Category Archives: Marketing

Dancing on the Sharp Edge of the Knife

Marketing/Communications people are the Brand Champions in the organization.

Working in Marketing and Communications means that you are serving two masters (actually there are a few more than two, but we’ll ignore them for now, even if that may not be so easy to do).

One master is your client/Brand.

The other master is the consumer, your end-user.

And you are walking the tightrope between them.

Yes, your salary gets paid, directly or indirectly, by your Brand/client, but unless you understand and adequately meet the needs of the ultimate client – the person who actually uses and pays for the product or service you represent – there won’t be any money to pay anyone.

A responsible Communications pro/Marketer understands that there are two opposing yet complementary sides to the coin.  Without the brand there is nothing for the consumer, if the people suing/consuming are not happy/satisfied, there is not brand. the And they actively search for ways to keep both sides satisfied.

When interests are common, this is easy, when they are not, it is a challenging balancing act.

The Brand Champion represents both the Brand, and the ultimate user/consumer.

While acting as the Brand/client ambassador, you represent the Brand, your client to the internal organization, external suppliers, the public, the media, the consumers themselves and are responsible for the messages, communications, image and identity.

As the main spokesperson for the Brand/client within the organization, you are accountable for representing the wants and needs of the customer, and for delivering against the promise of the brand or service.  Everything you do must be for the good of the ultimate consumer.  Everything you do must also support the goals and objectives of your company/Brand.

So if there is a problem or a mistake, you are responsible for creating the action plan and brokering the solution that fixes the issue and ensures transparency with the consumer so they don’t feel you’re trying to put one over on them.  The how you do it serves the interests of your company/Brand to maintain your status and performance in the marketplace.

Not an easy task, but one that provides a great sense of accomplishment when you get it right.

Know your user/purchaser/client.

Keep faith with the ultimate user, make sure you have their best interests at heart.  The more you know about, and can identify with them, the easier it is to understand how to communicate with them.  Represent your consumer franchise well and make sure you educate all of the stakeholders at your company so they are very knowledgeable about the end customer.  It helps to ensure the agendas dovetail (and makes your job easier).

It’s in your best interest.

Originally posted September 21, 2011  on mononews.

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If Content is King, Context is Queen

Photo credit: hurley_gurlie182 from morguefile.com


Photo credit: hurley_gurlie182 from morguefile.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you’ve got a handle on content, which I’ve taken the liberty of defining as the fusion of information and entertainment.
Great!  You’re halfway there.  Yes, I’m sorry to have to advise you that content is only a part, albeit and important one, of the necessary effort.
In review
Ideally, content is a story.  The story should have a beginning, middle and an end. It should include a conflict, which is successfully resolved.
Good content is a story with substance, appreciated and/or valued by its intended audience; a meaningful and significant story, which answers a need or provides relevant, useful information.  Strong content is read because it resonates, interests or captivates its audience.
If content is the story, and must be compelling, then equally important is the setting where it appears – the context.
Context is where content lives
Context 1: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.  2: the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs: environment, setting ‘the historical context of the war’
Context is where the content exists or lives, the vehicle or platform where it is featured, its environment.  It is selecting the appropriate network, channel or vehicle where thecontent is provided.
Your content should fit the environment as if it was its “natural habitat”, an environment frequented/popular with its intended consumer.
If your content is not in the appropriate environment i.e. not where your target is hanging out or looking for it, then it’s missing the mark.  It is ineffective, shooting blanks.  It means it is unlikely to be read, shared or commented on, and will probably not generate  dialogue or initiate a relationship, which are the objectives of producing content.
The ideal context, because you have total control of the experience, is your own website.  Here are some examples of great content delivered on target-specific websites.
However, not everyone has the resources to create their own environment.
Cookie-cutter content won’t work in every context
Many companies generate content without considering how it will be used, perceived or received.  They use exactly the same material across all Social Media channels automatically.  Perhaps they just don’t realize each network has a specific reason for being and as a result, is a unique environment.
The obvious examples are the “visual” sites, such as Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, where content needs to be pictures or video, versus text.
Regarding text, however, How-To or DIY articles may be ideal on Facebook, but LinkedIn’s professional orientation makes it an ideal environment for business issues and career advice.  Google+ is a little more a blend of the two, but depends on the group or hangout.
An article on personal finance may be an equally appropriate topic for both Facebook and LinkedIn, however given the distinct difference in the target audience’s orientation and interests, the format, tone and references should be different to be appropriate for the professional orientation of LinkedIn versus the personal, casual atmosphere of Facebook.
Spend some time understanding the different networks you are considering.  Get to know the interests, language and etiquette of each.  Ensure there is a natural fit between you and the audience.
In order to understand the context to best frame the content, ask yourself:
Why is my target audience here?
What is my target audience doing here – what is their interest, activity or purpose?
When is my target audience here?
What are other companies doing/offering and what does it look like?
To be successful, all content must be consumer centric.                                                              This means that when content is produced, it must be produced with the end user/consumer/target audience in mind.  It needs to respond to their wants and needs.  An important way to understand the consumer is to consider where they are hanging out and why.  By understanding the context, the appropriate content can be provided.
It important to remember the reason for doing what you’re doing, creating and providing content.
The purpose is to create a relationship, namely building awareness, trust and interest so that you have a place in the mind, and hearts, of your audience.

Originally published on May 23, 2013 on mononews

It’s Time We Replaced the Word “Consumer”

photo credit: markhillary via photopin cc

photo credit: markhillary via photopin cc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marking has changed dramatically.
It’s 2014.  The world has changed dramatically in the last five years and change is escalating.  Technology and Social Media have severely disrupted the status quo, especially with respect to Marketing.
Marketing, always a complicated and ephemeral discipline, has become further fragmented and even more intricate with many more tools and options.
While, once again I’ll get on my soapbox and restate that every effort must align with the strategy (implying you MUST, first, have a strategy), the fact is that many of these effective new options involve Social Media.  And that’s a good thing.
One of the most significant shifts in the paradigm is the transfer of power from Brand Managers and the Marketing team to product users in terms of Brand ownership.  The people who use, buy, consume the product (or service) exert a great deal of influence over the Brand, it’s characteristics and communication.
As Marketers, we have always needed to have a profound understanding of the product and the people who consume it.  This, in order to determine appropriate strategy, communication, vehicles and messages.
But with the product users being more and more implicated and responsible for the Brand, the role of Marketing has shifted from primary owner of the brand identify and reputation to a more of a partnership role shared with the actual humans who comprise the brand franchise; the people who are served by the product.
We need to find a different word for consumer.
Due to this, the marketing community needs to replace the word consumer with something better.
A word that does not create a “third-person”, arms-length distance that allows us to objectify the members.
Or that leads to define the group of product users with severe or limiting constraints.
We need a term that doesn’t imply a large, homogeneous, characterless group with more in common than not.
I believe if we had a term that acknowledged the new Brand partnership and more adequately reflected the new brand relationship between the corporate owners and those that take the product home, it would help us, as marketers, do a better job:
–  To establish and foster better relationships
–  To create meaningful dialogue.
– To build mutual trust and respect.
–  To do what’s right, BOTH for the brand, and the people for whom it’s conceived.                  The word “consumer” is passive, not active.  It is no longer appropriate and does not well represent the characteristics and influence of the franchise.
And what is the “new” word for “consumer”?
I have a few suggestions, but I don’t have a definitive answer.  This is something that we need to talk about, discuss and deeply consider.  It’s too important to leave to one person.
The new word for consumer needs to better reflect the multiple characteristics of the group it will designate:
It needs to have aspects of “fan”.
It needs to connote “audience”, but in a specific and targeted manner.
It should acknowledge the humanity and yes, even the personality of the group.
It must demonstrate the respect and value held for group members.
The word should be accepted by the people in the group (come on, have you ever identified yourself as a “consumer”?)
It must be both comprehensive and inclusive to accommodate the diverse mosaic of the group.
So far, in my search, I have really not come across anything that I like other than the word “loyalists” which may have too many historically political associations to be appropriate.
What do you say? Do you agree we need a new term for consumer? What should that term be?

Originally published January 8, 2014 on mononews