Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Memo to Santa

To: S. Claus, CCO (Chief Christmas Officer)
From: North Pole Marketing Department

Dear Santa,

A few reminders as you get into the final stages of this year’s holiday push:

1.     New banner.  This year’s theme, “Santa knows his customers!” appears on a banner flying behind your sleigh.  If asked what’s different, just respond that we have newly appended files about children around the world.  This information was contained within the last set of WikiLeaks.  Ho, ho, ho!

2.     Enhanced segmentation.  For years you been singing that you know who is ‘naughty or nice”.  Our elf analytics team has identified more detailed segmentation for you to use.

Just so you know, we applied modified RFM analysis, prioritizing frequency of good behavior, followed by recency of good behavior, and lastly by the monetary impact of nice and naughty behavior. 


Goody two-shoes (GTS)
Compulsively well behaved, these are your best customers in the way they carry your brand message throughout the year.  Consider a mix of toys for personal use and opportunities that enable them to keep doing good for others.

Seasonally behaved
Like promotionally sensitive customers, these children respond well to various marketing initiatives.  As a result some stores have begun to promote their Christmas displays as early as September.   

Sibling selectives
For the most part, these are high potential customers who might be seasonally well behaved or even GTS, with one exception – they can’t remain nice to their siblings.  Most grow out if it by their mid 20s depending on the balance of positive vs. negative sibling experience.   For this group we suggest interactive family games with the hope that fun times will set the stage for more harmonious relations.  Think Wii.

Attention seekers
Often confused with naughty children, these customers are in fact seeking more attention throughout the year and act out to achieve that effect.  Consider toys that will be as appealing to parents as to children so they choose to spend more time together.

Just plain nasty
These are the naughty children who typically receive coal in their stockings.  It’s a small percentage, but a challenging one.  Be careful of mousetraps, thumbtacks, plastic cookies and other traps they may set for you by the fireplace.

3.     Social media. Don’t take it personally, but your number of followers pale compared to those of Lady Gaga or Oprah.  You’ve got to get out there and tweet or at least post on Facebook more often if you want kids to know you exist after January 1.   We signed you up with Foursquare, and expect you could claim a global badge on Christmas Eve if you remember to check in often enough.  Santa, you could be the mayor!

4.     Online reputation.  Sorry to say Santa, but there still exist many consumers who don’t believe in you or your message.  Just after Christmas we launch an early push into next year. The theme for 2011 will be  “Keep a little Christmas spirit all year round”.  With even a small lift in response, we could change the world!

From the elves in your marketing department, we wish you safe travel this holiday season.

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part oM Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.  

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are you the trusted expert?

As marketers, much of our job is to position our brand (whether ourselves or a product/service) as the trusted expert in our respective industries.  Earning trust and achieving expert status are not quick or easy tasks, but can be a solid foundation for success.  Even if your company or product is fairly new or small, there are many ways to position your brand as the expert in your field, especially through the content you provide. 

Are you on track to position your brand as the expert in [your product/service/niche]?  Ask yourself these questions:

·      Do I have the human resources to help position my brand as the expert? Are my employees passionate about the brand?
·      As a company, do we do what we say we are going to do and have a brand promise that speaks for itself? Is our customer service top-notch?
·      Do I provide educational resources on my website that customers cannot find anywhere else?
·      Do I practice the 80/20 rule in social media (80% about things beyond my brand, 20% brand specific) and provide engaging content?
·      Are our employees reaching out to share their expertise by speaking at seminars, writing white papers or guides, or contributing to magazines or blogs?
·      Is our company helping people in the industry or community, either thru cause-related marketing or by simply providing educational content without expecting sales from every effort?
·      Am I aligning myself with other “trusted experts” - people, companies, and associations that can help me achieve expert status?

Are there any areas where you are excelling or could improve? What are some other ways to help position yourself/your brand as the source for your product or service? 

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals. You can reach her via Twitter @jkaufenberg.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small Business Success: How to Manage the Social Media Overload

Small business owners have felt the effects of the economic downturn as much as anyone and those who have survived the lean times have a universal skill…they’ve learned to do more with less.  That’s why I’m constantly surprised to hear about the time commitment for social media as a pain point for small business marketers.  In an effort to help ease the stress, here are a few pointers on how to make the ever-changing social media landscape a little more manageable. 

Stake your claim 

You don’t have to have an airtight strategy (or any strategy for that matter) to proactively protect your brand, so set up a company account for all of the major social media channels even if you’re not planning to use them now.  As the old saying goes “possession is 9/10ths of the law” and it’s extremely difficult to get a username back once someone else has claimed it.   The easiest way to check availability is to use a name check service like namechk.com.  It’s free and it only takes a few seconds to see what usernames are available on most of the major social media platforms.  This gives you the ability to select the channels that will best target your customers now with the flexibility to adjust in the future.

 Follow Your Customer 

Ask yourself, “where would my customer be looking for me online”?  All too often I hear social media strategies that consist of a statement like “we have to be on Twitter” without any explanation as to why.   These are exactly the types of statements that lead to the feeling of being overloaded.  Instead, determine where your customers are spending their time.  Are you a retail business where customers are looking for your newest products and offers or are you a B to B company that needs to nurture sales relationships with purchasing gatekeepers?  Let the strategic goals of your business dictate where you focus your efforts rather than chasing the next big thing.  If, retail is your business, consider Twitter, Facebook or other options that allow your customers to “stay in the know” and share news with their network.  If B to B is your focus, LinkedIn has variety of industry discussion groups where you can contribute or you can create a group for your industry niche.    

Work Efficiently 

Once you’ve identified a couple of channels where you’re going to focus your energy, look for tools to help you make efficient use of your time.  Tools like nutshellmail.com are free and will send you an email with all of your updates for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace at intervals you request.  This makes tracking posts and interacting with customers easier by having a single digest of all your updates in one place rather than having to constantly check multiple locations.

Like any other marketing initiative, a strategic approach to social media takes patience and research.  However, a small amount of planning will definitely help the small business marketer manage social media overload while connecting with new customers.  

Rob McChane is the AVP of Marketing Communications for the MN AMA and the Founder and Managing Partner of Digital Sherpa, an online marketing consultancy for small business.  Rob can be reached via email at rob@thedigitalsherpa.com, on twitter at @rmcchane or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/robmcchane.
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