Archive for January, 2013

Content Marketing

DATE: January 25th, 2013

Straight from Wikipedia:

Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Content Marketing’s basic premise is to “provide some valuable information or entertainment – “content” – that stops short of a direct sales pitch or call to action, but which seeks to positively influence a customer in some way.”[1] This information can be presented in a variety of media, including text, video, Q&A’s, photos, etc.

OK… I think we used to call this marketing or advertising.

Naming or, in this case, renaming, is a great way to introduce the old as something new and create a buzz.

But I have to tell you, this stuff always trips me up. Seriously. How can creating and sharing content with our clients, customers or donors in a way that engages them be new? Or earth shaking enough to focus a conference on it?

But let’s step back and think about this.

The Globe and Mail featured several top web marketers who were drawing increased numbers to their sites because they shared information that the customer found useful. is a great example. It gives tons of advice to pregnant moms. J. Crew has Erica who will give you personal style advice.

There are hundreds of examples — I know you have your favourites.

The key  is to be content driven NOT marketing driven. While that may seem like a fine line, I think it goes right back to the very basics of marketing. You see, content marketing is designed to be customer/donor centric. With the amazing analytics available, you can actually know if the audience wants that information or not. Watching the pathways on your web site are critical. You can bet your marketing budget that Amazon spends a lot of resources on studying those pathways.

But I want to get back to sharing engaging content.

Let’s start with the word “sharing.”

The word implies relationship. Unless there is somebody there, I have nothing to share. It’s impossible to share with myself. But, and I see this all the time, companies and organizations, continuously try to do it.

Forgive me for repeating myself, but when we talk to our customers or donors, we need to stand in their shoes and talk to them, not at them, not over them, not under them. Catching people’s attention has to, well, catch their attention.

That is often known as “engage.”

We use it in every sentence: engaging copy, engaging our customers, engaging user interface.

But do we actually know what it means. Engage is when I turn my lights off at 3 in the morning because the novel I’ve been reading is so engaging I can’t put it down. Not engaged is when my husband gently tugs my tablet from under my chin because I’m drooling onto the blank screen where the novel fell asleep with me.

Big question: does our content engage our audience to the point where it distracts them enough to listen?

The best example of talking to oneself is the first launch of the Blackberry Playbook. (You may not remember the product, although one can buy it at a very low price right now. It’s RIM’s version of a tablet.) Frankly, the tablet is awesome. It’s small, easy to use and is controlled by easy swipe motions. I love it. (Although, sigh, I have replaced with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, I can talk about that some other time).

The name: PLAYBOOK is perfect for their identified market share. Every successful business leader has a visionary, innovative Playbook close at hand. Unfortunately, RIM’s marketing agency identified the fact that it had Flash. Yeah, that caught my attention. While a kind of classic RIM marketing miss…. it’s just so not content savvy.

Each of us, in our businesses, has riveting content to share. We have content that people want to know. But until we understand the words “share” and “engage” we will miss the mark. You see, even if the specs of our products and services are a little boring, it’s the marketing team’s job to make it sharable and engaging.

Steve Jobs was an intuitive. He studied his audience and, without judging, attributed response from them. When you remove that intuitive mind from your marketing team, you lose a lot of power. Understanding people is the heart of our work. I fear that defining tactics is our focus, not that intuitive study of people. Even though we can build elaborate algorithms predicting human behaviour, humans continue to surprise us.

A great marketing team understands: share and engage….

That’s why we get paid the big bucks!

Raspberry Crisp……

Marketing/Sales… Fundraising/Communications

DATE: January 16th, 2013
Channel Partnerships in London, UK cited the following challenges in effectively growing companies:
  • Two-thirds of respondents said the divide between marketing and sales is a result of the teams being driven by different targets and objectives. Nearly two-thirds felt that political conflict between senior managers was a cause of disconnect between the teams. Poor communication between departments, a failure to value each other’s contribution to the business, and lack of understanding of each other’s roles were also highlighted as issues by more than half of respondents.
  • 57% of respondents said lack of a cohesive strategy was a source of problems with their organization’s go-to-market approach. Nearly one-third felt that marketing activities were too often driven by short-term goals and admitted that around a third of planned marketing activity doesn’t ever get implemented.

For many of you in the thick of marketing or sales, this is a no brainer — you experience it every day. For fundraisers, it may not be as apparent, but it lurks in the divide between fundraising and communications.

What puzzles me is each team’s blindness to the reality: you are speaking to the same people. When your marketing and sales (fundraising and communication) are at odds, you lose the most powerful growth mechanism you have: brand-direct.

So let’s talk about brand-direct.

For generations, marketers have carefully separated brand development (marketing… sorry, few non-profits focus on brand… to their detriment) and sales. Building the brand (communication) was seen as an ethereal activity — high creative genius but little practical application where the rubber hits the road. While sales (fundraising) was darned hard work and required flyers, faxes, unlimited text or twitter. The messages often change with the sales person (fundraiser) — because they can’t believe the marketing team came up with that lame campaign.

So the battle ensues.

Companies and organizations that are able to focus their message — making sure their brand/marketing campaigns have direct response urgency, understand their unique selling proposition and build consistency in all interactions with their customers (donors).

In the end brand-direct wins the game.

Because it focuses on the end user — the customer, client or donor. Brand-direct marketers step over their own preferences to understand the unique preferences of their customer. Brand-direct sales teams (fundraisers) trust their marketing team and build on the campaign to get their sales numbers.

So I guess the question really is: are you playing to win the game or to advance your own teams political agenda?

Consumer Research… the myth

DATE: January 3rd, 2013

Steve Jobs said: “It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

In the past month there has been a flurry of writing on the value of traditional consumer or donor research… or lack of value. It all makes perfect sense… when asked, people tell you what they think they would do. But much of our lives lie in unconscious process. New research in neurological activity shows unexpected patterns when consumers look at products. Choosing what to buy isn’t always logical.

Einstein said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” While Google continues to play with algorithms, the human mind continues to create and discover beyond its science.

Currently, in the US, only 2 out of every 10 products launched succeeds. When we ask customers what they want, they speak from their own knowledge, they rarely imagine beyond what they already know. Inventors are  wacky people who imagine nutty things. They are poets of change, discovering the new and unimagined.

Marketers — you and I — are artists. We use words and images to take the invention (the product) and present it to the world. Often the inventor, the person who has imagined the product, forgets the user and becomes enamored with the technology, style or creation. The wise inventor relies on the marketer to entice the audience to consume their product.

In the nonprofit world, Penelope Burke has spend many hours and many dollars on interviewing, researching and gathering donor perspective. As she releases her insights, be careful. This is what donor say they are going to do. Make sure you test. Donors will tell you that they do not respond to mail — but our results show that mail continues to life overall results. Organizations which have depended on mail should continue to mail. Two of our clients deliberately reduced their mail. In one case, within a four year period, half of their donor base was lost. In the other case, the client wisely stopped they no mail strategy and went back to mail, but continue to struggle to regain the momentum they lost.

That doesn’t mean that you should depend on the mail. Test new things, get to know the people you talk to regularly. Use your instinct to understand change. Continue the things that work while investing in new tactics.

Depending on consumer or donor incites inhibits success. Testing in ways that allow the consumer/donor to make unconscious decisions is critical in order to truly understand  their responses.

Who knew that furry, ugly, unflattering, UGGS would be an amazing success? Who knew that Old Spice could actually revive its product with a few beautiful man ads? Who knew parents would flock to he stores buy a Furby?

Marketing success is a bit of guts, a bit of knowledge and a lot of research. There are unlimited lists of the core ingredients of great marketing — but all comes done to knowing people, knowing things and knowing data.

I wish you the best in the New Year as you study your audience, looking for insights that help you know them better.