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MY Q&A MARKETING COLUMN

Since February 2006 I have been a featured columnist in Southern Oregon’s  “Business Review”, the official publication of the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County. I have now published all my columns from February 2006 to September 2009 in a free booklet that you can download from my book website: www.powershiftmarketingbook.com 

BELOW ARE MY CURRENT MARKETING COLUMNS FOR 2011 

APRIL 2011

QUESTION: I just got an invite to attend a mobile media marketing seminar. What is your take on text marketing? Tony, Medford  

ANSWER: Mobile marketing, sending a text message to someone’s cell phone, is something every company should be exploring. More than 263 million Americans carry a cell phone today. In fact, nearly fifteen percent of the population has cut the cord to their landline completely. That’s why the Direct Marketing Association believes that mobile marketing will be the fastest growing app over the next five years.

If you are considering using Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) as a marketing tool, make sure you create a campaign that honors your customer. Mobile demands your customer’s attention almost immediately. Bugging them is a super highway to losing customers. But using your customers’ cell phones to provide service or product updates or to send offers and promotions can be a welcomed service. Now, you won’t be alone in this world. It is estimated that seven trillion SMS message will be sent worldwide this year.

To send a text message, limited to 160 characters, you need a short code. This is a 5 or 6 digit abbreviated phone number that carriers assign to businesses that want to send text messages over their network. This prevents spammers and marketers from sending unsolicited messages on their networks.

A dedicated short code can cost $500 to $1,000 per month. However, many small businesses don’t need their own short code; they can use a mobile marketing company’s short code. The company that hosted the local mobile marketing event in Medford(http://www.izigg.com) is one of those companies. Since you are trusting your message and reputation to a mobile marketing company, do your home work. Ask for references and don’t hesitate to check out competitors by doing a Google search.

In order to send a text message, you must have permission. Don’t assume that just because customers opted in to receive your email, they also want your text messages. Obtain opt-in approval from customers before sending any message. Also, be clear about how someone can cancel. Regulatory compliance is very stringent for mobile marketing, so make sure you’ve thought through privacy and permission practices before launching your marketing campaign. Finally, remember, your customer may be charged for your message. Although most cell phone companies include some amount of texting in their service plans, your customer may be charged if text messaging is not included or exceeds their contracted amount.

By the way, the online coupon giant Groupon is about to unveil a new mobile app that it hopes is going to be a game changer in mobile marketing. Groupon Now, set to release this month, will add to the daily Groupon deals by offering time and location specific deals.

If you want to learn more about using new media, order my book online (http://powershiftmarketingbook.com/).

MARCH 2011

QUESTION: How much time should we be spending on social media marketing? Chris, Medford.

ANSWER: Probably more time than you are spending, but let’s define social media as it relates to business. Social media is any online communications that generates an exchange with your customers or potential customers. This might include emails, email newsletters (probably the most common use), blogging, making video or audio and posting online, and posting on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social media channels. It might even involve posting event photos in Flickr and other photo sites.  

Companies that have successful social media efforts are spending two or more hours a day on listening, communicating and creating. Is it worth the time? Not for a lot of small businesses. Social media is most powerful for businesses that rely on repeat customers, not one time buyers, since the intent is to develop a “dialogue” with your customers or potential customers. Many restaurants and retailers are using social media highly successfully. If you are serious about using social media, it involves a three-step process.

First, you need to spend about 25% of your time every day listening and finding out what people are saying about you, your competitor, your marketplace, etc. Searching the internet for references to your business, reading other people’s blogs, and reviewing online material will help you. If you’re new to this, check out this 2009 post grow bigger ears from Chris Brogan, President of Human Business Works. Chris tells how to sign up for various online services that monitor businesses.

Second, spend time commenting and replying back to people on the online channels where they contacted you. Also, you need to share. Be sure to tweet links to articles, use Facebook share, and other tools that help people find stuff online. 

Finally, and the most important step, you need to create original content. Whatever it is, creating content of some kind should take up to 50% of your time, as this is the way you get found online. Search engines thrive on new content. And people using the internet love new information. The more you can post, the better your opportunities.  

If you want to learn more about using social media, order my book online and read the social media chapter in my book (http://powershiftmarketingbook.com/).

FEBRUARY 2011

QUESTION: Do you still think mystery shopper programs are important? Sue, Grants Pass

ANSWER – Yes. Very important, but I’m not a fan of the “off the shelf” programs. If you are going to do one, it’s best to use local folks and develop your own questionnaire. Shopper programs are critical to determine if you have the right people in customer service that can “turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.” While you can hire a firm, you can also conduct these yourself if you are willing to do some homework.

First, find a friend that isn’t known by your employees (or hire someone from a temp agency) and have them pretend to be a customer. Develop a questionnaire (with a simple rating scale) that allows you to evaluate people in an objective, not subjective, way. A correctly structured mystery shopper program can be repeated, allowing for progress or lack thereof to be documented.

When you are sharing the results make sure that you use them as a learning tool, not for personal criticism. Far too often I’ve seen shopper results used to beat down a staff, instead of building them up. If this is what you want to do, don’t conduct a mystery shopper program.

For real objectivity, I would recommend hiring an outside firm to do this type of study. The perception of objectivity is extremely important in this type of program, and an outside firm will have sophisticated software to analyze results. I cover shopper programs in my book.

By the way, I still have a limited number of my Executive Box Editions of my book available. Just email if you are interested (Mark@dennettgroup.com). Remember, all my 2010 columns are now available on my marketing blog.  https://powershiftmarketing.wordpress.com/

BELOW ARE MY MARKETING COLUMNS FROM 2010 

DECEMBER 2010

QUESTION: So what did you think of this year’s political advertising? Tom, Ashland

ANSWER – In general, I thought it was pretty bad. In the most competitive races, ads tended to focus on half truths, personal attacks, and shady ad tactics to convince voters they should vote against someone, not for someone. This is totally against the ad principles I share in my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com)

If you want to see what I mean, just check out AdWeek Magazine’s very funny blog that shows the ten “freakiest” political ads in the 2010 election (http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/the-freakiest-campaign-ads-of-2010)

With that said, I must come clean. After never handling a political campaign, I went to the dark side this year. When Don Skundrick asked me to handle his campaign, initially, I turned him down. Then I changed my mind. I respect Don immensely and when he and his campaign team agreed that our campaign would only focus on issues and on Don, I was intrigued. Could a political campaign take a different road?

Well, Don got elected, but more importantly, I was extremely pleased when the Medford Mail Tribune stated in an Oct 31 editorial: “No matter who wins the two seats open on the board, Jeff Golden, John Rachor, Don Skundrick and Mark Wisnovsky have conducted the kind of campaigns candidates everywhere could learn from.” So now, with an insider’s view, I’ll share some observations about political advertising.

First, everything starts and ends with the candidate. Our race was blessed to have four people not motivated by personal power, but by public service. Jeff, Don, Mark, and John all shared a deep concern for the county and, for the most part, agreed on many issues. They just disagreed on the road to get there. That allowed for honest political debate.

Campaigns that serve the public also require candidates that are personally grounded and have the courage of their convictions, so they can stay on message, and not be swayed by paid advisors, zealous supporters, political action committees, or their own party’s election experts.

Finally it takes a campaign team focused on building a brand, not tearing down another brand. Throughout the campaign, I always asked: “Is what we are communicating helping people understand Don as a person and his views, or is it simply attacking the weakness of the other candidate?”  Most political ads couldn’t pass this test. I took a lesson out of the Nike playbook, the best-known brand in the world. They don’t spend any money or time telling you the weaknesses of competing brands.

Unfortunately, I doubt that we see better political advertising in the future. Why? First, we need to limit the amount of money and time spent on a campaign. I don’t see why it should take four billion dollars (the current estimate of the money spent on all 2010 elections) or more than 90 days for people to learn about an issue or a candidate. Next, we must eliminate outside funded ad campaigns. These independent ad efforts don’t have to reflect a candidate’s beliefs or values. They can reflect the values of the group paying for it. That’s wrong and it does not improve the political process. Finally, we need to find more good people like Don, Jeff, Mark and John willing to serve. That is the toughest challenge of all.

NOVEMBER 2010

QUESTION: I had a really bad sales experience at a car dealer recently. Why haven’t car sales people embraced the ‘selling is dead’ techniques you highlight in your book? Ron, Jacksonville

ANSWER: Well, they probably haven’t read my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com). But the real answer is that pressure sales techniques die hard. I also purchased a new car recently and at times the selling process was beyond disrespectful, it was downright awful. The good news is we ended up with a great vehicle at a very competitive price. But why did everyone have to go through this ugly process? Here are some sales tips I would pass on to anyone trying to sell to a new breed of consumer.

RESPOND QUICKLY AND IN THE SAME MANNER – We were looking for a very specific vehicle and we contacted several dealers via email. Some simply didn’t respond, others didn’t respond in a timely manner, and some insisted we call them (even when we said we would prefer email). Remember, you must initially respond to a potential buyer using the same communications form (internet, call, etc.) as they used to contact you. The salesman we ended up working with (Bill) responded quickly via email. In a few days he had found the vehicle that would meet our needs.

BE RESPECTFUL OF TIME – Time is the most perishable commodity you have. You can’t get it back after it is gone. We were in the dealership for almost three hours, as the traditional “sales shuttle” to the backroom took place. Time and time again, we stated that we were not going to make a decision today and that we had other appointments. Anyone who had been trained to listen or recognize body language would have known that no sale was going to be made that day. Having sold cars, I understand the odds that when someone leaves they are not likely to return. But if you treat people right, shouldn’t they be eager to return? 

ASK REAL QUESTIONS – As I outline in my book, if you use a question-based selling approach, people will let you know when and what they are ready to buy. Question-based selling doesn’t mean asking the old-stand-by question, “So if we could meet your price, would you buy today?” That’s not a question; it’s a closing technique that is 100 years old.

MOMENTS OF TRUTH – In my book I talk about “Moments of Truth,” which means that your experience is defined by a series of small “moments” where you can either exceed or not meet someone’s expectations. Convenient parking, a warm greeting, a comfortable place to wait – all the moments need to be managed. How do you exceed expectations at a car dealership?  Well, most people “expect” a tedious round of price games. The best way to “exceed” their expectation is not to do it.

ONE PERSON CAN SOUR A DEAL – Seven out of eight people we dealt with during our car buying experience were good, but one heavy-handed sales manager ruined the entire experience. In fact, if we could have found a similar vehicle at any other dealer, we would have gladly taken our business elsewhere. Sadly, if the sales manager had been more concerned with our needs, not his need to sell a car, the experience would have been very different. I hope he gets training, since the rest of the sales and service team deserves better.

Looking for a special holiday gift for a business associate? I have a limited number of my Executive Box Editions of my book available. Just email if you are interested (Mark@dennettgroup.com). Remember, all my 2010 columns are now available on my marketing blog.  https://powershiftmarketing.wordpress.com/

OCTOBER 2010

QUESTION: I heard you speak and you mention not making a hunter a skinner. Not sure I understand what you meant. Don, Medford.

ANSWER: Happy to review this idea, since this is one of the biggest mistakes we make in sales. It’s covered in Chapter 26 in my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com). The idea was culled from a seminar I attend years ago with Brian Buffini, founder and president of Providence Seminars.

Basically, there are two kinds of people in sales, and both are critical to success. Some people are hunters. They enjoy finding prospects and the thrill of the chase. Others are skinners. Once the hunters have bagged their kill, skinners enjoy working with clients and providing service and support. Skinners are usually more comfortable with reports and procedures. You need both hunters and skinners on your team. You can’t just have a team of great hunters. You need to process and follow up (skin your prey) or you won’t find much sales nourishment in what you catch. 

A big mistake companies make is taking someone that is a fabulous hunter and trying to make them a skinner or vice versa. The truth is most hunters simply will never be skinners. Don’t kill the spirit of your best hunters by demanding they become skinners. 

Here’s another sales mistake people make, not carrying business cards at all time. Never leave home without business cards, regardless of where you are going or what you are doing. High school and college games, vacations, going to the store… always carry business cards. And provide business cards to all your employees.

Giving a business card to employees that least expects them (warehouse staff, cooks and serving people, gas station attendants) can significantly empower these employees to be positive ambassadors for your business. Business cards empower all employees to get involved in the marketing process, and communicate pride in where they work. In fact, my experience shows that these employees are far more likely to hand out their card in all types of situations, than people that are used to having cards.

One last thought. When leaving a phone message, don’t assume that everyone has a Smartphone and can easily retrieve your number. I’m amazed how many people leave me a message with no number or they say it so fast, you can’t understand it. I had one person last week who called me three times in one day with an urgent message, but they failed to leave a number. I guess they assumed I knew their number, could retrieve it from my cell phone or could just look it up. Remember, if you are leaving a message, it is your responsibility to make it easy for your prospect to get back to you. Don’t assume everyone has Smartphone technology.

Just a reminder that all my 2010 columns are now available on my marketing blog.  https://powershiftmarketing.wordpress.com/

SEPTEMBER 2010

QUESTION: It seems to be me that new products and competitors are coming at us at a record pace? Do you think the world is changing faster? Jim, Ashland.

ANSWER: Your world is changing faster, it is no illusion. Social researchers tell us that our world is changing so fast that we are outliving our value systems. Things we believed in as children are no longer true. This “collapse of time” is causing us to be less grounded, less secure. In a time when we should be more willing to change, many of us fear change even more.

The result? People tend to surround themselves with only like-minded individuals who agree with their world view (hello Tea Party). People live in “gated communities” where they can protect themselves from outsiders (and their beliefs). People listen to talk radio, progressive or conservative, because it supports their view.

Change, and our response to it, impacts your marketing in three ways, as I explain in my book http://www.powershiftmarketingbook.com:

1) Change creates opportunities for new products that deliver traditional services in new ways. I’ve already shared how I believe that the iPad is a game changer. Because change is dramatically decreasing the lifespan of most products and services, you must become more customer focused.

Just look at two titans of American business: General Motors and Intel. Since 1908 General Motors basic product hasn’t changed much (add tail fins, delete tail fins, add chrome, take away chrome). Because of this, GM became more focused on creating a management system that maintained the status quo rather than one willing to explore the future.

On the other hand, the world’s largest semiconductor company, Intel Corporation, has been constantly re-engineering their product since their founding in 1968. Why? A typical Intel chip has a product life of less than 20 months, not 100 years. Just last month Intel made an eight billion dollar bet (buying computer security firm McAfee) to re-enginer smart phones.

2) Change requires fast action. In a constantly changing world, the faster you make a decision and act on it, the better off your business will be. Bill Gates in his Business @ the Speed of Thought (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_@_the_Speed_of_Thought) is just one of many that have been telling us for a decade that speed is more important than organization and control. His book asks you to get more out of technology, to respond quicker to your customers, to adapt to changing business demands so you can prosper.

3) Change reduces windows of opportunity. You have little time to correct a problem. You have to have it right the first time. This requires that you use all the tools you can in order to make decisions faster, and this takes the talents of everyone in your organization.

AUGUST, 2010

QUESTION: I recently attended a research session run by Leigh Stowell & Company for KOBI. How reliable is their research? Leslie, Medford

ANSWER – Seattle based Leigh Stowell & Company is a research firm that provides local research to TV stations. I also had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation and I thought it was some of the best local research I’ve seen. Most TV stations still use Nielsen, the pioneer and the national leader in TV rating data. Stations (and ad agencies) must subscribe to Nielsen and it is expensive. A few years ago KOBI dropped Nielsen and replaced it with Stowell, which provides more “community profile” (psychographic) data.

Nielsen and Stowell use very different methodology. Stowell uses a telephone survey (700 people), while Nielsen uses in home diaries (about 400-500 families turn in diaries each time rating period). Also Stowell research is 100% customized for the local market and local businesses are involved in questionnaire design (that is good and bad). Stowell research won’t give you program ratings that you can compare to Nielsen. If you want Nielsen ratings for KOBI programming, ask stations that still subscribe to Nielsen (KTVL and KDRV) to run “market rankers” for specific time periods.

As I discuss in my book, Chapter 9, page 21, (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com) “psychographics” – a study of people’s lifestyle choices and self-perceptions (how they think of themselves) – is very important in determining what products and services people will buy. The Stowell “Consumer Market Profile” data provides a fascinating look at local consumers. Some data will surprise you.

For example, what percent of the market do you think follows a business or person on Twitter? Only 2%, so social media isn’t critical to some businesses yet. Which one of the following universities comes to mind first with locals: the University of Oregon, Southern Oregon University or Oregon State? Surprise, Southern Oregon University (27%) is number one in this aided research question.

The biggest draw back with Stowell Data is that many businesses that advertise on TV are not using this free resource. KOBI is happy to run custom reports that will give you a better understanding of your prime consumer. For example, for one of my clients, I looked at senior housing decision makers: people that said they were going to be deciding on moving to a senior community in the next two years. Stowell ran a special report (free of charge) that told me what TV shows and media these people are “most likely” to watch and use. Cool.

Remember all research has some limitations based on how data is collected (methodology), how questions are asked (framed), and the size of the sample. Also, comparing research that uses different collection methods is tricky. If you want to learn more about using market research read my book (https://powershiftmarketing.wordpress.com/).

JUNE/JULY 2010

QUESTION: I just bought an IPad and I love it. Who do you think is winning and losing the marketing wars today? Brad, Merlin

THE COACH: Apple is definitely winning. In 2000 I told my clients that the marketing winners in the new Millennium would be firms that create new ways to access traditional services and products. For example, the University of Phoenix didn’t invent college. They just invented an easier way for people to get a college education. Here are a few more marketing winners and losers.

Book Publishing – Products like the IPad are turning this world upside down, especially textbooks. Why would anyone buy and lug around expensive textbooks when they can grab their IPad (or Kindle, Sony reader or dozens of other products in development) and read what they need, plus have access to the web?  They won’t, so the publishing world is headed into a tsunami of change. I’m trying to stay ahead of this curve by having my book available as a PDF download and it should be on Kindle/IPad by this summer (www.PowershiftMarketingBook.com).

Books won’t disappear, especially for people who grew up in a tactile world. But your children are now growing up in a world of screens and digital connections. Not only do they love texting (their number one form of communications), they are perfectly content reading anything on a screen.

The Phone Book – It will have a place for a few more years, perhaps. But smart phones, search engines, and an explosion in GPS technology are bringing a new meaning to the famous slogan “Let your fingers do the walking.”  If you are using yellow page advertising, concentrate on phone books that are making the fastest transition to internet and mobile technology. I just did an analysis for one of my clients. Email me and I’ll share some of my findings with you.

VHS and CD – Introduced in 1975, the VHS (Video Home System) tape and machine are already history in most homes. The music CD, introduced in the 80s, is not far behind. The MP3 player and numerous devices that access online music (Pandora, Groove Shark, etc.) are killing CD sales. The standard movie DVD is next.

The Neighborhood Video Store – The first video store opened in Los Angeles in 1977. Now their time is up, too. Hollywood Video just closed and Blockbuster won’t be far behind. No, people haven’t stop watching movies, they just access them using DVD kiosks, online downloads, and via the mail. Oh, don’t count on mail for long. The US Postal Service is facing a dramatic shift in their business model, too.

Bloggers – A blog, a contraction of “web log,” is a website that allows you (the blogger) to share daily information with others (text, photos, videos). With more than 130 million blogs, thousands of people are making a living being bloggers (hard to believe, but true). To see a typical blog visit mine, just go to my website (www.dennettgroup.com). Please email me if you want to get my marketing blog regularly.

Social Media – Trying to keep up in this changing world is almost impossible. Twitter has more than 106 million users, sharing 55 million “tweets” a day. But with more than 500 million users, FaceBook is the elephant in the room. For many businesses their FaceBook page is now more important than their web page.

YouTube – Finally, in just five years YouTube has created a totally new business: taking and sharing videos. Creating videos used to be for professionals. Now anyone with a smart phone or digital camera are producers/directors. How popular is this? Consumers are now viewing and downloading more than two billion videos a day! More people watch YouTube everyday than network TV, cable and satellite TV combined.

MAY 2010

QUESTION: I’m starting a business and someone mentioned that I need to deal with the five “Ps” of marketing. What are they talking about? Karen, Ashland.

THE COACH: They are referring to a traditional building block of a marketing plan. Most people think marketing is just promotion. But promotion is only one of the “P’s of Marketing.” The five P’s start with your (1) Product. Have you created a product or service that meets a consumer need? Can you deliver it consistently?  Product decisions include appearance, packaging, service, and warranties (standing behind your product or service).

The best way to get your product right is to do research. As I’ve mentioned often, I am always surprised how few businesses do any research. I’ve helped many companies cut their overall marketing expense by making a modest investment in research up front.

Once you have a product or service that meets a consumer need (this is critical), you need to (2) Price it right. Pricing must generate a profit, but you also have to take a realistic look at what pricing is already in the marketplace. Today a competitive price is more important than ever. Again, an investment in research will help.

Once you have a good product or service, competitively priced to make a profit, you’re ready to (3) Promote it. This involves all the activities that people usually think of as marketing. You could spend a lot of money here, so a break-even analysis must be performed. Promotional tools involve advertising (internet, print and broadcast), personal selling, public relations, and a variety of sales promotion activities.

The fourth P is (4) People. How will your product or service be delivered to the public? This is all about customer service. How do you want your workers to appear to your customers?  People decisions include service levels, staff appearance, and attitudes.

The final P is (5) Place. How are you going to get your product to your consumer? What will be your channels of distribution? “Place” involves decisions about market coverage, channel selection (Internet, retail, etc.), and levels of service.

All successful businesses have addressed these five P’s. I cover all of them in more detailed in my book (powershiftmarketingbook.com), which is now available on Amazon.

APRIL 2010

QUESTION: When I ‘Google’ businesses like mine, I noticed that many are featured on a local map, but not mine. Why?  Bill, Medford.

THE COACH: You are looking at Google Local, which is a great free marketing tool that you simply have to sign up for on: Google Local Business Center (just Google the term). Google Local is essentially a pop-up listing and link using Google Maps within local search results.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, in a keyword search (such as “Printers, Medford Oregon”) two types of listings appear: paid and organic. Paid listings are shown on the very top (in a shaded area) and in a column to the right. I explained paid listings advertising in my February 2010 column (it is also in my book). Below paid listings are free organic listings, websites that have enough traffic that Google believes they are “the most relevant” to your search.

Google Local was created to promote Google Maps and to offer something between paid and organic. You should definitely use this free service. It takes just a few minutes to sign up, but you have to wait for verification before it goes live.

Google offers two other services that should be SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for small business marketing. The first is Google Alerts. This service tracks company exposure. It is like an old-fashioned clipping service. For example, I track the name of my book, POWERSHIFT MARKETING. Google sends me an email when these two words appear online. Google offers six different alerts – ‘News’, ‘Web’, ‘Blogs’, ‘Comprehensive’, ‘Video’ and ‘Groups’. To sign up, just visit the Google Alerts website. The service is not perfect because Google simply tracks words, so often they can be out of context. But it’s free and it’s fun.

The final tool that should be in your marketing tool box is Google Analytics. Although I think there are better analytic programs around (I cover the best ones in my book), the truth is, Google Analytics has become the de facto industry standard. So how does Google Analytics work? You place a hidden tracking code on your site. Then Google tracks your traffic. They provide you with conversion data, visitor traffic, and identify ways your site could improve visitor retention. Google Analytics is free, but the free version is limited to 5 million page views a month. 

Again, my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com) covers all these tools plus others that can make your online marketing more successful.

MARCH 2010

QUESTION: I’ve heard that fewer and fewer people are watching TV. Should I cut my TV advertising budget?  Bob, Medford    

THE COACH: No, television viewing is actually increasing, up to almost five hours a day. But how and where people are watching their favorite TV shows is changing dramatically. As I explain in my book, while many people still refer to “TV” as one media category, it is actually six different media options: broadcast, cable, satellite, online, mobile, and DVR (digital video recorders). Nielsen, the leading research firm for television, now offers a “three screen” report (internet, television and mobile) that reveals some startling trends that are changing the TV advertising market.

The latest Nielsen report (3rd Quarter 2009) shows that the majority of video programming in America, about 99%, continues to be seen on traditional television (broadcast, cable, satellite), 31 hours a week . However, the report also reveals that the average DVR user “timeshifts” more than 7 hours of programming each month (there goes your commercial).

Young adults 18–24 still spend most of their screen time watching live TV. Teens are now the major mobile video users, just over 7 hours per month. Older mobile video users age 45–54 report viewing nearly 3 hours of video on their mobile phones each month. Time spent viewing video on social networking sites increased 98% from October 2008 to October 2009. Here’s a shocker:  Much of this social media video growth is coming from 35- to 49-year-olds, and the 65+ segment increased their viewership 47% over last year.

So, what do all these numbers mean to you? First, don’t give up on traditional TV. It’s still a powerful advertising tool. Second, do start posting videos on your website and on various social media sites (YouTube, FaceBook, etc.). Also, make sure you are looking at ways to get your message to users of mobile media. 

Finally, when buying traditional TV today, ask about taking your campaign online using the station’s website. While I think local TV websites need improvement, they will be getting better (the online video will demand it). I recently heard Patsy Smullin, owner of KOBI-TV, on Jefferson Public Radio stating that her number one priority was to improve the station’s website. Good move.

If you would like a copy of the Nielson report, email me and I will send you a short recap. Also, this information is included in my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com).

FEBRUARY, 2010

QUESTION:  We want to begin using online advertising, but there are so many options. How can we choose the best ones?  

 THE COACH: By trial and error. As I outline in my book, the internet is the greatest one-on-one marketing tool ever created. Every business should be using the web to promote their business. But the digital world is confusing because almost every website – from Facebook to newspapers to magazines to local TV sites – offers online ads.

 If you are new to online, start by exploring ad campaigns using Yahoo/Bing and Google search. Google calls their program Adwords (http://adwords.Google.com). Yahoo/Bing calls theirs Yahoo Advertising http://advertising.yahoo.com). Both programs work essentially the same way. 

 You bid against other advertisers for words or phrases (keywords) people use to search the internet. For example “Medford plumber” or “retirement community.” When someone searches using these keywords, your “paid” listing will be displayed on the right side of the screen as well as in a shaded bar above the normal, non paid, search results.

 But your ad doesn’t just appear on Google or Yahoo/Bing pages; it also appears on hundreds of websites that have agreed to display Yahoo or Google ads for a small fee. Most ads are text only, but you can also buy “banner” or image ads. The newest ad formats are video ads.

 With Google and Yahoo/Bing you only pay when people visit your website (“click-thru”). This is why these programs are often referred to as “pay per click” ads. Using Yahoo/Bing and/or Google is the fastest way to get started online. Both feature user-friendly websites that make it easy to set up a program in about an hour. My book goes into a lot more detail on how to set up these campaigns and how to select the best keywords.

You can also buy online ads on just one website. The Medford Chamber has recently launched a major online effort. The Mail Tribune also has an excellent program. All of these programs involve placing a banner (image) ad on their site. Ad rates are based on impressions, not click-thrus. Like print ads, where it is difficult to determine if a reader saw your ad and responded to it, website rates are based on how many users “could” see your ad (impressions). Therefore, if you are looking at website advertising, make sure you verify traffic numbers yourself. Two excellent online services that verify web traffic are http://www.compete.com  and http://www.alexa.com. Both allow you to review traffic for millions of sites.   

Finally, be aware that the number of users that will go to your site will be low. A Click-Thru Rate (CTR) is determined by dividing the number of users that go to your site by the number of times your ad was delivered (impressions). For example, if total impressions were 100 and one person visited your site, your CTR would be one percent (.01).

Click-thru rates usually average less than one percent; a 2% rate is considered to be highly successful. You will want to make sure you keep track and evaluate your CTR. Again, my book (www.powershiftmarketingbook.com) explains ways to evaluate your CTR and how to develop a successful online advertising strategy.

JANUARY 2010

QUESTION:  I just read your book and it had some great marketing tips. Why do you think many businesses don’t embrace change? Jim, Ashland.

THE COACH: Because they underestimate the changes going on with their customers and they begin to believe their own press releases. As I mentioned in an earlier column, coming out of this recession the consumer’s “mind set” will be very different than it was a year or two ago. If you have been listening and responding to your customers by changing your product or service during the recession, you will be one of the first to benefit from an upswing in the economy. But if you have just been “waiting it out” and you believe you can simply return to what you’ve done in the past, 2010 could be a tough year.   

When a business is launched, most firms have a clear vision of what they want to provide their customers and how they are going to do it. But then a strange spell falls over them. As soon as they have a certain level of success, for some unknown reason, they stop listening to their customers. They start believing they know what’s best for their customers. Wrong.  

Besides GM, the business landscape is filled with examples of firms that have been slow in changing to meet the needs of their current customers. How could Polaroid, whose founder Dr. Land invented instant photography with his pioneering Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 in 1948 ($5 million in sales in its first year), totally miss the emerging world of digital photography?  Even Kodak, a name synonymous with photography since 1888 when George Eastman placed the first camera into the hands of consumers, dragged their feet into digital photography.

As I outlined in my book, your 2010 should be a lot better than 2009 if you embrace my four core principles of marketing:

1. Embrace Change – Change is the only constant in this world. Your company’s ability to be profitable is directly related to your skill at recognizing change.

2. Focus on Customers – You must know where your customer is going in order to respond quickly, so you can use all your resources to meet your customer’s needs first.

3. Leverage Every Dollar – Since ads cost the same, whether they work or not, the best way to generate more return on your investment (ROI) is to create more powerful advertising. 

4. Take Action Daily – You can’t afford to stay in one place in a constantly changing world. You can stay ahead of your customers and your competition by taking small actions every day. Most companies (or people) don’t fail or succeed because they do one thing right or wrong. They succeed because they do dozens of things right, every day.

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