Feb 12 2010

What the Trend

by Andrew DiFiore

If you are like me then you love tracking trends, especially through social media. Sometimes it is for fun, sometimes for business. For something that is a little of both, check out What the Trend, real-time tracking of popular topics on Twitter.

This week Advertising Age has teamed up with What the Trend to bring you the Top 10 Most Tweeted Brands chart (published every Friday). Enjoy.

Nov 5 2009

What B2B Marketing resource you can’t live without?

by Andrew DiFiore

B2B Marketing Posse conducted an informal poll on Twiig and LinkedIn asking B2B marketing people What B2B Marketing resource you can’t live without?

The top dog was AdAge, followed by B-to-B Marketing. Although not too surprising, what was more interesting were the number of online resources people suggested. Below are a few we thought are worth a visit.

Oct 19 2009

If we build it better why don’t they come?

by Jeff Propper

One of the most often asked question of small and medium businesses is: “how can we unseat our competition”? Often times, the incumbent supplier has the benefit of a long-standing relationship, along with a reputation of quality products and services.  This is understandably, a serious issue when you may have a better solution, at a better price and even better service.  I call it the “if we build it better why don’t they come?” syndrome.  They don’t come because customers don’t want to take chances.  Most people will avoid risky decisions, even when their current supplier makes mistakes.

How do we change this behavior?

It can be changed, but it takes time and money. What’s more, it takes building a reputation. Creating a promise and making good on it time after time, influencing your target market, and in other words, even SMBs must build a brand!  Sometimes, simply saying the word “brand” sends shudders through the very beings of senior management.  “Build a brand? Those are only for big companies who can afford it—not us!”

Let’s take it one step at a time.

Building a brand for your SMB doesn’t have to cost multi-millions of dollars, but in order to be successful you must think SYNERGY. Remember we’re talking about a building process, not an instant solution. In the brand building process you start with the basics, and those basics include asking the right questions:

  • Assess who you are: What is your company’s corporate culture?  What is the perception of the company in the marketplace?  Does your reputation reflect the true nature of your company? What is it about your company that makes you better/different than your competition?
  • What do you stand for? What core values best describe your company?
  • What can your company promise? A distinct, clear, attainable brand promise must be articulated.  Example: GE.  imagination at work.  The perception of a high quality company dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services that in-turn make our lives better.

Building your brand is not just advertising.

Your brand must be incorporated into every aspect of your company. From your corporate culture and customer interface, to advertising, social media, internet marketing and public relations.  Your brand personality must come through consistently.  Example: The Body Shop has developed programs that reflect its core identity called Values and Campaigns.  It contributes to rain forest preservation efforts, is active in women’s issues and even has a program called COMMUNITY TRADE that embodies their commitment to trading fairly and responsibly with suppliers.  The Body Shop’s vision carries right through to the in-store experience.  Walk into a store, and you’re greeted by a salesperson wearing a T-shirt with both the logo and a social message.

In the end, building a brand for your SMB takes time, effort, commitment and money.  It’s not a quick fix.  It’s a long-term strategy that leads to growth, profitability and stability. After all, don’t you want your company to be your customer’s “supplier of choice” no matter what?

Oct 1 2009

Display Ad Follow Up: What is 16% of Clicks Worth?

by Andrew DiFiore

As a follow up to my earlier post Google Makes Good on New DoubleClick Ad Exchange, AdAge reports that the number of people online who click display ads has dropped 50% in less than two years and only 16% of US Internet users are clicking. Nevertheless, ComScore maintains that display ads are still effective when paired with Paid Search. This is probably true enough but I would add to the mix optimized Landing Pages. And of course, good creative and a compelling offering helps.

Personally, I never felt impressions or click-throughs were a valid measurement of ROI in the digital world. Yes, there is something to be said about the value of people just seeing your brand but I’m not convince this is enough to justify the costs. It is too easy to exaggerate these numbers and their significance on engagement.

Displays ads (and the way they are measured) are transplants from print where advertising is passive, one-way. If the copy is clever, the imagery provocative, and the message on point, you can acquire mind-share in the reader’s brain (whether she realizes it or not). Mind-share is fleeting in our information saturated world (the average American is exposed to over 3,000 commercial messages a day, blah, blah, blah) which is why you must repeat your message often and everywhere. We all know that.

But online display ads don’t have to be passive. This is the Web, baby! You can create a multimedia experience that interacts with the visitor, maybe even “know” what she is doing, and be the empathic gateway to a meaningful exchange. Now that’s mind-share that sticks. Don’t know what I mean then check out Nike’s The Human Race 10K (kinda eerie).

In short, display ads have their place in the marketing mix. But to be truly effective at engagement, think outside the box. Better still, think: online there is no box.

Read the entire AdAge article here.

Sep 4 2009

Fake Friends, Love For Sale

by Andrew DiFiore

Recently, Michael Learmonth of Advertising Age did a post about uSocial selling followers and friends to give the impression that a company’s Twitter or Facebook page are wildly popular. Sort of if you can’t make it then fake it.

I know this is nothing new; affiliate marketers have been doing this for decades. I guess for some, the perception of popularity is good enough.

I suppose this type of service was inevitable and we’re likely to see more companies like uSocial crop up. But, as many of the commenters of Learmonth’s post point out, tactics like this fly in the face of what social networking is all about. And the danger to social networks like Twitter is that they become irrelevant to the people who matter most. And the truth is: there is always another social platform around the corner; maybe its Posterous or Netlog or Lifeblob.

There is an inherent risk when a social community becomes too big.  As more and more “marketers” (and I do use the term loosely here) jump aboard the Social Media bandwagon (e.g. Twitter grew 1,444% over last year as of May), the more they clog these communities with useless tweets and mindless blog-babble (or blabble). The personalities that make these communities worth the effort of participation move on and you’re left with PR agencies pitching to other PR agencies.

To be fair, I see how tempting it is to “game the system” with so many competitors vying for the same eyeballs and clients growing impatient for results. Who has the time to build meaningful relationships… lets just buy ‘em. The problem with this line of thinking is it is self-deluding. If your goal is to generate real conversion then obviously paying for followers or friends fails to do this. Of course, you might be thinking: I need to appear popular in order to attract real conversion. Maybe but this is a slippery slope (and one I plan to put to the test and report back on in a follow up post). If enough people are gaming the system then these “stats” become meaningless, visitors will catch wise and assume any high number has been jerry-rigged.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is a self-correcting system. Whenever there is a flaw in one product, a new product comes along and fixes it. For example, lets say you are following 5,000 people on Twitter but most of the time only 20% of the tweets are useful and you don’t want to miss them. You can use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to group and prioritize your Twitter feeds, making your social media life easier and more efficient. There are more tools like these going beta every month, designed, in part, to address these types of unintended uses (or abuses).