by Waitsel Smith
What is Intelligent Marketing?
Intelligent marketing is marketing that is designed to fill the needs of your customers (audience) - not your needs. And yet, most advertising and marketing today is designed to fulfill the needs of the company doing the advertising, or the agency coming up with it, not the needs of their customers.
It amazes me how much ego is involved in marketing and advertising today. I was at a cocktail party once that was attended by some big wigs in advertising. One gentleman I met was bragging about how he had spent $72,000 on an advertising slogan. When he told me the slogan, I couldn't decide whether to laugh, cry or spill my drink. Let's just say the slogan wouldn't have won any awards. It wasn't the slogan he was proud of, it was how much he had paid for it. That's ego, and that is one of the biggest pitfalls of the advertising and marketing industry today.
In the movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Cary Grant plays an advertising executive who is doing what the film's title says, and, in the process, is neglecting the needs of his biggest client, Wham. The Wham company produces a right tasty ham, and they need a new slogan. As the deadline for the project looms, Grant's character pulls an all-nighter, hoping to squeeze out an idea by the break of day. But it doesn't happen. So he goes home in the morning, dejected, thinking he has lost the account and his job. But his maid, Gussie, comes up with the new slogan inadvertently as the family is trying to decide what to have for lunch: "If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham." Grant's face goes, "Boing!" and we have another classic moment in film.
Which goes to show that great ideas don't come from throwing money at them, nor by straining. They come when you least expect them, and from the least likely sources. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the shower - without a pen and paper, obviously - and the answer to a problem I've been working on comes to me. I think that is God having some fun. I don't care when an idea comes, just that it does. :)
So, why have ad departments at all? Indeed… when there is a creative firm like Creative Sharks out there. :)
Graph by Custoria
What's the Best Way to Market?
Based on our previous discussion in Part 1, you have your name, your look (logo, etc.) and your web site. Now what? Now you need to let people know you're out there. If you're internet-based - which all businesses today need to be, whether they have a physical location or not - you need internet marketing. That comes in various forms, including email campaigns, organic ads (free ads provided by search engines), paid ads, text messaging and social media.
Notice that I listed email campaigns first and social media last. At present, email is still a better way to sell online than social media. Don't believe me? Check out this recent article on Wired:
"Email Is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online" -
Graph by Custoria
And here's something else: most internet marketing gurus tell their followers not to neglect traditional advertising - e.g., postcards, brochures and flyers - when they're building a campaign. The return on traditional direct mail is still higher than internet-based media.
As a matter of fact, the jury is still out on social media. The effectiveness of traditional advertising is difficult enough to prove, but to prove that social media is working is near impossible. So, don't put all your eggs in the basket of social media. Spread your dollars and your message around.
I would advertise/ market in the following ways:
1. Email Campaigns
With email companies like MailChimp out there, who offer free service to companies and individuals with an email list of 2,000 or less, this is a great way to get started. And it's easy to track. MailChimp tracks both the open rate and the click-through rate, so you can compare campaigns and decide what's working and what isn't.
Don't have an email list? Start building one. Avoid the temptation of buying a list. Services like MailChimp do not allow you to use the addresses of people who have not given you permission, or who have not "opted in" to your list. You can be black listed by hosting companies for doing so, and you don't want that.
Avoid what I did. I started a list of friends and acquaintances that I built up to around 4,000. Then I decided to start using a service like MailChimp. I had to go back and ask each person individually if I could include them on my new list. I'm still working on it. Start out with an email service from the beginning.
2. Organic Ads
These are free listings on search engines - primarily Google, Yahoo and Bing. The way you get listed is to be found by the search engine spiders. For that to happen, you need a good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) program in place. That means that you have meaningful content that is constantly being added to and updated, as well as relevant meta tags (keywords, descriptions, etc.), links, etc. Using WordPress to build your site is a great way to simplify the SEO process; but once you get to be of some size, it would pay to hire an SEO expert, like Tom Shivers of Capture Commerce, to analyze your web site and give you some feedback on how to increase its effectiveness.
3. Paid Ads
A lot of "experts" think you should start with paid (CPC - Cost Per Click) ads until you have a presence on the web. If you have the money, go ahead. Google AdWords is generally effective at bringing the right customers to your site. But I don't like paying for anything I don't have to, and I think there are "free" ways that are just as good - email campaigns and organic ads being two of them - at getting people to your site. You just have to be willing to work a bit harder and grow a bit slower. But in the long run, these may be more loyal customers.
There are PR sites on the web, such as iReach, PR Newswire and Wired PR News; but I never felt they were that effective. You can also place ads on other people's web sites; which, if you think they have a target market similar to yours, could be effective. It just depends on how much you have to pay.
4. Traditional Media
If your business is primarily local, there are web sites that cater to you. But I have yet to find a better way to reach local customers than postcards. They're cheap, and they're relatively inexpensive to send out. You just have to have a list, which is also relatively inexpensive to obtain. (I make an exception of buying a postal mailing list, which can be targeted according to demographics.) Post cards are especially good for offering limited-time discounts, and for announcing openings and special events. Holding a physical object in your hand makes you feel like you actually have something - as opposed to a virtual coupon on the web, which you have to print out. But that can work, too.
As far as more expensive traditional media, such as radio, television, outdoor and magazines - I'm not even going to mention newspapers, which are pretty much a dead medium at this point - your industry and your target's demographics will determine if any of those are right for you. Older customers still use a lot of traditional media, while younger customers do not.
5. Social Media
Okay. This is the big one. The one everyone is talking about. Does it work? Does it not? No one knows.
But I will say that the stock market doesn't lie; and, right now, LinkedIn's stock is selling and Facebook's isn't. I think that LinkedIn is a very strong site for business people and, as such, a good site for "selling," especially yourself or your business, as opposed to a specific product or service, which makes it good for networking and finding a job/employee. I don't think that Facebook is a good site for selling, or for doing business, because that's really not why people are there. If you know me, you know that I don't like Facebook anyway - here's why.
As far as "stuff," a lot of people like Pinterest, including me, although I don't think there is a lot of selling going on. But there is a lot of exposure. Angie's List has a good reputation for selling services. And of course eBay and Amazon are good for selling individual items. I would stay away from low-end sites that make big promises and small returns, like Craig's List and Thumbtack. You can waste a lot of time on some of these sites trying to connect with people that do not know what they're doing.
Twitter is good for exposure but I'm not sure what else. I would be interested in hearing some stories of people who actually did some effective marketing on Twitter - or any other site, for that matter. If you have some web sites, social or otherwise, on which you have had some good success marketing, I would love to hear about them.
QR codes - an idea that has NOT worked.
Finally, texting. Has anyone had any results from this? All I know is, when I'm awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a text message, I don't care who it is - friend, client or family member - they're on my black list for awhile. If you decide to do text marketing, make sure you pick a time that is convenient for all time zones, not just your own, which is rather difficult. You're going to offend someone, and many people do not like any kind of commercial texting at all - so be careful.
The best marketing is face-to-face, word of mouth. So, the best marketing is the kind that gets the conversation going and keeps it going - whatever it takes. There is a lot of work involved in getting a marketing campaign off the ground. But once it's going, the savvy marketer will know how to keep it going and when to pull the plug. There is a life-cycle involved. Learn to read the signs. Don't try killing the campaign after it's already dead. End it right after it has peaked, so that your market is wondering what is next. You don't want them saying, "Oh no, not another one from them!"
Next time, we'll talk about the actual selling process in Part 3. Hope you'll join me.
Waitsel Smith, August 8, 2013
Creative Director, Creative Sharks
Atlanta, GA, USA
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