Audience-led Marketing, Always – 5 Questions To Get You There

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Recently, I was asked in an interview scenario: If given $100, how would I split the budget spend between traditional/print media versus digital media?

before I can even answer how I would split the budget spend, I must first determine what the objectives were and, perhaps more importantly, who the audience was. Only once you’ve figured those questions out can you then determine your media mix. Otherwise, there is no point determining beforehand whether you would leverage one media over another.

You must know your objective(s) – which I believe is ultimately influenced by your audience.

It reminded me of this Fast Company article, “5 Questions All Marketers Need To Ask Themselves” I just read.

I especially loved this:

Often, businesses market themselves without the prospect in mind. But successful marketers align all their marketing efforts with a prospect narrative. Creating a prospect narrative is an easy and powerful way to put yourself into your prospect’s shoes–and ultimately increase the effectiveness of your marketing.

The article then goes on to propose five questions marketers must ask themselves to help them better align with their audiences. I think they are great checkpoints to keep us grounded in perspectives of our audience:

  1. What is your customer doing during his day?
    Most organizations create their marketing materials without considering what the potential customer will be doing when he receives a marketing message. People are busier than they have ever been. In fact, they are spending over a quarter of their day just responding to emails. In order for your campaign to break through the clutter, you must consider how the person you are trying to reach is spending his time.
  2. What is keeping her up at night?
    Usually, a company centers the majority of its marketing efforts around the company itself or the features and benefits of a specific product. However, no one cares about your company. All they care about are the issues they are dealing with right then and there. What are the challenges that your potential user takes home with her each night? If you want your marketing to elicit a particular behavior, then spend some time matching your message to the challenges your audience cares most about.
  3. What will catch his attention?
    Most organizations are so focused on broadcasting how great they are that they don’t think about what will most effectively catch people’s attention. Most commercials, for example, are generic and not memorable, so in order for yours to stand out, you need to develop a message that is so appealing or jarring to your audience that he has no choice but to react to it.
  4. What action will she most likely take?
    So many marketing campaigns are solely focused on increasing awareness of an organization, rather than encouraging someone to take some action. This is like burning cash. Think about what action someone would most realistically take after absorbing your message. Would she most likely go to a website, send a text, pick up the phone, or find you on Twitter? Once you know which medium the person is most likely to use, then you can develop a call-to-action that aligns with it.
  5. How will you keep him engaged?
    Rarely do companies develop marketing campaigns that create long-term engagement. However, those that do receive dividends over and over again, all from that initial investment. Therefore, the question great marketers want to answer is: What are realistic ways to engage him in the long run? This will be the difference between developing a one-time customer and a long-term fan.

Honestly, how many times have you actually asked these questions in the marketing situation room/meeting? When was the last time?

10 Reasons To Consolidate Your Social Media Strategy

I don’t think I need to belabor just how fragmented to the social media landscape is today – others have certainly done so to great effect. However, in the panic that is today’s land-grab of social media real estate coupled with the panic to remain relevant, many brands (personal brands, included!) have adopted a haphazard approach to their social media strategies. They are everywhere – and, oftentimes, end up being nowhere all at once.

A recent Business Insider article exhorts brands to adopt a “platform native” approach, focusing on one or two key ones rather than be have a weak, spread-to-thin presence all over the social media landscape:

Too many brands and businesses still try a scattershot approach at social media. They try to be everywhere, spread their efforts too thin, and end up annoying users.

Particularly for smaller or niche brands — or really, anyone on a constrained budget — it makes more sense to double-down on a single platform, learn its culture and idiosyncrasies, and become an expert at cultivating its audience base.

I don’t necessarily agree to the “platform native” approach, but I do agree that brands need to consolidate their social media strategy into something far more manageable. Hence, these ten reasons posited by Business Insider certainly apply:

  1. Social media budgets become more manageable. Your organization will no longer leak dollars with a half-hearted attempt to be, and post everywhere.
  2. Brands and businesses will gain a more authentic voice. It’s difficult to develop a genuine, humanized voice on every platform. Attention to a single network will help brands cultivate a more persuasive personality.
  3. Become more efficient. Many companies on social media see a great deal of success on one platform, but still grind away at others. Why not focus resources on where your engagement is deepest?
  4. Improve your chances at earned media and viral success. These grow out of a deep understanding of a social network’s idiosyncrasies, not by throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.
  5. Develop a knack for avoiding social media gaffes and bloopers. Many of the social media foot-in-mouth moments of recent years grow out of a lack of comprehension for what makes each network tick.
  6. Users have developed sophisticated network-specific cultures. They can spot a poser from a mile a way.
  7. Creative freedom: This may sound counter-intuitive, since choosing to focus energies on a single platform would seem to close off options. But focus actually opens up opportunities. Ideas come more easily once a single primary platform is chosen.
  8. Avoid top-down strategies that try to fit round pegs into square holes. Ideas for posts and campaigns will be driven by a more bottom-up thought process. And not by the nebulous question, “What’s our social media strategy?”
  9. Drive better recruiting and contracting decisions. If a single platform is prioritized, the search for social media talent becomes clearer. Different kinds of expertise are required for each network.
  10. Finally, a deliberate platform-centric approach allows for more straightforward testing and tracking of results. If one platform focus doesn’t work, another emphasis can be tried. But data will be cleaner and priorities will be easier to rearrange.

For me, I operationalize social media using a “home base + embassies + satellites” model, while focusing on what I consider the holy trinity of social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Apple Makes You Pay For Piracy Without Making You Pay For Piracy

I was reading this bit of news about Apple’s newly launched iTunes Match – touted in the article as “more than just a cloud storage system for songs that fans buy legitimately through iTunes.” What really intrigued me was the value proposition and how Steve Jobs sold it: essentially, Apple has succeeded in making you pay for music piracy without making you pay for music piracy.

What do I mean by this?

Aside from offering to freely distribute new and old iTunes purchases on all of a user’s devices, the Apple impresario unveiled “iTunes Match,” a $25-a-year service starting this fall that will scan users’ devices and hard drives for music acquired in other ways, store it on distant computer servers and allow them to access it anywhere.

The service acknowledges a well-known fact — that most music on iPods, iPhones and iPads was ripped or swapped. Apple reached a deal that gives recording companies more than 70 percent of the new fees, addressing a dark secret that has crippled the music industry, and provides them with some economic payback.

Where Apple is able to identify and match songs from its 18 million-song database, it will transfer them into the user’s iCloud, a storage area housed on servers, including those at a massive new data center in North Carolina.

This is exactly the kind of creative strategic thinking that is lacking in so many businesses and brands today! No wonder we are faced with “more of the same” despite so many new brands coming to life these days. In fact, innovation is highly rewarding:

Industry observers said the new service could translate into big bucks for both Apple and the recording companies.

Apple has about 225 million credit card-backed accounts on iTunes. If only 10 percent signed up for the convenience of accessing music they hadn’t bought there, it could turn into more than $500 million a year in new revenue, said Jeff Price, CEO of TuneCore Inc., a company that helps independent artists sell their music on iTunes and other digital music outlets.

The best thing is that consumers get the sense that they’re paying for convenience, not for things they already own, he said.

“It allows for revenue to be made off of pirated music in a way that consumers don’t feel that’s what they’re paying for, and that’s what I find fascinating about it,” Price said.

Read the full article here (and also learn just how much “better” Apple always tries to make things).

4 Things To Know About Social Media Before You Hire A Social Media Expert, Guru, Ninja, etc.

I like the irreverent way Peter Shankman writes about why he would never hire a “social media expert”. More than that, I especially agree with him about how important it is to properly understand what Social Media is about and what it isn’t about. For starters, Social Media isn’t about doing marketing “for free”, nor is it about “being cool” since everyone is jumping on to the bandwagon to the next frontier. It is, in my opinion, about these 4 things:

  1. It’s about transparency. It’s not about lying to your customers, and thinking that a good Twitter apology will suffice when you’re caught. It won’t, and you’ll lose. Customers will run away in droves, because they can. They can go wherever they want now—it doesn’t matter how loyal they were in the past. Lie to them and get caught, and say goodbye. Instead, it’s about using the tools to market to an audience that wants to help tell your story, because you’ve been awesome at providing them with the service they deserve.
  2. It’s about relevance. It’s not about tweeting every single time your company offers 10 percent off on a thingamabob. It’s about finding out where your customers actually are, and going after them there. If you’re tweeting all your discounts, and none of your customers are on Twitter, then you sir, are an idiot. Marketing involves knowing your audience, and tailoring your promotions in specific bursts to the correct segments.
  3. It’s about brevity. Guess what, if we have about three seconds to get our message across to a new customer, you know what’s going to do it? Not Twitter followers. Not Facebook fans. Not Foursquare check-ins—no. What’s going to do it is good writing, end of story. Good writing is brevity, and brevity is marketing.
  4. It’s about knowing your customer. Finally, it’s about knowing your customer, and making sure your customer thinks of you first. Do you know your audience? Have you reached out to them? I’m not talking about “tweeting at them,” I’m talking about actually reaching out; asking them what you can do better, or asking those who haven’t been around in a while what you can do to get them back. It’s not about 10 percent off coupons or “contests for the next follower.”

The crux for me is this:

Social media is not “cool.” Making money is cool. Social media is simply another arrow in the quiver of marketing, and that quiver is designed to generate revenue.

Anything else and I would think that you have lost the plot.

10 Business Models That Rocked 2010

Thought it was interesting to see the new models of businesses that are slowly changing the way we view… well, Business2.0.

I was particularly struck by how “privacy is dead” and how that opens up new opportunities for business (the model) – it really blows the mind. Think about it: people willingly divulge their own patient records (the secrecy of which remains a cornerstone of ethical behavior in the medical profession). Personally speaking, I think this is a transitory phase before we reach the end of the pendulum swing and face a backlash (in fact, on Facebook there seems to be a backlash!).

Anyway, here are the 10 models for your consideration: