If you live and work in the world of marketing and communications, you are no doubt aware that the way brands are sharing information and engaging with customers changes daily. In fact, making sense of all of these new changes and trends can easily become a full-time job.
To help you stay on top of the latest and greatest trends, we’ve audited the marketing, branding and communications industries to see what’s working and what isn’t. We have defined what we see as seven trends likely to stick and play a leading role in 2013 marketing strategies across the globe.
To spark some ideas in your 2013 planning, download our Marketing and Communications Digital Trend Review to learn how LEGO, Target, Subaru, ExactTarget, Banana Republic and others are leveraging today’s hot marketing techniques to engage customers today.Tweet
In preparing to write this, my first-ever blog post, I couldn’t help but look at the calendar and notice that November 6th is fast approaching. Election Day. I suppose it can’t be ignored, and since my blog posts should be current, I feel the need to address the election in some way. But there is one tiny little problem: I pretty much already know whom I am voting for and have put myself in a news bubble—avoiding, to the best of my ability, all political conversations.
Life in a political news-avoiding bubble
Living in my bubble has been fairly easy for the most part, and it’s pretty happy here. I watch most TV shows on DVR so that I can fast forward through the commercials. Any mail I receive is reviewed immediately, and the politically oriented direct mail pieces are tossed out. I change the radio station when the negative ads air during drive time. And, I have been able to politely avoid most political conversations at the office and in social settings.
But, there is one place where political discussions and advertising have been able to permeate my bubble, and that’s the Internet. Between online advertising and social media, I can’t seem to escape it. My personal email account is bombarded daily with emails. Pop-up banner ads and constant posts in newsfeeds are invading my social space daily. And for some reason, this has really gotten under my skin.
I can’t check Facebook without ads appearing on the right-hand side of my home page. And the countless posts, from both left- and right-leaning friends, are right there, mixed in with baby and graduation pictures, and comments on the weather. I try to stay away, but my online activities have become so much a part of my everyday life that I feel compelled to go online whether I really want to or not.
Politics and social media: 2008 and 2012
The 2008 election was dubbed the “social media election,” with the Obama team’s innovative use of the Internet and social media to raise money and build its grassroots network. But think about how the social media world has changed since 2008. Back then, Twitter was fairly new, and Facebook only had around 100 million users. We were just beginning to understand how to use social media for marketing, branding and communications outreach.
Fast forward to today, and current 2012 reports reveal that Twitter has grown to a network of 500 million users making over 340 million tweets per day, and Facebook users have hit the 1 billion mark. Access to personal data about each and every one of us, and our online activities, has resulted in micro-targeting, where specific messages are developed based on what/who we like, who we follow, and what we buy.
Frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. From a marketing perspective, I love its potential. But from a personal POV, I’m a little creeped out. I need to adjust my bubble.
How do you feel about all this?
If you’re curious to learn more about how social media and micro-targeting are being used in this year’s election, check out these two articles:
I think you might find yourself a little creeped out, too!
A co-worker and I recently volunteered to help a local organization judge communication and marketing plans, campaigns and tactics for another state’s annual awards. We judged roughly 10 of the nearly 100 entries, and were shocked by the number of communication and marketing professionals who felt their campaign, plan or tactic was geared towards the “general public.”
Let me make this clear, there is no such thing as the “general public.”
Even the campaigns for the current Presidential candidates and a new brand of sugar-free fruit snacks are not targeted to general audiences, but rather specific groups of people. You would never launch a new product or initiative and toss it out into the world with hopes that it sticks to anyone who will listen.
Third-graders and baby boomers have different interests
One of the entries we reviewed was for an education institution that claimed a certain tactic was targeted toward the “general public.” My co-worker asked me what I thought about it, and my response was simple: “Would my eight-year-old niece be interested in this? No. Therefore, general public is an inappropriate audience.” My niece has zero interest in what’s going on beyond third grade and her gymnastics class. What might have made more sense in this particular case, would have been a defined audience of 18-54 year old men and women, living within a certain distance, who were interested in pursuing an education that could be flexible with the realities of working adults.
This is just one example of what we encountered while judging, but the unfortunate part is that out of the roughly 10 entries we reviewed, only two had well defined audiences. How does this happen? How can smart, educated marketing and communication professionals forget one of the most critical elements to any successful plan, campaign or tactic — the audience?
Define your audience, even when it’s broad
When identifying the target audience for a communication or marketing campaign, or specific tactics, it’s critical to define the audience. Which gender should receive your message; should they be within a certain age range; do location/proximity, education or wealth matter? What about psychographics? These are all questions that must be answered in order for any campaign or tactic to succeed.
In today’s hurry-up-and-get-things-done environment, it’s easy to maybe not review materials or documents as closely as we should, and if someone has worked with an organization or client for a long period of time, it’s easy to forget to communicate the fine details of the target audience, especially in a short award submission.
I’m confident that if most of the professionals who submitted the award entries went back and thought more about the question, “Who was the target audience?” they could come up with a more specific segment of the population than the general public. But, regardless, all of us need to keep the audience in mind when putting together materials and communication and marketing plans.Tweet
Between in-house databases, Salesforce, Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and services like Klout, we have mountains of marketing data at our fingertips. Making use of it is important, but it can be intimidating.
But let’s take a break from intimidating and have some fun: when was the last time you analyzed your personal Facebook data?
Psychoanalysis courtesy of Facebook and Wolfram|Alpha
I’m a bit of an information geek, so when I hear about new tools, like Wolfram|Alpha’s Facebook analysis (via Mashable), I’m intrigued. This report performs a quick, free, Insight-like analysis of your personal Facebook profile.
(Analyze at your own risk. You may learn things about yourself that you’d rather not know.)
Allow it to analyze your Facebook data, then in a matter of seconds, you’ll have a report of your Facebook activity that would make both psychologists and marketers salivate.
I learned that “great” is the word I use most often (32 instances in 420 analyzed wall posts), and my average post length is 20.52 words or 124.6 characters. 75.2% of my friends are female, and 72.3% are married (significantly higher than the 48% national average).
The report also revealed whom I have the most friends in common with, who my top commenters are, and which were my most liked and commented-on posts. My most commented-on post exemplifies what we talk about all the time in Facebook marketing when it comes to increasing engagement: I asked a question of my friends, seeking their feedback—and they responded.
A company targeting me would be interested to know that I do most of my posting in the 8:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. hours, so that’s a good time to be in my News Feed. For mobile strategy, they’d also like to know that I use my iPhone to access Facebook much more often in the evening, after 7:00 p.m.
Analyze your most valuable resource: your customer data
Facebook and LinkedIn, among others, are making targeting options more sophisticated—so it’s more important than ever that you understand your customers. Third-party research is certainly valuable, but nothing compares to firsthand knowledge.
Give this analysis a try. How do the results compare to what you expected? Does it confirm what you’ve been hearing about Facebook marketing strategies, such as recommendations for the best times to post? What did you find the most interesting? Does it give you a new perspective? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.Tweet
Pity the poor Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
Management keeps demanding metrics, and the most important one is, “What is my return on the marketing investment in sales growth?” Hey, if manufacturing can show throughput metrics, cost-saving metrics and efficiency-improvement percentages, why can’t marketing do the same?
In simpler times, it wasn’t easy to show financial cause and effect, and today it’s all the more difficult because of several disruptive developments:
First, B2B channels of distribution have been put through the blender. Second, the volatility in the overall economy has disrupted supply chains. It seems like no one is interested in carrying inventory these days (and who can blame them?). And third—key for this discussion—the communication options to reach customers/prospects has both grown exponentially but has also seemingly fragmented into smaller, more micro-focused constituencies.
CMOs express their biggest challenges
B2B magazine interviewed CMOs in their CMO Close-Up newsletter, and the interviewees sounded remarkably similar. Listen to three of them:
“Everything is becoming much more complicated, and my biggest challenge is trying to work out how I can use all these channels available to me as an integrated, outbound program to generate business. I’m increasingly using social networking. I use direct marketing. I read all the textbooks, hear all the theory and understand how in theory you’re supposed to combine all this together. But my biggest challenge remains gaining the maximum ROI from all this to feed the pipeline.”
-Chris Boorman, senior VP-education and enablement and CMO, Informatica
“Complexity is our biggest issue. One thing we’re trying to do at Siemens is start an extensive education process, getting people up to speed on what they can do and how to go about it, especially in social media marketing. We’re in different industries, and we’re working with our companies to create blogs addressing industry challenges. But the biggest thing for us right now is managing all that complexity, getting people trained and giving them the tools.”
- Tom Haas, CMO, Siemens
“Digital marketing is great, with so many channels available to us as marketers. But nothing takes the place of high-touch marketing. The challenge is using digital to augment this, to maximize your efficiencies and customer relationships. For example, people more and more rely on mobile devices and are accustomed to highly visual information. Also, they’re getting more into two-way interactions. So I think it’s important to think about how to optimize our content for the ways our customers want to receive it.”
- Janet Roberts, CMO, Syniverse Technologies
It would be easy—and understandable—for CMOs to toss in the towel, and put all their funds in digital and social initiatives. But that may not be the right mix. The more segmented the market becomes, the more nuanced the approach.
A case for not making assumptions about a young-professional audience
Here’s an example: At a symposium of building-products marketers we held last year, we conducted a panel discussion featuring young architects and interior designers who were just a few years into their careers.
The marketers at the event had traditionally ignored this segment, assuming they were too young to be interacting with clients and specifying products. As they learned to the contrary, these young professionals were deeply engaged in the client relationship and in specifying products.
They told the audience to stay away from Facebook – that’s their personal space. They said LinkedIn is fine because it’s focused on their professional lives.
The young designers unanimously said that they wanted to communicate electronically. They want digital access to drawings, specifications, case studies and the like. But—and this was a surprise to many—they wanted to see cool design ideas ideas in print!
Why? Because they clip cool images, save them, pin them up on their cubicle walls and refer to these images for inspiration. They even mount them on presentation boards to give clients a feeling for how their project will look and feel.
And they devour physical samples. They are a necessity of the profession. High-tech meets high-touch.
Marketers should be cautious about making too broad of an assumption when it comes to media mix, until they understand their client cohort in great depth.
And now, back to the issue of marketing metrics: what if that cool photo in a print ad or a brochure was the one that was clipped, specified and presented to client, netting a huge contract? How would the CMO ever know?
The more in-depth you know and understand your customer, the more you can rely on cause and effect.Tweet
I’m not sure if you have noticed, but we have an election coming up in November. You might have seen some political ads on television, heard them on the radio, or maybe they show up digitally for you. Trust me, they’re out there, and in the coming weeks and months, it will only get worse.
The political cycle used to be just that—a cycle. Every two years. Every four years. There were primaries and general elections. This is all still the same, but the way that politicians go about connecting with their constituents is vastly different and the amount of money they use to achieve this has exploded.
Political advertising soon to dominate media channels
Television is by far the predominant medium for political spending, and it has become a game to predict how much money will be spent within a given election cycle. In 2004, political spending made its first appearance in the top category of spending charts for media, debuting in the top 5, along with automotive, retail, restaurant and telecommunications, with spending surpassing $1 billion. Stations have a love/hate relationship with this category in that they love the increased revenue, but hate having to constantly juggle their inventory and bump out their regular advertisers. For agencies and political advertisers, it requires creative thinking when planning around election cycles. The explosion of digital advertising has given candidates and issue groups a vast network of infinite sites and inventory so they can target voters in a very cost-efficient and strategic way.
Strategies for non-election advertisers
So what’s an advertiser outside the election to do? They could go dark for the last part of the 3rd quarter and the beginning of the 4th quarter, but that’s not likely—especially for retail. They could stay the course and suffer through preemptions and hope that a large percentage of their schedule will run—dicey at best—and if you’re in a battleground state, not going to happen. Most likely, their agency partners will seek out alternative media options for them, many of which will reside in radio or digital. Media professionals and clients alike dread the political season. Business is tough enough without this added wrinkle, and now that spending limits have been eliminated, the fire hose of money is on at full blast.
Does this excess of spending work? Well, yes. If you think about it, it’s the ultimate in share of voice, reach and frequency, and ROI. Your candidate either wins or loses, and quite frankly, money talks. I guess the next question is, is anybody listening?Tweet
My previous blog post focused solely on the Kardashian family. I decided to kick it up a notch and focus my efforts on legitimate Hollywood this time around.
As you can likely tell, I am a slave to popular culture. I consider People Magazine to be news, and Entertainment Weekly is always my vote for Best Magazine of the Year. The things you learn in these publications, and others of their ilk, are not only good in a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit but also in everyday practice in advertising.
Lesson 1: Be unique
Movie marketing totally fascinates me. Posters and trailers are great, but it’s the really unique tactics that suck me in. The Hunger Games (which is going to be AMAZING!) is employing a really interesting campaign of teasers to slowly release visuals surrounding the impending blockbuster. Rich media revealing a little bit at a time have been really successful so far.
John Carter, a Disney movie that will be released in March, has also employed some very costly but unique tactics. During the chaotic yet wildly exciting Super Bowl period, Disney purchased enormous building wraps for the film. If there was a flat surface in downtown Indianapolis, it very likely had a banner the size of a skyscraper on it. The movie has broad appeal, so this generalist approach is likely going to prove successful for Disney.
Lesson 2: Engage your audience
Too many films to mention are using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to build anticipation and excitement before a film is released. A URL and website built solely for a new movie are very common, but many movies are inviting user-generated content and are using other ways to engage people before even going to the theater to see it. The approach is incredibly smart. Movies aren’t the only option in entertainment (duh), and the amount of money that goes into making a movie is astronomical, so the studios are pulling out all the stops to make sure their movie doesn’t land at the Cineplex with a thud.
Lesson 3: Don’t stop campaigning
Another aspect of movie marketing that continues to blow me away is awards-season campaigning. Studios market their films for awards and recognition as much as they market to the mass audience to get them to attend the movie. An Oscar win in a major category guarantees a boost at the box office, or back-end DVDs sales or whatever. This works well for the big, popular blockbusters, but it works even better for the smaller, obscure indie films.
A couple of ads in Variety to promote a particular performance leads to a nomination, which leads to more ads in Variety to campaign for the win, which leads to winning a golden statuette, the envy of your peers and more important, it means people sitting in the seats at theaters. A little indie film that only costs $5 million to shoot and distribute can increase its box-office haul exponentially by winning or even getting nominated for a couple of awards.
It happens every year. Look at The Artist. This movie shouldn’t have even been made. It’s a black and white silent film, for crying out loud. A silent film hasn’t been nominated for Best Picture since 1927. But guess what? An aggressive campaign for awards has made it a front-runner and a box office success. It hasn’t made $300 million like Transformers: Rise of the Robots Who Are Also Cars, but it’s made close to $30 million, which is a boffo box-office take-in for a movie that has two lines of dialogue.
The moral of the story? Proper promotion sells stuff. Pretty insightful, eh? Whether it’s super strategic or wildly shameless, promotion will yield results. Here at Miller Brooks, we think about this all day long. It’s kind of our job. Our work creating or building brands ultimately leads to terrific promotion for our clients, which yields sales for our clients’ products or services—and that is what they ultimately need and want to do.Tweet
We have some great news to share with you today! Miller Brooks has been honored again this year with several International Davey Awards, which recognize creative excellence from smaller agencies. We are pleased in winning so many of these prestigious awards again this year on behalf of our clients. We continue to strive for excellence in all we do and particularly in the work we provide to our customers.
Winning awards is not simply about satisfying the creative ego. It is much more than that—it’s about recognition of the team. From all facets of both agency-team contribution and even the customer team, it is the validation of a truly integrated effort that succeeded at all touch points of the strategic creative development.
We share our warmest congratulations with all of our clients who have been recognized this year. We look forward to an even greater 2012 with you.
2010 International Davey Awards
Like millions of other consumers, several offers from daily-deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial arrive in my inbox each day. While other marketing channels have struggled through the economic downturn of the last few years, these sites have turned consumers’ penny-pinching into a winning marketing format. The next trick will be figuring out how to leverage it for B2B marketing.
The leaders of the pack are Groupon and LivingSocial. These two got the wheels rolling on the bandwagon in late 2008, amid the collapse of the housing market and economy, when consumers were really beginning to tighten their purse strings. The invention of the daily-deal email paired tried-and-tested geographic targeting—employed by direct mail marketers for years—with the more social environment of the digital scene. A limited number of deals were offered, in a limited time frame.
To say the concept took off is an understatement.
The estimate of the number of current daily-deal sites in the market today varies widely, with some sources estimating 350, others as many as 500, and some even estimate that there are 3,000 globally.
And the landscape is changing daily. Yelp recently announced that it would cut its Yelp Deals sales staff by half, and Facebook retreated from the daily-deals market entirely. On the other hand, Google is just getting its feet wet: it promoted a local offer on its home page on August 31 for the first time. Google Offers is only available for nine cities right now, but interested consumers can already sign up for many additional cities (including Indianapolis) that will be rolling out soon.
Groupon continues to flex, as well—for the first time, an offer for reduced tuition for a course at National Louis University in Chicago hit inboxes this week.
Then there are the niche players: for every potential target audience, there’s a daily-deal site to serve it. There’s Daily Deals for Moms (self-explanatory); DealChicken, from Gannett, which uses its local media outlets; Gilt Groupe, for the designer fashion/accessory crowd; blissmo, for the eco-conscious among us, etc.
You’ll notice that the vast majority of these players have one big thing in common: they cater to business-to-consumer marketers. Few sites have figured out how to successfully leverage the trend for the B2B market, but one—Groundswell Health—is trying. This San Francisco company is bringing collective buying to healthcare practices and other purchasers of medical supplies and equipment.
B2B targets aren’t often able to make purchasing decisions with the same speed that the daily-deal model has capitalized on, but I could see this being leveraged for things like conference passes (which already offer early-bird registration deals), office supplies (want to buy eight pounds of coffee today for half price?), and other purchases that are on the smaller side of the business-purchase equation. It wasn’t specifically targeted to businesses, but MB recently bought and used a Groupon for our favored lunch-catering service, so there’s certainly a market out there.
For a company considering a dive into the daily-deal pool, there are arguments on both sides of the coin. The decision needs to be made strategically, with your overall business and marketing goals in one hand and your budget in the other. What are some of those pros and cons?
This is just a short list. Check out the links at the bottom of this post for a couple articles that offer some good tips for marketers considering a daily deal. Also, take 25 minutes and listen to NPR’s Planet Money podcast, “Groupon! Monty Python! Price Discrimination!” which offers a great history of the coupon trend and includes stories from businesses who’ve tried it.
As a consumer, I loved Groupon at first (I signed up in November 2009). I liked that it introduced me to many locally owned, lesser-known small businesses in my area, in addition to having the chance at unprecedented offers.
But now? Very few offers come through Groupon or LivingSocial that interest me. As soon as the national brands jumped on board (who are understandably better set up to absorb the low margins), the sense of exclusivity that made it fun diminished, and it began to feel like yet another expected email advertisement.
Nevertheless, I’m still a subscriber. The potential offers are too good for me to ignore. And I continue to sign up for niche services that seem more targeted to my interests.
The takeaways for a business contemplating making an offer? Do your research, consider the opportunity strategically, and put a solid customer-retention plan into place before making your own daily-deal offer.
Take your time; this opportunity won’t expire in 24 hours.
Now, let’s hear from you: Has your company tried this? Are you considering it? Where do you think this daily-deal trend will go next?
A friend recently called and asked for advice on how to advertise their single-location restaurant in a downtown setting. They weren’t getting the business they anticipated, and now they wanted to know how to increase traffic to the location.
Well, we all know the first answer: there should have been a plan in place before opening the store. The plan could have anticipated this common question that was now before them. Without that plan, though, the central question was this: can I afford to do mass-media advertising to bring in more traffic? And that question reduces down to: will I cover the cost of my advertising with an incremental increase in business delivered by my advertising?
First, make sure the fundamentals are in place to accurately measure the return. Understand your incremental profit margin after labor costs, food costs, rent and equipment costs. Then you can gauge how much incremental profit you need in order to cover your advertising costs. Most retail stores also note their average check and the number of transactions per day, and both will be helpful in determining your goals.
Once you know your goals and the number of transactions it will take to meet those goals, do a realistic projection of what you can reasonably expect. Some media vendors can help by providing guidance relating to what other retailers have experienced in terms of increased business or traffic counts.
So, will it pay to advertise? Work out the ROI, test it on a small scale first, and then determine if you should advertise on a large scale with a mass-media outlet like newspaper, radio or billboards. It could be that your best bet is to stay local, just like your single store. Perhaps a mix of some out-of-home media and some social media could create the buzz you’re looking for. Maybe a promotional mailing to the local office towers would generate the traffic you need, or a co-op mailer with the local Chamber of Commerce could deliver the results.
There are many ways to get your message (your offer) out. Think through all the channels of communication available to you before selecting. New technologies give you a whole new range of solutions to market your location. Think about offers in daily-deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, or Tippr that enable customer interaction on mobile devices. Or, consider location-based social networking websites like Foursquare.
More choices than ever are available to you, but start with the tried-and-true fundamentals and you’ll be on the right path.
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