Any great marketing firm or any great marketing pro will tell you that approaching a strategy and campaign requires addressing multiple channels. For example:
To magnify this point, let’s quickly consider traditional marketing and advertising prior to the Internet:
For this example, let’s use the ultra-visible brand Tide.
Prior to the Internet, when Tide sought to acquire and retain more customers, they most likely produced television commercials and had those commercials run at strategic times and on strategic television channels. Most likely on the big three networks:
Of course, they also utilized print, billboards, radio, etc. Those are most definitely additional channels (or multi-channel marketing and advertising); however, for the sake of this point, let’s keep the example simple and focus on the multiple television channels Tide used to magnify and spread their brand footprint in the analog world.
The point is, the parent company of Tide would have been proverbially shooting themselves in the foot if they chose to advertise only on CBS and leave its target audience that had television-show preferences on NBC and ABC ‘in the dark’, so to speak. They didn’t, thus, illustrating that Tide understood that they had a multi-faceted audience that had similar goals and needs, it’s just that they ‘consumed’ marketing and advertising messages on various channels, not simply one channel. Skipping the other channels would have stunted business growth.
It almost goes without saying, today, in the digital age, that same sentiment hasn’t changed. Target audiences not only consume messaging on multiple channels (search engines, social media, email, etc.), but also from diverse types of content (text, graphics, video, audio, etc.).
Today’s Multi-Channel Approaches Are More About Search Than Typically Thought
That’s a bold statement that may catch the eye of other marketers, those who may say, “Prove it.” Saddle up, because here we go:
First, understand how people buy: The Buyer Behavior Process is rooted in science and its definitions can easily lead us back to Search.
In the first step, consumers have a Needs Awareness moment. They recognize there is a need or a problem to solve, thus, they NEED a solution.
It’s this critical second step that forms the foundation for this post’s argument:
The second step to the Buyer Behavior Process is search; an Informational Search. Let’s broaden our definition of search and get out of the confines of thinking simply of digital search (i.e. Google searches).
People, especially in American culture (but not exclusive to), start search with this:
INTERNAL SEARCH: this is when a consumer starts searching for information, but often the first place he or she looks is to his or her own experience or memory.
The average consumer thinks about the brands he/she already knows and can include the experiences he or she has had with those brands, but doesn’t always have to be a direct product/service experience with the brand that comes to mind. The brand(s) that a consumer recalls from memory are a reflection of his or her top of mind awareness. Upon recalling brands from memory, a consumer disregards any options that would be obviously unsuitable.
See that? We mention search in a digital marketing blog post and many readers expected a dissertation on Google, Yahoo, and Bing! However, this is where we have found the foundation of our point: internal search is first — this can lead to branded searches on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, but also on social media channels, Youtube and more.
To take this behavioral idea one step further, think of the multi-channel examples we referenced above:
When a brand is actively pursuing a marketing strategy and campaign from a multi-channel digital perspective, no doubt they would be strategically creating high-quality, consumable, meaningful, valued content on platforms (i.e. channels) such as social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, et al), email marketing with active segmentation strategies, ad campaigns (including text ads, banner, retargeting, search ads, social ads, etc.) and SEO (think stellar UX and content on their responsive website properties).
Even if a consumer hasn’t necessarily experienced, first hand, the products and services of some brands, the power of campaigns rooted in great content get shared and spread far and wide. Brand awareness, therefore, is also a hugely under-represented factor in marketing and advertising campaigns — where typically, marketing agencies and business owners can often seek targeted traffic mainly for the sake of conversions only.
And, they often report campaign progress from a baseline standpoint compared to the number of conversions over time. Not a bad thing, just making the point not to forget the power of brand awareness in a digital world that is suffocating us all with the sheer amount of content and sheer number of choices.
Circling back, internal search can be influenced by brand awareness (not always brand experiences) from a multi-channel marketing strategy/campaign.
Internal Search Triggers External Search
Consumers conduct an external search by some of the following:
- Looking through search engine results
- Asking for information on their social networks
- Checking and evaluating review sites
- Asking friends for recommendations
Let’s again look at multi-channel approaches from an external search perspective using our examples directly above:
Looking through search engine results
This is the typical/conventional definition of search when thinking about and talking about digital marketing strategies.
Asking for information on their social networks
Brands need to be present (and active) on social networks for numerous reasons, but for this post: search doesn’t always start and end with Google. Social networks have powerful search functions and powerful influential aspects that brands can either benefit from or give away that power of social influence to their competitors.
Checking and evaluating review sites
Beyond the obvious reasons why reviews matter (from a pre-Internet definition), we know that humans are social animals and are influenced by the opinions of and buying habits of others. And, of course, reviews can influence search results in some cases.
Asking friends for recommendations
These inquiries can be from real-world/offline friends, but the Internet has created a massive online community of ‘acquaintances’ that cross borders and industries. These types of searches harken back to our previous point (we base buying behavior on the buying habits of others) but they are directly influenced by the buying habits of friends/acquaintances who have already been influenced by multi-channel marketing and advertising of particular brands.
In other words:
A multi-channel campaign influences people and their purchases. Those people are later queried by their friends for opinions about brands/products/services; thus, multi-channel campaigns affect those who are directly influenced, but their experiences then can directly influence the buying decisions of others who may not have any touch points online for a particular brand/product/service. Therefore, multi-channel approaches both influence directly and indirectly and to a larger audience than first considered at the outset of the campaign itself.
While marketing can certainly serve as an external cue to trigger need recognition, the various channels a brand utilizes in its marketing toolbox can serve as internal search and external search opportunities. Multi-channel marketing is more about search than you think, just not the modern default definition rooted in search engines.
Do These 3 Things and Not These 3 Things with Your Marketing Clients
Take is from us, just from experience, there are certain things you should strongly consider doing with you clients in order to keep them happy and the projects coming your way. Of course, with each practice you should do, there are equal numbers of practices you shouldn’t participate in; let’s take a look:
Do These 3 Things:
1. Sell Solutions, Not Products and Services
If all you have in your sales conversations are products and services, your conversations and the campaigns are missing something — your empathy and recommendations. If every camoaign was as easy as picking a ‘package’, we’d all have the same results; we know that isn’t true. Like any kind of specialist, we know more than the average business person about properly strategizing and running a successful campaign depends on that. A transmission specialist knows more than me about fixing your car’s transmission, and that mechanic is going to understand car repair more than you and I ever will. With every option, we should also be giving a recommendation backed by logic and data.
2. Treat Your Clients As Unique Cases: Don’t Generalize
Each client is different and unique onto themselves. Seems like a no-brainer, but we see agencies treating all their clients and prospects as the same. This sentiment isn’t exactly breaking news, but I’ve seen many account managers treat all clients in the same manner. Be sure to tailor your conversations and deliverables to their exact needs and goals, but make sure you find out from each one of them ‘exactly’ what they need from you should they choose to work with your agency. This way, should you treat them and give them what they need ‘exactly’, there’s little room for them to feel like just another client.
3. Protect Your Work But Be Transparent In Times of Difficulty
Every so often, not on purpose, bu every so often you’ll accidentally ‘drop the ball’. It’s okay, it happens to every agency and every marketer. You’re only human. It’s important to own up to it, be honest, be transparent; however, if the issue is on the side of the client, be sure to defend your work, but don’t get into the habit of perseverating and/or constantly looking for errors with each next step.
Don’t Do These 3 Things:
1a. Avoid ‘promising the world’
At the end of the day, your job is to help the business owner solve a problem; via digital marketing solutions. But, that means you are the expert – don’t agree to everything the business owner says he/she wants. Even when it comes to timelines — if the client is ultra-late on getting you the assets you need for a project, reset the expectations; timelines are delicate, change them according to how ti best fits your production of the project and the eventual successes.
2b. Don’t let the client prioritize themselves against your other clients
The ole ‘I pay you a lot of money and you should be honored to work with me’ excuse to move other clients to the bottom of the list isn’t uncommon. In fact, what you should do, instead, is protect your integrity and explain to the client that your entire roster spends hard-earned money with you and that you treat them all with respect and equal importance.
3c. Don’t let a potential client walk if they don’t have the full budget
First, if you’re a graduate of our program you know you’re equipped to finance the campaigns; however, in some cases that won’t work out. Instead of saying goodbye to your potential client, offer to do a smaller job as proof of concept; more than likely, with good results and a good experience, the client’s wallet will open up and you just might discover the budget was there . all along.
Instead of reading about our experiences with humor in marketing, let’s look at some other industry pros and what they’ve said about this all-too-important and often over-looked digital marketing approach:
Bryan Kramer has a great post on this subject and he kicks it off with important stats:
“According to a recent marketing study by the textbook rental service Chegg, almost 80 % of college-age kids remembers ads that make them laugh. And this phenomenon is not limited to just millennials, as Nielsen recently ranked some of the most memorable Super Bowls in the past four years.” See Bryan’s post right here.
Steve Olenski’s post in Forbes reminds us that:
“Humor breaks down walls, shows personality a.k.a. shows a brand’s human side.”
Emily Gaudette references Dr. James Barry, a humorist, professor at Nova Southeastern University by writing:
“Barry told me that infusing content with humor has a lot of potential for B2C and B2B companies alike, provided that they avoid re-inventing the wheel. “Seriously, humor works very well in B2B spaces,” he said. “As long as the creator knows exactly what type of humor strategy they’re using. Why wouldn’t CEOs want to be entertained? They’re just like anyone else.””
See the above post on Contently.
Do we practice what we preach? Well, we try! We have a handful of humor-based videos that promote our digital marketing training program that we would love to get your feedback on — check them out below:
Be Your Own Boss – Digital Marketing Training Classes
Digital Marketing Training – Be Your Own Boss (Isn’t It Time?)
Digital Marketing Training – Don’t Be Ned
Well, did we at least make you chuckle? Break a smile? How will you use humor in your marketing efforts?
It’s no secret that video and video consumption is huge. The vast number of minutes of video being uploaded daily is astounding — and for good reason: people watch more video today than even 3 years ago.
And, with social media platforms inching more and more towards video content as a main feature (think Facebook and Instagram), it’s clear that the video ‘trend’ is not simply a trend, rather, it’s roaring towards a necessity for successful brands today.
We came across this Infographic from Hyperfine Media that puts the important stats into one simple to digest format. Check it out:
31 Must-Know Video Marketing Stats
STEP FOUR: YOUR IDENTITY SYSTEM
The ‘identity system’ for your brand is the image you’re conveying to your customers. Mostly, it entails the visual design elements that you use consistently in all of your marketing to convey your brand message. The logo is one of them and arguably the most important, but there are others to consider as well.
These visual elements are used in:
• Marketing materials including books, pamphlets, flyers, websites, etc.
• Products and packaging
• Communications such as email newsletters
• Clothing worn by employees, if applicable
• Stationery or any other office supplies you use
In other words, these visual elements should be included in everything your company does wherever possible. You may also include audio, such as a jingle or a tone like the Windows startup sound, a smell, touch or anything else that can communicate your brand.
Test each of these visual elements against your unique proposition and the promise your brand makes to your customers. Ask yourself whether they convey the message you want people to get when they encounter them. Your intuition can tell you if something is off, but it’s also good to ask colleagues and test your market. Again, you can get ideas from your competitors or brands you know and use.
The same basic guidelines apply to all of your branding design elements. Keep them simple and relevant. Make sure they communicate immediately with your market.
Wrapping Up Our 4-Part Series on Branding
You now understand the basics of branding and have a step-by-step guide to defining your brand and the design elements that will get it recognized.
Remember that branding is not simple. A good brand, logo, and identity take a great deal of time experimenting and refining your ideas until they’re perfect.
But this is no small consideration. Brand is everything. Devote the time and resources you need to creating a brand that’s powerful and effective.
Did You Miss It?
Part 1: Designing Your Brand
Part 2: Designing Your Brand Pt 2
Part 3: Designing Your Brand Pt 3
STEP ONE: MARKET RESEARCH
In order to speak well to your audience, you need to know them and understand them well. Branding happens inside their heads, so you need to know (to the best of your ability) what’s going on in there.
The best way to get to know your target market is to create a profile that describes them. This profile describes an individual who is your ideal customer. This isn’t guesswork. You arrive at your information for this profile by conducting market research.
The information you’re looking for includes:
• Demographic information about your customers such as age, gender, income level, family situation, location, etc.
• Psychographic data such as their worries, fears, self-image, attitudes, problems, etc.
• Shopping habits. What other brands do they buy from? Do they save or shop impulsively? Are they big spenders or cautious?
• What products and services they’d like to see in the world, or how the companies they currently buy from don’t meet their needs.
A good place to start with market research is with your existing customers, assuming you have some. If you do, try to find identifying features that most of them share. You may notice that most of them are female or that most are at a high socioeconomic level. If you already have customers, use them to create your profile. For any information you don’t know, ask them. Conduct surveys and give customers an incentive if necessary.
If you don’t currently have customers, or if you want more data than they offer, you can conduct market research on potential customers. Whether or not you have customers, this is a good idea since you want to increase your customer base.
There are two ways to conduct market research: directly and indirectly. First, let’s discuss indirect methods since they’re generally easier to carry out and put less strain on resources.
Indirect market research means basically being a fly on the wall. Find out where your potential buyers are and listen to them. This is incredibly easy and cost-effective today because of the Internet, which encourages people to talk and share their opinions.
Here are a few ways to gather this information:
Creating a profile of your ideal customer is the best way to start planning on how to best target them.
Online Forums. Join online forums where your customers and potential customers spend time asking questions and having discussions.
Blogs. Blogs are good for gathering data because they’re updated more often than regular websites. Try to find blogs about your industry or by potential customers and read what they have to say.
Social Media. Connect with your target market on social media and monitor their conversations. This is a great tool because you can also communicate directly with potential customers through these channels.
Keywords Tools. Use a keyword tool to see how many people are searching for products such as yours. Choose keywords that are relevant to your products. In other words, if you were going to search for this product, what would you type into the search bar? The volume of searches gives you an idea of how popular products such as yours are.
The Competition. A great sources of data is your competitors. Find competitors who offer something similar to what you offer. If possible, look at sales data to see how your target market shops. Stay abreast with your competitors’ websites, blogs, newsletters, and so on.
Business Trends. Read industry journals and websites to find out the latest trends related to your business.
Direct market research methods include:
Interviews. Conduct interviews with people during which you ask them directly for the specific information you need to create your profile.
Questionnaires. Questionnaires can be done online or offline. Create short questionnaires that ask very specific questions to help you gather the information you need.
Focus Groups. The most labor-intensive, but often most lucrative, market research method is the traditional focus group. This is where you gather a group of people to discuss their opinions, perspectives, and beliefs on a certain product or an aspect of a product.
Both direct and indirect market research have their merits. With direct research you get straight answers to your specific questions. But sometimes when asked directly, people say what they think you want to hear instead of what they actually feel. With indirect research, you’re listening in and the data may be more truthful.
It’s good to do a bit of both. The more samples you gather data from, the clearer and more accurate a picture you’ll have of your target market.
Located in historic Albany, NY, the DMTG offices not only contain our lead department heads, but the office also houses our large training/conference room; equipped with multiple screens for presentations, the training facility is on the top floor of 90 State Street in Albany, NY:
Positive Reviews Need Responses, Too: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet
A good or bad reputation can mean the difference between a business thriving and expanding, or closing their doors for good.
Digitally, a business’s reputation is often controlled by customers using online review platforms like Yelp, Google and Facebook to describe the quality of their business publicly — good, bad, and downright ugly.
The Good News for People Who Love Good News
Online reviews can be easily monitored and managed, a super power businesses owners can put to good use by responding in a timely and effective manner. If you haven’t seen our guide on how to respond to negative reviews, head there right after you read and share this post!
And while we’re on the topic of negative reviews, it’s true – the negative reviews often get this most attention. If you have more than one child, do you spend all your time cracking down on the cranky, ornery child? Clearly no! Positive reinforcement is something we all look for (subconsciously) because it does exactly what it says! It reinforces — positively.
It’s not only important to respond to positive reviews (to thank customers for taking the time to review your business) it’s an actionable marketing tactic that can often go unnoticed. One thing that responding to positive reviews does? It encourages others to review your business.
With 92% of consumers reading reviews online, businesses can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. An effective response will help ensure that a happy first time customer becomes a regular, and 70% of complaining customers will come back if you resolve the complaint in their favor.
The first step is engaging with them.
4 Simple Steps To Responding to Positive Reviews Effectively
True story: it’s simple. Thank the customer, name drop, promote and tell the customer what to do!
Say thank you and be specific: No one would let a compliment pass them by in real life. Apply that same principle to a review response! And make sure to reiterate your customer’s compliment. This lets the customer know that a real person took time out of their day to acknowledge them, and that feels good.
Use the business name and keywords: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive your business up in search results—positive reviews work wonders in search. Referring to your business name, location and category (restaurant, coffee shop, hotel, etc.) helps index that review online.
Market, market, market: Is your business famous for a certain secret sauce? Are you having a promotion next month? A review response is a great place to get the good word out.
Give your customer a task: Not as scary as it sounds. Invite them to try something different the next time they visit, or bring a friend!
As you can see, there’s a ton of potential hidden in a positive review response. Instead of one advertisement to rule them all, each review is an opportunity to sell your business — without spending any more marketing dollars!
Let’s face it — people are social animals and people are strongly influenced by the experiences of others. Google will tell you too: During the customer journey, if the ‘reputation’ factor in a customer’s decision process is on the up-and-up, they’re much more likely to convert.
On the contrary, if the ‘reputation’ piece to the conversion puzzle isn’t strong, consumers often jump straight to the next competitor in line; reviews and reputation problems or not!
Outperform Big Brands With Content Marketing: Small Business Edition
“Big brands have an advantage…they have the brand awareness, the huge audiences talking about them online, hundreds, of not thousands of reviews. How in the world can my small business compete?”
Great question young marketing grasshopper. Let’s master this concept, shall we?
Let us ask you a question:
Why do avid cyclists go to smaller specialty bike shops instead of a big box store that offers bikes?
Simple: Because of the level of knowledge and expertise that the smaller shop offers is something that cannot be easily replicated by the bigger box/brand stores.
Publishing valuable content will lead consumers to discover your business and product offerings as they search for solutions to the problem they are facing. By making content available to consumers, your business will communicate an awareness of consumer needs, humanizing your brand with a personality that is friendly and helpful, as well as creating the opportunity for customers to form a relationship with you.
Content Marketing Breeds Brand Equity
Content that is relevant to the needs of consumers and offers them a valuable solution establishes your business as a thought leader in your industry, which helps build a trusting relationship with consumers. Attaining this level of credibility will lead consumers to prefer your goods and services over alternative solutions, since they are aware of the unique value proposition offered by your business: that you are the knowledgeable experts in your field.
The Speciality Bike Shop (above) is an example similar to how content marketing can work to increase thought leadership and brand equity for your business. By sharing your expertise in the form of content (with consistency, frequency, and recency), you will easily boost your credibility with customers. They know that they can come to you for solid advice because you have provided them with relevant, helpful information in the past.
Content marketing, also referred to as inbound marketing, involves the creation and distribution of relevant content that provides value to your business’s target audience. Content marketing can be shared with consumers in numerous forms: infographics, ebooks, white papers, case studies, how-to guides, etc. The main purpose of content marketing is to offer consumers value by presenting a solution to their needs, thus influencing the buying cycle.
Effective Long-term Results With Stellar Content
If the content your business releases is designed to be a mix of time-sensitive and evergreen pieces, your business’s content library will still be relevant to consumers as time passes. High-traffic content will also improve search engine rankings, and the consistent release of content can serve as a continuous source of interested consumers.
Content Marketing: The Main Sell
Content marketing is an effective strategy to interact with consumers and introduce them to your business’s brand. By providing consumers with value before they even visit your store, you are building positive relationships and connections to your brand, resulting in long-lasting customer loyalty and brand equity for your business.
Undeniable Tricks To Help You Manage and Benefit from Negative Reviews
You’ve taken the (necessary) leap to jump feet first into the ocean of digital platforms, competitors, and customers. It is, after all, sink or swim when it comes to owning a business — but are the waters full of sharks? Yes. But it’s full of sharks for all businesses — not just yours.
You’re talking online. Your digital footprint proves that! Your competitors are talking, your customers, and your employees are all throwing in their two cents online.
Do you know how you know?
Simple: reviews. Yup, both positive AND negative. The first trick to managing them isn’t a trick at all, it’s a proven practice — respond, to both positive and negative. This way you’ll be able to better control the conversation — otherwise, especially with negative reviews, the public that is hiding behind a keyboard has the conversational upper hand.
No business owner should want that or let that happen.
So what’s the deal with negative reviews? What are the best practices? Who knows — there’s no definitive rule book. You know what there is, though? Data to back up the following tips and tricks to manage and even benefit from negative reviews.
Believe it or not, the same premise applies to negative review response as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes (and attitudes and customer actions) that come afterward.
Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that the business as a whole is proud of their business, their products, and their services. It also proves, undeniably, that you’re willing to go the extra mile to maintain not only your reputation, but that your brand truly cares about its customers.
4 Proven Steps To Manage Negative Reviews Like a Pro
Make potential clients see the light with these four steps:
- Get offline
- Keep it simple
How to respond to negative reviews using the above 4 business-saving tactics
Apologize and sympathize: The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way.
Promote : So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”
Move the conversation offline: Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.
Keep it simple: Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.
One last pro tip/trick: Leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!
You Reclaimed the Conversation, Now Benefit From It
Being the stellar marketer/business owner that you are, you followed the above 4 steps. And now that you’ve responded and stoped crying yourself to sleep every night because of a negative review/mention, it’s time to use the situation to your advantage.
Awesome, but how?
It’s tempting to creep over to the dark side, but now that the process for turning things around is gaining some momentum, it’s time to do the following:
Understand that negative reviews aren’t the revenue destroyer that you think they are. In fact, less than half of polled consumers say they’d stay away from a business because of a negative review.
Additionally, consumers actually don’t mind a full spectrum of review sentiments. Consumers who have the opportunity to read the good, the bad, and the ugly feel better informed during their decision-making processes.
3 Marketing Wins from What Seemed Like a Marketing Fail
Let’s let Harry Truman chime in (who knew Harry Truman had the insight of a modern digital marketer!?):
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.
So, whether you’re a glass is half empty person or a glass is half full person — the perceived set back of a negative review needs to be redefined in your mind:
The facts about what negative reviews can positively do for your business:
- They alert you to problems you weren’t aware of, so you can fix/improve them.
- They give you an opportunity to improve brand sentiment by how and when you respond.
- They can provide a search engine optimization (SEO) bump, since they add legitimacy (and trust and credibility) to your business.
When you have a negative review, it’s better to do what we’ve outlined above — but know that every failure is an opportunity — do you think Thomas Edison didn’t fail thousands of times? Amazon? Apple?
Just like we use data, as marketers, to improve our marketing campaigns, that’s all a negative review is: data for you to either use to your advantage or it’s wasted data that can hurt in the long run if you don’t wield it like a sword to cut through the noise and (instead) send the right signals — to your customers, your potential customers, and the search engines.
And don’t ignore positive reviews. They need love (responses) too! Have you seen our Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Responding to Positive Reviews?