October 30, 2009

The "typical" Digital Marketing expert?

Is your business so simple that a "one size fits all" solution by people selling template websites can handle? If so, count yourself lucky. Most folks have real needs that require real digital marketing expertise not availble from the "IT guy" selling out of his car. Caveat emptor.

October 22, 2009

Paid vs Free Content: No debate in my mind

The following link from McKinsey summarizes the opposing views neatly. It's worth reading.

I think the “train has left the station” on this one. The final chapter on “paid vs free” has been written, and paid loses when it comes to content appealing to large segments. I can’t think of the last time I failed to discover a key factoid within a few search queries on Google or Twitter. Incremental cost = $0.

In an strange way this reminds me a bit of running a consumer packaged goods business. Sometimes you know your offer is in a state of decline due to changing fundamentals - Kodak and film - but yet you resist overhauling and self-cannibalization with a better offer such as digital. Reason: you have an asset base that is not easy to transform overnight and can still be "squeezed" until the inevitable happens.

Many years ago I sat in the buying office of Winn Dixie – a top 5 supermarket retailer with 1000+ stores. The film and camera buyer was fuming because in his words “Andy, consumers these days just don’t get it. Winn Dixie does offer digital cameras, but they just don't see it. I have these great disposable cameras that can provide a digital picture. The process is simple: take photos, develop the film and scan the pictures to create files.” Last time I checked these were gone from shelves (and that particular buyer is enjoying his retirement).

October 16, 2009

What happens when you take Diwali + Florida?

What happens when you take Diwali + Florida? Well, you get something kind of different! (excuse my amateurish Photoshop skills)

For those of you not familiar with Diwali, click here to check out the wiki. It’s a big deal across Asia and worth knowing about!

Happy Diwali wishes from Florida :)

October 12, 2009

Is Digital Marketing the “CD” of the 21st Century?

How many of you are still playing your 33’s or 45’s? Not many I expect! While the appeal of the old has some nostalgic charm, embracing newer more effective technologies is a trend for most people, and with good reason.

The same applies to marketing and advertising, which is seeing an increased shift toward digital as a cost effective preference for many businesses, replacing budgets assigned to TV, radio and print.

PricewaterhouseCoopers & IAB just released their internet ad spending update. While results showed ad revenue down -5.3% in first half of 2009, Internet advertising revenue in the U.S. was still a robust $5.4 billion.

What does this mean to me? The recession exacerbates a shift that was naturally occurring from traditional to digital. David Silverman, partner at PWC, sums it up nicely. "While the overall advertising market has continued to be impacted by current economic conditions, marketers are allocating more of their dollars to digital media for its accountability and because consumers are spending more of their leisure time online."

Just as the music industry's shift from records to CD’s occurred due to tangible benefits of the new technology, the same applies to the patterns now being seen in marketing spend changes.

Digital marketing approaches are proving themselves “winners", as they provide measurable ROI, have a vast and continually growing audience and can more readily be ‘tracked’ from inception to success (or failure!). Not enough reasons to leap into digital marketing? Then consider this… why does digital marketing work well?

The consumer has been trained to consume online media because online is where they spend their time working and playing. CLICK HERE to download the complete report. It’s loaded with great charts and figures.

One word (okay, maybe a few) of warning! Don’t think that you can just leap into digital marketing and guarantee sales successful. Digital does not equal a winning lottery ticket!! The ever growing levels of competition mean it’s more important than ever to "get it right".

Below are 5 quick tips to help ensure your business doesn't go the way of the 8-track, or worse, the gramophone!

1) Identify and allocate your digital marketing budget. Review how much money you can afford to allocate and where you plan to apply it (options include: SEO activities, social media marketing and PPC campaigns, to name a few!)

2) Plan your digital marketing dashboard. Outline digital marketing activities your business will consistently carry out to improve your online presence over time. Be sure to update your dashboard monthly to reflect the changed metrics you are tracking, and the traction obtained (this might include items like # of inbound site links, google page rank, # of indexed pages with google, # of delicious bookmarks etc)

3) Clarify team responsibilities and frequency of activities. Include "preparatory" work such as article writing, newsletter development or blog planning, as well as other activities including regular online postings to sites such as twitter, delicious and facebook.

4) Make it fun. Mastering digital and internet marketing is all about relationship building to create dedicated "fans". To do this, make sure your online presence is both engaging and stimulating. Humor is often injected into online postings and articles to emotionally involve your audience.

5) One Step At A Time. Do not expect instant results. Careful planning and consistent application of digital and internet media marketing can and should yield good results for your business. If you are looking for more instant results, then focus initially on onsite SEO followed by PPC campaigns - but beware - a good PPC campaign typically costs more per lead than social media and offsite SEO activities, so make sure you consider this when budgeting for your online marketing efforts.

To your digital success!!

October 7, 2009

How far can YOU ride by pedaling a bike without tires?

It’s all about traction, with no traction between your bike and the path at your feet, you end up going nowhere, no matter how fast you are pedaling. Similarly, to carry out effective marketing activities, you have to tangibly measure your marketing campaign metrics and understand the traction of your activities as they relate to sales results.

Metrics? Yuk, boring stuff you may think … or maybe the answer is not that it’s boring, but that it’s hard to do? Have you heard the old adage “no pain no gain”? It applies as well to marketing efforts as to any other activity you wish to engage in. The truth is if we could measure and link our efforts to financial objectives we would. Period. It may not be pleasant or fun, but without having clearly stated objectives, measurable (and financially quantifiable) activities and a method to pull together all the information to truly understand the effectiveness of your efforts, likely you will be wasting your time and money.

So here is my advice: Don't start another project involving Social Media (or any other form of marketing investment) without asking yourself these simple questions.

1) What is the goal? If the goal does not involve selling more tomorrow (or in the near future), then please stop. Don't spend the money. Save it. Even in this lousy economy, banks still pay folks some minuscule return. Only when you are committed to generating more revenue - and willing to take the heat when you don't - should you move to number 2.

2) What keeps you from hitting the goal doing what you do today? In other words, if what you are doing is soooooo smart and everyone wants to buy it, then why change? What this means is take a serious look at your offer. The more "me too", the louder you will have to "shout" your message. Social Media will not save you from yourself. If you have a bad value proposition, you have a bad business.

3) Does my strategy for addressing #2 include things such as "thought leadership", "generating awareness", "efficient promotion dissemination", "efficient customer issue resolution", "lead generation"? If so, perhaps Social Media can help. But I must warn you. Alone it is not the holy grail.

4) How much is my business willing to spend for a lead? How many leads become revenue? How much revenue? Figure these out and you can begin to figure out what you can afford to spend. EVERY business has to make more money than it spends.

Remember - effective marketing is not a measure of how many different activities your marketing team carries out, or how pretty your spreadsheets and presentations are, but is measured by the minimum number of repeatable steps required, at the lowest cost possible, to bring qualified leads to your sales team…. Metrics Metrics Metrics!

One final comment. Don’t ever mistake an individual’s name and phone number as a qualified lead. Unless you know they are the decision maker, have an approved budget, recognize they need your product or service, and are willing to buy TODAY, then they are just a name and number….and you might as well get back on your bike (don’t forget to buy a set of tires this time)!