous pandering about Saturday tailgates, the retailer makes no effort to solve any problem for the customer.

It even goes as far as to command the customer to “shop now.” Anybody who’s ever crafted a call-to-action knows that dog won’t hunt.

This post is designed to solve the retailer’s problem: the need to sell hoodies. It holds no value for customers whatsoever.

Read more…

Bottled Lightning: 3 creative approaches to email marketing (yes, email marketing)

September 3rd, 2013
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As I wrote previously on the MarketingSherpa blog, there is an inherent paradox in the marketing and media industries when it comes to creative talent.

We need them to come up with ideas that are wild and outside of the box, and they’re expected to fit within corporate structure.

 

Let’s take a closer look at one of those boxes today – email marketing

According to the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, companies have identified a 119% overall ROI from email marketing.

This means more email marketing writing and design assignments for agency copywriters, art directors, graphic designers and marketing managers.

Now, anyone who has any writing or design ability at all probably did not grow up hoping to write email marketing. I wanted to write screenplays myself, and now my goal is to write the great American e-book. You might have originally started in the agency business or a marketing department with the hope of focusing on broadcast spots.

But, we all know the dog assignments are what separate the true professional writers from the hacks. For that reason, one of my favorite pieces in my portfolio is a postcard for a Realtor incentive program. No joke.

 

Creative, effective email

So, with MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014 now accepting entries until September 8, let’s take a quick look at a few examples of really creative email campaigns. Since results are a major focus of the Email Awards, this is creative that really works.

I call this bottled lightning – taking a run-of-the-mill creative brief in a restrictive medium and adding a creative jolt. It goes back to the basics you learned when you first built your portfolio. Sure, anyone can make an amazing 60-second for Porsche or Harley.

But, you can’t do these in broadcast …

 

1. Get interactive in real time

The Best in Show winner from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 (sponsored by Responsys), NFL.com, added some really innovative features to its newsletters, like “Countdown to the Game” countdown clocks and a “Who Will Win? Vote Today!” dynamically updated poll.

 

Results: 121% increase in open rate, 26% increase in clickthrough rate, and a 9% increase in mobile opens.

 

Kudos to …

  • Christine Hua and Aidan Lyons of the NFL (client)
  • David Hubai, Andrey Semenov, Ray Bovenzi, Robert Ragusa, Kellie Mixon, Greg Zolotas, Colin Petruno, Anne Koskey-Wagoner and Lilia Arsenault of e-Dialog (agency)

 

Steal this idea …

Admittedly, I’m starting with a brand that must be as fun to work with, or more fun than Harley and Porsche. What’s impressive here is how these marketers took the Marshall McLuhan approach. One huge advantage email has over broadcast is that it’s interactive and you can update your creative in real time.

 

2. Win back that old flame

Travelocity won a Gold in MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2012 (sponsored by Responsys), for its win-back campaign. The designers created an email so beautiful you just want to jump into it like the girl in the “Take on Me” music video.

 

Results: Travelocity increased ROI more than 100% from previous efforts.

 

Kudos to …

  • Doug Purcell of Travelocity (client)
  • Tonya Gordon, Doug Steinberg and Aaron Wilson of StrongMail (agency)

 

Steal this idea …

Broadcast is a mass media because you must talk to a mass audience. You don’t know who has bought recently, or bought a long time ago and hasn’t come back.

With email, you can find that old flame and target a message specifically to them. However, many win-back campaigns are solely discount focused. In this case, the team produced an email that appealed to the rational by including the discount, but didn’t overlook the emotional reasons to travel with the beautiful imagery.

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Can you compete with your customer’s mom?

June 11th, 2013
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At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, I interviewed our keynote speaker – Jay Baer, President, Convince&Convert – about the book he was writing. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype will be released in two weeks, so we’re sharing that interview with you now …

 

A few key takeaways from Jay …

1:00 – Brands have to compete with customers’ friends and family on social media and in email.

1:27 – So how are you going to compete with friends and family? Just be useful.

1:41 – Make your marketing a benefit, not a burden.

2:16 – Hilton Worldwide’s instruction to employees monitoring social media – “Pay attention to Twitter. If you can find a place you can help, just help.”

3:02 – The difference between helping and selling makes all the difference.

To register to win your very own shiny new copy of Youtility, sign up this week for the MarketingSherpa Weekly Book Giveaway.

 

Related Resources:

B2B Social Media: Jay Baer discusses social media ROI and Facebook likes [Video]

5 Ways to Deliver B2B Marketing Content that Sells (Without Sabotaging Sales) (via Convince&Convert)

Value Proposition: How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you