Tag Archives: Marketing strategy

Communications plan or connections plan. Using connection planning to target and engage customers during the buying cycle.

When most marketers develop a communications plan, they start with their product or service, determining the target audience that represents the greatest revenue opportunity.  Smart marketers dig deeper to identify target insights, high-opportunity vertical segments or underdeveloped regions.

But if you want your marketing to go a step further and truly engage with customers, you should establish rich connections based on where they are in the purchase cycle.  This dimension is especially important if you are promoting a product with a long sales cycle, or a B2B brand.

For a prospect to consider selecting your brand, you must first establish a base level of knowledge and trust.  One quarter of the U.S. respondents to Edelman’s 11th Annual Trust Barometer indicated that they needed to hear something about a company 6+ times before they believe it.  Note that they said “hear,” not “be exposed to.”  With advertising exposure exceeding 3,000 messages per day, it is critical that marketers connect with prospects, rather than simply shout at them.

To start creating a connection plan, consider how your brand relates to prospects in each of these stages:

Unaware and Unengaged:  This is the largest, but also the most passive target group.  They have unmet needs, but have yet to begin actively looking for a solution.

Increasingly Interested:  This group has started to show interest in your category and may be attending trade shows, beginning to read relevant articles or looking for informational webinars.

Actively Searching:  Prospects who are actively searching are driven by a pressing need.  They are researching specific solutions and beginning to establish impressions of brands that best fit that need.

Confirming Credentials and Chemistry: This group is actively going through the RFP process (whether formal or not), narrowing their options and determining which brand has the right solution at the right price.

Establishing the Relationship:  Communications shouldn’t stop when the sale is made.  The value that current users place on the relationship will make or break both referrals and incremental sales.

By customizing the media and message to align with each of these stages in the purchase cycle, marketers will have the foundation for a powerful, multi-touchpoint connection plan.

–          Pamela J. Alvord, EVP Managing Director of Strategy and Operations

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Drowning in data? Start with a clear strategy to effectively measure your marketing.

Analytics, Dashboards, Scorecards, ROI – these are some of today’s hottest marketing buzzwords, yet the industry still struggles to achieve true accountability.  It’s not that we don’t aspire to it:

  • Increased accountability is a key aspect of the ANA’s Marketers’ Constitution
  • 31 percent of respondents to the CMO Council State of Marketing Study indicated that they intend to improve marketing performance measurement in the next year
  • Another 32 percent of study respondents said they will also be looking to upgrade customer data integration and analytics.

Marketers are not suffering from a lack of information – we’re drowning in Google Analytics reports, Webtrends data, Social Media sentiment charts, Facebook friends, CPCs, and CTRs.  The issue is more a lack of actionable insights.  Just because something can be quantified, doesn’t mean it is valuable.

Data and analytics are only as good as the objectives that drive them.  Data without strategy is nothing more than the analytics equivalent of an Oscar-winning Sally Fields (You like me, you really like me, or as she actually said, You like me, right now, you really like me.)

Effective measurement must start with clearly stated, strategic marketing objectives.  Your plan will be even more actionable if those objectives are quantifiable, realistic, and aligned with business goals.  Most marketers would benefit from thinking in terms of KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – because the language itself demands an articulation of the performance that is expected as a result of the marketing efforts.

So, how can marketers achieve their accountability goals in 2011?

  • Focus on strategy before diving into the data
  • Don’t assume that the information is valuable just because it is a number
  • Identify and measure the path from engagement through conversion
  • Hold yourself accountable to real business results

And finally, heed the warning of the Cheshire Cat, who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

— Pam Alvord, VP, Chief Strategist

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Unconventional Marketing Strategies Work

It’s July and it feels like a sweltering 100 degrees in Henrietta, N.Y, just outside of Rochester. Despite the intense heat, hundreds of neighboring residents descend upon the county fairgrounds with the expectation to enjoy  “carnival” food, amusement park rides, demolition derby, live entertainment, vendor booths, and roaming silent MASKED PEOPLE!?!

Who are those people in the white hoodies and masks?

What’s up with the number on their masks?

Their shirts read, “My insurance company treats me like a number.”  I wonder who they work for?

Upon entrance to the Monroe County Fair on July 17, fair-goers were greeted by a group of people dressed in white t-shirts, hoodies and numbered masks. Expressionless, these masked individuals stood motionless and did not utter a word to those who inquired about their presence at the county fair. It is not until people approached the distinct orange NYCM Insurance trailer with a masked mannequin to greet them that they were able to learn how NYCM treats each person as an individual and not a number.

The presence of the street team coincided with the launch of NYCM’s new advertising campaign, and by all accounts, the unconventional marketing strategy was a success.

Fair-goers were intrigued and drawn to the street team’s presence because of an emotional cord — we all want to be valued as individuals and treated accordingly by businesses. The presence of the street team drove fair-goers to the NYCM booth and website and increased inquiries about NYCM’s home and auto insurance services.

NYCM’s masked street team is a good example of an unconventional strategy that reaped great results. What unique marketing tactic could your company employ to communicate its core messages and set itself apart from the competition?

— Karla Chambers, Account Executive

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Marketing’s Holy Grail

Target audience insight. It’s the “who” of effective marketing strategy. It inspires creative teams to greatness. It makes the difference between good communications and powerful engagement. In short, it’s the Holy Grail to many marketers. Yet the quest to find it can be worthy of an Indiana Jones sequel.

Identifying your target audience is easy. Many strategies simply label the target – Moms. Adults age 25-54. C-level executives. Better strategies dig a layer deeper, describing something about them — Moms who are frustrated because their kids won’t eat healthy foods. Adults age 25-54 who own a car. C-level executives who love golf.

These phrases do describe the target audience, but they still only crack the surface. Where’s the insight? Insight results from painting a complete picture of your target, viewing the world through their eyes.

As an experiment, I recently asked Marketing Discussion Board, How would you describe your job in language a 5-year-old could understand? The responses included:

“I make some of the commercials that you see on TV and in mommy’s magazines.”

“I do things that make people happy to buy stuff.”

“I meet people and request them to buy (my company’s product), the same as I request you to drink milk.”

Someone even said, “I’m guessing, ‘I think s*** up’ probably won’t cut it. So how about…I think up ways to tell people about the stuff companies make, so they can sell it.”

It was apparent that each respondent thought carefully about what would be understandable, important, and appropriate for a 5-year-old. This same skill should guide the development of compelling target audience insight. When you get it right, your marketing will interest, engage, and motivate your target.

Our new B2B campaign for Manheim, the world’s largest wholesale automotive auction, is designed to do exactly that – articulate the benefits of buying and selling vehicles at auction through the eyes of the various personalities that conduct business there.  Whether a Magician or Cowboy, Detective or Prospector, we hope Manheim’s target sees a bit of themselves in the campaign and is more receptive to Manheim’s message as a result.

So before you start your next campaign, dig deep, walk a mile in your target’s shoes and, find out what is really important to them. You’ll be glad you did.

— Pam Alvord, EVP, Chief Brand Strategist

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