Archive for May, 2013

What Does Integrated Marketing Mean?

Integrated marketing is:

  • An end-to-end process of managing all activities, including marketing projects, planning, process flows, assets, supporting documentation, authorization.
  • It includes the management of the people involved, the vendors, and the client relationships.
  • Building, managing and executing all outbound and inbound marketing communications.
  • Emphasis on measuring the campaign using clearly defined analytical tools.

Proving the success of a campaign can be quite satisfying. However, many companies have a hard time trying to actually measure that success. A campaign needs to be measured across all channels. These channels may include e-mail, SMS, Print, Internet, Trade Shows, Seminars, and more. Through each of these channels there may be different target audiences, which lead you to multiple data sources. Also, multiple response mechanisms are necessary to collect the data.

When the marketing department develops measurement tools, it shouldn’t be asking whether it’s possible to measure all these channels and all these target markets. Instead, the question for the marketing department to brainstorm is: HOW do you measure all channels and all target markets?

With integrated marketing, this measurement IS possible. However, in light of today’s technology, the platform needs to be able to embrace new media communications channels like social media. Without integration, the processes that occur in a marketing department remain fragments, pieces of the puzzle that can easily become impossible to control and manage. In the end, this translates into providing the marketing message recipient with uncoordinated views of your business; the target customer or prospect does not enjoy a unified experience.

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Does Your Big Data Deliver Results?

Having big data is sexy and cool, but just sitting around staring at data won’t do much for you (or your company’s bottom line) if it doesn’t actually deliver results. When you’ve got googly eyes for your significant other, is he/she able to bring it? Or do you get the cold shoulder, the claim that he/she is too tired or has a headache?

You’re looking at all your data. Oh yeah, you’ve got the googly eyes. You are in the mood to make some magic. And you just know that if your big data was up to task, you’d be in heaven.

But those googly eyes may just make you so distracted that you’re failing to see the big picture. And big data is supposed to help you, not distract you. It’s easy to get into the whole “Ooh, shiny!” exhilaration that accompanies having all this data at your fingertips and eyeballs. You want to try this. You want to try that. You want to experiment left and right. But experimenting can be the death knell in your big data relationship. Sure, you don’t want to be “boring” and play it safe. You want to have some fun. But if you try out a little too much, a little too often, you’re going to kill the mood and misuse your big data. And once you get burned by the big data, it’s easy to get scared off from giving it another try later.

Another issue is if your big data just isn’t up for the task. It’s there. It’s ready (supposedly) to go. But if you don’t have the right software to really warm it up and get things going, then you may just be spinning your wheels. You need the platforms in place to help you get the most out of the information you have. This is not time for a limp noodle and your data is only as good as your analysis and usage. You need the information and you need it in a way that can benefit your business. Make sure to evaluate various tools at your disposal and choose what will fit your needs. Don’t just get blinded by what you hear all the other marketers are using.

In the end, if you look at your big data with a healthy amount of love and adoration, without getting sidetracked by the “shininess” of it all, you can make sure that your big data produces the end results that you want and need. A guaranteed smile on your face with great marketing results.

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Inbound Marketing – Tools and Techniques

When you set inbound marketing into motion, you will soon find it is a strategy that thrives on consistency. The most powerful tool in your arsenal is your company website blog. You control how much information you disseminate, what information you provide and how often you distribute that information. Ideally, your blog will consist of multiple short (but not too short) articles on relevant topics that set you up as an authority in your field. The goal is two-fold: 1 – you get readers who learn to seek you out for your expertise and 2 – you get others to link to your material…thereby bringing more readers who will learn to seek you out for your expertise.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of inbound marketing. You don’t have to become an expert in SEO yourself, but you do need to know what the right keywords are and how to use them effectively. The goal is to increase your search rank. You want to be on that first page of Google and Bing results when internet users search for your keywords. The great thing about SEO is that it is something that can be tweaked and worked on to help your visibility. Overtime, you will be able to determine what your effective keywords are – what words are bringing visitors to your site. And you will be able to track links leading to your site.

You can also track links from within your site. Perhaps your current blog post has a hyperlink to an older post on related material. Instead of using a direct link, you can use a tool that will allow you to shorten the link and also see the traffic reports on that URL.  Remember, information is power and you want that information to know what is working and what is not.

A bit overwhelmed by all the social media platforms out there? Start with two. Perhaps it’s Twitter and Facebook. Maybe it’s LinkedIn and YouTube. But start with two and build from there. Don’t assume more is better. You should only have as many social media profiles as you can manage to maintain. And while your main goal with social media may be to promote your brand and distribute content, don’t forget that these platforms are interactive. They invite a conversation with the internet visitor. That’s something you never want to lose sight of. Yes, you’ve got a business to run. But even if you use tools to automate as much content as possible, you should schedule regular “check ups” on each platform to make sure there isn’t a question or comment lingering.

The reality is – visitors are not customers. It’s up to you to turn them into your customers. As you integrate the SEO aspect with the content and the social media visibility, you will find that you will get those visitors. In order to turn them into customers, you need to cultivate them into leads (for five pointers on inbound marketing lead generation look here) and remember that always, content reigns supreme.

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4 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

There is no doubt that content is a very important part of a company’s marketing efforts. But how can you use content successfully to actually bring in leads and sales, as opposed to just website traffic? We have some tips that we’d love to share. They center around how to create a strategy for your content marketing efforts. Here are four tips to help you in your business.

1) Define What You Should Talk About: This step is huge! Many people know that they need to be on social networks, but they stop themselves in their own tracks if they cannot easily answer this question: “What should I talk about?” Thus, you must take the time to analyze the topics and keywords that you should be using in your social media efforts.

To define that list, you should certainly consider your audience. What pain points do they have? What information could you share that would help them solve problems?

Also, you should make a list of the key benefits that your products and services provide. While you do not want all of your content to be extremely sales-y, you should certainly use social media to discuss topics around the benefits that your company offers.

2) Create Compelling Content in Multiple Formats:  Technology has made it easier than ever before for people to create and publish online content. But that doesn’t mean that we should skimp on marketing fundamentals during that process.

When creating content, we need to consider if it will have an impact on our audience. We also want to question whether people will want to share our content with others.

We also need to create content in multiple formats. Some people love to write; others love to step in front of a camera. Well, individuals in our target audience also have preferences! They may prefer to consume content in one channel over another.

Thus, we must be willing to devote resources to producing content in a variety of formats in order to truly maximize the reach of our message.

3) Freely Share in the Appropriate Channels: It can be overwhelming to look at the growing number of social networks available to us. However, we must avoid taking a blanket approach to sharing the same piece of content in the same way across every social network that we have access to.

We must recognize that each network is unique — this could be true in regard to feature, function, frequency, tone, etc. In order to properly demonstrate respect for each network’s audience, we must be willing to tailor our participation efforts accordingly.

4) Be Consistent: Social networking efforts can be fun — but they also require energy and time. If you are going to start using social networks to reach business objectives, you must commit to executing consistent efforts!

Make sure that you are willing to prioritize the steps of creating and sharing content on social networks appropriately.

Moving Forward

There are certainly other items that need to be considered when developing a content marketing strategy for social networks. However, those 4 are certainly among the most important.

I hope that you find these tips helpful!

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7 Ways Dating and Marketing Go Hand in Hand

Have you heard of the metaphor that marketing is like dating? Think about it. When you date someone, you try to look your best, present yourself well and make a good impression. You are trying to find that right fit, the person who will really click with you. In the end, you hope for a long, happy relationship.

In marketing, we present our products and services to our target market. We want to find the right people who will become our clients, who will be the right fit for a long-term relationship.  Here are seven ways to reinterpret dating tactics for marketing:

  1. You know who you want (your target market). You know you have to get their attention. You think about how you will get their attention, how you will keep their attention. Before you implement any kind of marketing campaign, you really have to think about how you will get your message in front of your dream market.
  2. You need to be prepared to commit. Commit to a full-blown marketing plan. Design and implement a marketing campaign. This isn’t time to dip your toes in to test the waters. You need to be ready to really put yourself (your company) out there to prospects. Because if you dive right in without preparation and forethought, then you won’t know what to do when your prospects want to ove to the next level of your relationship.
  3. Look your best! When you market your business to prospects, this is no time to use sloppy copy and junky graphics. Your marketing materials, your website…everything should be in tip-top shape so you can put your best foot forward.
  4. Invest in your marketing campaigns and let your prospects know that you care. Prospects won’t care about marketing messages if you don’t care. Yes, you DO need to spend money on your campaign. Is “cheap” the impression you want to leave in your prospects’ minds?
  5. Let them know you are interested…in many different ways. This is where a multi-touch campaign comes into play. Sure, an email is nice. But what about a quick text? How about a personalized url? Use different ways to communicate your messages to your prospects so things don’t get stale.  Use a social approach.  Use facebook or twitter to let them know more about you or your company
  6. Become a joiner. Join the groups and associations that will present the opportunities to meet your prospects. Yes, a lot of marketing can be done from the seclusion of your office, with the internet as your calling card; eventually, you need to get out there and meet people.
  7. Don’t force chemistry. Sometimes, feelings take longer to develop. You can’t (and shouldn’t) rush a good thing. If the connection with your prospect seems to be on shaky ground, then take a step back and re-evaluate.

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Determining the Best Mix for a Marketing Campaign

Many businesses see the value in using a mix of channels for their marketing efforts.  However, the question is: what are the key factors in determining the best product mix for a particular marketing campaign?

Here is our answer:

Determine the client’s long-term goals so you are prepared to handle growth or shrinkage of the application set with minimal administrative effort.

For example, if you have a direct mail client utilizing PURLs, and landing pages, be prepared to take on the associated response activities (analytics, email, VDP, fulfillment, etc.) to support the entire campaign.

The biggest cost comes from moving data between multiple systems, due to poor planning of what a client’s projected data workflow needs truly are. Considering upfront how to handle expanding requirements without running into software integration and implementation roadblocks will be the key to success.

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4 Ways to Make Your Business Card Stand Out

Work spaces can quickly get cluttered.  This makes it easy and tempting for prospects to quickly go through all loose notes, papers, and business cards to clear a space quickly.  Make them think twice about throwing your business card away when this happens!  Here are some ways to make your leads and prospects put your card in the “Keep” pile!

Color:  Colors are always an effective marketing tool.  It helps catch the eye, it entices people to pay closer attention to it, and it may just be refreshing to look at compared to dull white materials.  Colors can be incorporated into bold headlines, images, or just be a background color, but no matter what, it will help your card look different from the vast majority of cards.  It can also help trigger your prospects to remember who the card belongs to because of its unique look.

Material: Think about ordering magnetic business cards!  Two benefits of this is the heavier material that would be used for the card, and its functionality.  Just be holding the card, the weight of it makes a difference to a prospect.  It’s no longer a flimsy piece of paper, it has substance that shouldn’t be tossed in the trash.  The magnet also works wonders.  Even if the prospect doesn’t have interest in your company at the time, they may just hold onto it for magnet purposes.  This means that for as long as the magnet stays on a magnetic surface in their home or workspace, then your business will always be in front of their eyes.

Shape: Just like color and material, the shape of the card can be a “Wow” factor too!  This is a chance for you to go the extra step in creativity and give your audience an instant message of what your business provides.  With die-cut printing, almost any shape is possible so don’t be afraid of restriction for this tip.  Restaurants could have a burger-shaped card, dentists could have a tooth-shaped card, car dealerships could have a car-shaped card.  They’re clever, fun, and share-worthy!

QR Codes: Mobile marketing is becoming one of the most marketing channels for many different businesses.  Mobile tools, like QR Codes, bridge the gap between print and online media, which creates extra interactive opportunities for your business cards.  You can direct QR Codes to YouTube videos, customized contact forms, special promotional codes, and more.  Overall, they offer your prospects an additional channel to connect with you and your business.

When you’re ready to order your next batch of business cards, be open to these types of tactics that can help make your cards more memorable.  Your cards can be a great conversation starter and could also stay in front of your prospects’ eyes for a longer amount of time.

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Why Buy Attention When You Can Attract It with Inbound Marketing

What does your marketing budget look like? Is it lean, and accounted for down to the penny? Are you working on a shoestring budget? Or do you have money to burn? No matter what your marketing budget looks like, it’s important to use your dollars wisely. You want to spend them on activities that more than earn their keep. But don’t forget there are plenty of things you can do that don’t have to cost you money. What they will cost you is time and effort, but they can be well worth it, if you do it right.

Inbound marketing is not about spending advertising dollars, creating the next eyeball popping direct mail piece or whipping out a news release. Inbound marketing is all about having your audience come to you. They find you and hopefully fall in love with your information and business personality.

There’s nothing wrong with spending some money when it comes to your company’s marketing efforts. However, isn’t it nice when you get those leads all on your own merit? That’s how inbound marketing works. You get attention not by paying for it, but by earning it.

It’s not easy. Your audience won’t just drop in your lap. (Though of course that’s what we all wish for anyway). This is something you have to work for. You can’t just “hang out” online and think that your target market will head your way. This takes effort. This takes time and important groundwork to make sure you attract people…but not just any people, the “right” people – your target audience.

It’s going to take a combination of things to get it all in gear. You need to integrate search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to get the most out of your inbound marketing efforts. Start by providing relevant content to your audience. And use the keywords and phrases that your audience uses to search for this content in your uploaded materials. This will help you get those results in the Google, Bing and Yahoo searches. And, as you encourage sharing of your terrific content; you will be gaining more inbound links to your site. Another feather in your SEO cap.

Don’t forget the importance of not just placing content on your site, but also of working the social media profiles you’ve built. Social media helps get your content in front of different audiences. Post your latest video on YouTube and Facebook. Tweet about that latest marketing tip. Join that discussion on LinkedIn. All of these things will encourage interaction and get you started on that very important connection with your target audience.

Again, all of this doesn’t cost you a dime. There are no “pay per blog post” or “pay for inbound links” costs to drain your budget. This is all about working your website and social media profiles to generate interest and spark dialogue. And that will lead to the development of relationships with your future customers.

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