Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Improve your marketing by joining the CSI team!

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) is one of the most popular TV shows on air today.  Legions of viewers enjoy determining the causes of the crime that opens the show.  Through the layers of plot twists, the investigators remain focused on figuring out the causes of the unfortunate demise of the victim, and making sure the perpetrator is clearly identified Even the Science Museum of Minnesota is a fan, with its exhibit, CSI:  The Experience.

Well, you, too, can join the CSI team, and should, if your goal is to increase the impact and profitability of your marketing programs.

First, change “crime” to “best customer.”  Then take the premise of the show and apply it to data-driven marketing.

What Happened:                   A Prospect Became a Best Customer
Who (or What) Did It:          That is for YOU to determine

You see, the key to improving your data-driven marketing results is to understand causes (“the culprit”).  Once you understand the causes, you can reallocate dollars to spend more on the tactics that drive best customer conversion and less (or none) on tactics that are ineffective.

How it works:
1.      Identify best customers who were acquired in the past year.  Clearly define “best customers” but do not fret over getting it exact; small differences will not change the results in this approach.  For our clients, we use a combination of frequency and annual revenue.  Frequency drives familiarity with your brand, and annual revenue “keeps the lights on,” so we like those.
2.      Determine which marketing programs those customers received in the 2 months before they became a customer.  In a core marketing effort, those communications probably include email and direct mail.  More sophisticated organizations include affiliate marketing, social media (if you can connect to a specific customer) and so on.  You can find out which customers received which campaigns by finding that customer’s name, email, etc. on the mail and email lists.  You can also look at coupons and offers that the best customer used on their first purchase to see which campaign generated those offers.
3.      Attribute the customer to 1 to 2 specific campaigns.  Usually, we use the campaigns that the customer received closest to their first transaction, with some enhancements for email:  first, the customer had to open the email (and usually click on the link as well).  That tells you that the customer not only received the email, but also noticed it.  Once you have assembled the list of the most recent campaigns that best customers received, compare them across all your best customers. 
By seeing the “clues” (similarities in campaigns most recently received and acted upon), you can trace it back to the perpetrator (most successful campaigns that acquire best customers)

Measurement must become core for your department.  For more on the role of measurement, visit  http://tinyurl.com/4vht6yx.

Your CSI effort should become more sophisticated over time.  You can trace back to key words for paid search.  You can include web site behavior over time.  Just like an investigator, you use all the tools at your disposal to nab the villain.

Being a marketer today requires that you assemble every clue that leads to best customers and then focus your energies on those tactics.  That way, you can keep your personal “ratings” high and make sure you are renewed for next year!

Mark Price is Managing Partner of M Squared Group, a consulting firm focused on understanding and building customer relationships, and the author of the blog “Cultivating Your Customers,” where he writes about practical approaches to improve customer retention and overall customer value.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How much does your marketing department really show the love?

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but not for marketers.  We are about love all year long, right?

Maybe but maybe not:  your company strategy sets the stage for how much your customers want to feel your love….

Michael Tracy and Fred Wiersema wrote The Discipline of Market Leaders, a classic book on strategic choice.  In a nutshell they argue that great companies lead with one of three strategies:
  • Operational Efficiency – being the low cost provider and consequently being passionate about driving out all unnecessary costs from the business. Think Wal-Mart.
  • Innovation – differentiating from competitors by having the newest products and features. Think Apple.
  • Customer Intimacy – knowing your customer better than anyone else and helping him or her to feel special. Think Nordstrom.
No, you can't succeed if you completely fail at any one of these, but market leaders differentiate from their competition by the one they are absolutely best at. 

So where’s the love?

If your company strategy is based on Operational Efficiency, you may love to drive down cost, but your marketing strategy isn’t going to be about love, it’s going to be about surpassing expectations.  We don’t love Costco; we shop there to the extent we think their efficiencies drive down the cost of the products we want.  Focus your market research on finding those price points that best attract and retain customers.

If your company strategy is based on Innovation, you may love new ideas, but your marketing strategy is all about leveraging excitement.  We don’t really love Apple; we are excited about their capacity to deliver something new and different from what we had in the past.  Focus your market research on finding those features and user experiences that lead customers and prospects to say, “I gotta have that!”, or that drive them to tweet the world about how excited they are to use your product.

If your company strategy is based on Customer Intimacy, you may love knowing what makes your customer’s heart pound faster, and your marketing strategy is all about that.  We love providers who take the time to know what we really care about, who remember us by name, who don’t try to sell us products we think they should know we don’t want.  Focus your marketing strategy on what makes your customer feel special, feel pride in ownership, want to spend more time with at business and your employees. 

How does your marketing department tailor its approach to mirror your company strategy?

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, February 8, 2011

When Opportunity Knocks, Will You Be Ready?

My husband, Nate, wasn’t looking for a new job.  He loved his job and the company that he worked for.  One day, a representative from one of his company’s vendors came in to service some lab equipment.  Nate and the rep chatted for awhile and the rep mentioned that his company had an open position for a Field Engineer and thought my husband would be great for the position.  He asked if Nate was interested and told him to email his resume to him ASAP so he could pass it along to his supervisor, who was the hiring manager for the position.  Nate went home that night and discovered that:
1) He didn’t know where his resume was.
2) Once he found it, he realized that it had not been updated with his most recent position (which he had been in for 5 years).
3) The rest of the resume would need to be drastically reworked. 

We spent two days reworking my husband’s resume.  Fortunately, the hiring manager was still accepting resumes when Nate finally sent his in.  Nate was contacted a few days later for an interview and after 3 rounds of interviews, he got the job.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to move up within my company but discovered that the current team that I was working on was not going to provide the opportunity for that to happen.  I made an appointment to meet with my Human Resources Manager, Chuck, to discuss career options.  During our discussion, Chuck mentioned an open position that was exactly what I was looking for.  Chuck asked me to go back to my cube and immediately apply for the position.  I told him that I didn’t have my current resume with me but I could do it when I got home that evening.  Chuck told me that he needed to get my application in that very day since they were at the very end of the hiring process for the position.  He ended up using the resume that I had used when I applied for my current role. The following day, I interviewed for the position and the day after that, I was offered the job.

My husband, Nate, hadn’t been looking for a new position but was presented with an opportunity that he couldn’t ignore.  He wasn’t prepared and lost valuable time trying to get his resume in order so that he could pursue the golden opportunity before him.  He knew that he should keep his resume updated but hadn’t made it a priority since he hadn’t been actively searching for a new job.  On the contrary, I was actively seeking a new opportunity and had an updated resume ready to go.  However, I did not have it easily accessible at the moment it was requested of me so an older, outdated version had to be used.  In both our situations, the hiring process moved extremely fast.  For my husband, the elapsed time from learning about the job to receiving an offer was 10 days.  For me, it was 2 days.  Whether or not you are looking for a new and exciting job opportunity, make sure you are prepared so that when opportunity knocks, you are ready.

·       Is your resume ready to go?  Are you sure?
·       Do you keep an updated electronic version of your resume at work that you could access if you were asked to do so immediately? 
·       Do you keep paper versions of your resume on hand? If so, do you ever distribute them? 
·       Have you ever been presented with an unexpected opportunity where you needed to send out a resume within a short period of time?  If so, were you prepared?
·       What tips or advice do you have regarding this issue?

Barrie Berquist is a Category Development Manager at Acosta Sales and Marketing.  She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager.  She can be reached at barrieberquist@yahoo.com.  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST. 
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brand Transparency and Trust

I am a chronic product-reviewer before shopping. Even if it’s just picking up another toothbrush, I run to the internet before running to the store. Usually there is a review somewhere online, and the allure of getting the “inside scoop” on my prospective purchase is enough to keep me googling “Crest vs. Colgate”

I am not alone. According to a new study from Alterian (via eMarketer), 51% of consumers always compare products and services before making a purchase. The survey also shows that only 1% of respondents (made up of Internet users from the United States and United Kingdom) never compare products and services before making a purchase.

That’s a whole lot of people typing into a search engine your product or service. What’s going to pop up? Sponsored ads? A corporate website? Or perhaps a negative review on Yelp, or a glowing fan base on Facebook.  The wealth of outlets now available for consumers to voice their opinion is large, and that has given power back to the consumer to scope out the “truth” about a brand.

Social networking and DIY media-exchange of information outside of the brand space will increase as consumers become more comfortable with their power to get the true story on products from total strangers. Rather than simply trusting experts or putting faith in brands, consumers expect to do their own research and comparison shopping using many sources. In fact, just behind friends and family, people trust web reviews of a company or product the most, according to the same study from Alterian.

In the survey, respondents were asked who they were most likely to trust for advice when researching a product or service. In answer to that question, only 13% said they trusted what a company says about itself or advertising or promotional features. The results of the survey are as follows:

  • 40% trust friends and family
  • 28% trust professional reviews on web sites, newspapers or magazines
  • 19% trust reviews from people “like you” on web sites
  • 8% trust what the company says about itself
  • 5% trust advertising or promotional features

With the boom of social media and online consumer review sites, it all comes down to one thing: there is no longer anywhere for shady business to hide. If a brand stretches the truth, handles negative feedback poorly, or doesn’t deliver on a promise, consumers have a very public platform to call it out. Now-a-days, playing fair and honest is the only way to stay in this highly visible and un-censored “game.”
After all the events of 2010-banks collapsing, economies faltering, bailout packages-people need something to believe in again. This is why transparency and trust are so important for brands in 2011. People always love something to believe in. Create expectations for your brand in consumers’ minds that they can trust and rely on. If you are able to do that, you will find a “Tweeting,” “Facebooking” and “Yelping” bunch of brand loyalists who can become your most powerful source of word-of-mouth marketing, brand advocacy and brand guardianship.

Ashley Haugen is a Gustavus Adolphus College alum. She has had Marketing experience working with such organizations as the LOFT Literary Center, and the Gustavus Marketing Department. She is currently a marketing intern at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in St. Paul. 

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