Tag Archives: customer experience

Can This Radical Change Increase Content Marketing Effectiveness?

23 Jan

2014 is looking like another big year for Content Marketing. Do a search and you’ll find a vast source of predictions from the Content Marketing Institute, Mashable, research analyst Forrester, the IAB and others.   All sources forecast business spending will be up for Content Marketing this year.  Depending on whose report you believe the CM budget will increase 58% to 75%.

While more is spent on Content Marketing are the efforts more effective?  At the recent Northern California Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting in Silicon Valley, an experienced panel of Content Marketing experts tackled the question and shared their challenges and struggles to make content marketing a success.

Informative presentations, different perspectives and implementations were shared.  One that I found most insightful came from Jeremiah Glodoveza, Director, Public Relations and Social Media at NetApp.

Much has been written and said about the importance of SEO and content strategy for CM success – but we have not heard much about (if at all) the need for organizational change to support CM effectiveness and success.  Jeremiah shared that his company is in process of changing its marketing organization so it can better integrate content marketing campaigns – restructuring from functional silos to an interconnected organization.

Current Organization

Current Organization

New Organization

New Organization

(These charts are examples only, not NetApp charts).

The change will bring together marketing functions that often times are working independently and with goals that are not aligned .

The new organizational structure is intended to better support collaboration and consistency in messaging and campaigns as well as sharing common goals across marketing functions like PR, technical writing, and communications. Jeremiah believes that more companies will begin making this kind of change to their marketing organizations.

Hats off to NetApp for thinking out of the silo. Making a radical organizational change like this one isn’t easy.  It will be interesting to find out if NetApp’s Content Marketing is more effective as a result.

Resources:  NorCal BMA Meeting, January 22, 2014, panel discussion, Content Marketing:  Why Is A Publisher’s Point of View Essential Today

Advertisements

Partner Up! 5 Valuable Reasons to Include Cross Marketing in Your Plans

23 Apr

This article looks at the benefits of having a cross marketing strategy and program.  It is a first in a series titled “Energizing Your Marketing Budget: How to make the most of your marketing resources and budget.” 

Cross marketing (not to be confused with co-marketing) is when two businesses partner to promote their products or services together. Cross marketing allows partners to share the costs of promoting their products – getting more from their marketing dollars.  Webinars, trade shows, advertising, white papers, website links, and sharing customer mailing lists are cross marketing activities that when done together with a partner provide valuable business benefits. 

Here are my top 5 reasons to include cross marketing in your plans.

1. Increase Customer Value: Together you and your partner(s) offer a more complete customer solution.  Partnering with companies that offer complementary products can provide a solution that creates additional value for your customers.  For this reason, choose a partner that targets like customers.

2. Strengthen Credibility and Reputation: The company you keep says a lot about you.  When you choose a partner with a similar reputation in the industry, you further strengthen customer perception of your company and products.

Girls Running Lemonade Stand

3. Showcase Expertise:  Participating in cross marketing promotions provides additional opportunities to showcase your expertise and reinforce the brand experience customers have with your product and company. When you choose to partner in cross marketing activities, these activities should always be consistent with your brand’s identity.

4. Broader Market Reach: With the right choice in partners, you increase your reach by sharing customer lists, customer referrals and by being included in your partner’s outreach activities; emails, newsletters, promotional materials and social media.

5. Build Strategic Relationships:  Cross marketing activities can be a great way to begin or further strengthen a strategic relationship with a partner.  By spending time getting to know each other, you potentially learn new methods to improve marketing results and ultimately help one another grow your businesses.

     A few things to keep in mind when working with a potential partner that will increase your chances for success:  Cross marketing partnerships range from simple to complex but to be successful the organizations should be in agreement on the goals, the budget and the timeline as well as have the necessary committed resources.  Consider your communications styles, do you use the same channels to market? Are your budgets similar in size?  Understanding similarities and differences at the start of a partnership can alleviate potential problems and increase the probability of realizing the benefits from cross marketing.

     The next article in the series, Energizing Your Marketing Budget will look at making the most of your marketing resources and budget by taking advantage of free marketing services, education and materials.  The article will provide examples of some of those offered by leading marketing product and services companies.

Resources:

Entrepreneur, Co-Marketing:  Twice as Nice or Double the Trouble?, Barbara Findlay Schenck, from Business on Main, January 16, 2013.

eHow, Cross Marketing Ideas, Gina Ragusa

biznik, Lead Generation through Cross Marketing, Joel Torres

B2C Lessons that Can Improve B2B Brand Experiences

15 May

I recently read The Experience Effect by Jim Joseph.  It’s about creating just that, an ‘experience effect’ that will drive consumers to a brand.  As I read Jim’s book, it seemed to me that many of his lessons on B2C branding translate to the B2B world. A strong brand offers many benefits to business.  It can make it more difficult to be displaced by a competitor, get you invited to the discussions by the customer, justify price premiums, even attract top talent.

Continue reading

Sharing the Who, What and Why With Customers

28 Feb

Several months ago a start-up had asked for a review and recommendations for improving  their current website and Facebook page.  What stood out most for me was that their website lacked information about the organization, the Who, What and Why were all missing.  Who is a part of their organization? What is their organization about?  and Why does it matter that customers do business with them?

For a new business with a unique product, sharing this basic yet key company information with potential customers is even more critical to build trust and a relationship with customers.

While this may seem pretty obvious to most of us, sometimes smaller organizations and start-ups feel the need and want to be different starting with the website.  For this organization, they have a unique, creative and non-traditional approach to funding charities.  Their website design and content reflects those attributes.  But, the important point is not to get so caught up in being creative or non-traditional that you forget about why you have a website in the first place, to provide information and to connect with your customer.

On this organization’s website, there is no tab or section that tells the story of how or why the organization got started, who the founders are or what is the mission.  A Join button is located on the home page that immediately opens to a window requesting customer contact information to join. There is no landing page to tell the customer why do business with them or in this case ‘join’ their cause. And because this organization has a new model in charity giving, it is important for potential customers to clearly understand how the giving of donations works, what is expected of them and what if any are the costs should be explained on the site before the call to action to join.

Understanding where customers are in the sales process and providing the right content for each stage in the sales cycle is also critical.  If you don’t provide the appropriate information, customers that are not yet ready to buy will leave.  Don’t ask for the sale too soon.  You’ve got to build trust first.

Start with the website. For the majority, it is still the first place they go to learn about a company.  Be creative in design and marketing on your website but, also include the information that customers need and want to know, who you are, what you are about and why they should do business with you.

Defining a Target Market

13 Feb
Smiley face 2

Famous Smiley Face

When my sister was ten, my aunt gave her a box of a 1000 assorted smiley face buttons and she decided to earn extra money selling them to the neighborhood kids.  The kids wanted different buttons based on sizes and colors and how much money they had to spend, so she put together several different packages of button combinations to sell. The boys didn’t want pink.  Some kids only wanted extra-large buttons and some kids wanted a variety. You get the idea.  She sold them wherever kids hung out, the park, school, scouts.  Soon the word spread and all her stock of smiley face buttons was sold.

This is a cute story but, was does this have to do with the ‘real’ world of business?  As marketers, it’s our job to define our target market and learn everything we can about them including their needs and desires then develop our marketing initiatives based on this information.  Where can they be found? What influences their decision making?  What makes them happy?  What keeps them up at night?  A well-defined and understood target market is the foundation for everything we do as marketers.

How Defining Your Target Market Can Help Your Business Succeed

1.  Determine the viability of your business.  Is the customer base large enough to support your product or service?  Is there enough demand?

2.  Make the most effective use of your marketing dollars and focus your resources.  You cannot be everything to everyone.  By focusing your efforts on your target you increase your chances for success by selling to those most likely to buy your product or service.

3. Develop appropriate messages and a communications plan that will be compelling and appeal to potential customers. It will help you set the right tone and determine the best media to reach them.

Defining Your Target

Everything you do in your business is based on your target market.  It’s the first element in your business, brand and marketing strategies. Learn as much as you can about your target market,  the demographics such as age, income, culture and the psychographics; lifestyle, needs/desires, hopes/dreams, and product purchase and usage behaviors.  Where can you find this information?  If you have current customers, this information may be in your sales database or you can ask or survey your customers.  You may be able to find existing research on the internet or through related trade organizations or associations.

It’s an on-going effort

Needs and wants change over time.  Marketers should continually monitor their target customers and adjust business and marketing plans based on market changes.

Resources:
How to Define Your Target Market, Mandy Porta, Inc.
Defining the Target Customer, Branding Strategy, the Branding Blog
Define a Target Market for Your Small Business, Peri Pakroo, NOLO
The Importance of Defining Your Target Market, Dequiana Brooks Jackson, CEO Inspired Marketing

No Less Than 5 Thank You’s – The Importance of Thanking Your Customer

6 Feb

thank YOUOn our way out of Esin, a very popular neighborhood restaurant the other night, we counted no less than 5 Thank You’s.  These came from every employee we passed on our way to the door, the wait staff, the bartender, the managers, and the hostesses.  Each stopped whatever they were doing when they spoke.  It made a memorable last impression on us.

How often do we make our customers feel appreciated and that their business really matters to us?  Probably not often enough.  We, as business owners, managers and employees need to take the time to Thank our customers.  It can be as simple as a verbal Thank You like our recent experience, or a hand-written note, (a nice touch that stands out in our digital world), or a gift that relates to your business.

Saying Thank You is part of the overall experience a customer has with your company and part of building a consistent and memorable brand experience.  Make the Thank You heartfelt and sincere. If it has any other intention than to truly thank them for their business, your customer will see it as disingenuous.  In other words, don’t also ask for something you want from them.  Make the Thank You about showing your gratitude for their business.  You’ll leave a positive lasting impression and your customers will be glad they chose to do business with you.

Resources:

The Experience Effect, Jim Joseph
A Tale of Two Thank You’s from a Customer Experience Perspective, Sean McDonald, Ant’s Eye View
Thanking Someone for Being a Customer Should be Automatic,  Kevin Stirtz, Customer Think
Saying Thank You to Customers, Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Identify Your Unique Value Proposition and Grow Your Business

9 Jan

Do you know the unique value you bring to your customers?  The need to define a unique value proposition is key to success whether you are a B2B, B2C, for profit, or non-profit.  Being able to fulfill a customer ‘want’ that no other company can and clearly articulating that value to your customers will grow your business.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is much more than the benefits that your company or product delivers.  It defines why a customer should do business with you and not anyone else who provides the same product.  It is the unique value that a customer cannot find anywhere else.  Your product must have at least one  differentiator that sets it apart from the rest to be successful.

Believe it or not,  a value proposition shouldn’t be more than ten words to effectively communicate what is distinctive about your product. Be specific, clear and concise.  This isn’t easy to do and requires time to refine but essential to the success of your product.  You and your team may consider an off-site away from the distractions of the office to get this done.

Finding Your DifferentiatorA value proposition is brand defining

Unique value is a key element in brand strategy. How you uniquely fulfill the needs and the wants of your target customers defines your brand.  Find out What makes your customers happy and what keeps them up at night.   When your unique value provides an emotional benefit to your customers, you create brand loyalty and your customers will buy from you.  Define your value proposition and you define your brand.

Steps to identifying your unique value proposition:

1.  Take an inventory of your skills, what are you good at?

2.  Clearly define your target customer and their needs and wants.  If your product is segmented by vertical markets such as education or healthcare, each of these segments has its own set of needs and wants and most likely different competitive solutions.  You will want to define a unique value proposition for each segment.

3.  What gaps need to be filled in the market?

4.  Complete a competitive analysis.  What sets you apart from your competition?  What is distinctive about your product?

5.  Test.  This is a key step. Questionnaires, interviews and focus groups are good ways to see if the value proposition resonates with your customers.

6.  Once your value proposition is defined and you are able to clearly articulate it, communicate it throughout your marketing efforts, website, collateral, and social media activities.  Keep the message consistent but, you can customize it to fit the media.

Resources:

Powerful Value Propositions, How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and lift your results. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MECLABS group (webinar)
Make Customers Feel the Love and Keep Coming Back, Jim Joseph, (Vocus webinar)
Your Brand as Your Value Proposition, Chris Hughes, Vistage, (You Tube Video)
Defining Your Unique Value Proposition, ASAE & the center for association leadership

%d bloggers like this: