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5 Marketing Best Practices Used by Marketo August 28, 2014

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Lead Gen.
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In early 2013, Mary Gospe, KickStart Alliance’s lead generation and integrated marketing strategist, ran a blog post about 5 best practices used by Marketo to promote themselves. Because this topic continues to be relevant, I wanted to replay that blog post here.  Good stuff to consider in any marketing campaign. (more…)

Social Media & the CEO April 25, 2013

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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What percentage of senior executives engage in social media? This new infographic created by MBAOnline provides some interesting data and thought-provoking questions.

Irate customers? Don’t let them stew. Check out how Dell approached it’s Customer Advisory Panel July 27, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Customer Advisory Boards.
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A friend of mine just passed me a link to this great blog post on Dell’s recent Customer Advisory Panel meeting.  There are a couple of things that are noteworthy here:

* Talking with angry customers can be a challenge for anyone.  Human nature inclines us to seek shelter in friendly surroundings.  But, as Dell found out, avoiding irate customers and letting customers stew in disappointment and frustration can be bad for business.  They chose to meet the challenge head-on with a Customer Advisory Panel.  How they did this was very creative: two groups of bloggers/customers, divided based on their affinity towards Dell.  Each discussion moderated by a “graphical facilitator” who captured comments and feedback graphically.  Check out the pictures.

* Graphical facilitators are superstars when it comes to capturing notes and turning them into instant illustrations that communicate with a punch.  It’s an engaging technique that can be used to create an aura of creativity and fun, despite the obvious tension that commonly accompanies dissatisfied customers.  While this technique will not work for all audiences, it seems to have worked well for Dell based on the photos shared in one of the accompanying links.

* What impresses me most about Dell is that they opened their kimono to use the Customer Advisory Panel as 1) an opportunity to collect customer feedback AND 2) as a public relations platform.  Notice that several of the bloggers have already posted comments relating to the event.  It’s a PR/Customer Support strategy that makes a whole lot of sense in today’s social media world.

As Susan Payton says in her blog, the proof of Dell’s actions will be in what they do with the information they’ve collected.  While I’m sure this was not an easy pill for the leaders at Dell to swallow , I applaud them for taking action, and frankly the risk.  We live in a world where the customer is king, and Dell is taking note.

Thinking about adding a blog into your marcom mix? Here’s how to break through blogger’s block June 8, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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Several of my clients are considering adding a blog into their integrated marketing mix.  In each of these specific cases, the company wants to use the blog as a portal to showcase “thought leadership” — not to sell.  Yet, the marketing and sales leaders are struggling to get their thoughts on paper.

I recently ran across the following blog post that is written specifically for bloggers: 6 Ways to Constantly Produce Quality Blog Content. This is a wonderful recipe for breaking thru the barriers of writer’s block that everyone faces.

Here’s the synopsis:

1) Before you start blogging, clarify the specific objective for your blog and how/when/where the blog fits in your marketing blueprint.  With this in mind, now establish an editorial calendar for the content that fits the objective.

2) Make a list of categories with sub-topics.  This sets the framework for how your blog will develop over time.

3) Keep a running list of blog topics.  Brainstorms can hit at any time.  Keep track of all ideas, rational, crazy or not.

4) Write several blogs at one time.  Set aside time to write.  Personally, I find it easier to write early in the morning before the interruptions of the day begin.

5) Find guest bloggers.  Share the writing opportunity with others.

6) Interview experts.  Whenever you feel that you’ve tapped all your knowledge, interview a partner, peer, client, colleague, expert, etc.  Look for alternative perspectives that can freshen up a topic.

Searching for Product Comparisons January 14, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Persona, Messaging, Social Media.
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Want to get some quick market research on how your product stacks up to a competitor?  Ask the Internet.

I teach a course at San Francisco State University entitled, “Essentials of Integrated Marketing.” In that course, I have a case study that has proven to be a lot of fun as well as very insightful when it comes to gathering “product comparison” data.  The case study is called Video Game Wars and follows the exploits of the Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii.

In developing the case study, I needed to somehow find a way to educate the class on these products quickly.  So, I turned to the Internet.  My first course of action was to do a Google search on each of the products.  This yielded the expected corporate-esk press releases, data sheets, and website info.  All of this was helpful in building “awareness.”   But I wanted more practical information when it came to comparisons.

So I tried a search variation.

I went to Google and Youtube looking  for specific product comparisons.   As an example,  I typed in “Xbox versus PS3” and “Why buy a Playstation?”  This produced an “Aha!” moment.

The search results provided a perfect example on how the dynamics of search have changed the way people gather and process information.  Here’s what I mean:

  • Much of the “product comparison” data I gathered was produced by users, not corporate executives.
  • I couldn’t help but feel that the more “unpolished” the presentation, the more genuine the information.
  • Many of these search results also included some sort of social media commentary, meaning that the material was actually being used and discussed.

Lest we think this is only useful for consumer products, I started testing this “product comparison” research tactic on a few projects I’m working on with B2B clients.  I’d do the same thing: go to Google and YouTube and search on “product A vs product B”.   In every case, I found very interesting information.  Now, while I don’t take everything I find to the bank, I do find that the results have added to my cumultative knowledge.  It’s helps to further my skills as an investigative marketer in order to discover which product differentiators are true and meaningful, and which are bogus.

Lesson for marketers

Based on this insight, it is important for marketers to consider a couple things as they are architecting their integrated marketing campaigns:

  1. Producing only the traditional marketing datasheets and collateral is no longer sufficient.
  2. There is a mountain of “awareness” information available; but customers are also keenly interested in product comparison data (see Content & the Buying Process blog post).
  3. Consider adding your own product comparison articles and videos.  Some companies do this already, and I applaud them for it.  Prospects are looking for this information.  Why not provide them with short snippets of useful information?  Otherwise, someone else might do it for them.
  4. As you develop your own marketing materials, do a comparison search to see what people are talking about.   Do your expectations match up to the user community’s reality?  Might be worth checking out.

Does your company have social media policy? November 11, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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Social media is on top of everyone’s mind.  Most professionals have already set up their profile on Linkedin.  While many individuals are becoming conversant with Twitter and Facebook, the jury is still out on how effective and compelling these new tools are for selling in a business-to-business environment.  Yet, that isn’t stopping marketers from integrating these tools into the marcom mix.   Forward-thinking businesses of all sizes are being creative and clever in their social media efforts as they find new ways to dialog with and listen to customers and prospects.

A word of warning: social media is a different type of marketing tool where control of your messaging is an illusion.  To avoid any miss-steps and potential embarassment, your company should have a policy on the “how, who, when, and where” questions of social media:

These are just a few of the questions which need to be addressed.  The good news is that a number of companies have already penned a policy statement for their company.  The marketing strategists at the Arlington Mill Group are experts in this area and wrote a blog post which offers some good advice on establishing a social media code-of-conduct.

Chris Boudreaux (of the Arlington Mill Group) has pulled together the web’s largest collection of social media policies. You’ll find policies from small companies, enterprises, non-profits, news outlets, and governments.  

To quote directly from Arlington Mill Group’s recent blog post:

The ideal policy will look different for every organization, and change as your company shifts its participation in social networks over time. While developing this type of policy is hard work, it is worth it… If you haven’t examined this area of your business, now is the time to get started!

Demystifying the Marcom Mix October 16, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Operations, Social Media.
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Marcom teams are moving so fast that we sometimes overlook how all of the  pieces fit together.  I’ve used variations of this graphic throughout my career to help align marketing teams as we explore, debate, and decide upon the optimum marcom mix.

How to read and use the graphic

As leads are generated and prospects are nurtured from "awareness" to "decision", this graphic maps the high-level marcom objectives to a few marcom activities and tactics.

As leads are generated and prospects are nurtured from "awareness" to "decision", this graphic maps the high-level marcom objectives to a few marcom activities and tactics.

The central marcom objectives are noted at the top.  Prospects will never buy anything from us if they don’t know who we are.  So, we must invest in building “awareness.”  Once they are aware of who we are and the value we provide, we can begin to encourage “preference” in our solutions.  As we nurture prospects and learn more about them and the problems they are interested in solving, we can then present alternatives and showcase our points of differentiation.  When prospects have collected information and are evaluating alternatives, that’s when we enter the “decision” stage and go for the close.  This is when most marketing teams drop the ball.  The process isn’t over; we want to encourage “repeat business”.  To do so, continuing the dialog and staying in touch is critical.

Programmatically, there are two types of  “master programs”, underneath which there will likely be many variations.  However, at the “master” level, we are either driving/developing new leads, or we are nurturing a prospect database or our own internal customer base.  It’s important to recognize that different tactics, messaging, and timing will apply.

The dark gray boxes represent a sampling of a number of marcom tactics that are being used today.  In general, these tactics work best when mapped to the appropriate marcom objective.  For example, using a PPC tactic to try to close a complex sale will likely not work very well.  But, as a way to garner some initial awareness and interest, that’s a helpful tactic.   The point here is to carefully select which tactics to use, and when, in order to achieve the maximum ROI for your marketing investment.

I share this graphic not as a defined concrete model, but as a flexible framework that can help you and your team explore marcom mix elements and discover/debate which ones you think will work best.  Understanding how all the pieces fit together is critical in being able to design a truly integrated marketing campaign.

For more information, check out these additional blog posts:

Adding video to the marcom mix September 22, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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Amanda Ferrante of the Demand Gen Report has a great article today entitled: Marketers Tapping Personalized Videos to Generate, Engage Leads. 

YouTube has been the video bulletin board for all kinds of random content.  Now, however, savvy marketers are figuring out how to add video into their marcom mix.  This fits perfectly into the marketing blueprint I shared in an earlier blog post.

Quoting directly from Amanda’s article:

“With the use of video, a solid connection can be made between the presenter and end-user and personalizes the communication while creating interaction,” says Ben Chodor, President of media software provider Stream57. “With video exposure, you are giving clients the opportunity to associate a name and a face with your company and creating a personal relationship.”

Video by itself is not “the magic bullet” that will ensure a successful marketing campaign.  However, this is another example of a piece of the integrated marketing mix.

Social Media & the Marcom Mix September 8, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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I have a hard cold truth for marketers: we are no longer in complete control of driving the lead funnel! 

As recently as a couple of years ago, marketers were.  The lead funnel was driven by our pushing messages out to our target audiences.  We controlled the message, the media, and the timing.  Social media has changed the dynamics.  People are finding out about our companies and products before they even get on our radar screen.  Some sources even estimate that 90% of the customer’s buying process takes place without the aid of a sales rep!  This has huge implications for our marcom mix.

The upshot: we must help our companies become “findable” in a marketing landscape we no longer control.

Being “findable” is not just about having a decent website.  It’s about having relevant, meaningful content available that addresses the topics buyers are interested in.  And, it’s about having this content posted in places where buyers look.  In fact, we shouldn’t be talking about social media as if it were another marketing silo.  Instead, we should focus on “content marketing” — providing information and experiences that buyers are looking for.  More than that, we can better establish and nurture a dialog with a prospect if we think about how to provide meaningful content that can be:

  • Captured = easy-to-read content posted in a friendly format that can be cut-n-pasted and downloaded, and . . .
  • Stored = easy to tag, sort, and file in electronic or printed format
  • Forwarded = easy to pass-along and share with others, both formally (i.e. cut-n-pasted into a presentation) and informally (i.e. sharing a link via Twitter)
  • Repurposed = content that can be annotated and adapted by the reader to fit their unique decision-making process

Including Social Media in a Marketing Blueprint

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Today’s lead gen programs can produce higher ROI if they combine elements of both traditional “push” marketing (where you control the message) and “pull” marketing (where we offer information on non-corporate sites and we  listen to and monitor the discussion around us).  The example shown in the above illustration is based on a real marketing blueprint being executed today by a local hi-tech company.

There’s more to the story, of course.  But this gives you a flavor on how and where social media is being used to complement traditional outbound marketing activities.   How will all this play out?  I’ll let you know when the campaign concludes in November!

How are you using social media?  I’d love to hear your stories.

“Beware of the Buyer” August 27, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Persona.
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The marketing team no longer controls the lead funnel.  Before the rise of social media and the notion of viral marketing, marketers were in complete control of driving the lead funnel.  After all, all we needed to do was climb to the tallest peak and shout our messages over and over again.  We “pushed” messages of our own design onto the marketplace.  “Caveat Emptor” or “Let the buyer beware” was our mantra.

Now things are different. 

People are finding out about companies and products before they are on your radar.  Some estimates suggest that 90% of the customers’ buying process takes place without the aid of your sales rep.  The implications for this are both daunting and obvious:  We must help our companies and clients become “findable” in a marketing landscape we no longer control.

Being “findable” means more than just having a website.  It means that we have posted relevant and meaningful content in places where our prospects search for information.  Content is defined as “information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.”   Today’s world class marketers follow this approach and no longer push blatant sales messages via “user car salesman” tactics.

A couple of tips:

  1. Don’t treat Social Media as a set of isolated, silo’d marketing activities.  Integrate social media into the larger integrated marketing plan.
  2. Social Media (blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, syndicated 3rd party websites) provide a venue to share content in ways that go beyond your company’s website.  Putting this content out to be “found” creates opportunities for prospects to “pull” you into their buying process.
  3. Invest in a thorough, effective SEO strategy using keywords and phrases that are meaningful to the buyer.  Avoid falling victim to your company’s jargon.  Speak the customers’ language.
  4. Every time you post new content, Tweet about it; update your Linkedin page; post an announcement on your Linkedin groups page; update the “news & events” page on your website.
  5. Most importantly: monitor the conversation.  Social media is really an interactive dialog, not a one-way messaging machine.  Listen to what is being said about you, and take note, and engage in the dialog.

How has your business integrated social media into your integrated marketing plan?