Demand for Social Media Marketing has exploded in the past decade as brands struggle to reach audiences beyond the increasingly-fractured traditional media consuming public. Right now Social Media Marketers are able to take advantage of the public’s overwhelming ignorance about communicating via social media and get paid to navigate those spheres for their clients.
It won’t last forever. It may not even last another decade.
Think of the travel industry. Before ‘teh interwebz’ information used to be scarce, so it made sense to pay someone else with expertise to navigate the complicated pricing schemes and array of accommodations providers to do it for you. Flash-forward to the year 2000 when the web came into its own in terms of providing easier ways to book airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals (as well as recommendation sites chock full of free expertise and reviews). This great graphic from the Cleveland Plain Dealer says it all: Read more…
I’m not one enamored of the Harvard Business Review. The ivory tower often isn’t the best vantage point.
That’s why I’m unimpressed with the recent piece by Bill Lee, “Marketing is Dead,” published in the HBR. The article does little to live up to the provocative title, rehashing conclusions most savvy marketers and advertisers came to nearly a decade ago (even the slowest among us arrived at them at least five years ago).
Why is marketing dead? CEOs are frustrated and customers are ignoring traditional media – just look!:
“In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.”
So what? The percentage of Americans that say CEOs lack credibility is at 79 percent. Moreover, the turnover rate for CEOs is at a six-year high. Audiences have been tuning out from the traditional mass media for over a decade. Read more…
For some reason, people seem very comfortable assuming they know as much as anyone trained in marketing, advertising or public relations. Whereas few people would feel comfortable second-guessing a
physician’s assistant physician assistant, or telling an engineer how to do their job – they are more than willing to micro-manage communications professionals.
To them, I say “thanks but no thanks.” If you’ve not in the field, and you’ve ever offered up any of the following advice to a colleague in the field, please check yourself.
1. You think we should advertise somewhere because you consume that media.
In all liklihood *you* are not the demographic being targeted. *I* am not the demographic being targeted either.
This happens all the time – I guess it has to do with some desire we have to feel as though we understand the average person’s mindset and that we represent the common opinion on the street. The problem is – it’s increasingly hard to identify “the average person” anymore.
Not only that, but whomever he/she is, none of us is likely representative of them (particularly where I work where most of the employees have advanced degrees – relegating them to a tiny ten percent of the US population, not at all representative of the median).
Instead of going with your gut – trust the data instead. Save your gut for the creative portions of the campaign where it will be needed.
2. You think we should advertise somewhere because it’s a “special” promotion targeted right at our industry.
I hate to break it to you, but every two-bit media entity worth its salt has created bogus “special interest” offerings as a marketing ploy to appeal to advertisers. There are “special editions” for everything now – and they even come out more than once a year.
To make matters worse, there are even entire organizations created solely for the purpose of selling worthless advertising to rubes who think they’re reaching someone.
A great example of this is the “Who’s Who” listings or “Internet Directories” for special topics. When was the last time you looked anyone up in a “Who’s Who” book? Carter was probably president. The same goes for special “directories” online; as the power and accuracy of search has improved, it has rendered the need for curated directories obsolete. You’re far better off taking all of that time and money and putting it into writing a blog to push up your rank in Google.
On Payola: By the way – if the “special promotion” includes freebies to the people buying the advertising (say, event tickets) – if you take those, it’s unethical and potentially grounds for firing at many institutions. It constitutes a conflict of interest for you to spend money that isn’t yours in order to get something free. You may even want to check with your Purchasing department because you may be legally-obligated to notify them or turn over that item.
3. You think we should advertise somewhere because they have special pricing available only for a limited time.
The amount of exclamation points that usually accompany the emails for these sorts of requests could fuel a mid-sized city. Understand that these offers are invariably overvalued. The reason they’re discounting the air time/ad space is because NO ONE ELSE WANTS IT (and there’s a reason no one else wants it).
The reason these “opportunities” are “special” is because no one else will advertise on them because they don’t reach enough people (or they’re not effective at converting eyeballs into sales). They’re the advertising equivalent of the bargain DVD bin at Wal-mart – no one wants to own Battlefield Earth which is why it languishes even with a $2.99 price tag. You’re literally throwing your money away – money that could be better spent with 30 seconds and a credit card on Facebook.
4. You think we should advertise somewhere because our competitors are doing it.
To be sure, there is absolutely value in benchmarking what one’s competitors are doing. However, following the herd can be problematic for a variety of reasons.
- First, if the herd is already there – it’s a diluted marketplace for ideas. You’ll be trying to make noise while everyone else is trying to make noise – no one is going to hear it. The Law of Diminishing Returns absolutely applies to advertising.
- Second, the herd doesn’t know anything you don’t already know. They’re not privy to some mystical insight – particularly the more members of the herd are engaging in this communal behavior the more likely it is to be outmoded because the soft middle has arrived.
5. You think we should advertise somewhere whether or not we can track the response.
Measurement is just as critical as Communication in a marketing/pr plan. If you’re not worried about how we’re going to gauge the response to our efforts – I’M worried about your fitness for your job.
If you can’t find a way to verify whether or not something worked – why would you do it? Would you have a surgery if you had no way of telling whether or not it was successful? Would you enter a competition that didn’t track how you placed?
It’s not fun and it’s not sexy, but it is an imperative that we develop some way of measuring how many people are converted by our efforts. Given how wildly media consumption habits are shifting right now – it’s even MORE important than any time in the past half-decade.
Moreover, ENTIRELY NEW forms of advertising are emerging all the time. What worked this year may not work at all next year – and it’s important to track that progress.
So “Backseat Marketers,” please – we need your input but keep it constructive and focused on the content that you are experts on. Recycle the faxes you get with radio discounts on them instead of forwarding them to us. Defer questions from ad sales reps to us and let us handle them (instead of allowing them to create confusion, conflict and division within our organization just because they work on commission).
Given the field I work in, I pay a lot of attention to billboard campaigns. I suspect this makes me different from many of the publics we target.
One thing I’ve noticed in my years of careful Billboardspotting is how remarkably similar all outdoor advertising is for colleges and universities. It’s eerie. It’s almost as though everyone is watching what everyone else is doing and copying it in some sort of marketing feedback loop.
This is likely what is actually happening, which explains the creative entropy. Read more…
In the kampy 70s-era Batman TV series (and movie), Adam West’s titular character was always trying to extricate himself from a supervillain’s trap by “reversing the polarity.” It’s one of those pseudo-sciencey terms that pre-teen kids find believable (even nerdy kids who like Dr. Who).
Colleagues and I have joked before that the marketing budgets of some projects would be better spent bribing the very small target population than trying to break through the deluge of noise consumers encounter each day by paying for mass media channels (the very entities creating the noise).
Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Linkedin. Blogs. RSS. SMS. Foursquare. Google Places.
Thanks to social media there are enumerable ways for any organization to broadcast messages to its publics. There are so many channels with such low cost barriers that the decisions marketers and PR pros need to make are all about how many to spend time on.
However, the focus on broadcasting often overshadows an important and underutilized feature of the Internet-connected world: the ability to reverse the flow of information to focus laser-like on a very tiny population. I’m not talking about Narrowcasting. The “casting” part still implies a lack of a quality relationship with each of the unique people you’re trying to enlist.
It is increasingly easier to be successful by focusing solely on good customer service or by serving a very specific clientele. That’s the Long Tail at work. Creating relationships.
Rather than spending resources buying access to a megaphone could you reallocate those resources to, one at a time, find the 25, 50, 100, 1000 people you actually need to make your campaign a success? I bet you could … if you can just “reverse the polarity.”
Microsoft and Google are currently engaged in a battle over business productivity software; Microsoft Office vs. Google Docs. Here’s Microsoft’s attempt at humor:
Here’s why this first salvo is an epic fail:
1. Who gets the “Moonlighting” reference? (I’m a TV nerd – I don’t count). That show ended its run in 1989. Could they have possibly picked a less culturally-relevant theme? What’s next – an “Alf” gag? Here’s some context for anyone under the age of 53 so you can “get the joke”:
2. “You want us to be your lab rats?” - “Pioneers.” I’d rather be Google’s lab rat, knowing that a FREE product isn’t fully-developed rather than plunk down a ridiculous amount of money for Microsoft’s products that are in constant need of patches and fixes (and which don’t even communicate with each other). Don’t get me started on XBox Live…
3. The video is hosted ON YOUTUBE. Which Google owns. So Microsoft’s argument is “Google’s products is inferior – that’s why we use them?” Derpity derp derp.
4. One of the jabs Microsoft lobs at Google is an attack on cloud computing. Cloud computing … like Microsoft 365
360? (Microsoft’s answer to the growing popularity of Google Docs).
5. Google killed off Wave and Buzz? So … how is that different from Microsoft’s own versions of Office 2007 not being backwards compatible without patches?
Good luck Microsoft – you’re going to need it given that apparently your ad agency is actually staffed by people who look and act like John Hodgman’s PC parody. Can’t wait to see what Google comes up with in response.
By now everyone with access to the Internet (and even a lot of people who don’t) are aware that Facebook filed for an Initial Public Offering.
If every other social networking platform in the history of the web is a guide, this signals the beginning of the end for Facebook. Private corporations are freer from the pressure to drum up wads of cash in the short term than publicly-traded companies. They are also more resilient in the face of economic challenges than private companies because they can absorb a period of shrinking profits instead of scrambling to implement drastic measure (like mass layoffs) to quickly cook the books for a pennywise short term jump in profits.
Here’s why Facebook will suffer from the rush to monetize the gigantic community of users it has amassed: Read more…
Since it launched in 2007, Twitter has gone from a single utility to a full-fledged social networking site. Just like Facebook and Google+, it’s now launched “brand pages” that allow owners greater flexibility in controlling how their Twitter page appears.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t rush right out and develop a gorgeous customized Twitter profile. Most people won’t see it. Read more…
QR or “Quick Response” codes have been around Asia since 1994, and a few years ago they finally started to pop up in the US. There was a brief period a couple of years ago where they were a fad (a way for the tech savvy to show off).
Sadly, just like the ascot or Hammer Pants, that time has passed. If you want to use QR codes now, you’ll want to have a very specific, well-defined strategy that makes use of their unique properties.
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself: Read more…
Web storage and bandwidth are cheap. The tools for creating a dynamic online presence are easier than ever to use. Updating a Facebook profile or website takes seconds and can be done from virtually anywhere using a smartphone. Everything is disposable – so it’s no big deal to create a web presence specifically for a purpose that has a short shelf life and then move on.
That means you can leap on opportunities to expand your business (whatever it is) as quickly as they arise.
That occurred to me as I ran across a site for custom pedestals crafted by specifically for Artprize by Doug Vandergalien. I don’t know Doug, and I don’t know how long the site has been in operation, but it’s likely something that popped up very quickly and in response to the demand created by Grand Rapids “Artprize” competition.
It’s the same principle behind food vendors with carts; where a restaurant is bound to its geographic location to find demand (and must be proactive in how it selects that spot) – mobile vendors can go directly to the demand (reacting to where the demand congregates).
Can your organization, whatever it may be, be built in a way that can nimbly respond to new opportunities as quickly as they present themselves? If you manufacture boats, can you retool to manufacture wind turbines?
If so – you can get your message out there more readily than ever. In the ruthless meritocracy that the Internet-driven economy has become, a good product and simple message are all you need to reach your audience – and at very little expense.
Another Artprize anecdote: I’ve befriended a couple of really talented Grand Rapidians – Derek Maxfield and Randy Finch of Ice Sculptures, Ltd. One can’t help but love their work and their ethos – so my better half and I offered to help them promote their Artprize entry – a sculpture titled “Frozen in Motion.” A meeting over dinner, a few emails, and I was able to build a site for them (www.frozenartprize.com) in a few hours (and for less than $50):
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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