Posts Tagged ‘small business’



December 16, 2016

Renowned CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite must be rolling over in his grave. Most U.S. adults (62%) now get news on social media, and 18% do so often, per a new survey by Pew Research Center. Three social media sites dominate news online.


That is why “fake news” is a major issue for marketers. It is almost impossible to control your message in social media. As I’ve stated many times, news and entertainment are now one in the same. Our Twittering President Elect has shown the power of news on social media – we do not need anyone to make sure it is true. But wait.

Finally, CNN has reported that Facebook has announced to will start applying warning labels to some “fake news” stories that users share. Articles that are known to be false — seemingly published with the intent to trick or mislead people — will be marked with what Facebook is calling a “flag.” Below the headline there will be a red label that says “disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers.” Users will be able to click on a “learn why this is disputed” link to get more information.

Facebook will not be doing the fact-checking itself. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that “we do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.” So, those third parties will be fact-checking organization that have committed to the International Fact Checking Code of Principles, which was recently established by Poynter, a journalism organization. Several dozen fact-checking organizations around the world have signed on the code of principles.

Now you will still be able to post whatever you want, no matter how bogus, but now others will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.

Hopefully, other social media companies will step up and do the same. At a recent journalism industry conference, Facebook representatives said that addressing the spread of knowingly fake stories is the #1 priority at the highest levels of the company. It is about time.



November 13, 2016

I am not going to add to the relentless analysis of the recent election. If you love politics, read my friend Pete Sage’s political blog. It is well-written and very insightful. But I do want to cover three core marketing principles that your business can learn from Trump’s victory.

GET OUT AND MEET YOUR CUSTOMER – Most businesses today think they are listening to their customers. They tell me they monitor user review websites (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Angie’s List, BBB, Manta, etc.) and use online surveys (Survey Monkey) to know what is going on. Big mistake, you do not know what is going on. The internet has a self-selecting bias. You are only going to hear from people who love or hate you. But what about the majority that do want to share their opinion and will simply not buy your product. Or the 20% that have no home internet access (Pew Research study)?

The Trump Marketing Lesson: On almost every measurable statistic, the economy is better than when Obama came into office in 2008. That’s a statistical fact. But Trump’s victory in Wisconsin reveals that 61% of voters said the economy was bad or “not so good.” Their vote was a rational choice. It was not a vote of deplorables. Oh, and never, never label your customers.  Bottom-line: nothing replaces getting out in the real world and asking your sales or service team for honest feedback on what customers think. Nothing replaces visiting your key customers and listening to their concerns. Do not rely on metrics only.

SELF-INTEREST IS YOUR CUSTOMERS ONLY INTEREST – All business run marketing programs because of their self-interest. They want to sell more, make more money and profits, and enjoy the rewards of their hard work. Therefore, most businesses place their self-interest over the interest of their customers. But as I have said in my book and in years of consulting, the only real interest customers have is self-interest. Trump totally understands this, perhaps because he so totally focused on marketing himself.

The Trump Marketing Lesson: If you focus on your client’s self-interests, they will overlook a lot, if they believe they are being heard. White evangelical Christians voted 81% for Trump. They simply overlooked locker room speak, playbook character flaws, numerous marriages, trophy wives, and questionable business ethics because Trump promised to lead with their self-interest in mind.

TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED – In this 24/7 digital world, your customers are overwhelmed. They long for a simpler time, where they can trust things they believed in as a child. But today we are outliving our value systems, and this makes everyone very fearful. Because of fear, your customer’s opinion of your business can change instantly based on what they hear or see. Remember, events create public opinion.

The Trump Marketing Lesson: You can’t take anything for granted in a constantly changing world. That is the essence of my PowerShift Marketing philosophy: if you are not doing something every day to move your business forward, you are moving backwards. There is no status quo. Are you a market leader and think you can rest? Forget it. Are you behind the market leader? Keep focused and work smarter.



September 23, 2016

I am constantly telling companies to be very careful about asking their marketing department, ad agency or marketing firm to conduct market research. Why? They can have a vested interest in showing you positive results. You really need a third-party working with your marketing team to develop, conduct and analysis research data. This is especially true for online analysis. Yes, Google, Facebook and Yahoo love to share their metrics, but perhaps this is because they are faking it.

CASE IN POINT: For two years, Facebook overestimated to ad agency and firms the average amount of time people spent watching Facebook videos. They finally disclosed that a key metric was accidentally artificially inflated by only including videos viewed for more than three seconds. This may have caused Facebook to overestimate average time spent watching videos by 60% to 80%. Facebook’s solution? A new name for a new metric for what was meant to be measured in the first place.

As reported by the Wall St. Journal, this “miscalculation means marketers may have misjudged the performance of their video ads as well as decisions to move budgets into Facebook, while publishers who post videos on the platform are also affected. Maybe it’s time for the internet’s so-called walled gardens to finally allow true third-party verification of their data.”

Totally agree. I think that is one reason why our research business is growing. More and more people want real data that they can count on.



August 26, 2016

Email turns 45 this year. It remains one of the top reasons why most people use the internet. That’s why I am a big believer in having a robust email marketing effort. But the dark side of you using email to promote your business is most emails never show up in your customers’ inbox.

According to a new Return Path report,  less than 70% of emails are delivered. Reviewing the report, here’s some of the challenges your emails can encounter:

Primary Mobile Challenge for Premium Publishers (% of 300 US premium publishers)
Challenge % of Respondents Saying “Primary”
Ad blockers 49%
Quality of consumer experience 44
Quality of content/creative 42
App installations 38
Measurement deficits 31
Platform and service costs 30
Off platform monetization 30
Off network traffic/audience 27
Lagging advertising spend 27
Inadequate revenue/ROI 24
Source: AOL Platforms, August 2016

If you are looking to boost your deliverability, the report outlines the best practices for a successful email marketing effort:

Building and maintaining reputation – If you send email, you have a sender reputation, a rating that helps mailbox providers and spam filters determine whether your emails are trustworthy, safe, and wanted. Looking up your sending reputation, or Sender Score, is free at

Acquiring and maintaining quality subscriber data – An unclean list has severe consequences on your deliverability. Every spam trap, unknown user, and inactive account on your list can damage your reputation, your deliverability, and potentially can land you on a blacklist. Consider investing in a list validation service to ensure each address you add will maintain the quality of your list

Generating subscriber engagement – Mailbox providers like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail, are focusing more and more on subscriber engagement in their filtering decision process. Marketers who frequently generate high positive engagement from their subscribers are more likely to reach the inbox, while marketers that generate low or negative engagement from their subscribers find their emails landing in the spam folder

Defining seed data – Information captured from high volumes of monitored email accounts (seeds) controlled by senders to sample mailbox providers’ placement decisions irrespective of user-initiated or engagement-based filtering. For new programs with little or no history of subscriber interaction, seeds can provide an accurate assessment of inbox placement

Defining Consumer Network data – Information captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user-initiated and engagement based filtering decisions by mailbox providers. Uncover behavior-based factors and thresholds that influence inbox placement at large mailbox providers, and can’t be identified by non-interactive seeds.

For more information from ReturnPath please visit here. Need help in setting up an email marketing program? Contact me for a no cost evaluation of your needs.



May 23, 2016

Most of my blog readers (7,000+ as of today) live in the small business world. That’s why I don’t cover much big ad agency news or trends. Although I have lived in that world, it is not where my readers live. Recently, Martin Sorrell and Maurice Lévy, big names and ad agency owners in the international ad world, shared their belief that data-collection and data-analysis firms are now more important than ad agencies. Why is this important to you?

Because big data is driving most marketing decisions for larger firms, if you want to compete and increase your share of the business pie even small businesses need to base more marketing decisions on knowledge – hard data that tells you what your customers want and where you can find them.

Many of you have some of this data via online analytics (like Google Analytics) but you do not know how to use it or supplement it with your own research efforts. I say this because that seems to be the fastest growing segment of my business, helping people interrupt data and providing additional data.

But the problem with data, as pointed out in a Wall St. Journal editorial by Jeff Goodby co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (another big agency), is that “for enough money, everybody has the same stuff. It’s not that it’s not valuable. It’s just that it’s the same. It’s what is done with the data that makes all the difference.”

Yes, companies that don’t use research are, indeed, dinosaurs, but what you do with your research is what really will generate more profit. Numerous times I’ve seen companies that have research not know how to convert knowledge into marketing creativity. That is the ultimate goal of research.

QUESTION FOR THE WEEK: What big marketing ideas are you developing from knowing your customers?



April 28, 2016

I’ve been helping clients with media planning for years. The first question asked is always, “where should I spend my money?” The first question I ask is, “who is your customer?” All marketing begins and ends with understanding your customer. The more you know about your customer, the better return you will receive from your marketing investment.

That is why research is always the first step. For example, we just finished a customer study for a major electrical transformer manufacturer and I believe it will really help them spend their money more wisely. Part of your research should also be looking at broad trends in media spending.

That’s why I wanted to share a media usage projection from eMarketer (an online data source). The report states that it looks like ad spending is following consumer media consumption. That’s the key. When you follow ad money, you basically see how your customer is consuming media: where you should be to get attention.

US Media Ad Spending Share By Medium
  (% of Total Spend)
Medium 2014 2016 2018 2020
Digital 28.3% 35.8% 40.8% 44.9%
   Mobile 10.9 22.7 28.8 32.9
TV 39.1 36.8 34.8 32.9
Print 17.4 13.9 12.2 11.1
   Newspapers 9.1 7.2 6.1 5.5
   Magazines 8.3 6.8 6.1 5.6
Radio 8.4 6.1 6.7 6.1
Out-of-Home 4.0 3.4 3.7 3.4
Directories 2.8 1.7 1.9 1.6
Source: eMarketer, March 2016

The report clearly shows you should be spending more on digital (online), mobile and far less on directories (get rid of that yellow page ad budget). It also shows that traditional media is still valuable. The report reveals that TV ads influence far more consumers to make a purchase than video or display ads, though social media ads (primarily on mobile devices) are second to TV among Millennials.

Returning to the eMarketer forecast, some other points of note include:

  • Magazines overtaking newspapers in ad spending in 2019, primarily on the basis of a slower decline in ad spend;
  • Spending on non-mobile digital advertising overtaking print in 2019;
  • Out-of-home’s share of media advertising spending declining at a slower rate than most traditional media (save for TV), as a result of continued volume growth.

For additional information from Marketing Charts, please visit here; and, from eMarketer, visit here.



April 7, 2016

Millennials (19 to 24 years old) are now the largest segment of consumers in America. So, how do you reach them? Well, if you do not have an email marketing program, you could be missing them.

According to a study by Adestra, a provider of marketing technology software and services, 73% of Millennials said they prefer to receive communication from a business via email. In addition, more than half rely on email to buy things online. Not surprisingly, the same holds true for Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Email Use All  19-24
Everyday life 74% 77%
Buy things online 51% 59%
Communicative with friends/ family 45% 47%
Work 41% 48%
My parents got me one 11% 5%
I don’t know, I rarely use it 5% 3%

Although smartphones and laptops have the highest use among all recipients, tablets, laptops and smartphones dominate younger users, while older users are more likely to use feature phones, landline telephones, and desktop computers.

The study finds that people use their smartphones for personal communications (calls, texting, browsing, email and social media) over business calls and business email. And, email isn’t dying among younger users, says the report. Consider the personal email use broken out by age groups: 90% for teens, and 91% for older.

Device 19-34 56-67
Mobile Phone other than Smartphone 16% 30%
LandLine Telephone 22% 62%
Tablet (such as iPad) 56% 47%
Desktop Computer 46% 67%
Laptop Computer 84% 64%
Smartphone 92% 65%

Bottom-line: You’re far behind the curve if you haven’t made your digital presence, (email, landing pages, entire website) mobile-responsive and if you do not have an email marketing effort. If you need help running one, give me a call.