Let’s Get Small

In the current economic correction/downturn/recession, I see an alarming trend. The biggest organizations seem to be the most effected – GM, CitiGroup, Bank of America. Something I’ve noticed is that bigger organizations seem the most disconnected, both from their customers and from themselves. All the layers and functional roles seem to cloud people’s thinking and judgement. Many are afraid of losing their job, so they’re thrashing about trying to implement SOMETHING, rather than the RIGHT thing. You even see it in government – witness the NYC/Air Force One debacle this week. Did we REALLY need to spend $328,000 for a new photo? Really? And maybe someone should have stopped to think that perhaps it was going to trigger panic in Manhattan?

But what to do about it? Think small. Another trend I’ve seen is that I have many clients in the Small/Medium Business (SMB) segment who are doing quite well. They’re not caught up in the panic, and they spend their time thinking about how they can serve unmet needs in unique ways. With segmentation, any business can be an SMB. I work with a division of a Fortune 100 company who has chosen to not get embroiled in the politics of the parent and focus on their marketspace. The result? Last year they set a 10-year sales record.

Banners Aren’t Dead

The lowly banner has been much-maligned in the trade press in recent years. But like so many things in the marketing equation, banners can have a place if used appropriately. I would concur for mass-market consumer sites. Banners are likely dead. The victims of too many re-finance ads, credit card offers, and mass branding efforts.

But in b-to-b the banner is alive and well. We recently ran a banner for a local CPA firm on the business section of a regional news site that pulled a 1.18% click-thru; about 4x the industry average. Another client’s programs are often exceeding 1% CTRs as well.

I think the secret is in your strategy for using and deploying banners. Too many marketers view them as advertising – much like print or broadcast. A more helpful perspective is to think of them as a direct marketing tool. In this model, the list, creative, and offer fuel success. With online you can target more tightly (like direct mail) and you’re motivating a response behavior (like direct mail) with impactful, relevant creative (like direct mail). And, unlike direct mail you can perform testing of these variables with almost real-time feedback.

If you have a solid message, the need to target, and a compelling call-to-action, consider an effective banner program for your next campaign.

Be Safe

If you’re like most of us, you probably take the security of your office (and other places) for granted. PWB had a break-in over a recent weekend. Through some good luck, nothing of much value was taken –  a couple of decade-old laptops and $15 in petty cash. But it was a good reminder.

It’s not uncommon for people’s personal property –  an iPod here, a digital camera there – to be out on our desks. Fortunately, it was a weekend and none were. And our hard-working staff with laptops had taken them all home.

The Ann Arbor police department has been chasing this guy for some time. He’s broken into several companies on the south side of town over the past year (including others in our building on the same day). But, so far no luck in apprehending him.

This incident was a good reminder for us – periodically take time to have a look around your office and stow your valuables. You never know, and a few moments could prevent a loss.