2013 Marketing Communications – Six Strategic Tips For Midsized Companies And Nonprofits

Everyone – organizations and consumers alike – continues to be wary of the ongoing negotiations in Washington associated with the fiscal cliff. It will take time to sort out the impact of what finally gets resolved, but marketers know they can’t wait any longer to determine how to aggressively promote their products and services now.

Whether you’re a business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) or nonprofit marketer, you’ve probably also been overwhelmed by the countless claims, and counter claims, about if – and how – to use all the various forms of “new” marketing tools – social media, mobile, content marketing, email and video. Some experts project the demise of email marketing as social media and video sharing grow in importance. Others stress the need for mobile marketing, while even others shout “Content is King” (first coined by Bill Gates in 1996). All will continue to be important, but these decisions, coupled with the economic environment, means that the marketer’s world is more complicated than ever.

Rather than endlessly pondering these choices, maybe this is the time to put these latest tactics into perspective, and focus on some basic marketing and marketing communications strategies for 2013.

Target Audience Knowledge Trumps Opinion

A deep, reliable and projectable understanding of your existing and potential clients, customers or donors is key to developing effective and profitable strategies and plans. And that means market research.

Marketers should fully understand the wants, needs and attitudes of their target audiences, and how these factors relate to the organization, as well as competition. Facts, not opinions.

Employ market research and monitor social media discussions and behaviors to determine what’s important to your constituents before your tactical plans are developed. In other words, “Look before you leap.”

Embrace The Changing Demographic Landscape

With nearly 315 million people in the US alone, the dramatic growth of older consumers is significant and should be recognized. Does your customer and prospect planning take them into consideration? And does your planning recognize that:

  • 21 percent of the workforce is now 55+ years of age, and they plan on working well past traditional retirement age;
  • The number of people 65 and older was 40 million in 2009 but is projected to be 60 million in 2020 (US Census Bureau);
  • While 69 percent of those aged 18 – 49 used social media, only 38 percent of those aged 50 and above use any form of social media.

Acknowledging the growth and absolute size of this huge audience in your planning presents a major opportunity. And, depending on your product or service, you might want to go through this exercise for other demographic groups – Hispanics, Asians, younger people, women, etc. Understand them and make sure you relate to their needs. In summary, “Board a trend, don’t buck it”.

Don’t Discount Traditional Media

New media offers exciting potential and will grow significantly in importance. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about “old” media. Both new and traditional media have value and both should be considered in planning your overall media mix. That means that strategically you need to fully understand their relative effectiveness, not just their efficiency.

And, would it surprise you to learn that traditional media is actually becoming “new” media for some marketers:

  • Commercial and nonprofit marketers will spend $169 billion in direct marketing, representing over half of all US advertising expenditures (DMA’s Response Rate 2012 Report);
  • There were 195 new print magazines launched in 2012 (MediaTrends.com); According to Forrester Research, while consumers discover new brands, products or services by talking to friends (80%) and online searches (79%), television advertising is a strong third (71%);
  • While the average consumer receives 14 – 15 email selling messages a day, the average household receives only 2 – 3 direct mail promotions per day (USPS);
  • Despite the record breaking political spending in 2012, national cable television advertising is still expected to grow by 11 percent, while billboard spending will increase by 5 percent and radio by 3 percent (Zenith Optima).

New versus traditional media should not dominate the discussion. Rather, how you strategically develop your media mix should be on the front burner. Above all, be “media neutral”.

Anniversary Marketing Invigorates Established Organizations

Your anniversary provides an opportunity to leverage your past strengths while communicating your vision for the future. Your history and your plans for the future can have a meaningful impact on an already nervous audience of employees, channel partners and suppliers, much less existing and potential clients, customers or donors. Galvanize them to the road ahead.

A 12 to 18 month fully integrated anniversary marketing program provides a unique opportunity to unify and focus all of your efforts across your constituents. And a 35th anniversary can be as impactful as a 50th or 75th. Just don’t make the mistake of merely adding an anniversary logo to your messaging, or just having a celebratory party. Your message will fall on deaf ears.

Get Better As You Get Bigger

With market turbulence over the past few years, some in the C-Suite question the ability of marketing to profitably drive the organization to new heights. Lack of understanding or lack of trust may be an issue. Maybe it’s time for unbiased, fresh eyes to conduct a marketing communications audit.

This type of audit can provide an apolitical evaluation of your program as a whole, as well as how each marketing communication tactic does or does not meet established objectives. Recommendations from this audit can help everyone understand where improvement is needed, what’s registering with your constituents (internally as well as externally), what subjects and benefits should be stressed and, importantly, provide the organization with an integrated roadmap of how, when and where your messaging should be delivered.

The audit should give you the tools to maximize your marketing communications ROI before significant dollars are committed. Trust and confidence should follow.

Round Out Your Marketing Team

There will be many challenges facing marketers in 2013 and beyond. And, chief among them will be having a dedicated, smart, apolitical team, developing, creating and analyzing marketing communications strategies, tactics and plans to meet the uncertainties ahead.

A lot of smart thinking has already gone into developing the disciplines you need but, like most midsized companies and nonprofits, you may be understaffed and underfunded. Consider partnering with established, media neutral, senior level marketing communications consultants to help your team formulate, refine and implement your programs. Be sure they have extensive experience across brands and industries, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish.

Most probably 2013 and the near future will present marketers with a very rocky road to travel. Hopefully, some of these tips will help, but as Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.

Seeing Your Web Market As A Resource

Is your market like an iceberg?
I see a picture of my web market and it looks like an iceberg. The small portion above the water line is a group of individuals that are ready to purchase. This is the portion of the market that advertising is aimed at because these people are ready to purchase. It is this ‘ready market’ that consumer advertising feeds on. And because this ready market is constantly renewed as decisions to purchase are made it is like a feeding frenzy for all business owners.

As business owners we want to harvest our share of this ready market, but some companies take the lion share because they have deep pockets. Small business owners mostly get the scraps, or they find a better way to reach their market.

The greater resource
Like an iceberg the greater portion of our whole market is undecided and not ready to be scooped up. We tend to ignore them until they become a ready and mature market. Even our financial resources dictate that we focus on the ready market.

When we are hunting or trapping our markets and attempting to capture that market then this is how we think. And we are all hunting or trapping. Our marketing language tells us that much when we say things like “our TARGET market” and “CAPTURING our market.”

It is in this way that we define our marketing and it says a lot about our own business and the nature of our business. Hunters and trappers have an aggressive mind set, but not all business owners want to be aggressive and spear or trap their markets. But we all want more business.

Are there alternatives to hunting and trapping?
A history of civilizations shows us that cultivation works better in many instances that either hunting or trapping.

It is a wonder that marketing people do not think much about cultivating the greater market share instead of hunting down the smaller market portion that is the ready market.

Your whole market as a resource
It is a simple and practical matter for a web page to cultivate the whole market. There is no limit on the space and content of a web page, but there are necessary considerations on how to deliver information to the whole of the market.

People, which make up your market, simply do not read volumes of information. We cannot know just what stage of the buying cycle a single visitor is at, yet we need to cultivate that member of our market.

From the very beginning of the buying cycle, where members of our market are becoming aware that they have a problem, all the way through research and then comparison shopping until finally they are close to making a decision, takes in the whole of the market our web site needs to cultivate.

No other marketing medium can provide the tools and the affordable means of cultivating a market. In the past it was always the material store and sales people that cultivated the walk-in customer. It was even possible for a talented salesperson to walk a potential customer all of the way through the buying cycle and finally make a sale.

No one does that for a pack of gum
Even in a material reality there are limitations to resources and time spent. Salespeople do not really want to talk to a potential customer that doesn’t see their own problem, let alone talking them through research. Only if the sale represented enough profit is it worth the effort.

Your web site has a onetime effort, for the most part. It is as simple as writing up the content to include every step of the buying cycle. A single page may seem like a mile long and no one is going to scroll down through a wall of text, but the web offers tools for hiding information until it is wanted. A much shorter page without sacrificing needed information is the result.

Farming your web page
Instead of writing content to spear customers in the small ready portion of your market you can farm the much larger portion of that same market. And in doing so you are also including that ready market.

From top to bottom your web page can attract your whole market wherever they are at. And while those that are ready to purchase put an item in the shopping cart others are being fed the information they need take their next step.

When you feed your market and raise them up to be knowledgeable shoppers you have also built a relationship based on honesty and trust. Your web site has helped them and nurture them and in turn most will reward you with their business.

No longer strangers
Marketing people know that the toughest sale is always the first sale. Once that barrier has been broken more sales can be made. Sharing and being helpful builds relationships and in this way you and your market are no longer stranger – even before the first sale.

A web page designed to help your market with useful information is like the farmer fertilizing his farmland. First you put in and then you take out.

Helping and supporting is not a marketing strategy when it comes to skimming off the surface where you bump into all of your competition. Web marketers, for the most part, teach you how to get your elbows out and muscle your way past your competition just to get a line in the water.

And once more you are fooled
Even before we think about marketing we need to think about search engines. The picture of a feeding frenzy on ready buyers doesn’t apply when it comes to search engines. That place where every business is hunting or trapping the ready market is diluted with traffic from search engines.

Your web designer said they would send you tones of web traffic and – even though this is faulty thinking – if they do meet their promise it won’t be what you were expecting.

Search engines are not just available to the ready buyers in your market, they are available to the whole length and breadth of your market. Right off the bat the ready buyer traffic you receive is going to be dwarfed by about 9 to 1 where 1 is the tip of the iceberg.

Your whole market is searching for your solutions, but only a small portion are ready to purchase. This is good and bad.

It’s bad because you need a good portion of the ready buyers. It’s good because you can cultivate all the rest and turn many of them into your own resource.

If you want all of your market you must cultivate that market and make it your own. If you want to know how to cultivate that market look for my article titled, “Farming Your Web Market.”

How to Be a Smart Affiliate Marketer – You Cannot Afford to Miss Out on These Strategies!

As the world now is embraced by advanced technologies, the number of affiliate marketers is growing by leaps and bounds as well. The increase of affiliate marketers, without any doubt, will increase the competitiveness between the marketers. Therefore, smart affiliate marketing methods are really essential in order to prevail in this competitive society.

The profits that you gain from affiliate marketing basically depend on how well you perform, and it is based purely on the results, hence it is an online channel that doesn’t have to come out of your marketing budget.

To achieve good results, firstly, the attractiveness of the advertised product is very essential. How you promote your products to your customers is always the first thing you should focus on. In order to increase your profits, you must have made your customers into “repeat customers”. “Repeat customers” means those customers keep coming back to view or purchased your products. The key to obtain such phenomenon is through appealing and attractive advertising.

Partnership and network is equally important in affiliate marketing. 80% of affiliate programs today use revenue sharing as compensation method. Revenue sharing refers to the sharing of profits and losses among different groups. This type of business alliances could further improve your profits if the method is used appropriately. Partners in affiliate programs not only have the incentive to drive traffic to your web site, but also propel more partners to sign on new affiliate partners.

Speaking of affiliate programs, the types of affiliate programs you use determine the success and failure of your business! Before joining a program, there are points to be pondered. Most importantly, the affiliate agreement must be read thoroughly and for your own sake, it’s better to save a copy for yourself as future reference. Other than that, the management of the program is vital. Check the management and establish a rapport can be of great benefit for they know the best way to promote their offers and they have the power to raise your commission.

With great effort, intelligence and a bit of luck, you’re on your way to a successful affiliate marketing business route.

Naked Web Marketing Part 2

The web shares

This should be a major consideration for web marketing, but instead it is ignored. A web marketer will suggest that we use Facebook, Twitter or Linked-in, among other social media because they all share. And that means that we forget about sharing through our own web site and we end up giving our best content away. And for what?

The time focus for Facebook is short. Even shorter for Twitter. Our best content should be shared from our own site first because it makes our web site stronger. Then we can feed bits to social media to attract attention. Attention from social media sites is very short lived and has to be constantly repeated, but on our own site the same information builds and attracts, and then builds and attracts even more.

If that doesn’t hit you between the eyes then you are not getting the significance of sharing. It is not just social media that can use this powerful aspect of web marketing and we would be wise not to put control of our most attractive content in the hands of social media. They can use or misuse it all however they please.

Web marketers don’t seem to get it

Web designers and web marketers are pretty much sold on letting trendy social media control your web marketing. They can make money by running your social media campaign, which may be quite alright if they also helped you share directly from your own web site.

Sharing is important for long term growth and it can be accomplished over time. Don’t rush or panic. The truth is that all your, so-called, competitors are not sharing and are not growing. Time is something you have a lot of, but there’s no time like the present for getting started. And you are probably wondering just what your business has to share with its market.

A brief list of the more important web attributes:

• No time or space limitations on web marketing

• The Internet swallowed all other media and makes them adapt to the web

• The web is a virtual reality – having many more nodes plugged in

• You don’t find your market – they find you

No time or space:

As soon as you start talking about your market’s biggest problem – You know, the one you solve – then you have all the time and space you could ever want. Your market likes that, it attracts them and it interests them. Keep going, talk about other problems they have so as to include an ever wider market.

Swallowed all other media:

The web is not like any other media. It can be your telephone, but it works differently. It can be your newspaper, but it works differently. It can even advertise and use push marketing, but most of the benefits come from using pull marketing. In fact, pull marketing is second nature to the web and has a much greater reach than trying to push.

The web is a virtual reality:

A virtual reality is no less real than a physical (material) reality, it’s just that a virtual reality has many more social, business and institutional connections all plugged in and ready to connect.

Your market finds you:

Your web market is anonymous. It is your web site that has to have attractive content in order to stand out from other sites. Web designers like to think their awesome designs attract but search engines don’t pay attention to graphics. Web marketers like to think their advertising attracts but web users (you and me included) try to ignore ads.

The biggest attraction for our market is when we share information about solving their problem. They didn’t come to our web site to see pretty web designs or to see and read our ads – they came thinking we could help them.

Attracting your market

Helping your market by sharing your information does not mean giving away the recipe to your secret sauce. Your competitors may want the secret but your market could care less. They are not going to mix up a batch of your secret sauce, instead they are going to want you to implement your secrets and pay you for doing that.

You will have many ways your secret sauce can be used and your web site can list them and hold them all. All of the problems your secret sauce has solved can be written up and go on the web. As you share all the problems and solutions you can remember you will be building a destination web site while other business owners are chasing after a market they can’t see or touch.