November 30, 2012

Mind Pops and Marketing

The science and discipline of psychology is very much aligned with Marketing, and recently I read this great PsyBlog post about "Mind Pops". Mind Pops is the author's term for those images and/or ideas that to pop into your mind seemingly out of the blue and apropos of nothing.

Researchers learned that "mind pops" happen to everyone, on average, once per day. They have learned that these "pops" are not at all random.  

People unconsciously process much more of the stimulus around than they are aware of. The images and ideas in "mind pops" can even be from triggers experienced weeks, or even months, in the past.

Think about that...images and ideas that you were exposed to, and may not even consciously "remember" are actively simmering in your brain. These ideas stay in the background of your brain, generating more synapse connections until one day, when the context is right, it "pops". 

What does this have to do with marketing?  Everything!

In a previous post, Attribution is Not Marketing,  I talked about Google's Zero Moment of Truth and how there needs to be "something" that triggers a person to go and search and that the "something" is marketing.  

This Mind Pops research supports my point about it being good marketing strategy: you need to be where your customers are, with compelling and relevant messaging, ads and content. While an action may not come out of each touch your content and messaging and brand is making an impression that may subsequently trigger a "mind pop" in them to take that desired action.

November 26, 2012

Attribution is Not Marketing

Today I read a TechCrunch article by Josh Costine relating the news that Twitter and Facebook were attributed tiny percentages of Black Friday sales (source: IBM's Black Friday report).

McKinsey recently released a report called The Social Economy saying that up to 1/3 of consumer spending is likely impacted by social shopping.

So what gives?  All my good marketers out there reading this are nodding knowingly. We all live this every day.

Attribution isn't "real" and there are many challenges with it (learn more here). It doesn't tell the buyers' actual behavior taking them from  awareness to purchase. It just shows their last click before purchase. It is definitely an important thing to know, but it's also not the whole story and it can't be the sole driver of your marketing strategy.

I like Google's Zero-Moment-of-Truth (ZMOT) construct because it clearly articulates that "something" needs to triggers buyers to go and search. It has to be on the person's mind for them to actively go and visit a search engine. And, you know a person must be fairly far down the funnel once they type in your product's or brand's name into that search box.

What is this mythical, mystical "something" that triggers a buyers to go and search? It's not a mystery - it's your integrated marketing strategy and programs. It isn't magic, it's just marketing.

You know need to be where your customers are, with compelling messaging and ads and content relevant and engaging enough to persuade them to take the next step. And their 'steps' aren't linear. It can take many touches as the buyer researches, compares, asks his social network, views it in a store, etc. ZMOT study the average number of touches at over 10! That may not be true for every brand and every product - but it's never just one.

At this time, it is hard (perhaps impossible) to know "precisely" the sales impact of your social channels. Yes, it makes our job as marketing leaders tougher, but that's why you're there!  If marketing were simply a numbers game, an engineer would have automated it by now.

So continue to set your marketing strategy and allocate your (always too limited) resources - optimizing appropriately where you can, but always keep in mind that attribution is just a tool - it's not marketing.

November 16, 2012

Facebook is Changing

Today's TechCrunch article from Robin Grant confirms what all of us marketers have been talking about for awhile...that fewer and fewer people are actually seeing our Facebook posts! For all those people who were engaged enough to "like" our page?  Too bad, because our posts are not showing up in their feed anymore....

But I'm not wringing my hands, or gnashing my teeth.  I get it.  I get why Facebook is doing this.

From a consumer experience perspective, the content in the user's stream needs to be compelling and relevant. But, perhaps more importantly, this provides Facebook increased opportunities for monetization.

As a marketer and business executive, I can't get mad at Facebook for this.  Facebook is a public company - it needs to be showing its investors regular, "up and to the right" movement of its top line revenue each and every quarter.  

So now it means I will likely need to pay to insure my content is seen by my target audience on Facebook.  And I ask myself - is my target audience there?  Do I want my content there? Do I want my target audience to see and engage with and share my content there?   Yes, of course I do!  So, yes, I will invest to accomplish this.

How much will I invest?  Like everything else, that is determined by the business goals and the performance of the investment. Since social marketing has always been an integral part of the marketing strategy I plan to approach it the same way I would with any new idea - start with testing and increase investment as we learn what works.

So please, don't waste any more time or energy bemoaning how Facebook is changing.  Start with the fact that you know your target audience is there and you want to reach them there.  And then do what you do with every other media: allocate a test budget, review the results, optimize and repeat.

November 9, 2012

Small Business Marketing is Consumer Marketing

Recently I saw Megan Totka's article on Marketing to Small Businesses and just had to applaud her point that "business to business (B2B) marketing to a small business can be much like business to consumer (B2C) marketing".

Of course it is!!

Data shows that the majority of US firms are sole proprietors and less than 10 employees. The people running and working in these businesses are the very same people when they are working and when they are not. And while I don't have research stats handy as evidence of this, I expect that for these business owners, their line between work and not-work is very, very blurred. They think about work during their "non-work" hours and they think about non-work during their "work" hours.

So why would we think these people turn into new, strange, alien creatures just because it's a service for their business?  

There isn't a "small business buyer" - there is just the person purchasing something s/he will use in his/her business.  Most are comfortable using consumer technology at work, so let's start acknowledging that our marketing of business services needs to reflect consumer marketing sensibilities.

Marketing always begins with understanding the customer.  The more that we can remember that it is people in these small businesses, the more successful every small business marketer will be in engaging and converting them into profitable customers.

November 6, 2012

Freemium - It's Just Like Flying a Plane

Earlier this week TechCrunch published another article about "freemium".  Written by Jules Matz and Daniel Barney, it addresses that pressing question of: Should Your Startup Go Freemium?

Having spent years running marketing for freemium, SaaS businesses, I love reading and talking about this very topic!  And this article does a great job of walking through the various metrics and levers that need to be thought through before selecting a freemium business model for your business.

I often compare what it takes to manage a freemium, SaaS business to a pilot flying a plane. The pilot needs to watch all of the dials and levers in the cockpit at all times as each provides insight into one key function that is helping to keep the plane in the air.

Similarly, with a freemium business, there are multiple areas  - across product experience as well as up and down the marketing funnel - that need to be actively measured and managed. The business can't over-correct on any one element to the exclusion of the others else "the plane" will fall out of the sky. Of course different areas may need more attention than others at any given time, but in the end, it all needs to work together.

Future Deep Marketing Thoughts posts will cover each of these areas in more detail.