Mar 2 2010

Tactics Without Strategy

by Andrew DiFiore

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There has been a lot of noise these days. Everybody clamoring for the quick fix. Today it is social media, tomorrow it will be something else.

Who has time for market research? Why bother with brand development? Quite frankly, who understands this stuff anyway? Let’s just throw <kittens> against the wall and see what sticks.

Ah, here’s the rub: tactics without strategy just don’t work! I’m sorry, did I stutter? Tactics without strategy do not work!

There is a “perception” that strategy costs money but in reality strategy is an investment that makes a business successful. It is not an exact science and often requires experimentation to get right but without it no business can grow.

Sure, you can discount your product or service but statistically this tactic fails to retain any kind of real market share after the “sale” if over. Customers (and clients) always return to the names they trust and in the end all you’ve accomplished is to lose money and cheapen your brand.

Last week, Millward Brown released a study of the top performing brands in the US based on “trust” and “recommendation”. scored the highest with 123 while FedEx was a close second with 122 and UPS rounded out the list at #10 with a score of 118 (two strong B2B brands). You can view the full report here.

So, what makes these companies so trustworthy in their customer’s mind?

What strategies and tactics are you employing?

Nov 28 2009

Social Media ROI

by Andrew DiFiore

I’m constantly asked about the subject of Social Media ROI and usually the question itself is a telling sign of how much the client understands Social Media marketing. Often it is asked as the first question, one frought with skepticism. Now I can just point them to this latest video by Socialnomics author Erik Qualman. Just kidding. More to come but enjoy the vid!

Aug 17 2009

Vendor Client Relationships

by Andrew DiFiore

If you are in a service-oriented business then I’m sure you can relate to this video. I once had a client offer to pay me in chocolates! In fairness, she was a gourmet chocolatier and it might have been a sweet deal but I couldn’t get my landlord to bite.

I’m sure we all have stories like these. Please feel free to share one of them with us. Rants are welcomed.

Aug 11 2009

So Your Social Media Sucks… Don’t Blame the Technology!

by Andrew DiFiore

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of Social Media and desperate times begets desperate actions. But don’t do Social Media if your reasoning includes:

  • It’s so cheap
  • Everybody else is doing it
  • I’m afraid of missing the boat
  • I heard one Tweet and all your dreams come true!
  • I have an account on Facebook and it feels like magic

Don’t kid yourself (or let anyone else kid you), Social Media takes time, strategy, and yes, money.

Now, I’m not talking about creating an account on Twitter or Plaxo (most social networks are free to join).  Social Media marketing is so much more than having a Facebook fan page or leaving a comment on Scobleizer. It is about participating in and contributing to the conversations. And there ain’t no room for introverts if you’re looking to affect change.

For marketers who want to use Social Media to advocate their brands, this means bringing something of value to the table; not just a sales pitch but rather something about your brand story worth telling, in a way that is unique and easy to retell. Most people in these communities don’t really mind that you are there with an ulterior motive as long as it is in line with what the conversation is about. Furthermore, most don’t mind telling you exactly what they think of your product or service.

All too often, companies assume they can “control” the message like in traditional media (e.g. newspapers, television, radio) but they can’t; nor should they try. The Social Web is a multi-channel, interactive medium with the power to spread ideas quickly, exponentially. You can track and direct the message but once it is out there, it is out there. If this concept scares you then stay away from Social Media.

In order for a Social Media marketing campaign to be successful you must have something good to sell and then have an engaging way of selling it. I’ll assume the first is a given. The second is where you must get creative. There is no substitute for great ideas regardless of the medium. At the end of the day this is really why clients hire us. Sure, we may be “masters of technology” but it is the power of our ideas that separate the good from the great!

Never Compromise the Effectiveness of a Campaign!

This is the #1 reason why Social Media campaigns fail.

No doubt, we have all been there. Months in the planning, doing the research, coordinating the creative and technical teams, building up your online social capital. The landing page has been optimized. The behavioral metrics are in place. And then the unthinkable happens: client gets cold feet. Thinks the campaign is too risky. Maybe a funny YouTube video would be better. Ugh!

This is the no-win situation. If the vision of the campaign cannot be realized then the best thing to do is not to do it. I know we may not have this luxury. Unfortunately, if the effectiveness of the campaign has been compromised then it will most certainly fail. And with its failure comes the inevitable assumption it failed because Social Media doesn’t work.

Alas, this may be a self-fulling prophecy for some. The Social Media road is littered with the corpses of failed campaigns (half-baked in the sun). But there are a few bright examples of companies who didn’t compromise, who marched forward with courage and conviction, and were richly rewarded.

Aug 6 2009

Is Your Company Marketing Savvy?

by Susan Rosenthal

It is surprising the number of businesses that are still product and technology-driven organizations with limited marketing know how. With so many new books and workshops out there, why haven’t more B2B firms gained the marketing mindset and bench strength of consumer companies?

B2B companies may not understand the role and benefits of marketing.
Unless management has marketing experience, many businesses consider marketing a waste of precious dollars better directed toward closing sales. Creating a brand identity and communications campaign requires skills, and a strategic, as well as, tactical perspective.

B2B companies may be risk averse in using the same tactics over and over.
We all know businesses that year after year rely on trade shows and direct sales. Without knowledge of marketing best practices, or how to test and run alternative marketing programs, they may be missing out on opportunities to breakout. Piloting new marketing programs and approaches is a cost effective way to test alternative ways to reach new customers and segments.

B2B companies may not understand the efficiencies of customer targeting.
Lacking the discipline of market and customer segmentation, businesses often address their market as a single unit in an attempt to reach the broadest target. They miss the efficiency and cost-effectiveness that marketing can deliver. As an example, numerous technology companies miss linking their product to a critical market need. For them, “breakthrough technology sells itself” still rules.

B2B companies may not be ardent trackers of market dynamics and trends.

Many businesses miss out on market shifts such as emerging channels of distribution and new classes of competition until it is too late. Without a solid sustainable competitive advantage and a differentiated brand, businesses may be trumped by the latest product or market news.

It behooves companies to gather easy-to-access marketing knowledge and best practices to become more marketing savvy. By testing and running alternative marketing programs confidence will grow, and companies can learn to stretch their marketing dollars for a much improved marketing return on investment.

Poll: What actions are your company taking to become more marketing-focused?