Marketing – Three Ways To Take Ownership

By Glenn Kass (glenn@catchdriver.com)

Small businesses should be well versed in the importance of ownership. However, there are still too many that take a pass at taking control of their destiny.

Keep Calm And Take Ownership

A rising tide of social options has left many small businesses with paralysis by analysis. Social is definitely part of a tool box (including mine as you’ll see below), but social channels are focused on their business plan. Here are three ways to give your plans a business improvement loan and take ownership.

1. Own Your Website – A recent survey of small and medium size businesses in the U.S. and U.K. showed that 45% still don’t have a website let alone a mobile optimized site.

A good website doesn’t have to involve bells and whistles, but it needs to be viewable on multiple platforms because that’s how customers are finding businesses – via mobile device or tablet. You also want a Content Management System (CMS). This enables the ability to post offers, info or important reminders to a spot(s) on your website without the need for the web designer to do it.

2. Own Your Data – Get to know your customers and how they use your business. Collect data – especially an email address – and make sure you know about interests or how they shop with you. Use Google Analytics or another of the many options available for web tracking. You will see what people look at on your website. You will also be able to look beyond your POS report each day. Customers will tell you what they want.

3. Own Your Message – Email marketing is still a valuable resource which is why email addresses (and the permission to use them) are so important. Constant Contact, Emma, Vertical Response and Mail Chimp are just a few of the great, user-friendly tools that are reasonably priced and effective at communicating with your customer and tracking the results. It takes some time, and a little experimentation, to put good emails together, but it can pay dividends in sales.

What about social marketing? There are ways to own what you can there, but prepare to make a commitment. (Click here for a brief video sidebar on “The Social Dilemma.”)

Remember, as customers become more connected there’s only one rule for small businesses – take ownership!

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing are here to help get your ideas on track. Find out more at www.catchdrivermarketing.com. Also, “Like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “Follow” www.twitter.com/catchdrivermarketing, or “Add” www.google.com/+GlennKass.

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Web Privacy Is Dead

What a tangled web we weave. The shock and outrage over lack of privacy in the digital world runs counter to the convenience we want from the advantages of that connectivity. Free or freedom? Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Frank McNamara have a theological connection to this shifting argument.

Frank McNamara introduced "Patient Zero" to the modern privacy debate.

Frank McNamara introduced “Patient Zero” to the modern privacy debate.

Coleridge’s storytelling device “Suspension of Disbelief” is a basis for today’s life on the interwebs. Consider the old general store – owners knew your shopping behavior from your account that allowed for payments, the convenience of having your order ready for pick up and even what day you were going to shop. We trusted the shopkeeper to keep this info private.

Eventually, the shopkeeper knew your bank and could send bills there. The bank trusted these purchases were yours and gladly paid the debt. McNamara took this privilege forward when his “Diners’ Club” offered a way to eat without money to pay the bill. The restaurant accepted the card at face value and trusted that payment was forthcoming from the bank connected to the card.

Current surveys reflect our mixed messages. We question our privacy and express concern that “marketers” will find us when we don’t want them to. Then again, there is info that indicates we’ll roll over like obedient pets if access to a deal is available.

Then there’s social. We happily post details and the suspension of disbelief these self-reported life events require is high. But, when Facebook said it might just use images we surrendered via small print, there was panic in the streets.

Our tacit acceptance of the Terms of Service and its fine print allows channels the bargaining chips they need. Advertisers pay a fee for us and we get to use “free” apps and networks.

Google saw a potential threat to market share after the NSA-Prism news broke. Recent moves to drop “cookies” and promoting secure search leads to more suspension of disbelief. Google will still provide info if it’s paid for and we’ll still gladly allow that info to be available so we get the next BOGO special.

Make no mistake, security is still of value. Business needs tools and services to protect customers on some level and in fact can tout it as a competitive advantage. The small business entrepreneur still struggles in this area. They are most likely to be exposed to privacy breaches and have the most to lose. Yet, they must keep asking for info from customers.

The small business owner seeks balance. Perhaps, by going retro and using some of those concepts their predecessors at the general store practiced it can provide the customer with the experience that sets your business apart.

Our current generation of consumers is seemingly able to share anything without the privacy concerns of their parents. Those raised in the web suspend their disbelief because being a member of the club bring rewards. Their outrage comes from one of their friends knowing or getting something before they do.

So, web privacy is dead. Now, give me a cookie!

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing want to help get your ideas on track. Find out more at www.catchdriver.com. Or, “Like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “Follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg, “Watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing or “Add” Glenn Kass to your Circles on Google Plus.

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Story Bumping Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post

Last week, Jeff Bezos paid the equivalent of milk money for the Washington Post. It was news based on journalistic history, the location of the company and brand purchased versus the relative price paid for it. But, it wasn’t the story.

Carl, Bob - always remember - "Follow The Money."

Carl, Bob – always remember – “Follow The Money.”

Of course, “only” $250 million for a brand as recognized as the Washington Post matters. However, the sheer number of outlets available in the digital divide to comment on the sale perhaps sheds light on why the name doesn’t have as much value as it once did.

Bezos commented that within 20 years, the printed word will no longer be a part of journalism. He made the deal personally, but surely Bezos sees future potential for whatever the Kindle becomes.

The next day, Facebook discussed its news feed and how stories will be shown to you. Lots of new phrases like “Story Bumping” and “Last Actor” were introduced. Of course, users familiar with the phrase “Sponsored Post” will still find a way to “bump” their way up your news feed.

Later in the week, AOL (talk about distressed brands) announced it was raising the white flag on its Patch local news sites. So, perhaps the Bezos’ schedule to develop the digital news space is correct.

We’re told now that content is king. I’ve also seen many surveys that say while the printed word is dying as a delivery model of news, people do value the brands that deliver it. Therefore, Bezos is making a calculated risk to buy a brand as strong as the Washington Post.

The problem with digital in the newspaper business is that it has always been approached with a newspaper sensibility. If Bezos can bring a digital approach, and monetize it without pay walls which consumers have been so reticent to accept, he might just have something.

I am proud to have experience with the newspaper business both in editorial and marketing. The professional journalists I have had pleasure to work with and for are resources that need to be maintained. The Chicago Sun-Times eliminating its entire photography staff earlier this year is far more troubling and newsworthy.

My hope is that the reasonable price paid for the Washington Post will enable Bezos to, as he put it, “experiment” with the journalists and support staff needed to produce engaging content.

However, AOL partners found out that news gathering is expensive. The idea of independent local journalism is possible. But, selling a franchise to whoever watches your Power Point presentation and has a checkbook obviously didn’t work with Patch because of costs and issues with consistent credibility.

Moreover, how many of us are using Facebook and Twitter as our news channel? Certainly, just as the afternoon editorial meeting used to tell us what we would see tomorrow morning on the front page, Facebook, Google and whatever algorithm that “serves” us news and pays the bills make those judgments now.

As marketing and public relations professionals, our ability to ride the niche journalism wave, find the individual plan to get content from our clients to the places it can be seen, and figure out how to make sure it feeds the monetized bulldog will be the challenge.

So, again, the story is money, market position and content. Solve that formula…well, THAT will be news!

 

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

This just in – Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing are here to help get your ideas on track. Find out more at www.catchdriver.com. Or, “Like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “Follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg, “Watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing or “Add” Glenn Kass to your Circles on Google Plus.

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Marketing Lift: Four Branding Workout Tips

You’ve met with your team; then, fine tuned the message, structured the budget and booked the mediums. But, your workout is just starting. What are you doing to lift your marketing?

Are you warmed up properly for the marketing lift?

Are you warmed up properly for the marketing lift?

Surely your effort to sort through all of the possibilities for marketing your business seems like it should be enough. Unfortunately, business owners forget to lift the plan to get the most for the money.

Lift can involve more money. Often, it can just be finding ways to make sure your own house is in order so your brand can go the distance. Here are four branding workout tips to consider:

The Marketing Lift Workout Plan-Tune Your Channels: Make sure your messaging is dressed and ready in all areas of company communication. Website, social networks, selling floor, email signatures, etc. If it involves your company and touches customers, shouldn’t it be spreading your message?

The Marketing Lift Workout Plan-Staff Communication: You sent an email to staff with all the details of the plan so they are up to speed. If everyone read every word, we wouldn’t have highlighters. Plan small groups that allow your team to ask direct questions. You will be amazed at what your front line team doesn’t know until you ask.

The Marketing Lift Workout Plan-Measure the Message: Are your benchmarks set to enable constant measurement of data and sales? Having oversight will enable you to track scale and have fluidity in your marketing, see what messages are working and then adjust on the fly.

The Marketing Lift Workout Plan-Market your Marketing: Opportunities to co-market can be especially important for small businesses with limited budgets. Look for partnerships that allow you to expand your reach for limited or no cost. Whatever you do, stay on message!

Too often, the medium chosen gets blamed when the messaging and the execution is lacking. The marketing plan, like the map for a trip, should have opportunities to get out of your marketing vehicle and stretch. Make sure your brand is properly warmed up for the next marketing lift.

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing help you get your ideas on track. For more, visit www.catchdriver.com. You can also “like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg, “watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing and “add” Glenn Kass to your circles on Google Plus.

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Social Media Marketing – Who’s On First

Seminars and conferences are a great refresher. A recent social media marketing event helped me reaffirm simple truths; regardless of the channel, who is doing the tweeting, posting, pinning, adding, liking and why is still important!

The third annual At Midwest Social Media conference was just held in Normal, IL. Meeting new best friends like Melissa Schenk, Sean McGinnis, Bernia Wheaton, Rebecca Wardlow, Thomas Ian Nicholas and others was my immediate benefit.

But, a major takeaway is that people are still what put the social in marketing. I’ve written previously about this in 2011 and again in early 2012. Apparently, 2013 and beyond looks good for humans.

Thomas Ian Nichols telling how social media helps his music as a small business with a limited budget.

Thomas Ian Nicholas explains how social media helps his music as a small business with a limited budget.

Nicholas, known to movie-goers as Kevin from American Pie and Henry in Rookie of the Year, posed the question – why was he at a social media conference? His presentation about using social to grow his music career started a common thread for the truths of social media marketing.

1. Social Media Marketing Truth: Relate with Your Audience – Social is most successful when you relate with your audience. Nicholas talked about listening as the critical mass for social media marketing. If you can’t relate, and report back on what you hear, it’s a one-way conversation. Plus, the more you relate, the more your reach grows.

2. Social Media Marketing Truth: Contentment Is Not Content – Wheaton talked about primary mistakes made in social media marketing. If you aren’t prepared to work a channel, turn off the channel. You do more damage to goals by thinking that having an account is the strategy. Just like you in the morning, your social media marketing should be fully dressed.

3. Social Media Marketing Truth: Personalize Your SEO – The algorithms that feed Search Engine Optimization are obviously important. But, building content links take root through personal relationships with people of mutual interest. McGinnis talked about his SEO opportunities that grew from personal interaction. Wardlow also showed why embracing Google Plus, with its obvious ties to search, bring the Hangouts which are another way to get personal.

4. Social Media Marketing Truth: Be You(Tube) – Through video, Schenk detailed how important it is for people to know you. If you can’t show who you are and why you do what you do, you’re in trouble. It’s too simple to tell your story through video and you need to do it now!

There are tools that can make managing social media marketing easier and having a plan must be the basis for your approach. In addition, owning as much of your social media marketing as possible is important too. Always remember, who’s on first isn’t a question, it’s the answer. You’re on!

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing help you get your ideas on track. For more, visit www.catchdriver.com. Or “like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg, “watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing and “add” Glenn Kass to your circles on Google Plus.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Communications, Marketing, Planning, Programming, Public Relations, Sales, SEO, Social Media, Television, The Four P's, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You A Loss Leader?

Leadership is a thriving industry. Lately, the concept that some failure is good for growth has been embraced. However, winning and losing is nothing without a process.

In retail we know the definition of a “loss leader” is a good or service advertised and sold at below cost price…the purpose being to bring in or lead customers to a store. This doesn’t work if not included in an overall pricing strategy. Likewise, attracting customers with a hook that has no ability to keep them is also not a long-term recipe for success.

Was George Washington our country's first Loss Leader?

Was George Washington our country’s first Loss Leader?

But, winning is fun. Star leaders are celebrated and copied verbatim regardless of their usefulness to every organization. So, what is the value of failure to further the good of the order? These days, purveyors of leadership training have begun to appreciate that failure is not only o.k., it may in fact be part of developing the next C-suite sensation.

My definition of a Loss Leader is one that should view issues from all sides, make the difficult decisions and admit failure while respecting the process of change – good or bad. Here are four characteristics of a Loss Leader:

Does It Fit – Before sending programs to the bench, make sure they can’t play. Change is difficult, but possible if the end is clear. The organization with a true view of itself, can measure a program against goals and soundly determine if a loss is preventable or inevitable.

Can It Be Re-Distributed – Sometimes there are pieces worth salvaging. Perhaps the personnel or product has a better spot elsewhere in the organization. Maybe a vendor can help you with a new effort or has ties to resources for the next step. Ask those questions because answers might pleasantly surprise you.

Does It Add Up – Yes, money is still, and always will be, a consideration. It’s further down this list because following the dollar alone is not the first elimination. Doing a quasi-forensic audit is needed to truly weigh the pros and cons of any endeavor while also looking at the organizational factors above.

What Does It Lead To – So, you have determined that a program is headed to the archives. A Loss Leader should be steps ahead based on experience and the review process to know what the re-allocation of resources will look like. Bad things come from thinking that the end of an initiative will, or should be, accepted at face value.

Empty wins and losses are false positives. Vetting thoroughly the tough decisions could cost you personally. But, proving your personal corporate safety is not mutually exclusive with the failure to change should make your Loss Leadership something that keeps bringing shoppers through the doors.

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing can help you with the process. For more, visit www.catchdriver.com. Or, “Like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “Follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg and “Watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing.

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A Social Media Spaghetti Western

Small business is on a never-ending search to capture the power of social media. Even when SMB owners do arrest a channel, they tire of the work to maintain it.

Have you seen these channels?

Have you seen these channels?

Think of social as a legendary spaghetti western. Entrepreneurs hope their tall, dark stranger with answers for social will wander down the dusty Main Street at Noon.

A Fistful of Dollars – Small business owners usually do one of two things: throw large sums of money at social or hold spend to a minimum. Both may be wrong. With the changing landscape of social, no sooner is a big commitment made then the platform changes. Making social a part of a plan and using it within a larger effort is a better way to measure and use the medium. Moreover, deciding the platforms to use and committing to them will keep management of the channel under control and keep you from having buyer’s remorse when the rules change.

For A Few Dollars More – Some entrepreneurs think social is the way to conduct a quick-hitting campaign. Well, if the channel is active, perhaps it could be. But, too often, social is thought to be the way to close gaps. If the platform in use has had down time, customers have moved on and the channel needs to be warmed up. Not a good fit for a “smash and grab” marketing effort.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Some of the social dilemma for SMB’s come as a result of circumstances out of its control. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and others are, or soon will be, publicly-traded concerns. That requires those channels to move as many eyes to its medicine show as possible.

Also, with consolidation, some of those channels are limiting cross-marketing efforts because they are “rival gangs” in the shootout at the social corral. Therefore, marketing requires more oversight when small businesses don’t have staff or time for. Knowing something about your customers and products may help you decide which channel(s) make sense for the business.

Once Upon a Time in the West – When it comes down to the final showdown, how you are using a marketing tool is based on what the goal of the campaign is going in. Social can be a way to broaden an appeal, but it shouldn’t be viewed as the magic bullet. Using a combination with various marketing channels is what will help you determine the effectiveness and whether you end up as the only sheriff in town.

Glenn Kass - Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim - Accent Photographics - www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass – Catch Driver Marketing (Photo by Shuva Rahim – Accent Photographics – http://www.shuvarahim.com)

Glenn Kass and Catch Driver Marketing thinks small is the new big. Learn more at www.catchdriver.com. You can also “like” www.facebook.com/catchdrivermarketing, “follow” www.twitter.com/CatchDriverMktg or “watch” www.youtube.com/catchdrivermarketing.

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