MN AMA Conference – Marketing with a purpose

The conference was as insightful as expected. Though I religiously attended Social Media track because it is closer to my marketing focus, I hope to review other presentations as podcusts when they are posted on the conference web site.

Interesting points from the conference (all keynotes and Social Media track):

  • Spotting trends: it is important to make yourself – force yourself –  to be well-rounded. Modern technology allows filtering only information that we particularly like (my Yahoo, etc.); however, to find new trends a person needs to have access to wider resources…
  • Continual Partial Attention – trend of our time. People may watch 8 hours of TV, but “compress” it into about 6.
  • Marketing positioning: don’t confuse people. “Compact SUV” – is it small or is it SUV (what is considered large)?
  • Capitalize of the spotted trend: act on it!
  • What is important: not mental ability, but mental agility
  • Interesting: talk to the experts, but not in the same area – in the boundary areas

Social media

  • One f the emerging trends: idea platforms.
  • Deciding if social media is right for your organization: is it right for the brand? Is the organization willing to communicate? Can the organization deal with the criticism? Will the organization put resources behind it? Participation in social media is not a campaign… it is a way of life…
  • Social media: what is right?  Both b-to-b and b-to-c are still in the process of figuring it out… In either case “b” has to figure out how to participate is “p-to-p.”
  • How can a company find its “voice” in social media?  Should it be one person, or should it be a persona?  Maybe, the company can start with a person… and move to a persona… Best Buy SMO is twittering under “Best Buy SMO” not under personal name…
  • Interesting app
  • Business approach should start from the people and only then move to the selection of the technology. POST – 1. People. 2. Objective. 3. Strategy. 4. Technology.
  • How to buy analytics (or other “insight”) software: get 30 days trial, if after 30 days trial you can find actionable data – buy. You have to be able to USE the data, not only have it.
  • ROP – Return On Participation. ROP is multiplier of conversation as much as ROI is a multiplier of $. ROP is calculated by division of the conversation points done to the conversation points received.
  • Evaluation of spent resources could be done in a table: horizontal (channels, such as Twitter, blog, etc.), and vertical (ROP, ROI, % of resources, Weighted ROP and ROI on % of resources)
  • From the perspective of social media endeavors:
    • Keep it small and simple
    • Create tests that can be built upon
    • Create platforms, not campaigns
    • Get everyone involved
    • Create many different outlets
  • Marketers need to “un-learn” a desire to do a campaign. It is not about the campaign… it is about the community…  it is different way of life…

8 business rules for growth:

  1. Follow being strategies (don’t follow branding strategies). Build a business, product, sustainability.. . not a brand.
  2. Always be unique
  3. Focus entails sacrifice (to gain a customer you must be willing to loose a customer)
  4. Obsess about your customers, not your competitors
  5. Treat employees as family
  6. Hire “somebodies” not just “anybodies”
  7. Make meaning before money  (improve people’s quality of life, fix something that is wrong, build upon something that is right)
  8. Stay connected. Growth happens.

I am happy to be a part of MN AMA – its culture, ever-changing traditions, and 65 years of history… 🙂

MIMA – Web Content

bookI was fortunate to attend a presentation of Ginny Redish, author of the best-selling Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works. I definitely plan to read the book!

The focus of the presentation was not usual perspective of SEO copy writing, but web content in general as a method of achieving business objectives. SEO is definitely important, but what actually “happens” when the user is found the web site…

Interesting points from the presentation:

Consider yourself a user and a web site as a “web story.”  Start with the goal: why the user wants to visit the web site?

The purpose of the content:

  • solve the problem
  • accomplish the task

Usability definition (which was created 30 years ago and still relevant – human beings have not changed):
The content useful if:

  • users can find what they need
  • users can understand what they found
  • users can act appropriately on their find
  • users believe that all the time and energy spent is worth the effort

Use of the web site is a conversation – use personas!

If you are not the newspaper – don’t focus on the news (particularly on the home page…)

Web is different from print. Who starts the conversation on the web site?  The user.

People don’t read the copy

  • people focus on what they need
  • people read just enough to satisfy their goals

Average time spent on the home page: 25 – 35 seconds
Site where people find something: about 4 minutes
Site which people abandon: about 2 minutes

Don’t hog the conversation – respect people’s time. It will increase the conversion rate.

Changing paragraphs to bullets generally increase the conversion rate.

Research in AARP: current generation of older people do read content on the web because they feel obligated to do so, not because they want to do it.

Web site must connect in the language the site visitors bring to the conversation.

A usual mistake in creation of a headline – using the internal language of the document that would not normally be available to anybody except people who expect it. For example: Roadmap for performance-based navigation. Very unclear what it could be…

Better headlines:
– How much do Americans pay for fruits and vegetables?
– How many fruits and vegetables do you need?

A marketer should think: How do I get my brand messages across through answering questions my users are asking? The users are starting the conversation.

First: answer the user’s questions; then market… This is the approach that is different from print.

Questions to ask before creating a web site:

  • What are my business goals?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What are the conversations my target audience wants to start?

However… find the marketing moment when the site visitor is ready.

Book sites are good example of utilizing marketing moments: first – they answer the most important questions (shipping time, price), and then book sites attempt an upsell by displaying other books the shopper might want. This works similar to the customer service – answering the question first and trying to upsell after answering the question.

Don’t miss the marketing moments by forgetting calls to action!

Best practices of writing copy:

  • main point first
  • set context
  • talk to your visitor
  • break info in chunks
  • respect visitor’s time
    • short paragraphs
    • short sentences
    • fragments, lists
  • all best practices came from linguists (working with conversations)

People skim and scan; if the section is broken into smaller chunks – more will be read.

Blind people also “skim” by reading only headings first; use <h> tag for headings rather than class.

Every web site needs a content strategy

  • Is your content planned?
  • Is it coordinated?
  • What does content needs to achieve?
  • What are the needs for the future?
  • Do you have a marketing plan?

Focus on content – think CONVERSATION.

Social Media Marketing – Minneapolis Workshop

Business Behind the BuzzWorkshop – November 5, 2008: Get Your Biz On > Marketing + Social Media was quite well-attended by local companies, agencies and non-profits. 

Some of the interesting Social Media Marketing ideas from the event:

  • Rank-and-file employees now considered more credible than CEOs (Edelman Trust Barometer). Marketing implication: a blog written by an employee-enthusiast might be more effective than a CEO’s efforts
  •  Web 2.0 (an era of “co-creation”) should concentrate on integrating of “cool staff” around business bjectives. Marketing implication: social media marketing is less “social media” and more “marketing”  – achieving business objectives through new opportunities. The “staff” has to work for the objectives
  • Interesting explanation of the “long tail” as smaller pieces of diverse content that can be more important over time.
  • Definition: White Label Community solutions – a community that can be branded easily by a company or an organization
  • Interactive marketing mantra: “don’t let your technology show – let your strategy show.” The solution should not be based on certain “technical features” – the features (only necessary) should be masked by design to allow the solution to serve its business objective.
  • Is it easy to find an employee who would be willing to devote additional time to creating content for the internal community/blog/etc?  In some competitive cultures, an employee can receive a unique exposure and benefit from it. Finding an employee who would like to participate in this situation is easy.
  • Company’s promotion via social media marketing: VVPN – Very Vertical Passionate Narrative

Value evolution
Then                                    now
Tell                                      Ask
Top down expert                 co-Creation
Looking Good                     Transparency
Finished Products               Perpetual beta
Us vs. Them                        Zero distance + Community
Blockbuster                        Long Tail
“How to”                             Follow the Energy

Interesting example of social media use for internal communication (ING):
Problem: the company’s processes are cumbersome… it is not easy to accomplish some little tasks
Solution: an internal site with employee-generated tips how to accomplish tasks easier, fun webisods about success stories of simplifying tasks within ING, and an employee-written blog sharing “grass-root” viewpoints.

What worked well:

  • employee-generated conversations builds instant trust and credibility
  • people are social: mix professional and personal topics
  • make it easy for people to participate (link from the home page, etc.).

Another interesting example: a community with cost-saving suggestions (as part of introducing new CIO).

What worked well:

  • Perpetual beta: start with clear and limited scope, and keep going…
  • Know your audience (even if it is every marketer’s dream 🙂 )
  • Tie to bottom line results makes sponsorship easy
  • Make it easy for sponsors and champions do their job: provide data, sound bytes, cheat sheets, job aids and performance metrics
  • You are not done when you are “done” – the post-implementation stage
  • Measurement planning takes time

Zanby – “groups of groups” approach – unique in the industry.Zanby

Social networks… why buy rather than build?  Zanby was created over about 4 years, and at some points about 40 developers worked on the software. Do you have these resources in house?