Archive for January, 2013

Raise Your Optimism by Preparing a Content Marketing Plan

83252675 250x166 Raise Your Optimism by Preparing a Content Marketing PlanBusinesses of all sizes are posting content, but few have a content marketing plan. Why research, interview, write, edit and post, if you do not have a clear path where your blogs will take you and bring back leads, sales or deals in return?

With only half of small businesses achieving profit growth, according to the study below, doesn’t it make sense to craft a plan to turn your content into dollars in 2013?

Other key findings:

  • 50% of small businesses reported profit growth in 2012.
  • 44% say they are now both stronger and more determined to succeed than ever.
  • 38% say the weak economy has spurred them to work more efficiently.
  • 27% say they asked for outside help to solve a business problem in 2012.

SOURCE: Findings are from a survey of 500 US small business owners and managers, conducted by Hiscox in third quarter of 2012.

 

Content Marketing Plan Musts

Writing a content marketing plan forces everyone to clarify what they want prospects, visitors and loyal patrons to do.  Here is an abbreviated list of questions to answer, pulled from 50 Smart Ways to Craft a Social Media Content Marketing Plan written by Amanda Nelson of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

  1. Set your goals and objectives (what do you wish to achieve and how)
  2. How will you measure your results and make adjustments?
  3. Where are your prospects, visitors, and patrons currently getting info about your niche in the area?
  4. What problems are your customers having when they come to you?
  5. What are your customers and prospects saying on Twitter and in News Groups?
  6. Which formats generate the best responses last year? (short post, long post, video, audio)
  7. What is working for your competition?
  8. Are you creating two-way communication and if not how can you in 2013?
  9. Is your content being shared?
  10. Is your content generating comments?
  11. Are other sites linking to your content? If not how can you make this happen?
  12. Are your keywords driving organic visits to your blog? If not, revisit and revise.
  13. What steps are you doing to promote your content?
  14. Are you posting 1-25 times a week? How can you increase quality postings?

Do you have a content marketing plan? According to Brendan Egan, CEO of Simple SEO Group, companies that blog more, make more. Egan challenged himself to posting two 575-word blogs a week consistently for five months to learn if increasing his posting schedule over a steady basis would bear fruit. It did.

Egan said his company’s website traffic, inquiries and new clients all increased as a result with no changes in any other variables.

So what’s your plan? It has to be more than increasing posts and sticking to a regular schedule. You really need to determine how your blogging content fits into your bigger marketing plan and creates value to your customers and two-way conversations.

Take 20 minutes to view Coca Cola’s content marketing plan called Coca Cola Content 2020 and you’ll realize your “plan” may need more meat to help you meet your long-term strategic goals. Coca Cola aims to make the world a better place, to live and dominate the beverage category through content marketing and story telling. How about you?

10 Terminal Design Flaws in Senior Living Mailer

92235673 250x366 10 Terminal Design Flaws in Senior Living MailerThe postcard below from Excelsior Springs Hospital arrived in a mailbox of a 50 year old living in a subdivision with mixed housing.

For the recipient, it was off message. They were not interested in comparing residential care homes quite yet being that they are only 50 years old. I live in a subdivision designed for people to progress through life from the townhomes, to single family homes to raise a family, to the patio homes to enjoy one-level living prior to advancing to a nursing home or residential care center.

So the question begs, what did Excelsior Springs Hospital use to compile a target rich list? Zip codes, type of home, age, mortgage balance, employment? If I were their marketing director, I would have specified 55 to 75 years of age living in ranch homes with a zero balance so to hone in on people most likely to be ready to move from their downsized ranch or maintenance-free patio home into an independent living center or assisted living.

 

Fatal Flaws Made in Senior Living Postcard

As you see, Excelsior Springs Hospital has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this simple 5×7 postcard. It’s packed, yet pulseless. Here’s where they fell short.

  1. The headline is a snore. A better headline/offer would have been, “Join us for a 4-Course Lunch and 4-Course Resident Panel.”
  2. The photo a bore. A photo of Paul Kemp gardening or playing cards would have been more engaging. Having him looking at a book, not the camera, is too passive.
  3. You don’t know where to start. They have three tiers of living centers to offer. Why not chronologically take the prospect through each one with numbers (1) Independent Living (2) Residential Care (3) Convalescent Center.
  4. Information overload. There is way too much copy. This is a postcard, not a brochure or website. Give them the highlights and move them down the funnel to get more information.
  5. No continuity. The bulleted list on the left is flush left while the list on the right is centered. Some headlines have serif fonts, while some are san serif.
  6. There is no offer. With the competitive senior living market, why should the receiver of this postcard call the number or visit the website (which should be a landing page instead of a general URL (GURL).
  7. It’s features-not benefits-oriented. The front and back of the card “focuses on,” but doesn’t describe WIIFT (what’s in it for them). Better copy points out never feeling isolated or being excited to receive the calendar every month because there are so many fun things to pick to do each day.
  8. Meaningless elements. Everything in a good design has a reason for being there. It serves a purpose of pointing someone’s eye down the piece or to the next section. This card shows two blue starbursts that just further add to the clutter and a silky blue background that seems out of place. The two design blocks on the front of the card appear like the tablets from the 10 commandments but again I don’t understand the point.
  9. They called their customer a name. According to Britt Brouse, Associate Editor of Inside Direct Mail, you should never use the word “senior” when marketing to seniors. Instead focus on your services and how it meets their needs without pinpointing a life stage.
  10. They missed their target. The postcard was addressed to the male of the house, instead of me. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is mailing to the male head of household, or to “couples,” when half of all households with people 65 or over are headed by one person, and 80 percent of those are women.

postcard, direct mail, senior living, copy

What did I miss? Did you catch something I didn’t see? Please put your comments and insights in the comments box below.

To Pick the Right Campaign Metrics, Ask the Right Questions Prior to Launch

157000899 250x170 To Pick the Right Campaign Metrics, Ask the Right Questions Prior to LaunchSavvy marketers who wish to remain employed measure the efforts of their email, print and multi-channel campaigns. Amateur marketers wing it or use the wrong metrics in an effort to make the right decisions.

Visit any social media or integrated marketing agency lunchroom and you’ll hear the words click-through, long-term bounce rates, subject line pull, open rate and conversions being passed around like salt.

Walk into a top 50 mailer and you’ll hear teams talking about churn, expense-to-revenue ratio, repurchase rate and lead-to-sale conversion.

The best marketers select clear, concrete goals for their campaign and then choose the metrics that tie directly to these goals and set tracking mechanisms in place.

 

Direct Mail Campaign Metric Rights and Wrongs

The problem with only focusing on response rate as a metric is that it doesn’t tell you much about campaign effectiveness, according to Ruth Stevens of the Lenskold Group.  There are simply too many variables involved:  the list, the offer, and the creative.

Stevens suggests focusing on a more useful metric, like cost per lead.

 

Metrics for B-to-B Direct Marketers

Lead Generation Direct  Sales
, E-commerce, Mail Order Retention Marketing
Response rate Response rate Repurchase rate
Cost per lead Cost per order Lifetime value
Inquiry-to-lead conversion rate Average order size Churn
Lead-to-sales conversion rate ROI
Expense-to-revenue ratio (E:R)

SOURCE: LENSKOLD GROUP, 5 Essential B-to-B Direct Marketing Metrics by Ruth Stevens, June 8, 2011

 

Beware of Vanity Metrics

Vanity metrics sounds good but mean little. They are slung around in client meetings like Stoli in a Mad Men scene but they are more intoxicating than business

sustaining. Vanity metrics, including

  • How many names on the email list?
  • How many likes on Facebook?
  • How many followers on Twitter?

It doesn’t matter if you purchased an 80-million name email list for $800 if 80% of those names haven’t looked at an email in the past year or only 5% of the contacts match your Ideal Customer Profile. The metrics that might matter more across the sales pipeline, according to Hugh MacFarlane, author of The Leaky Funnel, are:

  • Sales qualified leads
  • First meetings
  • Proposals
  • Closed Deals

 

Proxy Metrics Can Help if Agreed Upon Upfront

What is a proxy metric? It is a metric used to “stand in” for a direct measure, when direct measurement is not possible. For example if a PR  or marketing company places a story in the New York Times and in the Waste Management trade journal, The New York Times carries more influence and clout for the client and his product than does a trade journal because of reach, readership, credibility, etc.  Therefore the agency can plug in an arbitrary number in its client reporting valuing this placement as compared to an easier to obtain trade journal placement with less customer focused impact.

In a B-to-B environment the revenue pay-off can take many months or even years. Proxy metrics come in handy to assess campaign productivity before the sales cycle has ended.

Robert Reneau of National Semiconductor assigns dollar value to each interim campaign outcome, long before the activity has resulted in a sale. When a customer downloads a piece of collateral, for example, they credit the campaign with $1,000. A product sample request? That’s $5,000. A lead entered into the sales force automation system earns $50,000. Though these numbers seem arbitrary, over time they have helped National correlate actual sales results.

The QR Code Face Off of the Week: Big Pharma vs. Two Tech Companies

We pitted three corporate giants against one another this week. Between Microsoft, Dassault Systemes and Boehringer Ingelheim, which company do you think did the best job with its mobile tag usage (QR Codes® vs. Microsoft Tag) and advertising composition (copy, layout, call to action)?

Pradaxa 748x1024 The QR Code Face Off of the Week: Big Pharma vs. Two Tech Companies

 

Boehringer Ingelheim Gets Wordy

Reading this ad makes me happy I don’t work for a pharmaceutical company. They obviously must be wordy because of disclosure requirements. I can see that it would be a challenge to be a designer for a pharma. I would hate to think my designs had to be blessed by the legal department.

The strongest copy point is how the product “reduced stroke risks by 35% or more” is buried.  The QR Code leads to a lot of repeated safety information about Pradaxa® rather than the promised tools and tips for caregivers and is not web mobile optimized. The QR Code landing page seems to be designed for the “eyes” of caregivers who are hopefully in their 30s or 40s rather than seniors 50 and older.  It is important to match your QR strategy to the target audience.  Keep in mind that  only about 14% of boomers even use QR Codes as shown in the VentureBeat graphic below.

 

Age Groups Using QR Codes

Age Groups QR Codes The QR Code Face Off of the Week: Big Pharma vs. Two Tech Companies

 

Microsoft Pushes Its Own Tag Technology

Microsoft 765x1024 The QR Code Face Off of the Week: Big Pharma vs. Two Tech Companies

Microsoft does a great job of making mom or dad want to run out and buy a new PC, loaded with Office 2010 and OneNote so this lovely teen can have her shot at making valedictorian. The ad isn’t too wordy and has a great offer with a deadline for purchase.

And even though QR Code usage is somewhere around 72% vs. the 24% usage of Microsoft’s mobile tag technology, it remains steadfast on pushing its tag. So I downloaded the free reader as instructed and was quite pleased with how easy it would be to share this offer with a friend. It seems odd that  Microsoft would not go for the high percentages guaranteed to give them more conversations by using a QR Code. Are they going to continue to ignore the stats below in 2013, too?

  • QR Codes accounted for 61% of all codes used in the first quarter, growing to 72% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • Microsoft Tags lost share, falling from 39% of all codes in Q1 to 25% in Q4. All other tags accounted for only 1% each in the last quarter.

SOURCE:  Nellymoser Study as reported by Finger Food, Feb. 13, 2012

 

FAshion QR Code 770x1024 The QR Code Face Off of the Week: Big Pharma vs. Two Tech Companies

Dassault Systemes Dazzles in its Print and Digital Execution

Dassault Systemes shares a compelling story of how the billion-dollar fashion industry can tap its 3D technology to turn a design sketch into tomorrow’s hottest boutique seller.

I was thrilled that the QR Code took me to a web-optimized page that I could actually read without increasing the screen size, and it took me further down the education and purchasing pipeline and offered three exit buttons to clearly flag where I was in the sales process.

 

So who won this week’s face off? Dassault Systems with a score of 72 out of 80.

Here are my tabulations and scores based on a scale of 1-10 in eight categories.

 

Boehringer Microsoft Dassault Systemes
Wordiness 2 (600 words) 8 (100 words) 7 (300 words)
White Space Use 0 9 8
Grabbing Graphic 0 9 10
Compelling Story 0 9 9
Overall Layout 1 9 9
Call to Action 1 10 10
Mobile Tag Usage 1 5 9
Total Score 5 59 72

 

Why Sensory Marketing is Irresistibly Effective

sensory marketingOmniture Business Unit at Adobe pushed the sensory envelope when it mailed prospects a pie chart made out of three types of chocolate (milk, dark, and white) to drive home a point and to give them something to chew on – literally. (Adobe enjoyed an 11.6% response rate and 289% response rate. Source: Deliver Magazine, December 2010)

How many times have you stopped to smell the scratch-n-sniff ads in women’s magazines? Research in How Magazine Advertising Works shows product sample ads raise product awareness by 42% and prospects are 56% more likely to buy the cologne based on the sensory experience.

This double digit sales lift based on smell isn’t surprising according to author Martin Lindstrom’s book “Brand Sense.” According to Lindstrom 75% of our emotions are generated by what we smell.

Can the sound of music push a recording artist into a higher bracket of record sales? Yes, according to Famecount.com, Lady Gaga holds the record with over one billion YouTube views. Gaga is the most popular living person on both Facebook and Twitter.

 

How Are You Igniting Prospect Senses?

Are you relying solely on pretty images to break through the gatekeepers and get your message into the hands of the C-Suite, consumers or small business owners? In today’s competitive world, it’s going to take more than a glossy stock image to crack that door.

Get the door to swing wide open by using variable data printing (VDP) to pull images and graphs into your marketing piece that speak directly to your prospects. People respond to images or people that appeal to or look like them. Like attracts like, so it makes good strategic sense to include photographs of people who look like your prospects or like your prospects want to look after using your product or service.

Thanks to emerging technology, companies can now blend smell, sound, video, tactic and distinctive touch into their direct mail campaigns, according to Good Sense: A case study by Deliver Magazine.

 

Taste Strips Take Samples Beyond the Supermarket

When a soft drink manufacturer wanted to learn just how popular one of its most popular sodas could be, it mailed a survey to 5,000 customers with a flavor strip of the drink. Of the 1,650 who responded, 76% told the manufacturer that they would very likely be buying the product in the next week. (Source: First Flavor, a suburban Philadelphia firm)

Getting people to try your product by sending samples or getting them to try a sample is nothing new. You’ve probably been asked to sample some cheese and crackers in the store or a small tube of toothpaste inserted in your Sunday newspaper.  Product samples convert. Consider these stats:

  • 81% say they would try a product after they receive a free sample.
  • 61% say a product sample is the most effective way to get them to try a product.
  • 65% say they would prefer to have samples mailed to their home.
  • 89% say that an accompanying coupon would increase the perceived value of the mailed item.

Source: Arbitron and Edison Media Research

 

4 Ways to Maximize Sensory Engagement with Mail

According to Postal Service advertising expert Chris Frazier, engaging customers’ senses is the surest way to get them to stay longer and buy more. Frazier goes on to say companies miss the mark if they design direct mail campaigns that are only built around visuals.  Here are the four ways to stimulate more response through sensory marketing.

Give Them a Whiff. Freshly cut grass, coffee, strawberries or chocolate are engaging and memorable when sent through scented coatings, scented papers or scratch-n-sniff labels. Car dealerships can infuse the scent of a new car into their mailings and spas can use the scent of lavender in their mailings to reinforce the relaxation they provide as a benefit.

Give Them a Taste. Flavor strips are a much more affordable way to give your prospects a sample, rather than having to send an entire food or beverage sample. “A bed and breakfast that mails a maple flavored sample will not only bring an experience into the home, but will likely gain an edge over its competition,” says Frazier.

Make the Feel Unforgettable. Not every direct mail piece should be flat and smooth. One of the reasons direct mail works is because it is tactile. Companies that use varnishes, coatings and textured paper-or include sample pieces of sweaters or denim-win.

Use Video. Not only can your multi-channel campaign drive prospects to a micro-site that includes an embedded video or URL to a video, you can include wafer-thin video on your direct mail piece, too, according to Frazier. The greater the interaction, the greater the response rate.

Is Your Business Card Making the Right Impression?

Card on Fire for Blog 250x187 Is Your Business Card Making the Right Impression?

If you haven’t read Sabine Lenz’s Printing Impression guest post, “These Business Cards Are Crap,” read it now because she’s created quite a stir. Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com and doesn’t mince words about the cheap, flimsy stock, off center cards she collects every time she networks.

She rightfully asks where is the quality, the beauty and the usability of cards that are UV coated on both sides, so she can’t jot notes after meeting someone. Perhaps because it’s her business to sell paper, she says she’d like to see the use of extra thick paper stock, foil stamping, unusually-sized designs, and cards with an additional fold – perhaps that touts in 10-words what the company does best.

 

Digital Haze or Just Plain Lazy?

Has social media made us go soft by not having a nice card to present our best foot forward? Are we overly considered about our Linked In page and choosing the right Facebook cover photo?

I have certainly left meetings too many times to count where professionals didn’t have cards at all – a cardinal sin just five years ago. Sure we can bump our smart phones together and share contact info or email VCards, but the tactile experience of receiving a card, looking at the name, making a visual connection between your mind, the giver’s company and the person himself is lost. We learn and remember through touch and spending a moment experiencing the interaction.

 

Bad Business Cards

So let’s not overlook the business card interaction.  This is your chance to dazzle them or bore them to death.  For example, take a look at the six cards I quickly pulled off my desk. The three on the left side underscore Lenz’s crap rant.

There is too much information on the first card. It’s not a brochure, it’s a business card. The second “bad” card has unreadable mice type on it – stick to 8 picas or large not under 6, please. The third “bad” business card is lackluster. My guess is it was designed by the doctors and not by a professional graphic designer.

 

Good Business Cards

Now take a look at the cards on the right, which show great thought, design, a QR Code®, unusual sizing, thick paper stock, color washes on the back with no UV coating so you can write notes and an overall look and feel, so you leave with an impression about the business and the individual.  These three good business cards even show off some creativity with their titles:  Director of Awesomeness, ROI Generator, and Creator.

So put it on your calendar to review your business card this month. Does it need a re-design? Do you need to add your Facebook page, Twitter handle, a QR Code or blog address?  Don’t be caught in a digital haze by ignoring what could be your best ally – your finely dressed business card.

QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Is Your Marketing Department Breaking Copyright Laws?

Legal picture for Blog 250x166 Is Your Marketing Department Breaking Copyright Laws?Whether you need an image for your website, a song for your corporate video, or poem for your blog, chances are you’re going to end up wanting to use someone else’s work as part of your final piece. With the abundance of easily accessible content, the average person can violate the copyright laws 10 times before their second cup of coffee.

As a business leader and marketer, take some time this week to revisit your internal policies for content usage and source citing.  Make sure your team understands they can’t just copy a photo off of someone else’s web page or pull a music track from that great Justin Bieber CD.  As a business leader just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible.

Here are a few pointers to share with your team.

 

What’s the Law?

A copyright is a form of protection backed by the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. Basically if you haven’t shot it, taped it, recorded it, drawn it, written it yourself-it’s not yours to use without expressed permission of the owner. Read the US. Copyright Office’s FAQs as a refresher here.

 

Common Copyright Infringements by Marketers

Make no assumptions, because ignorance of the complexities of copyright violations won’t save you in court.  Here are the most common faux pas:

  • Celebrity pictures can be used in a company’s e-mail marketing, blog or website because they’re part of public domain.
    • FALSE. Celebrities (and the photographers that take the photos) protect their images just as closely as brand owners of physical merchandise. Permission is required.
  • Images or videos that are in Creative Commons are fair game.
    • Not exactly. There are still requirements such as crediting the photographer or artist and/or providing a link back.
  • Buying royalty-free licenses protects me from any copyright infringements.
    • Tread carefully. Royalty free is a cloudy term.  Be sure to carefully review the licensing agreement from the provider.  Many sources limit the size for reproduction, breadth of distribution or medium utilized.
  • Under Fair Use, I can reprint content as long as I clearly credit the original author.
    • Wrong again. Reprinting and reposting is allowable under the Fair Use Doctrine only with “limited portions” of a copyrighted item or commentary. You must give credit and cite where it came from. However there is no word count that dictates what a limited portion might be.  Copying a favorite article from a magazine and citing the magazine source is a violation of copyright law.  Magazines charge a premium for reprint rights – even IF you wrote the article for them.

Copyright laws are complex and the Internet age of easy access adds to that complexity. When in doubt (1) get written permission from the owner (2) check with an attorney who specializes in copyright laws and/or advertising/marketing/entertainment law (3) check with someone at the U.S Copyright Office or its website.