Focus on Sharpening that Ax

I read a really great article that probably didn’t even need to be read.  I say that not because it was useless but because the title says it all. Are You Too Busy Chopping (Marketing) Wood to Sharpen Your (Marketing Operations) Ax?

After those first 90 days are over, those of us who are lucky enough to be in management are constantly asking ourselves, how do we stand out? how do we not take on the baggage and stay above water?  how do we continue being those thought leaders we were hired to be?  The author of the above linked article has some easy steps that I will take note of and wanted to share:

1. Focus on impact vs. activity:

  • Which business outcome does this activity support?
  • Do you know how this activity is expected to move the needle for the business outcome?
  • How will you know whether the activity had the desired impact?

2. Make metrics count:

  • How is Marketing having an impact on and contributing to the business?
  • What is and isn’t working?
  • Does the data enable course adjustments?

3. Embrace insights:

  • Purposefully collect and analyze your data.
  • Establish a data infrastructure.
  • Implement a process for collecting and using data on a regular basis.

4. Run marketing like a business:

  • Ensure marketing strategies are executed seamlessly
  • Create, manage, and track marketing processes
  • Analyze and develop metrics to improve effectiveness and reduce inefficiencies

4 quick steps to success! Good luck and keep that ax sharpened!

Digital Marketing

It seems like this word is all the rage now.  When in reality, it’s just a buzz word for all those familiar things you are probably already doing – email campaigns, social media, web, etc.

Mobile does play a huge part in it but all the things, and more, listed above can be found on mobile.  So in reality, what do we need to think about when it comes to “digital” marketing?

For me, a clear strategy needs to be set in place before anything even happens.  Assess the things you are doing today and look at the metrics to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.  Next, you need to identify your target audience and how they want to hear from you.

After all that evaluation has been done, you can actually think about how to improve on the things that are working, but could also do more for your business.

I found a great article on MarketingTechBlog.com about digital marketing that I think might be interesting to you all as well.

“What is digital marketing? It is the use of new media to market a brand/product/organization and so on. Though there are a lot of activities that can be done, but digital marketing these days relies on the internet.”

P.S. You can even subscribe to a 5 week email crash course, through MarketingTechBlog.com, on inbound marketing which I recommend doing.

Spring Forward to Q2

In honor of the time change this weekend I’m thinking spring…but at the same time lamenting the fact that I haven’t even been out to ski once during this epic winter.

The time change brings with it tiredeness, hopefulness for better weather, as well as the reminder that the first quarter is almost over.

Metrics should have been monitored every month but this is when crunch time should really happen.  What has happened in the first quarter of the year that needs to be reevaluated or reinvested in?  What have the combined efforts of the marketing and sales department achieved?  This is the time to maybe take a look at some goals and see which ones need to be reeled in and which ones can be taken up a notch.

Take the next few weeks to really begin evaluating your roadmap and consider turning some things around, if you need to.

P.S. Here are a couple of great online resources:

7 Ways to Evaluate Your Marketing Plan

How to Evaluate a Marketing Strategy

MSRP vs. MAP – Why Determining Minimum Advertised Pricing is Important

Manufacturer Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) vs Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) - Explained

In my second job out of college I was tasked with, in some instances, creating a luggage collection and working all the way through from concept to design to sourcing to pricing.  When it came to the latter, I have to admit that I was pretty green in understanding retail vs. wholesale vs. MSRP vs. etc. etc. pricing and how it works.

I can by no means say that I am any more well versed in it but it does make more sense now.  But, it never hurts to look back and learn more about that thing you used to do and see how you could have understood it better.  So to google I went.

Well, I happened upon a great article that talked about MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) vs. MAP (Minimum Advertised Price).

Here are 5 key take-away’s:

1. “The price resellers pay is determined mostly by your MSRP (Manufacturer Suggest Retail Price). But once they’ve paid, they can then sell at whatever price they deem profitable to them. So if your MSRP is $50.00 and you sell to a retailer at 50% discount, they have the potential to make $25.00 profit. But if they’re willing to make less they can undercut the competition.

When this happens, and the price war kicks in, your MSRP goes out the window and your phone starts to ring off the hook with complaints from resellers.”

2. “A minimum advertised price is just that – it’s the agreed price a reseller agrees to advertise a brand or product at. There may be some wiggle room, but generally, when a reseller accepts the agreement, they’re stuck. They can’t advertise a product for sale any less than the agreed price. This means in print, online, or any where.”

3. “While collusion to maintain a fixed price or profit margin is illegal in most circumstances MAP policies are legitimate and valid – if done correctly…here’s the big differentiator – MAP pricing does not limit the actual selling price. It simply sets the minimum price a product can be advertised at – whether that’s in print or online.”

4. “Resellers are adverse to risk. They certainly don’t want to take on new brands and products that they’ll be undercut on by other resellers. They want to have some cost control and profit assurances. MAP affords them some protection. They know that if they buy your product to sell, they won’t necessarily see it online tomorrow advertised for way less.”

5. “MSRP is what you’d like everyone to sell your product at – and you’re discounting levels are based on it. While MAP is the price resellers agree to advertise your product at – provided you’ve had them sign reseller agreements. So, make sure you have reseller agreements in place.”

Story Telling and How it Fits in to Marketing

Storytelling for PR & Marketing

As we all know, content is king.  So if content is king then we need to know how to provide good/relevant/interesting/captivating/etc content to our audience.  How do we do that?  Think of your favorite book, or children’s story and perhaps learn from that.  Clearly, the writer did something right to keep you interested and reading.

A business related story or case study should do the same thing for its audience.  It should grab, and hold, their attention until they read through to the end.  That’s exactly what the article titled, How to Tell a Great Brand Story, talks about.  I think one of they key take away’s for me is “Provide what matters.”  Too often people get way too far in the grains of some process, or technology, or solution.  Stay high level.  If the reader wants to know more, hopefully you’ve enticed them enough to reach out to you.  But overwhelm them, and they might feel like they’re not smart enough for the product, or simply feel like this is way more than they might need, which may not be reality but rather their perception.

Go on, tell a good story!

Death of the Press Release?

Upon looking into the best method to send out press releases I stumbled upon an article that confirmed some of my thoughts on press releases.  The article titled, Looking for the Best PR Wire Service? Consider This… talks about the fact that wire press releases are, in my opinion, comparable to print ads back in the day.  It’s not to say they should go away for ever, or there is no place for them, but they are becoming antiquated.  Contrary to popular belief, they serve no SEO purpose, based on new Google algorithms.

The one good thing about press releases is, “Wire services do perform one exclusive function. They syndicate our news across thousands of sites on the web. The question we have to ask as marketers–is that of value to us? If it is–how much?”

I would have to agree that I am a much bigger fan of short blurb write ups, or placements than I am of press releases. I am an even bigger fan of full fledged, well written and compelling, articles or case studies.

So what are your thoughts on the matter?  Is the press release really dead?  This article disagrees.  But, how important are press releases to you?  Will you change how you write them?

Marketing Strategy

It’s that time of year, strategy time.  I was lucky enough in my last position to be asked to begin thinking about proper marketing roadmaps and creating, and tracking, a strategy for the next year.  I touched on this briefly in the past but I’m even happier to start it all again from complete scratch and in an entirely different place.  Yes, I’ve moved on from my last company to a new adventure, so please pardon the sporadic postings for the next month or so until I get in to a rhythm.  But don’t worry, I’ll always be coming back here to share my thoughts and ideas.  But…I digress.

I wanted to start from scratch this time.  I had the bones of my old roadmap which hinged on focusing on the different markets we used to sell in to and their buying times.  Based on that I would mark off what kind of marketing activities had to be done when – trade shows, advertising, PR, social media, etc.  However, it is difficult to measure something when you don’t have the bandwidth to do it.  So this time around, I’m going to take the bones and expand by layering in the ultimate business goals as well as a more laid out plan so that the questions of “what” has to be done and “how” to do it are answered in a much easier way.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not an expert in all things marketing hence why I like to write this blog – it allows me to think about and explore various topics and aspects of marketing and business in general.  I’d like to think that I’ve been around various blocks a number of times and know what works, what doesn’t, the way to and not to do things but it’s important to realize that you should always be striving to learn and do more.

So, below you will see some places where you too can learn more about setting your own strategic roadmap.  Happy planning!

Marketing Plan Template: Exactly What to Include
Your Marketing Plan as  Roadmap to Customers
How to Write a Marketing Plan

Marketing IT Services

I’m continuing to broaden my marketing horizons and trying to learn more about different industries and ways of marketing to them.  Today, we’ll take a look at IT services.  Unless it’s an app, you’re more than likely marketing to a business, which  makes it a B2B landscape.  But, as I’ve said before, although the buying time frame might be longer than in a B2C scenario you’re still marketing to people and need to think about what makes them tick and what will make your service stand out from the crowd.

So with that, here is some interesting information I found that I thought would be interesting to you, my dear readers.

A blog about how to sell IT services in 6 steps.  Value prop must be identified, followed by uniqueness of your service and how that fits in to your target market’s needs.

Here is an Information Technology Services Marketing Association you may want to rely on if you are in this industry.

Lastly, although this article, Tips for Marketing Your Service Business, doesn’t exactly talk about IT, it does talk about how to market in the service industry.  “Compete based on value. What will make customers or clients select your company vs. your competitor’s?”

As always, don’t forget to check out my twitter hashtag #careeradvice101 or just follow me, Linder83.

Marketing Real Estate

For those that watch the “Million Dollar Listing” shows on Bravo know that the people on there make a lot of dough.  Yes, they are successful at what they do.  And yes, some of them have been brought up in fortunate homes but they have succeeded at what they do by being creative.  A $15 million dollar home won’t sell itself.  How do you get in front of people, make them realize that the investment is worth it, not only for the sake of location?

Things have changed, but not as much as you might think.  Flyers and brochures are still very valuable, as shown in the image above…which is already a bit out of date.  Although aerial videos, via drones, are showing up more and more, and most people won’t even go see a home if there are no photos, that listing sheet is still very important.

But, how do you bring in the masses, and other agents who might have a buyer for your home?

Here is a great article for the 25 Real Estate Marketing Ideas the Pro’s Use.  I’ll highlight my favorites, which I base on the fact that these can be applied to any kind of marketing.  Because at the end of the day…marketing is marketing.  It’s just a matter of how you word & present things.

1. Write Listings that Sell –> content is king in all industries!
2. Drip Campaigns via email –> this allows you to weed through your prospects and potentially identify those that are ready to take the next step in the buying cycle.
3. Blog blog blog
4. Social Media –> use the platforms that make sense for your industry.
5. SEO

How do these apply to your industry?

P.S. Here is another great article titled, 7 Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents in 2014.

P.P.S. Have you heard of Buffer?  How do you use it?  Is it similar to hootsuite or even better?