Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 21, 2020

THIS WEEK – As businesses begin to reopen and the “mask or no mask” debate fills social media with angry posts, here are some marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

ONLINE ORDERING FOR ALL

There are literally millions of winners and losers in the COVID-19 world. Many big-time retails have declared bankruptcy (J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, Pier I), while others (Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s) have seen a sales surge by staying open and shifting more to online ordering and curbside pick-up. But most small businesses are not players in this world.

Facebook is trying to change this with a new program called Shops that lets businesses quickly set up storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. “It’s clear at this point that Covid isn’t just a health emergency,” states Facebook CEO Zuckerberg. “It’s also the biggest economic shock that we’ve felt in our lifetime.” The new virtual shops will appear on the businesses’ Facebook and Instagram accounts and, eventually, on the Messenger and WhatsApp messaging tools. The Facebook move is being powered by its partnership with Shopify.

There are two ways to sell on Facebook:

1) Use Facebook’s platform itself to create your Facebook Store, list products, and set up a shopping cart to connect payments. It is easy and simple.

2) Use an ecommerce website builder (like Shopify that charges a monthly fee) to create an online store, then link your products to your Facebook Store page. This is this is a pretty good blog on the ends and outs of how to do start selling online, CLICK HERE. https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-online-stores/how-to-set-up-a-facebook-store/

STATISTICS DO LIE

Did you hear about the booming air travel industry? It is up 123% in just the last month! Technically, that is an accurate number. Over the seven days ended May 17, an average of 212,580 people went through U.S. airports, up from 95,161 in April. Of course, this time a year ago, 2.4 million people a day were flying. The point? Get ready for the same effect to apply to all sorts of numbers — most notably with economic data. These swings are artifacts of the arithmetic of percentage change. But if you are not attuned to the yo-yo effect that you will see in crucial data in the coming months, you could get mislead on what is really happening. That is why doing your own research is critical (we can help). You simply cannot trust national, regional, or even state figures to give you a clear picture of the challenges you are facing in reopening.

GENERATION Z IS…

Born after 1996, most members of Generation Z are not yet old enough to vote. But as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to vote in November. And they are certainly old enough to buy things. So, what makes this generation different? PEW Research has looked at this group. First, unlike the Millennials – who came of age during the Great Recession – this new generation was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment. That has all changed. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future. PEW points out that there are already signs that the oldest Gen Zers have been particularly hard hit in the early weeks and months of the coronavirus crisis.

Members of Gen Z are also more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. Still, when it comes to their views on key social and policy issues, they look very much like Millennials. Here is a link to the PEW Study if you are interested in learning more. CLICK HERE.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

In my book Powershift Marketing, I stated, “What you say is more important than where you say it.” That advice came out of my frustration when a client was spending far more time debating media choices than ad creative. The best way to leverage (optimize) your ad budget, is simply to to write a better ad! This is especially true with the cluttered world of Facebook. That is why I found a recent post “The 5-Step Process HubSpot Uses to Optimize Facebook Advertising Costs,” a great 12-minute read. HubSpot is a top rated online marketer and their tips were excellent. The post covers everything from bid strategy, targeting, plus creative. Here are a couple of their creative recommendations that I thought were really good.

Blend Into The News Feed – News feeds are filled with posts from friends and family, especially after Facebook’s latest algorithm update. To avoid screaming “I’m an ad”, include a photo that actually looks natural. Stop using stock photos or super high quality photos. Look natural, look real.

Pique Your Audience’s Curiosity – We are biologically driven to investigate our world, rather than respond to it. And if you can evoke enough curiosity in your audience so they cannot help but satisfy it, they will click on your ad.

Sell A Feeling, Not A Product – Emotions drive our behavior, while logic justifies our actions after the fact. Marketing confirms this theory — humans associate the same personality traits with brands as they do with people. Choosing between two alternatives is like choosing your best friend or significant other. The people we decide to live our lives with make us feel something.

Here’s the full post CLICK HERE.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 15, 2020

THIS WEEK OPENING UP – As many continue to shelter at home while businesses begin to reopen, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

TRACKING SUCCESS

The most important part of any online ad is the call to action: the URL link to your website. But do you really know how many people clicked on your link? You can look at Google Analytics referral log, but it is not real accurate. The best way to track is to add a UTM code. Known as UTM parameters or tracking tags, this code is added to your existing URL, making each URL unique and trackable. Unfortunately, few businesses use this tool. Not sure why. It’s easy to set up. Here’s info on how from one of my favorite marketing blogs: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-are-utm-tracking-codes-ht

THE BIG DOG

If you are in marketing, this is BIG NEWS. Millennials have finally surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year (July 2019) Millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38, numbered 72.1 million, and Boomers (ages 55 to 73) numbered 71.6 million. Generation X (ages 39 to 54) numbered 65.2 million and is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028. For an industry that for more than 50 years as focused on Baby Boomers, this is big news. In our visitor research, we are also seeing Baby Boomers becoming far less important than younger travelers.

I NEED A NEWS BREAK

A PEW study reveals that seven-in-ten of us need to a break from COVID-19 news. Many (43%) say that say keeping up with coronavirus news makes them feel worse emotionally. In addition, half say they find it difficult to sift through what is true and what is not. But Americans continue focusing on national and local news: 61% say they pay about equal attention to news at both levels.

THE C WORD

Not surprising, but “Coronavirus” is now the keyword blocked by online advertisers, having overtaken “Trump,” according to brand-safety firm Integral Ad Science. The targeted keyword blocking makes it even harder for publishers to sell ads at a time when many companies are pulling back ad spending to cut costs during the crisis.

CAN ONLINE MEDIA EVER MAKE A DIME?

I suspect I am one of thousands that just decided to subscribe to the New York Times for a few dollars a month (far cheaper than subscribing to my local paper). So, it does not surprise me that paper has recorded its biggest quarterly increase in digital subscriptions ever. Unfortunately, ad revenue is still going down. But Times CEO Mark Thompson is hopeful. “With its growing focus on digital subscription growth and diminishing reliance on advertising, the paper is very well positioned to ride out this storm and thrive in a post-pandemic world.” Well, that remains to be seen. No online media has found the business model that works.

WHO’S JOB IS IT TO CONNECT?

According to a recent PEW Research study, roughly half of us say the internet has been essential during the pandemic, while another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.” Amid rekindled debates about the digital divide, more than six-in-ten Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have cellphone services or a high-speed internet connection at home during the outbreak.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 8, 2020

THIS WEEK AT HOME – As many of us continue to shelter at home, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

ARE YOU READY TO REOPEN?

What reopening challenges will you be facing? Will people feel secure in going into your business? Many of these questions can be answered by research. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is a great time to do online research. People are home, bored, online a lot, and have the time to share their opinions. We are exploring many of these issues right now with studies we are doing for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). Contact me if you have interest in your own study.

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

Numerous research studies are showing a major change in consumer media habits due to the COVID-19 lockdown. There has been a major increase in viewing online news and local broadcast TV. Increased demands on streaming services have led YouTube and Netflix, among others, to reduce video quality in an effort to reduce bandwidth usage. Whether these habits are long-lasting or temporary remains to be seen. Do not assume these habits will remain once the world opens up. Old media habits are hard to break.

WILL YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS RETURN?

As someone that helped create the first frequent flyer program, I want to urge you to protect and reach out to your frequent user members if you have a program. With airline travel down 95% or more, many airlines and hotels are giving members an extra year to accumulate the points that result in free upgrades, breakfasts, club access and other perks. Delta, American, Southwest, United and Alaska Airlines have all announced status extensions into 2022.

Major hotel companies are also ensuring their most valuable customers keep their perks. Hilton Honors elite status is extended through March 2022; Marriott Bonvoy through February 2022; and World of Hyatt’s tier membership is extended through February 2022. The companies are also delaying the expiration of earned rewards — like suite upgrades, club access and free-night certificates — to the end of 2021.

So, if you have a program, what are you doing to make sure your most loyal customers still see value in your program and will return once it is safe? Definitely worth a discuss and a plan.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

One sign of Americans’ anxiety about the virus: Even in some states that have started to reopen, many people have said, in effect, no thanks. In Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — all states that have removed some restrictions — there has been little increase in the number of small businesses that are open or the amount of time people spend at work, according to an analysis by economists. Consumer spending has risen, but not by much more than in states that remain shut down. Mental health will be far more difficult to rebuilt than physical health.

NO SURPRISE HERE

The sharing economy—sharing cars, homes, and anything else you can think of – is not faring well in the pandemic. Uber is planning $1 billion in cost cuts, including reducing marketing and cutting staff 14%. Lyft’s cost-cutting efforts will lower expenses $300 million this year. And home sharing services (VRBO, Air b&b, HomeAway, etc.) are all looking at months before they are acceptable to virus concerned travelers.

Stay Safe. Stay Health. Stay Positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

April 28, 2020

THIS WEEK AT HOME – As many of us continue to shelter at home, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

GOOD TIME FOR RESEARCH?

It may seem counterintuitive, but this is a great time to do online research. People are home, bored, using the internet a lot, and have plenty of time to share their opinions. Here are three more reasons you should be doing research right now:

REMIND PEOPLE YOU ARE ALIVE AND WELL – Let your people know that even during this time of social distancing you are thinking of them… that you care about their safety and look forward to their return.

SHARE A POSITIVE MESSAGE WHEN PEOPLE NEED IT THE MOST – Reassure everyone that even during this period, you are preparing to welcome them back. A survey is a nice way to invite them to tell you more about how you can do a better job of meeting their needs in the future.

STRENGTHEN BRAND LOYALTY – People love to talk about themselves. That is why customer surveys increase engagement and loyalty. By telling people they have value by asking for their opinions is a great way to build your brand.

We are doing several studies right now. We are gaining some great insight into post COVID-19 behavior. Contact me if you would like to explore conducting research. It is cheaper than you think.

ZOOMING IN ON COMPETITION

Family and friends have made Zoom a household word. The video communications firm has seen their usage go from 10 million to 200 million. Yes, they have experienced a host of video quality and security issues (Zoombombing), but their stock price is up 142%. It is no wonder that the elephants in the room have made them a target. Last Friday, Facebook announced a new service called Rooms that would let their 1.6 billion daily users run video gatherings for up to 50 people. Google has added a new viewing option for its Meet service that mimics Zoom’s popular Gallery View (pictures of everyone in the group chat). And Microsoft is adding new video capabilities to its Teams platform. I predict that video connecting will decline a bit once we are open, but it will become a part of our new normal. So, ask your kids how to use it!

THE NATIVES ARE RESTLESS

Native ads are ads that look like stories. I recommend them often to clients. The internet’s two largest content-recommendation firms, Taboola and Outbrain, both generate “promoted stories” and “around the web” sections that appear next to articles and videos online, including sponsored content and native ads. They typically use click baiting headlines like “The Best Way to Stop a Barking Dog (It’s Genius)” and “She Had No Clue Why the Crowd Started Cheering.” The Justice Department is now examining whether a deal to merge the two will hurt competition in a product that generates significant revenue to publishers and ads that marketers use because they have a much higher click thru rate than banner ads. Stay tuned. The world of native ads is about to change dramatically.

NOT IN THE SAME BOAT

Its popular today for COVID-19 marketing to echo the message, “We all in the same boat.” Not true. Yes, we are in the same storm, but every boat is different. If you are a retiree, your boat is pretty much the same as it was before the lock down (assuming you have time for your portfolio to bounce back). If you are in the 1% boat, you are fine too. America’s billionaires have increased their wealth in less than a month by $282 billion. But if you are in the lower-income boat, PEW Research reports that roughly half in this boat report that they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut, compared with 43% of all U.S. adults. And only 23% say they have emergency funds that would keep their lower-income boat afloat for three months. So be kind, there many be a lot of people that are in boats not has shipshape as yours.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

April 21, 2020

THIS WEEK – There is nothing like staying home to find more time to write! So, I am back after a six month break. Wow, how the world has changed. As various guidelines are released for getting the country back to work, now is the time to explore what you need to do to regain marketing strength and restore your business in a post COVID-19 world. I shared the following thoughts with my partners in my cooperative marketing program, Crater Lake Country. While they are focused on the visitor industry, they are universal.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Customers have a very short attention span. It has been 30+ days since the public has been told to “stay home, stay safe.” In marketing terms, that is a lifetime. What have you done during this period to maintain top of mind awareness; to keep current and future customers engaged? Fix it now.

STAY POSITIVE – There is plenty of negativity in the world today. You need to keep your message 100% positive by sharing public service information, good wishes for people to stay healthy, and what you and your employees are doing for the community during this difficult time.

  • Increase your use of Facebook and other organic channels (like your blog) to leverage your exposure.
  • Continue to post YouTube videos, Instagram updates, and photos and stories on social media.

KEEP YOUR WEBSITE UP-TO-DATE

It is easy to think of your website as just an online brochure. It’s not. It can be a dynamic marketing tool that can share current realities. Unfortunately, few companies use it that way.

On your website share the latest information as well as any details on what is open. Your site must continue to be a trusted source for information and travel inspiration.

PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU – HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing resource, is currently reporting data from their 70,000+ client companies to understand what people are looking for in this crisis. Their most recent update (last week) revealed that:

People are seeking out and interacting online far more today than a month ago. While this certainly reflects the moving of more transactions online, it also shows that for now, people are still looking to engage. If you have a message to share, look for websites and organic online channels to share it.

COOPERATIVE EFFORTS ARE IMPORTANT

Look for partners that can help spread your message and reduce your costs. The best way to make your money go farther is to spend someone else’s money. There are plenty of cooperative campaigns and resources to help you market. Reach out now.

CONTINUE EMAIL MARKETING

Yes, maintain an active email marketing program. But be careful not to sound self-serving by only dialing up deals (promotions and discounts) – an approach that may look insensitive. Instead, focus on nurturing long-term relationships. Look for ways you can help your customers today, without asking for anything in return.

Again, people want to hear from you. HubSpot data reveals that the percentage of people that open a business email (open rate) has increased. People want to stay informed, but they may not want to buy right now. You need to share positive messages that things are going to get better.

EMPATHY IS MARKETING

Way before COVID-19, many marketing leaders have been urging a brand message shift to customer empathy. If you are not already on the empathy bandwagon, you are late. Showing empathy and concern for your customers will be critical in a post COVID-19 world.

Need help understanding how you can make your team more empathetic? There’s plenty of help online. This Inc.com story (click here: https://www.inc.com/marc-lore/the-4-things-every-leader-needs-to-know-about-empathy.html) and this Tim Cook presentation (click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3nFe7EpWAY) are excellent introductions into the role of empathy in marketing. Watch and listen, then act.

DISCOUNTS ARE A TWO EDGED SWORD

The public will be expecting discounts. A good portion of them may be hurting financially, so they will need discounts. That said, those who discount may take longer to recoup their lost income and it might be difficult to reestablish normal rates. If possible, don’t discount basic pricing. This will lower the quality perception of your brand and make it harder to return to pre-COVID-19 rates. Instead, promote offers that seem driven by longer stays, stays on specific days, rewards to returning customers, and other discounts that do not appear to be COVID-19 related.

CONSERVE RESOURCES

There will be a rush to advertise immediately to meet perceived pent up demand. Media outlets will be offering special deals. But don’t spend all your marketing dollars immediately. Develop a six-month marketing strategy.

DCG Research, which is currently conducting a DMO study, has discovered that it may take months before people feel safe again. While 3 out of 4 respondents say they are eager to travel, few plan to travel within the next 30 days because they are unsure of what they can expect.

DEMONSTRATE A DIFFERENT APPROACH

Business as usual will not return. COVID-19 has changed the rules of customer interaction. You must demonstrate this reality when you reopen your business.

  • How are you going to change your business practices to give customers a greater sense of health security and confidence?
  • How are you going to visually demonstrate these changes? Customers will increasingly demand that they see actual physical changes reflecting your concern for their safety.

LAUNCH FRONTLINE STAFF RE-TRAINING

Again, business as usual will not return. Not only do you need to make sure your staff feels safe in serving the public, they need to fully understand the systems you have installed to make your customers feel safe too. Start re-training now.

Stay safe, stay home, stay positive!

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

October 31, 2019

THIS WEEK – Here are a few marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

BIG SPLASH, LITTLE RIPPLES

As you heard, Twitter is banning political advertising, taking the opposite position of rival Facebook. The timing of Twitter’s announcement, minutes before Facebook posted its quarterly results, highlighted the two companies’ diverging positions. “Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” stated Twitter’s Mr. Dorsey.

Now, it’s kind of easy to make a “big announcement” when it really doesn’t impact your business. Political ads represents a small portion of Twitter’s overall $2.11 billion annual Ad revenue. Marketing lesson: You can grab headlines by making statements that really don’t impact your business. On the other hand, I do believe that online political ads will be a giant issue in 2020.

LOVE BEER AND WINE, SKIP THE SMOKES

Just finishing up our Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Website Study #6. Since 2012 we have been working with various DMO’s to learn more about the people that go to travel websites. We added a question last year to find out how important Oregon’s wine, beer and cannabis industries are to visitors. Craft beer and wineries (in that order) are VERY IMPORTANT to visitors. Both are far more important than purchasing cannabis on vacation. The full study will be released in November. If you would like to participate in Study #7, contact me and I will share how you can be a part of this low-cost study. 

APPLE ENTERS THE BATTLE

Tomorrow (Nov 1st) Apple plans to launch the Apple TV+ video service, its contender in the battle for people’s streaming dollars. Apple TV+ is slated to start with nine programs. But that is just the beginning. With $100-billion cash hoard and fat profit margins Apple can afford the costs of developing and distributing new content. With 900 million iPhones and 500 million Apple gadgets in use, they have an enormous built-in base of potential TV+ customers. So, pop quiz, I am curious how many people are now paying for streaming and what service? Please leave me a comment.

LESS TARGETING COMING TO FACEBOOK

I used Facebook (sponsored posts) often for my clients because you can really target audiences by demographics and interests. But Facebook has now removed age, gender and ZIP code targeting for housing, employment and credit-related ads as part of a settlement with advocacy groups and other plaintiffs.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?

When something is working, most firms double down on it. That is not always a good idea. The auto industry is a good example of this. The Wall St. Journal reported that the number of crossover and sport-utility models has steadily climbed from 70 (2014), to 96 (2018) and is expected to rise to 149 models by 2023. “This is a very significant trouble spot for the industry,” said John Murphy, an auto analyst with Bank of America. “The pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction.” If trends continue, he estimates the profit premiums auto makers have long enjoyed on these models will fall, eventually matching the lower margins now earned on sedans. Marketing lesson: What worked in the past does not always work in the future. What changes in your product or marketing are you planning for 2020?

Until next time, thanks for reading. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

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THIS WEEK AT POWERSHIFT MARKETING – NOTES

July 8, 2019

THIS WEEK (JULY 8-14) – Took a bit of a break to move and sell a home… but I am back. Here are a few marketing tips and research thoughts for this week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

IS THE FAMILY VACATION DISAPPEARING?

As family vacation season hits its full stride, you need to be aware that research (including ours) reveals that the percent of people traveling with kids is declining. The number of young Americans who are single, now more than half (according to a study released recently) has reached its peak since at least the 1980s. It has drastically increased in just the past 15 years. That’s according to data from a General Social Survey that showed in 2018, 51% of Americans ages 18 to 34 said they didn’t currently have a “steady partner,” up from 33% in 2004. How much do you know about your current customer? Give us a call, we can help.

BUSINESSES NOW NEED TO MONITOR TEXT MESSAGES

Messaging apps aren’t just for friends and family anymore. People are using them to communicate with businesses too, doing everything from learning about a business to making a purchase. According to Google research, more than 66% of people who use text messaging say they have messaged a business in the past three months. Why?

  • Convenient. Messaging gives customers the flexibility to reach out and respond on their own time.
  • Simple. Messaging is a communication channel that is familiar to people and intuitive to use.
  • Personal. Messaging allows you to connect one on one with customers.

THE STATE OF DIGITAL ADVERTISING

Ad spending is increasing, and it should grow 19% this year. But only 8% of people remember seeing an ad that is relevant to them in a given moment. Even more significantly, 30% of internet users are expected to be using ad blockers by the end of this year. That is why we are running more and more native ads. If you are not using these online ads, we can help set up a program for you.

GENDER NEUTRAL AIRLINES TICKETS ARRIVE

I’m sorry, but this whole bathroom debate about who can go where, is just humorous to me. Let’s face it, most of us grew up in gender neutral bathrooms. Of course, my big sister and I never really liked sharing our Jack and Jill bathroom, but it was no big deal. Airlines have offered gender neutral bathrooms forever. But now, the airline industry has final come to its senses and are now offering gender-neutral tickets. You can identify yourself as M (male), F (female), U (undisclosed), or X (unspecified) as well as selecting ‘Mx’ as a title. Just one more thing you have to worry about when traveling, how are you going to identify yourself?

Until next time, thanks for reading. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.