Marketing News Roundup - May 27, 2011

What's new in marketing this week?

Pay with your phone? Google out the gate with Google Wallet, an app which allows you to pay with your phone. Will this be the death of cash credit cards, or will people resist due to privacy concerns? (InfoWorld)

Detroit Coolphoto © 2011 Charlie Wollborg | more info (via: Wylio)
In a phyrric victory for cash-crunched wives and girlfriends of guys everywhere, it turns out that men are bigger impulse buyers. If you're wondering who the SkyMall catalog people have in mind, now you know. (Technorati)

Is Detroit the next Silicon Valley? Google, Ford, Quicken Loans hiring engineers aplenty. Let's hope the momentum keeps up. (GoodNewsNetwork)

Oprah's last show was this week. What will happen to all the Oprah-supported-industries? Don't worry, she's still on cable and online. (Forbes)

Now's your chance to travel like you're rich and famous. JetBlue is auctioning off signed luggage from celebrities like Jordin Sparks and Donald Trump. Proceeds go to charity (MSNBC)

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading!

Another Marketing Lesson from the Un-Rapture

Lots of bloggers have already written about marketing lessons from the apocalypse that didn't happen on Saturday.

If you want to read them, click here for a list.

Fortunately for everyone but Harold Camping, the rapture didn't happen on Saturday. We're all still here, hopefully enjoying our lives.

When questioned about the fact that the end times didn't begin on May 21st, Camping said that God had decided to spare the people five months of tribulation, and that the apocalypse was now scheduled for October 21, 2011. His last rapture prediction, in 1994, also didn't come true.

This reminded me of something a lot of marketers do, which is to extend their sales again, again, and again. I see this in my inbox all the time. The first promotion says:

Center Milky Way Galaxy Mountainsphoto © 2010 Forest Wander | more info (via: Wylio)

Sale Ends Friday!

Then, I get a:

Sale Extended through Sunday. Act Now!

and then, I get a:

Sale Now Extended through Tuesday. Don't Miss!

At this point, I think you're probably just going to extend your sale again, and your message loses both relevance and credibility. I'll just wait to buy - you'll just do another sale, right?

Don't be like Harold Camping. If you still have inventory to sell, create a new promotion. If your current sale isn't meeting your goals, instead of extending it, why not try a new approach to see if that drives better results? It's always a good idea to put something new in front of your customers.  Need help? Let me know.

Writing Your Own Customer Stories

Since my previous post on story marketing is the one that gets read the most, I figured you all might want to hear more about this concept.

How can you make story marketing work for your business?

Recently, I've been writing some client stories for a client of mine who has a very busy consulting business of her own. Let's call her Florence, or this post is going to use the word "client" far too many times to be readable. Here's how I put together Florence's stories:

photo © 2007 umjanedoan | more info (via: Wylio)

1) We identified the starting point of the client. Where were they when they began working with Florence? What were their challenges?

2) What did Florence do for them? This is the longest part of the client story. We were sure to include details. After all, it's great that Florence has helped so many people, but her prospective clients want to know how she has done that.

3) Where is the client now? Where did the journey end, or is it still going on? How did Florence's work contribute to the clients' success, and how are they still using the framework and guidance she provided to continue to grow?

Once I had this information about Florence's clients, I was able to create a narrative for each one. These stories are helping Florence's web site and printed materials to come alive, and to be relevant to people who are shopping Florence's business. They are also helping her to explain what she does, and to what result even more clearly, better supporting her business development needs.

Homework for you:

Write a client story today. Think about the beginning, middle, and end. Need help? Let me know.

Marketing News Roundup - May 20, 2011

What's new in marketing this week?

Guess what New York Times? People aged 55 and up are not "old," which is why it makes sense for the TV industry to target them like never before. They also have more money, and optimism, than other generations. (NYT)

Where are you? One in five smartphone owners using check-in apps like FourSquare or Facebook Places. (Los Angeles Times)

I wear my newspaper hat photo © 2010 Kate Ter Haar | more info (via: Wylio)

Trendiest IPO of the week? LinkedIn. People already saying sky-high share prices will come right back down. How does LinkedIn make money, anyway? Marketing, mostly. (Business Insider)

Love numbers? The people at the Pew Internet and American Life Project have made much of their research available in Excel (thanks!).  Also super-useful is their frequently updated chart of who's online these days.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.

Have your own blog? Let me know, I'd love to check it out!

How Do You Stay Focused on What You Really Do?

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you spend way too much of your time on answering e-mail, finances, purchasing, logistics, human resources, marketing, your web site, and, and, and...

But what do you REALLY do for a living? If you’re like some of my friends…

Timephoto © 2010 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)

…You’re a bass player in a local band.

…You’ve written a book about leadership.

…You’re helping a talented musician with an international following get fans in his home country.

…You’re bringing the TLC back to dog grooming services with a personal touch.

…You’re a mommy blogger and seller of children’s books.

…You run an active, vibrant dance studio.

…You’re an expert consultant for government contractors.

…You run a successful landscaping business.

...You help other businesses grow.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what we really do when we get so bogged down with all the other things that go along with our livelihoods.

The challenge is staying focused on our core expertise without getting bogged down by all the details.

How do you stay on top of things while still doing the fun part?

For me, my e-mail box is the tiger to tame. I’m also reluctant to work on my finances.

So what do I do?

I set aside time every day just to simply read and answer e-mail. Most of my research resources are in there (my RSS feeds, LinkedIn group updates, news, etc.) so this is definitely time well spent.

I also set a regular appointment with myself to catch up on my financial records, pay bills, and send invoices. 

How do make time for your core work?

I hope you'll share your thoughts in the comments.

Find that you’re spending too much time on say, marketing, and not enough on what you really do?

I can help. Drop me a line.

Three Things you can do Today to Drive Sales

It's Monday morning.

You're tired. That second cup of coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet.

You're looking at last week's numbers, and they aren't good. You need to do something today to get those numbers up.

So now what?

Elvis Presleyphoto © 2009 Cliff | more info (via: Wylio)
Should you put a guy on the street with one of those big arrow signs leading to your store? Hire an Elvis impersonator? Get some of those car show models?

All of those are creative ideas, but here are three ideas that will really get things going:

1. Identify a small group of loyal customers.

Create a sale just for them. Call or e-mail them and say thank you. Extend this offer to them. It doesn't have to be much. You can even use a discount you're already doing. What's important is 1) you're thanking them, and 2) you're asking for a sale.

2. Identify the product or service that's selling best right now.

Send our an e-blast promoting that product. If you've got brick-and-mortar locations, put it in the front window. If you're a service, rather than product, business, put that service front-and-center on your web page, your blog, your twitter feed, your LinkedIn page, and anyplace else you can think of.

3. If you have a Facebook page, do a Facebook-only sale.

This is another great way to thank your fans. It also provides value to people for being your Facebook fan. Third, it's a great way to get more fans on Facebook - be sure to put a note on your e-blast and your web site that says "Follow us on Facebook for Facebook only sales." If you don't have a Facebook page, and you're a business-to-consumer (B-to-C) operation, consider starting one today.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get started driving sales now and start your week off right. Need help? Let me know.

Marketing News Roundup - May 13, 2011

What's new in marketing this week?

Edgy new marketing technique or bad idea? Planet Fitness purposely rolls out campaign to make fun of people who work out a lot, offending (suprise) people who like to work out a lot at Planet Fitness. There's a backlash coming from folks who actually do like to pick things up and put them down. (Slate)

San Telmo News standphoto © 2004 Phil Whitehouse | more info (via: Wylio)

What's up in group deals? Groupon, LiveNation are partnering for deals on event tickets. (Reuters)

What's up in luxury group deals? Luxury travel deal site Voyage Privé is partnering with Ideeli to create the largest luxury travel deal site in the US. (Travolution)

My excuse for this is that my crackberry is also my alarm clock. 35% of smartphone owners use mobile apps before they get out of bed. (PC World)

In merger news, Microsoft is buying Skype. According to Technorati, the big winner in this deal is Facebook.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading!

Secret Trade Secrets on Defining Your Audience

So who's buying your product anyway?

The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them and develop new products and services that fit their lives.

Who the heck are these people?

What kind of people visit your retail stores, purchase from your print catalogs, buy on your web site, or on their mobile phones?

How are marketers targeting people by income, age, house value, hobbies, magazine subscriptions, etc., etc., etc?

Let me tell you about the data overlay.

Floppy-Disk-1.44-Mb_FujiFilm-MF2HD_82374-480x360photo © 2010 Emilian Robert Vicol | more info (via: Wylio)

That's right. If you want to spend a little money (there's usually a fee per thousand records) and you have valid street addresses on your customer file, you can buy hundreds (even thousands) of data points on your customers. What kind of cars do they drive? How many children do they have? What type of home do they live in? How educated are they?

Understanding some key data points about your customers will help you to group them into buying segments.

Having all of this data enables you to profile people who behave in a certain way. Maybe most of your catalog customers are married men over the age of 55, and most of your mobile customers are single women aged 18 - 27. Perhaps the people who spend the most money with you per order are married female online customers aged 30 - 45 with a household income of $60,000 per year or more and a college education. Perhaps gardening hobbyists are attracted to your brand.

There are lots and lots of data points. What should you buy?
I recommend the following for most products:
Household Income
Net Worth
Presence of Children
Ages of Children

Then, it depends. If you're selling housewares, you'll want to know what types of homes people live in. After all, you don't want to send your outdoor furniture catalog to people who live in apartments. If you're selling pet-related products, then you'll want to buy data on pet ownership. Ditto for cars. If your product is related to a specific hobby (say gardening or travel), then you'll want to make sure you get your records flagged for customers with those interests.

How does it help?
Knowing more about your customers' basic demographic makeup helps you to craft products and messages that are tailored to their stage of life. It also helps you create groups of customer clones. In the example above, I mentioned that your most profitable customers might be educated, high-income, married females age 30 -45. Since you know that this type of person has potential to be extremely profitable for you, now you can start looking for places to find more people like this. By cultivating people who are a lot like your best customers, you're raising your chances of getting more good customers.

Where does this data come from?
There are several organizations that collect this data, most notably the three major credit agencies. They get it from warranty cards, survey responses, loan/purchasing behavior, and a number of other sources. If this gives you the heebie-jeebies, you can contact the Direct Marketing Association or sign up for OptOutPreScreen to protect your privacy.

Now what?
You can contact any one of several vendors who provide data overlay services, or contact me and I'll help you get started.

Sometimes, the Best Answer is "More!"

My neighbor recently wrote and published a book about better leadership for people in charge of Boy Scout Troops. He's sold half his first print run (hooray!), but he still has half to go. He asked me for some marketing advice. Here's what I asked him...

seeing_pi_chartphoto © 2010 Jorel Pi | more info (via: Wylio)

Where is your book for sale?
It's selling on Amazon and he's set up a web site where folks can buy it too. So far, so good.

Is it visible to search engines?
Yes - it's one of the top few results if people search on "scout leadership." Even better.

How are you promoting it?
On his Facebook profile, which is also good. I suggested he look into a Facebook ad. He can set up the ad to target people who have "Boy Scouts" as an interest, and target by age range and geography if he wants, too.

What about the press?
He's been interviewed about the book, and the person who interviewed him recorded it as a podcast, which is fantastic. In fact, many of his sales are coming from people who listened to the podcast.

This is key.
We now know a that a primary motivator for sales is this podcast, so we need to find ways to get this content to more people. He's got a link to it on his web site. I suggested he add it to Facebook too, and ask others to link to it, which brings me to my next point....

What about the blogosphere?
There are blogs about everything, including Boy Scout leadership. My neighbor has had some positive reviews from bloggers, which is also great. He needs to reach out to more of them and ask them to review his book and link to the podcast. I also advised him to offer to guest blog for these folks - bloggers are always looking for content and a guest blogger can provide a blocked or busy writer with a much-needed break.

So, what's the lesson here?
My neighbor has been doing a great job marketing his book through multiple channels, and to sell the second half of his print run, he needs to just do more of the same - more interviews, more blogs, more links. My advice to him - just do more.

What about you?
Which of your marketing channels seems to bring in the most sales? Is most of your sales traffic from a radio ad? A coupon? Your blog? Your Facebook page? Whatever channel leads to the most sales is the one you want to try and drive more traffic to.

Not so sure what's working or how to measure it? I can help. Drop me a line.

Marketing News Roundup - May 6, 2011

What's new in marketing this week?

There's a lot going on in consumer privacy and security, including...
newspaper vendorphoto © 2009 Archibald Ballantine | more info (via: Wylio)

Do Not Track legislation moving forward in California. The law would allow Internet users to opt out of online data collecton systems. (Sure Start)

In a second major security breach (after last month's PlayStation Network breach), the Sony Online Entertainment Network has also been hacked. If you're playing Everquest, your credit card number may have been stolen. (PC World)

Google's South Korea offices raided, authorities there want to find out if Google is collecting user location data via online advertising on the Android platform. (eWeek)

In other news...

AT&T jumps into the deal site pool with its own offering. It will now offer daily deals on (Los Angeles Times)

For a great infographic on how existing deal sites compare to one another, click here.

Oh no! For the first time in 20 years, television ownership has gone down. "Only" 96.7% of American homes have a TV set, down from 98.9%. (New York Times)

And, finally...

We can't close out the week without reflecting on the death of Osama bin Laden. (Complete coverage from Slate)

I'm relieved he can't hurt people anymore. One interesting element of the story had to do with how people learned the news. We go to bed early, so I found out on Facebook on Monday morning, but Twitter played a pivotal role as the story broke there first.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading, everyone!