Don’t “Blow” It – Plan Ahead on Your Marketing Campaign

Last month my shoes finally decided they were not providing enough stability. My knees were returning to having nightly pain. So I grabbed a pair of tennis shoes that I had purchased on clearance. They were a reputable brand but just didn’t seem to be cutting the mustard and I began to feel like the little pig who build his house of straw – Everything was being blown down. I’m wogging (Yes wogging – That is jog/walking) the Detroit Half Marathon at the end of next month though and I really need to make sure my feet and legs are prepared.

That is why I decided to hop over to Running Fit today at lunch. My knees had clearly reminded me what five months of physical therapy last fall taught me – Get good shoes! So jiggidy-jig-jig off I went to get a new pair of stability running shoes.

While I was checking out, I noticed this marketing campaign flier:

Being into social media, I thought it was an interesting idea. So I grabbed a copy to take back to the office.

The Shop Arbor Hills marketing campaign helped me ask lots of questions. Ultimately though I wondered, was this a well thought out campaign or simply a solution in search of a problem? Did their marketing team sit down with complete shopper demographic information, market research and a goal, or did they simply say, “Selfies are hot right now. This would be a great way to get some increased website traffic, improved awareness for the mall AND free publicity.”

When I got back to the office I did some research. I wanted to know – How old are most individuals that take selfies. I know I abhor them. As coincidence would have it, I found some information. According to a small study done by Selfie City, selfies remain largely the domain of young people. Statistically speaking, the median age of a selfie taker is 23.7.

Finding that information though prompted more questions. Was that information considered when starting the campaign? Does that demographic fit with those who shop in the mall? Did their marketing team figure out the percentage of people ages 25-34 or 35-44 that take selfies? Did that matter to them?

I checked out the Shop Arbor Hills Facebook page and also their Twitter feed. Since the start of the campaign I did not find any selfies. Nor did I find mention of their chosen hashtag on Twitter. It is still a very young marketing campaign though, so perhaps it’s not been seen by many. I will be interesting to see how it plays out in the market and who will participate. I’d sure like to know if it will give them their desired results.

This experience though reminded me of an old nursery tale, the Three Little Pigs. The last of the three little pigs knew best; Carefully choose the best materials for the strongest house, since anything less can be blown away quickly and easily by the big bad wolf! It is the same with any new marketing endeavor. For the best results, do your research, gather your information and prepare the foundation for your marketing campaign. Doing so will net you the strongest campaign with the best results.

Catch on Command: Demand Generation

A few years back I was fly fishing on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River. After a little while a couple hiking up the path stopped and the gentleman said to me, “Catch a fish now…”. I remarked that I wished it were that simple (well, in reality, I don’t – the chase is a big part of the fun).

At the end of your marketing campaign, did you hook more fish than the last time?

Recently I was reflecting that interaction was a little like the demands that are placed on demand generation programs today. Often management and sales folks without a marketing background forget that marketing is an inherently longer-term activity. It’s all about the science of getting into your prospect’s head and helping them make the decision-making journey toward your product. Just like that day on the river.

While I can’t catch fish on command, I can do a lot of things to increase my likelihood of catching one. Spend more time on the water. Test new techniques. Tie different flies. Learn from what worked in the past. And experiment with new things that you think will work, based on what you’ve seen before.

Demand generation has many parallels. If you test, refine, measure, learn, observe, listen, and occasionally take a bold-ass risk your odds go up considerably. While you can’t generate qualified inquiries on command, you can do a lot to improve your inquiry and conversion goals.

As marketers, it’s incumbent on us to help the leadership and sales teams we serve understand this holistic, long-term perspective. I can do a great deal to entice an inquiry. I can even target getting inquiries from the right prospects. But what we can’t do is make the exact fish you want bite precisely when you want it.

I look at my fishing season a lot like I approach a campaign. At the end of the campaign, did I hook more fish than the last time? And if so, did I land more? Those are the true metrics for success.

-Sean-

Marketing: How Do You Sell?

I have a funny skill to come up with Yogi Berra-esque quotes that are off-the-cuff at the time, but then prove to be even more accurate than I realized initially.

Last night, at a local workshop for entrepreneurs, I did it again. I was talking with a peer after the event and I said,

“Channel trumps promotion…”

In this case, I was referring to a local start-up who is doing all the new cool edgy marketing tactics, but wasn’t really putting much value in how their product would get sold. They have a solid distribution partner who’s getting them into key retail outlets, but that’s not energizing the brand in their minds. As I thought about it more afterward, I find that this is an all-too-common problem in demand generation and marketing.

Case in point – a couple of years back I was talking to a technology company who’d basically been built on defense and government contracts. They wanted to start to sell into more consumer markets (a familiar theme) and they had identified 2-3 possibilities. What they were looking for from me was a marketing plan to penetrate one of these markets.

As it often is, one of my early questions was, “How will you go to market?” The answer was both revealing and frustrating. Turns out they had a potential deal with a humungous OEM who basically owned that segment. We’re talking a “these guys would buy 100% of what we could possibly manufacture” type deal. Yet they wanted me to build them a plan to reach end users. Ummmm, how about if we chase that OEM thing down first, guys?

If you’re in Marketing and you’ve never “carried a bag” (i.e. been in field sales), it’s easy to dismiss the importance of a connected, effective sales channel. Want to sell high-pressure filters for use in refineries? If you don’t have either a direct team or a group of reps who know the industry and have access to key contacts, it’ll never fly, Orville.

I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it – sales and marketing are interrelated, interdependent disciplines. HOW you go to market is tremendously important to WHAT marketing strategies you will employ. If you haven’t figured out the former, the latter will nearly always fail.

Easily over half the entrepreneurs (who, BTW, had some pretty cool products and ideas) at last night’s event hadn’t really figured that out yet.

Marketing can be an answer. But first you have to figure out what the questions are.

-Sean-

Channel Your Marketing Efforts

Over the years, PWB has worked with a lot of clients with independent sales channels. Whether Value Added Resellers (VARs) in software, manufacturer’s representatives in manufacturing, or independent agents representing insurance companies, independent channel situations present unique challenges.

Earlier this year, I presented a marketing workshop for independent resellers of one of our clients. The content development process was both fun, and enlightening.One of the most striking reminders was a simple one:

They all sell the same stuff.

At the end of the day, unless you have a direct sales channel, your sales outlets all have the same product offerings. Most corporate marketers want to push the superiority of their offering, without considering the marketing challenge facing their channel. Again, they all sell the same stuff.

For me, the implications for the channel are clear – differentiation is a must. If I can buy the new SuperWidget 3.0 from Dealer A, Dealer B, or Dealer C, how will I choose? Clearly the simple answer is their brand. Every independent sales channel outlet is unique – they have different strengths, histories, and weaknesses. And their brand should embrace these differences and accentuate them. If they’re better at SuperWidget 3.0 for left-handed people – say it!

As you consider how to make your channel successful, don’t just think about your goals for them. Instead, consider how helping them to stand on their own with a powerful brand will enable them and fuel sales of YOUR product or service!

-Sean-

PWB Helps Kasperek Optical Create a Whole New Space

Company Branding

Today’s independent optical retailers face incredible competitive pressure from big chains, forcing many to be less profitable and give up market share. Industry leader Kasperek Optical saw a better way. They turned to PWB to help bring new branding to life and develop tools to help both retailers and consumers understand the program and its benefits. The new brand marketing program centers on a simple premise — one low price for both a standard glasses frame and a sunglass frame. Good for the retailer. Good for the consumer. PWB started with a simple, thought-provoking name. Then we developed key messaging and high-impact logo. We’ve also developed sales literature for both retailers and consumers.

Optimize Your AdWords Campaigns

I have been working with a client to optimize their AdWords campaigns. Ideally landing page content would include the best quality, relevant keywords to help improve AdScores. Doing this increases the opportunity that the ad will be seen while decreasing the cost/click – In other words, optimization of on-page content should lower ad costs, allowing for a bigger bang for the buck. This sounds simple enough and it is, so long as communication flows between the individual creating content and the Ad Manager.

You are shocked to hear that doesn’t always happen, right? The ideal doesn’t always happen though.

As I was reviewing AdWords campaigns yesterday, I realized that one client had edited landing page content based on ideas I had provided. That’s great. The client even created a new and improved URL. I realized though that the search marketing ad created was not directed at this new and improved content. it was still directed at the old page, which is not ideal.

Here are a few quick tips to consider when creating a new AdWords Campaign:

1) Create good on page content that uses relevant keywords.
2) Using appropriate keywords in the URL.
3) Meta tag the page and use Alt Tags for images.
4) Create targeted ads specific to the landing page content.

I love testing ads and landing pages. Simple, direct ads often yield the best results. Don’t over-complicate your marketing. Set your goals. Be direct. Watch to see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Need help setting up your B2B AdWords campaigns? Contact us at 734.995.5000734.995.5000 to better understand your search marketing options.

Buying Links: Is It Bad For Your Website?

A few months ago I got a call from an individual crying about a sudden drop in his website traffic. I researched the analytic information on his website and determined that the traffic drop came almost immediately after one of the Google updates. Oddly that Google update targeted companies that had relied solely upon link building as a primary strategy – Many of the websites that had done this began seeing website traffic drop, as was the case with his website.

I explained the update to the individual and began researching some of the links where his website appeared. Many of the sites where his website appeared were general list directories – Places where long lists of website URL’s without a common theme appeared. I worked with him to have some of these links removed, in the hopes that it would help improve his site. It did.

As a blogger, I know all too well the signs of link-building. I see it in spam comments posted. I know that when I get a comment that is not relevant to the blog’s content, makes little grammatical sense, includes random keyword phrases, is posted to a very old blog post or links to a company or service clearly not mentioned in the original post. I immediately recognize it as spam. It is some poor sap, sitting at his computer monitor at 3:00 a.m., searching out good quality websites to post on so that he can build a linking strategy for someone else. And people PAY for this!

It looks something like this comment posted on a 2012 blog post I wrote about Mothers Day craft events in the area.

link buying strategy

Consider that this may be what you get if you pay for links to be built for your company website. A link building strategy may still be effective, so long as high-quality sites that are relevant to your product or service are considered. Just please don’t buy this!

Their grammar certainly tipped me off, but 4-wheeler rentals in Boston have little to do with Ann Arbor Mother’s Day craft events. It’s spam. It won’t be tolerated. While I appreciate that someone likely paid to have this type of link placed or is expecting some type of money reimbursement, it’s not helpful to the individual paying to place the link.

Are link building strategies bad then? Not necessarily. If done properly they can add to a website marketing strategy. Link-building can add value so long as links are placed in relevant websites or directories.

Consider the following when creating a link-building strategy:

  • Follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Look for niche directories that are relevant to your product or service.
  • Don’t blindly pay a service to add 1,000 links on the web.

Those selling links are getting smarter. They are posting on high-quality blogs, websites and directories. They are hoping that no one sees the comment as Spam and allows it to be published. I have seen this happen on many blogs.  These types of links harm the site where they are posted and the site linked to. Don’t buy links without knowing specifically what you are getting.

Need help with a website optimization strategy? PWB’s search engine audit allows for a fresh set of eyes to identify areas of weakness. We will suggest changes to improve optimization that may be implemented with your internal marketing team or by our search media professionals.

 

 

 

Help Monitor Social Media Mentions with Google Alerts

A few months ago PWB was nominated for best “Ad Agency/Design Firm” in the 2013 Readers Choice Awards by local publication Current. We missed hearing that we were nominated for the honor and that voting was going on, but caught that we placed as runner up once the awards were published. Want to know what tool may have helped us catch that bit of news? Having a Google Alert for PWB Marketing – It’s a smart social media tool that can help track important keywords and phrases. Want to know more about using it to track social media mentions for your company? Tuesday’s Quick Tip can help you out!

I have Google Alerts for all of my clients, but somehow missed adding one for PWB Marketing – That’s been remedied. Google Alerts are great for catching important news in your industry, perhaps competitor mentions and certainly on your company name or names of individuals within your company. Alerts can help you quickly monitor what’s important to your company and they are easy to set up. To set up a new Google Alert, simply visit the landing page, add the keyword or keyword phrases you wish to track and choose the frequency of the alert. That’s it.

Google Alert PWB

Will you try out Google Alerts for your company? The results may surprise you.

Facebook Ads: Do They Work?

There are many ways to market your business website. You can do so through paid search, print ads or outdoor advertising, just to name a few. Broadcasting you business name, products, services or brand has never been easier. However, when I ask clients if they’d consider advertising on Facebook, I often get a blank stare or an immediate “no”.

The rejection in using Facebook ads has perplexed me – If well thought out, advertising on a popular platform like Facebook could bring a large return to the client. I just didn’t have many clients willing to play along.

A few weeks ago though, I received a free Facebook advertising opportunity after my Page reached a certain number of “Likes.” At first I too was stumped. The Facebook Page for my personal blog is certainly popular enough, but what would I really offer? For my Ann Arbor Mom Facebook Page, the answer was simple – I offered new fans the opportunity to find information on free and low cost family activities in the area. That meant that my Facebook ad campaign should be one to generate more “Likes.”

So with a $50 ad campaign, I ran a 10-day trial spending it on a $5/day budget. What did I get you ask? A lot! The 10-day campaign increased my pages likes by 62%. It actually improved fan engagement drastically too! As a blogger, that allows me to give more to my fans through relevant, well thought-out content.

facebook ads

Running a 10-day trail of Facebook ads increased on page Likes by 62%

Was it a fluke? Could I do it again? A few days later, I was happy to realize, that yes, I could try it again. The PWB Facebook Page was sent a similar offer.

Once again I set off with $50 in free Facebook Ads, but this time it was for a company that markets to B2B. The free ads for PWB only generated a 6% increase in “Likes” however it also improved user engagement and the overall virility of our posts. Our content didn’t change much, however the increased visibility the ads afforded us allowed us to get further with our Facebook Page.

facebook ads

For PWB, running a brief Facebook Ad Campaign, improved user engagement and the overall virility of Facebook posts.

With two “wins” under my belt I was very excited to try ads a third time which happily happened when another client Facebook Page that I manage was offered free advertising dollars. The client is a Ypsilanti bariatric surgeon, and with obesity being in the media often enough, I wondered how the campaign would run. Would it gain a lot of new “Likes”? Would engagement improve like the other campaigns?

Engagement did improve, and the Facebook Ad campaigns did generate a 10% increase in the number of “Likes”. What was enlightening to the client however, was viewing the demographic data provided by Facebook analytics. The client was also able to clearly see that many Facebook fans come back to the page with a much frequency, which indicated a good amount of brand loyalty!

Facebook ads

Running ads on Facebook can certainly provide new “Likes” and greater user engagement, but often the analytics prove to clients that they reach a cetrtain demographic or that that they have strong brand loyalty.

One of our current clients is going through a website redesign and has indicated that they will use targeted Facebook ads, so I’m in a holding pattern. Through the three brief trials I ran, Facebook ads have certainly proven helpful on many levels.

Want to know more about advertising on Facebook or through other online marketing? We can help. Let us help you define a roadmap to help you reach YOUR business marketing goals!

Blog Crash!

A few weeks back – probably a few more than I care to admit – We had an error with our blog. Specifically I couldn’t access the blog. In fact I thought I had made a HUGE error that caused everything to crash. Coincidentally that happened shortly after many GoDaddy sites got got taken offline by hackers. Turns out that hijacking caused more trouble than we realized at first, and ultimately it caused an error with our WordPress blog that we couldn’t fix.

I was told that our blog posts my still be retrievable but that I shouldn’t hold my breath. I suppose I whined enough here in the office (or maybe they took pity on me) however I eventually got our quasi-IT guy, Keith to take a look. He told me that he’d likely have to rebuild the blog and that he could do a download of the database which housed the blog posts.

Our content was often shared and mentioned on social media sites, so losing 2+ years of data was going to be a very painful thing. I was told, “Best case scenario – We get everything back no problem. Worst case scenario. In rebuilding we lose everything.”

Turns out it was somewhere in between. In doing the data dump, a lot of gibberish was pulled down. And in that VERY LONG list of gibberish our blog posts are hidden.

My eyes may be bleeding now, however it appears that the PWB blog posts may be salvageable. Slowly but surely they’ll be added back online. I know many of you are waiting with baited breath, so please hang tight!