Marketing is all about finding and supplying demand

Here’s an easy assertion to kick off this blog post, marketing is all about demand. Why? Because one thing that startup marketing teaches you is that you’ve got very little in tangible terms if you don’t have much in the way of demand for your product or service. But I’m not writing this to focus on startups, on using this to help focus regular SME marketing on demand. Why? Because it works. If you have something which your existing customers or potential customers want, then the regular business activity to turn that demand into hard cash follows accordingly.

Of course, with an established business it may not be clear where new demand lies. You already do a great job servicing existing clients with our existing offering, but how do you go beyond that, focusing on demand as your guide? Well, this is a bit of a growth hacking type challenge in my opinion. In the sense that often the answers to growth hacking within an existing business are often connected to existing activity, you’re not trying to make a ‘great leap forward’ more a matter of connecting the dots with what you offer and what customers want. Rather than go into more detail on this theme let me give you an example, which I suspect is what you want to read about (we’re back to demand, see!).

In a marketing role working for an expanding recruitment business MHR London, looking to find new business for their temporary staff offering, I recently undertook some online market research into how the Christmas shopping scene was likely to change over the next few years, drawing on my previous online experience from like of eBay. What I found reading leading industry magazine ‘Shopping Centre’ quoting Patrick O’Brien, principal analyst at Verdict last Christmas, is that:

“Shoppers have greater confidence in online retailing now and are prepared to leave holiday purchases right up until just before Christmas. This is supported by the rise of click & collect services. Retailers have rushed to develop and market their click & collect services, leaving shoppers the convenience of collecting purchases in store instead of having to ensure they are at home at the right time,” he concluded.

Building on this initial analysis I looked for insight which supported the case for the demand-led fact that the pre-Christmas rush is only going to get bigger. Overall UK shoppers’ click and collect grows in popularity (from 35% in 2014 to 76% by 2017) according to retail analysts Planet Retail. This is because from a consumer pov the number one barrier to shopping online is the cost of delivery. Similarly, the Planet Retail research showed that 1 in 4 online shoppers are deterred by inconvenient delivery times.

To conclude this blog post, what I’ve done is put two and two together. Firstly that click and collect services is rapidly growing. Secondly, following confidence in online shopping to deliver the goods, customers are likely to leave collection more and more to the last minute. Which means I’ve putting together the online Christmas shopping behavourial analysis from Verdict, and the click and collect analysis from Planet Retail, I’ve now found a potential niche market for a specific service of the recruitment company worth focusing on. Namely the supply of high quality Christmas temporary staff, backed up by MHR’s expert hiring and support, to shopping centres to ensure the quality and quantity staff to meet the pressures created by the expanding Christmas rush. Merry Xmas!

One way I’ve used to growth hack a business to create social ROI

There’s nothing complicated about this method. It simply involves the following elements:

  1. A copy of your latest business plan, or a similar document.
  2. A day or half day according to your availability.
  3. The desire to align your marketing and overall business aims and objectives.

In the successful example working with curry snack food retailer Mindi’s I created a half day workshop using the business model canvas approach, and focused on a social model canvas version, which aligned with their business objectives. To note they hadn’t got a detailed business plan to work with, even though their business was already up and running.

Anyhow the results speak for themselves. Since the June 2013 workshop PR coverage rocketed, and the business has gone from strength to strength. I don’t claim credit for their hard work or product innovation, simply for the approach in aligning their marketing and business model canvas, to create a simple shared understanding between the co-founders of what needed to be done.

And as I observed following discussions at the excellent Socialbakers’ Engage 2014 event yesterday where they launched a new social ad analytics tool, there is a powerful added value to this approach to setting up your social media marketing. Going forward by aligning activity to business objectives going forward it will be much simpler to measure your social ROI, as demonstrated by Oliver Blanchard:

Indifference rules OK

What matters to customers isn’t what matters to brands. Consider this deck’s argument, and see if you agree. Funnily enough I said something similar in 140 characters along the lines of ‘where are the artists in social media?’ recently.

You’d think my talent in combining creativity and analytics would therefore be highly sellable, in this case using the synthesis of the two to be able to find out what customers want and convey this to the business. What I have tagged as #thinslicing. But it’s not always that easy..even though as it says in the slides below: “Because in the end it’s the case for why great creativity is absolutely essential”.

  

A guide to help get your influencer marketing right from the start

Influencer marketing

Digital Influence is one of the hottest trends in social media, yet is largely misunderstood. The Rise of Digital Influence, the new report (March 2012) by Altimeter Group Principal Analyst Brian Solis is a ‘how-to’ guide for businesses to spark desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence.

The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and it includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns. Brian evaluates the offerings of 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for Digital Influence as defined in the report.

How do brands handle the power of key influencers?

Also included are an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.

Thinslicing The Hunger Games

Plenty has been written about the significant role played by a carefully organised and orchestrated social campaign for The Hunger Games. So I’ll simply jump to my ‘thinslice,’ namely how the movie marketers used fan response to tweak as they went along. First of all though consider that this process is much like gaming company wooga carefully monitors user response to tweak aspects of its online games to help boost engagement and thus ROI.

Secondly, to get back to The Hunger Games, and to illustrate what this means – the value of feedback from fans – to be able to optimise your campaign here’s a key quote from Lionsgate’s senior vice president for digital marketing Danielle DePalma:

“What seemed to work the best, too, was fan-created content. I mean, the Peeta memes were always the top performers. That’s how we were really learning about what our audience liked most, through those Facebook results.” This character-focused social media strategy is also backed up by Crimson Hexagon’s analysis of the factors impacting on the success of Julian Fellowes, creator of the popular period drama ‘Downton Abbey’, with the US version, ‘The Gilded Age’ soon to be launched:

“Our analysis indicates that in order for Fellowes to recreate “Downton Abbey” with “The Gilded Age,” he must develop compelling, witty characters with strong moral convictions.”

In other words (ref: my previous post on the value of thinslicing), joining together how your audience behaves (qualitative) with what the data tells you (quantitative), gives you the intelligence to optimise your campaign as you go along – providing you possess the level of organisation and flexibility to allow that to happen (context) effectively. That’s what we’ve been doing at Sony EU in Q3 to good effect too, on the back of the colossal success of ‘Skyfall’.

What this means is that social media marketeers have to think and act on fan data much more like online gaming companies if they are going to both engage their customer base, and deliver real returns.

 

10 Facebook for Business Best Practices: thanks to Hubspot

I borrowed these top ten from inbound marketing experts Hubspot. Do you have any Facebook business tips you’d like to add?

1. Be interactive, fun and helpful. When people reach your Facebook page, they are looking for some kind of interaction. Don‟t disappoint them. As an example, a hardware company offered their Facebook fans links, applications, and engaging information, and within a short time, they added 26,000 fans! <And the more interaction, the higher you score on the ‘EdgeRank’ algorithm, which means more of your content is featured in your fans’ newsfeeds.

2. Embed videos on your Facebook page. There is no reason why you should send people to YouTube to watch your videos. Keep ‘em right on your page with embedded videos! <good idea, and you can create a tab for YouTube videos within your FB Page too.

3. Create a connection between Facebook and the outside world. I recently read a case study about how sales reps worked with local retailers to promote their events through Facebook updates and photos. Consider something similar. <what’s worked for you?

4. Create contests on Facebook. Contests are a fun and engaging way to encourage participation from fans and even generate new fans. For example, in order to enter a contest, one company asked people to comment on a thread announcing a giveaway in Facebook. <See the success with the Shopping.com iPhone giveaway which took place alongside lots of ongoing comps – see Slideshare of the campaign

5. Integrate traditional advertising with Facebook. The Facebook icon/logo is well known. Add it to your print ads to promote your Facebook presence. Another great idea is to use traditional ads to promote contests that encourage people to sign up on your fan page. <and the granular targeting helps to keep costs down and engagement up

6. Use Facebook to grow your email list, and vice versa. Use your email newsletter to boost awareness of your Facebook page. In addition, promote your email newsletter to your existing Facebook fans. The end result will be growth in your email list and your Facebook fan base. <that’s a simple but great way to add ROI from Facebook growth..

7. Introduce new products on Facebook first. People who sign up to be fans of your Facebook page are likely your most loyal evangelists and customers. Reward them by giving them information about a new product/service/feature before everyone else. If you do it right, they will help you promote it to others. <exclusivity rules OK

8. Welcome new page visitors. When thinking about Facebook, a new metric comes to mind: visitor-to-like. As a B2B company, you ultimately want to maximize the percentage of people who visit your Facebook Page and click the “Like” button. One important way to achieve this goal and establish expectations with new fans is to implement a ‘welcome’ landing page that invites new visitors to Like your Page. Technically, there are many ways to execute this. HubSpot customers, for example, can install the free Facebook Welcome Application. <and you can use the Welcome Page to run comps too

9. Integrate social content on your Facebook Page. Facebook is the gateway to the internet for many people. They use it as a home base. In fact, one in eight minutes on the internet is spent on Facebook. Because Facebook has become such an online home for people, it is important to incorporate content from other social channels like YouTube and SlideShare to extend the life and reach of that content. <and not forgetting Twitter!

10. ‘Like’ other businesses’ Facebook Pages. Remember that social media is, well, social. By Liking the Pages of business partners, valued vendors, and customers, Facebook will notify the administrators of those Pages. In return, some of them may also decide to Like your Page, which will also expose it to the individual fans of their Pages. Think of this as leveraging Facebook for co-marketing efforts. <network with other potential partners via Facebook!

 

Online marketing organization structure question?

As a more crowdsourced way of answering this question on the G Plus community on the best team structure to launch an online community I got few replies from community managers on this question – I hope that’s useful. Certainly (2) looks worth a glance;-)

1.
That’s an interesting question which one rarely gets chance to reflect upon, as usually that set up is already in place. Taking advantage of the ability to plan the team structure I would cross-check your strategy by looking at how you meet your aggressive targets by looking at it from the end customer point of view. For example take an example like Zappos where the customer care people have a dual role of dealing with direct customer issues by phone but also reflecting on activity through their social media activity as a way of reaching out to existing and potential customers. If I was a customer of your new community therefore I wouldn’t care if I spoke to the engagement person or the acquisition person I just want to know that I am valued and for that to be evidence in my online relationships within the community – for example when I feedback a suggestion about a possible improvement to the community that it is publicly reflected upon by the community staff and acted upon if it meets your cost/benefit objectives.

2.
Some years ago I managed the department handling community and customer facing roles for a company with a rapidly expanding website and customer / reader base and few budget constraints.
We adopted a strategy of aiming to avoid having conflicting demands on each member of the department. We divided the department into teams based on the source of pressure. So we had:
– a team who responded to customer email their targets included real-time response to customer email where possible
– a team dealing with discussion moderation who responded to reports and requests from discussion board users, their targets included real-time response to discussion board problems
– a team who seeded content between discussion boards and editorial content, their targets incorporated rolling editorial deadlines through-out the day

It worked very well.

3.
Community first. Commerce second. Good conversations create transactions.
Oh. And re-read www.cluetrain.com

4.
Hmmm – The terms being used sound very process/tech focused rather than community member-focused.
I’d suggest having a team with a “infrastructure” component (that focuses on platform, channels, process mgt) and a “segment/subcommunity” component (that focuses on serving particular groups of members).

But there are many ways of doing things.

5.
Also – goals. I’d like to submit that you can’t really move forward on any online community campaign without recognizing the goals and reasons behind
your campaign. Is it to drive sales? Drive traffic? Raise awareness?
Knowing your goals helps to put the right people in place.