Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How Focusing On Google+ For Your Social Media Marketing Pays Off (Infographic)

It never fails. Anytime I'm discussing marketing with a group of people I bring up my work on Google+. And, every time - every single time - I hear at least one fool person chuckle and give me the same old response they read on a blog somewhere a year or two ago - "Nobody's on Google Plus".

It wasn't true then, and it isn't true now. But, where these marketers really are failing is by thinking of social media in such a simplified and close-minded way. When a social network functions only as a social network, then that is all they have to offer. So, if people aren't there in droves, posting content publicly and engaging with each other regularly, the network isn't providing much value. However, when a company has much more to their offering (let's say a search engine the world uses for everything, for starters), that network begins to act as a layer, a brain that informs the other body parts of the business with the content shared and the data collected. Such is the case with Google's offering.

The infographic below by +Techmagnate is specific in explaining the advantages Google+ provides to businesses that simply cannot be matched by other social networks. Concentrating your social media efforts here will get you in front of the audience you aim to reach.

Why you must focus on Google Plus?
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

By the way, the other comment I tend to get from non-users is "I need to be on there more. I have an account. But, I don't really use it. I need help figuring it out." Well, this should light a fire under you to get started. You can contact me on Google+ anytime for more.

top image credit: Omisem

Monday, December 30, 2013

How Baseball's ERA Concept Can Be Applied To Marketing

As 2013 comes to an end, I am reading quite a few year-end lists and best-of-the-best collections, as well as predictions for 2014. These are fun for me, and a great way to end one year and head into the next. I usually find a few gems from earlier in the year that I missed initially too.

One such gem is The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To Being A Man from +Business Insider, which I came across in the following Google+ post by +Jesse Wojdylo last week:

The full list of man advice can be found here. The one that stuck out to me most I paraphrased in the Aroldis Chapman image above (using a font called "Play Ball". Ha!) The full piece of advice reads as follows: "You don't have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher's ERA means. Approach life similarly."

I thought for a moment about what this meant. I am a baseball fan, so a pitcher's ERA is something I'm familiar with. For those of you that are not, here is the formula:

Earned Run Average (ERA) = (Earned Runs / Innings Pitched) x 9

Basically, the ERA gives people an idea of how many runs a pitcher will give up to the other team if he were to pitch a complete game. Aroldis Chapman's ERA for the 2013 season was 2.54, meaning if he were to pitch a complete game (it would never happen, by the way) he would give up 2.54 runs on average.

Since pitchers pretty much ceased pitching complete games, this formula is a much better way of assessing effectiveness rather than straight wins and losses. 

To me, approaching life in a similar way means to take responsibility for the things under my control. Whenever I'm "in the game", I need to do all I can to make a positive impact, and allow others to rely on me as a capable leader.

Approaching marketing this way can be an effective way of thinking about your role too. Here are three things I came up with that sort of flesh out the idea of "ERA marketing" from both an offensive and defensive perspective:

  1. Always be Aware of Your Competitor - Market share is like runs scored. Marketing isn't all about offense though. Know your competition, and what their capabilities are. Build up your competitive advantage in the minds of consumers and ensure it's sustainable, so you keep and grow your share and prevent the other team from doing the same. 
  2. Marketing is a Team Sport - A pitcher can only do so much to control the game. It's impossible to strike everyone out all of the time. So, when that ball gets hit, it's the job of the rest of the team to field it. No room for errors here. The rest of the marketing team has to make sure the brand messaging is consistent at each touch point, and the sales force has to back that message up. Confusion, a lack of team work, and uncommitted players will lose games.
  3. Be a Leader - It's often up to the pitcher to set the pace of the game. Lower ERA's mean less runs are being scored. And, without your back against the wall, a brand can be free to go out and be creative on offense. Can your teammates rely on you to create more opportunities, and make the team more successful?   

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Google Hummingbird Is The Word For Marketers Involved In SEO And SEM In 2014 (Infographic)

As I mentioned in a Twitter chat for charity last week giving predictions on digital trends in 2014, Google's Hummingbird update is making social media engagement an absolute requirement for brands wishing to rank highly in Search. This doesn't necessarily mean that social media accounts themselves must have tons of followers, or get a lot of engagement.

What it does mean is that the content produced by brands (on their website, blog, or wherever they want users to find them) must be valuable. One of the main ways Google is working to determine whether content is valuable are the social signals linking back to it. The more the content is engaged with through comments and shares on social media sites, as well as the authority of those people who are engaging, the more Google will place that content front-and-center in search results.

Opportunities to game the system decrease with every algorithm update. That's a good thing for those of us that are genuinely good at what we do, and not just clever at finding loopholes or fortunate enough to have deep pockets.      

I like this infographic below by +Prestige Marketing Inc. because it gives a very clear explanation of the major updates to Google's algorithm, allowing those interested to see how Google is sharpening their skills at providing the best search results for their users with each effort. It also offers a few general tips going forward to ensure you're not dinged by Google for not following the rules, and fall off the search cliff. As some can tell you, it's not always easy to climb back up.
A Trip to the Google Zoo
by killerinfographics.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 2

I kicked off my own Throwback Thursday series last week with a memorable television commercial from when I was a kid.

This week, I'm going further back in time (I'm guessing the 1950's), and looking at a print ad that I find interesting especially when applying today's marketing norms to it.

Fairy Liquid builds its brand around trust as you can see from two of the three taglines on the ad here. You can trust the cleaning power, and trust its value. That doesn't seem like a stretch. We all want our customers to trust us. But, take a look at the tagline right underneath the brand name. It reads "I Hardly Ever Buy It!"

Whoa - that's some concept for a packaged good, huh? Today, a major focus of brands is repeat purchases. Get the customer to buy, and buy often. Coupons offer slight discounts for buying more (maybe more than you need). Marketers of items that are infrequent purchases may spend time promoting the multiple uses of the good (e.g. baking soda), or the need to replace it at frequent intervals (e.g. toothbrushes).

With Fairy Liquid (at least in this ad), value is a big part of their offering. They back up their message, and not just with a low price point. They do it with a quality product that only requires a small amount with each dish washing job, thus a lesser need to purchase repeatedly. "I Hardly Ever Buy It" is probably not a claim you'd see on an ad today, even though Fairy Liquid is going after customer loyalty here, something immensely important to today's brands.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ads I Like: "Hardys - Five Generations Of Devotion"

I came across the following advertising campaign for Hardys Wine via +Ads of the World the other day. It left an impression on me, and since I just recently did a Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) with +TheUrbanTaste for my startups & entrepreneurs community, it seemed like the perfect time to share it.

This campaign was done by the McCann agency, and focuses on the family history behind Hardys Winery. The imagery is rustic and simple,and captures the entire experience of the wine's production. That, along with descriptive storytelling in the copy, hones in on the pride, knowledge, and work ethic passed down from generation. I appreciate the production, so I'm more inclined to appreciate the product now that I know the story behind it.

What do you think of these ads?

Note: The copy is a bit small. Use the hover zoom browser extension, or ask me if you can't read it. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

What Will Be The Digital Marketing Trends In 2014?

I received a notification from +CamMi Pham on Google+ today asking me to contribute my prediction for digital marketing trends in the new year through Twitter or Instagram. Her company, +Filemobile, has a cool holiday promotion where interaction results in donations to a good cause.

See her Google+ post about the campaign that I have embedded below, and my contributions via Twitter below that. Want to share your predictions for digital marketing in 2014? Use hashtag #FMTRENDS14, and I'll check them out.

Google+ Hangout On Air: Wine Forum & Tasting Co. The Urban Taste - Entrepreneur Profile

Among several other communities on Google+, I run one called Cincinnati Startups & Entrepreneurs which serves as a hub for business people in my area to connect, collaborate, and learn. Every so often I sit down with an entrepreneur or two to talk about their business in a Hangout On Air (or, HOA for those familiar with 'The Plus' lingo). This is the latest HOA. If you like wine and networking, this may appeal to you.   

The Urban Taste serves as an educational wine forum & tasting for minorities to be introduced to & learn about the culture of wine, while being inspired to participate in the opportunities that the wine industry offers for minorities. 

Here, I sit down with Felicia Prater and Alex Spencer to discuss The Urban Taste's mission, marketing as an entrepreneur, and educating young professionals on the joy of wine.
If you're in the Cincinnati area, and would like to discuss your business in a Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) for the 'Cincinnati Startups & Entrepreneurs' Community page, please contact me (link on the left).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 1

This is the first post in a series I'm getting started today on this blog where I share some kind of a marketing piece - a magazine ad, TV commercial, billboard, etc. - that stands out among the rest as memorable and effective advertising.

To give a short background, on December 6th I shared the below post on Google+ about Amazon's little publicized 7-day refund policy.

As I mentioned in the post, this got me reminiscing about a very memorable commercial from my childhood. The following ad for Circuit City ran for a while, and features a kid who recently bought a Walk-Man making his way back to the store to show the clerk the newly advertised lower price on the item. The clerk issues a refund for the difference with no problem. The commercial puts customer service front and center as a value proposition, and stood out to me because it was a kid taking care of his purchase with no problem. I had a Walk-Man too, and I bought cassette tapes every week. So, I guess it kind of made me feel empowered to know that this is a store that wouldn't treat me like a little kid.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How ESPN Is Using Twitter In Their SportsCenter Mobile App

+ESPN  recently updated their "ScoreCenter" mobile app, and I love what they've done with the place. For one, it's now called SportsCenter after their flagship news show. Some might wonder why they didn't start with that. But, the fact is the initial app offered nothing else. It was for scores, plain and simple. Calling it by the +SportsCenter name would be misleading. 

This new version though is very much a mobile version of the TV show. It offers scores, league standings, news alerts and more. It's a very useful branded application. But, what I find most interesting is the way social media is incorporated right into it. Click on the "Now" tab at the top of the screen, and you are treated to real-time updates from any chosen sport via Twitter.

What a brilliant way to offer real-time content to fans! Not only does this keep SportsCenter users up to date using social media content, it actually leverages the brand's trusted voices (their anchors, their analysts, etc.) by defaulting to these profiles. Users can then click through once to easily follow any of these handles on the Twitter social network for more content. 

This app feature is a way of being helpful and offering content without being closed off to the rest of the mobile world. It works because they market themselves without trying to do it all themselves. ESPN delivers what their users want. And, that's the best way to win on mobile, and on social.    

How To Quickly Learn Effective Social Media Marketing Tactics On Each Network

Keeping up with all of the social networks available today can be challenging. I've talked to a lot of marketers that are proficient in one or two, but are admittedly novices on most others. Granted, every social network doesn't warrant the same amount of attention. Maybe your brand, or the brands you work with, have no interest in Vine or Pinterest. Perhaps SnapChat and Tumblr don't boast the users that make up their target market.

However, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each social network, as well as the demographic breakdown of their userbase will tell marketers which brands can use these networks to connect with existing customers and identify new ones leading to more sales over time.

A great way to hit the ground running with a network that's new to you, or to reinvigorate your creativity with those you're already on, is to seek out brands that are "doing it right". Fortunately, examples like this are curated by many different people and can be found in neat little collections on blogs, in white papers, and through slide presentations.

I've included a few slideshare presentations below that showcase various brands who are successful on LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram, respectively. Seeing what other marketers are doing to leverage social media serves as inspiration to me. See if they inspire you too.  


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Digital Technology Breathes A Whole New Life Into Billboard Advertising

Image credit: Lomography

Billboards - the pop-up ads of the highway. Many people don't seem to enjoy what they add to the skyline. They're often not pretty, they're huge, and they're ubiquitous. People can't get away from them. They can ignore them. But, they still see them. That's what marketers like about billboards. Repetition results in familiarity. We know this. And, put the right ad on the right billboard for one-time passersby (a gas station or restaurant ad along with upcoming exit number), and it's easy for them to act.

But while they can (and often do) work for businesses, billboards offer low-engagement, one-way communication, and effectiveness is difficult to measure. Digital technology is really starting to turn this on it's head though, bringing in a whole new set of possibilities for marketers. Digital billboards in some form have been around for a long time (see the talking billboard from the 1991 movie L.A. Story above). They give you the time, the temperature, traffic updates, and even relationship advice in boring yellow on black projection.
Image credit: SCPR
But, marketers have been getting more creative with digital billboards little by little. Baseball teams, for instance, have used their ad space along the road to deliver daily game information (I don't have a photo of my Cincinnati Reds sign, so we'll stick with Los Angeles, I guess). Before the game starts this one has a countdown. The Reds (as I'm sure others have) offer up the name of the pitcher for that day. As soon as the game ends with a win from the home team, the projection changes to large text that exclaims "Reds Win!". It's simple, but engaging. It grabs the driver's attention and gets them to think about the game.

Judging by their patent filingsGoogle is also interested in the power of billboards. They want to create an AdWords type of system, where data (and bids) will cause the most relevant ad to display in real-time. The implications here are exciting to think about.

Still, other brands are coming up with ingenious ways to use digital technology in their mass marketing on billboards. I'll leave you with this one from British Airlines that won the Internet a week or so ago. It wows the viewer with technology unseen before, provides information about the product and service, and ends with a great marketing message that becomes clear and powerful if you watch a few planes go by above it (and how could you not?).


Now that you have this as inspiration, how might you go about improving your billboard advertising to create something truly eye-catching?