Tag Archives: marketing

Building a Social Media Calendar

Need some topic ideas to build your social media marketing and posting calendar?  Here’s some of the things we use:

a)     Week ahead. Write a weekly piece about what members can expect in the week ahead.

b)    Events preview. Write an events preview, include predictions from members, short snippet of interviews and other material that involves a broader group.

c)     Events review. Review recent events. Let others contribute their opinion. Members can reflect on the event together.

d)    Predictions. Invite members to make predictions about the future, everyone loves to do it.

e)    Interview members. Members interviews should be cornerstone content. It creates engaged readers for life, encourages referrals and gives people means to compare themselves to others.

f)      Interview VIPs. VIPs are usually eager to talk to connected groups of people. Who is a VIP in your industry?

g)     Product reviews. What products are members likely to be using in the future? Can you review some?

h)    Member achievements. Who has achieved something fantastic this week? Ask members to submit their achievements.

i)      Gossip column. Risky, but often popular. Invite members to submit topical gossip and publish it as a weekly column. Go easy on the venom, heavy on the fun.

j)      Member of the week/month. Like the above, but a member of the week/month tends to be popular.

k)    Statement from the community. On a frequent basis I’d ask members to contribute to a statement from the community. i.e. We’re furious bank fees are going up, please input on what you would like in a statement from the community.

l)      People on the move. Who is moving? It might be people changing jobs or people moving house or any relevant ‘move’. Hard to resist this sort of content.

m)   Latest news. Overused in most communities, but often useful. What’s the latest news in your topic?

n)    Job vacancies. Any jobs available? Reach out to recruiters or compile a job tips page. Any information that would encourage people to participate in the job vacancies page.

o)    Competition. When they’re done right they’re really a lot of fun.

p)    VIP spotted. Has any member spotted a VIP at an event recently, submit it here.

q)    Opinion pieces. Give people in your community a chance to give their opinion in a rotating-authorship opinion section. Everyone gets a turn.

r)     Guest columnists. Will any relevant business in your sector write a guest column?

s)     Advice section. Summarize the latest advice, what’s the general consensus of the online community?

t)     News round-up. What is the round-up of the news this week? It’s a simple place a member can visit to see what’s new without trawling various sources of industry news.

Let me know if you find this helpful or have any to add.

Faulty Customer Assumptions

I was reading through some old seminar notes of mine today.  Back in 2005 I did a presentation about the need for marketers to embrace technology and use it to make customer’s lives easier.  Although the graphics in the presentation are old by today’s standards, the message was not.

Here’s a brief recap of six faulty customer assumptions that can trap a business:

  • They know about you
  • They inherently care
  • They will tolerate complexity
  • They will do as you wish/conform to your needs
  • They just want a complete list of what you offer (let them figure out which feature or benefit they need)
  • They are predisposed to your brand = loyal

Is your business customer friendly or are you guilty of some of the assumptions above?

One-Minute Marketing Makeover

There can be big gains from small tweaks to your marketing plan.  There are two types of marketing plan audits.  The first is the comprehensive which should occur at least one a year and then there are the “mini” audits which should happen at minimum every quarter.

The “mini” marketing audit is stripped down to the bare essentials and the goal is to create a task list which can be done quickly and easily and yield results right away.

Mini Marketing Audit Questions

1. What initiatives and key messages generated the greatest number of leads, media placements, or sales in the last 2 years?

2. Which marketing channel (website, email, text message, pay-per-click, radio, TV) netted the most revenue for the lowest investment?

3. Who is your target audience (describe them) and has that changed due to economic conditions, pricing considerations, or new product and/or service offerings?

4. Who are your most valuable customers?  How and where do they purchase your product or service offering?

5. What are your competitor’s offerings and are you tasked with increasing market share, stakeholder satisfaction, $ revenue, or all of the above?

6. What are your organization’s short-term and long-term strategic goals?

7. What in-house vs. outsourced resources do you have available?

8. Are you on-target with your marketing budget, over budget, or under budget?  Why?  Do adjustments need to be made?

9. Are there any upcoming deadlines, events, or projects that might require you to alter your marketing plans in the next 3-4 months?

10. Have you taken advantage of trying out new marketing methods (internet advertising, media relations, email newsletters, mobile marketing, website marketing) to gauge their effectiveness?  What percentage of your marketing budget could you set aside to explore new options (usually about 5-10% of a budget)?

Sample Task List

Mini Marketing Audit Answers and Task List

Best Campaigns to do again: Summer 2008, Winter 2009

Best marketing message: Go BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) for the highest redemption rate and increased sales.

Best ROI marketing channels: website, email newsletters, text message campaigns, media relations/press releases & media kit, co-op advertising program, custom loyalty program.

Least ROI channels/not able to track effectiveness: radio, TV, outdoor billboards

Target audience: 25-45 households with kids (families) within a 2 hour radius of our location.  Current economic conditions indicate that this audience may be watching their dollars closer and spending less.  To keep sales up, we should look to expanding our demographic to include the baby boomer age group and expand to web sales

Most valuable customers: local customers looking to support us.  Need to keep them happy and coming back more.

Competitors: offer similar offerings.  We try to differentiate by talking about our expanded service and support, monthly payment plans, and testimonials.

Marketing goals: increase revenue by 5% in the next quarter.

Organization short term goal: reduce overhead by 5%

Organization long term goal: increase profitability by 5%.

In-house vs. outsourced: loss of one staff member means we will need to outsource more marketing functions in the next 1-2 months while we look for another staff member.  Will need to find one or multiple companies to assist us in everyday marketing tasks including: graphic design, ad placement, email newsletter copywriting, design, and sending, press release copyrighting, etc.

Marketing budget: we are under budget because we were not able to complete one of the campaigns from last quarter due to technology set-up issues.  Will try to complete that project this quarter or reallocate the funds to a different campaign.

Upcoming events: within 2 months we will launch a new product that should appeal to a younger more web savvy consumer.  We may need to shuffle some of the budget and timelines to get this launched.

New marketing channel test: would like to start an internet advertising campaign on Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  Need to find a company to help us implement this.  Tie this to the new product launch.  Will try 2-3 months with a budget of $5,000.

More is Not Always Better.

Think the way to win more customers is to offer more options on your products and services? Surprise. It’s not. And, it can seriously hurt your business to continue down that path.

“The belief that variety is good is not always true,” argues Harvard Business School professor John Gourville in “Overchoice and Assortment Type: When and Why Variety Backfires.” The research paper, co-written by professor Dilip Soman of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, demonstrates that sometimes offering too many choices prompts a confused customer to “run to the arms of a competitor” with less complicated offerings.

According to Gourville, when consumers go to make a buying decision, they can be overwhelmed by variety and start to question if they are making the right buying decision. The end result? Consumers simply give up or go somewhere else. In a sense, the consumer is saying, “I can’t decide which product to choose from the many offered by Brand A, so I will choose from the one or two products offered by Brand B.”

From my own experience with ecommerce and clients I can definitely see that the large number of options available make it almost impossible to move forward. It’s always a challenge to balance the “cookie-cutter” approach” to the custom one. It’s something that I constantly wrestle with.

Have thoughts? Why not share them.

Building your business 101

It surprises me how easy it is sometimes to see other people’s problems.  Of course, since that’s what we get paid to do, I guess I’m in the right business.

I was talking to a business owner this morning.  He was complaining about the success of some of his competitors compared to his company.  He said he couldn’t understand what the difference was.  He did EVERYTHING the same way they did.  Yet they seemed to get more business than he did.

I listened for awhile and finally asked the question that kept running through my mind, “If you do everything like they do, why would I as a customer choose you?”  It stopped him for a few minutes.  I told him my point was not to be disrespectful, just to point out the obvious–

Build your business on what your customers want, not what your competitors are doing.  Yes, staying in-tune with them is important.  But, if they are already doing something, it’s too late for you!  You need to go and find out what your customers need that no one is addressing.

Further probing brought out that actually this business owner was still running his business like he did 10 years ago.  No clear business plan or marketing focus.  While his competitors had actually expanded into new services area, offered new products, and generally had tried to stay ahead of the curve.

I pretty much tell it like it is.  Good or bad.  So I told him, “you need to change what you are doing.  Look at what your core skills are and listen to what your clients have been asking for.  You need to get a recovery plan in place.  Only if you are willing to make some large changes in how you do business will your situation improve.”

I can’t say anyone faced with that observation is thrilled.  But he took it fairly well.  He knows there is a problem.  Now, it’s just a matter of if he will act on it.

We all have choices.  He can choose to be the mouse that stayed behind (Where’s my Cheese book reference) the mouse that starved but eventually made it, or the one that accepted the situation and decided to do something about it.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Marketing is about ideas

Michael Mendenhall, CMO of Hewlett-Packard, sees there’s an evolution going on in marketing. He talks about how his organization looks at brand building, “Many companies continue to look at marketing in conventional ways — from a mass-market point of view. Branding today is not about the media; it’s about the idea. You need to dismiss the conventional way of thinking and start with an understanding of the value of each communication channel and how — or whether — it will ‘engage’ people. The idea should be the organizing principle, and it should inform everything you do to help consumers grasp your brand promise in whatever channel you’re reaching them: the television, the blogs, the banner ads or the word of mouth.”

Mr. Mendenhall makes a critical point, without a good grasp of who your customers are and what appeals to them about your product and/or service you will never be able to generate the ideas that will make your brand successful/profitable.  Why is it then that few companies want to devote the resources for the research and time to create the ideas?  Is it that they are clinging to the “old way of marketing”?  Much like the drowning man clings to the sinking ship?

Jump on my marketing bandwagon

Marketing is critical! Anyone that doesn’t believe it should look at the reduction in ski resorts over the last ten years. I fully believe that many of the resorts that are now gone were due to either cutting their marketing or not moving with the times to use new marketing channels.

I know of two cases where the marketing department’s were eliminated and within just a few years, the resorts’ had lost more than half of their business. Clear Fork, OH (now gone) and Snow Valley, CA (still struggling to regain the level of visits they had in the 80’s).

I fully believe it is the CEO’s job to find ways to cut expenses. Marketing is seen as an expense most times instead of an investment. That’s too bad. Because, the CEO’s that support marketing tend to run successful companies. I once had a Ski Resort CEO say to me that he saw marketing as critical as snow machines. He must know something, since he’s with Peak Resorts (which is still one of the more solid ski companies right now).

I also fully believe that it is the marketers job to fight for marketing. Yes, we hear “no” constantly. That’s the nature of what we do. It’s what happens after we hear the word “no” that makes the difference.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a marketing bandwagon. I have carted it around with me for the last 13 years I have worked in the ski industry. In good times and bad it is where I go to find the fight needed sometimes to keep marketing relevant and forefront in resort management’s decisions.

Why not jump on?

The One-Minute Marketing Makeover

There can be big gains from small tweaks to your marketing plan.

Marketing the Easy Way

If you are looking for a way to make your marketing more effective, read this.

10 Most Common Marketing Mistakes We See

1. The business name doesn’t communicate anything about what the company does.
2. The business is not marketing to the right people (the ones that would buy from them).
3. The business models what they do after their competitors, instead of finding their own unique voice.
4. The business puts too much information in their marketing (that no one will read).
5. The business has wrong information in their marketing materials.
6. The employees can’t explain what they do in a clear, concise, compelling manner.
7. The logo is not professional looking or there is no clear-cut standard as to how it is used (blue on some materials and green on others).
8. The marketing materials do not look like they come from the same company (mish-mash of looks) and there is no clear message or call to action.
9. The website is not effectively capturing leads.
10. There is no marketing plan or if there is one, it is not followed.

Is it possible you are making some of these very common mistakes, too?

There is an easy fix. The One-Minute Marketing Makeover template is a great way to start.  Of course, to get the best ROI, we recommend a full marketing audit (see other templates on myMarketingGuide.com) or time with a Marketing Specialist to work with you to create a blueprint for your marketing.

Marketing Audits

There are two types of marketing plan audits.  The first is the comprehensive which should occur at least one a year and then there are the One-Minute Marketing “mini” audits which should happen at minimum every quarter.

We developed the “mini” audit for clients that were looking for a simple way to check the effectiveness of their marketing plans and budgets.  The “mini” marketing audit is stripped down to the bare essentials and the goal is to create a task list which can be done quickly and easily and yield results right away.

How does it work?  Just like 1-2-3:
1.    You answer 10 questions in about a minute.
2.    The questions guide you in creating a Mini Marketing Audit Answers and Task List
3.    You put your list to work.  Hand it to everyone on your team.

In many cases you could implement your plan in a day to a week, depending on the complexity and availability of the resources you need.  The “mini” audit approach is effective since a small amount of work often has tremendous results and help sell through the bigger, more complex ideas like new product launches, re-doing a website, etc, down the road.

For more information about a Marketing Audit for your business, give me a call at 888-215-0820 or use the Contact Us link on this site.

Marketing Mishaps-Not Funny Then, Funny Now

In today’s post I am going to borrow a concept I saw recently for “Not Funny Then, Funny Now” to describe some of the marketing related incidents that come to mind over the years.  If any of these trigger your own memories, please share below.

Not Funny Then…While working as the Marketing Director at Mad River Mountain Ski Area, a guest showed his dislike for a company no refund policy by lunging over the counter to try to attack me.  Police were called…Funny now.

Not Funny Then…Back in 1996 fighting to get the ok for a $2,000 web budget to create a company website (in the travel industry).  The “powers-to-be” felt the web was a passing fad and the budget allowance “irresponsible spending”…Funny Now.

Not funny then…Having to pull a brochure off a printer’s press because of one sentence that said “a skiing event for those with a lust for life”.  At the last minute, lust was considered too risque for the “powers -to-be” and had to be replaced by “love” for life.  By waiting to the last minute to change this, it costs us days of delay and thousands of dollars…Funny Now.

Not funny then…After a takeover of the organization I worked for, we were asked to put together a document explaining what we did, projects we’ve worked on and recommendations for moving forward.  I spent 2 weeks putting together a detailed portfolio book (and copies).  When my meeting time came to meet with the new CEO, he shook my hand, said “Oh, you are the Marketing Director, the necessary evil”.  Proceeded to flip thru the carefully prepared portfolio and hand it back to me.  When I told him it was his copy, he said, “that’s ok, I really have no where to put it”.  Got up and left after about 5 minutes…Funny Now (Developed a great relationship with the CEO and worked there for years afterward).