How to Market Above the Noise

European man of thirty years in glasses closes her ears loud mus

Above the Noise

 

Does Your Marketing Matter?

What makes some messages stand out above the noise?

 

Marketers everywhere have been busy in the past several years keeping up with mobile, new technology, and the fundamental changes in a social media world. Though the pace is increasing, it is also important to review the basics of marketing to ensure that what you do matters. Linda J. Popky, in her new book, MARKETING ABOVE THE NOISE: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters goes back to basics and offers an approach that combines timeless principles with today’s technology. Linda is the president of Leverage2Market Associates, a firm that helps transform organizations through powerful marketing performance.

 

“Asking for input and not using it is wasteful and dangerous.” –Linda Popky

 

The Promise of Social Media

How has social media changed the way companies interact with individuals? What are companies doing well? What are they not doing well?

The good news is that social media opens the possibility for powerful real-time communications and conversations between companies and their audiences—including customers, prospects, employees, and the local community. The bad news is that social media also raises expectations amongst those audiences, while creating distraction and noise that often makes it harder to be heard.

The result is many organizations do not use these channels effectively. The key point about a conversation is that it’s two way. It’s not a monologue of marketing or sales messages from a company to customers. And it’s not an opportunity to bombard them with information that doesn’t fit the audience.

 

“Successful organizations analyze external forces.” –Linda Popky

 

More and more companies are using social media to engage with their customers, and they’re learning to listen effectively. However, they also need to bring back what they learn to the right groups in the organization to effect change. Too often this is still lip service.

For example, several months ago, I had a very negative experience with a major national retail chain. I tweeted about this and almost immediately received a response and apology from their Twitter customer care manager. The problem was they assured me I’d be hearing from headquarters soon to resolve the issue. Not only didn’t that happen, but the Twitter customer care manager moved on and left me hanging—a huge missed opportunity on their part, which is indicative of how much room there is for improvement.

 

Timeless Marketing Truths

Twitter is Not a Strategy

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Techniques from an Expert Marketer

If you are marketing a company, a product, an idea, or even your personal brand, you may feel the pull between the new-media world and the traditional marketing methods you studied in school. When new technologies emerge, it often seems like everything is changing. Whether digital, mobile, or social, we are looking for new ways to connect with our audience.

What if these new ways actually prevented a brand from reaching its potential?

How do you get people to stick around?

How do you engage people in a substantive way, winning them over? 

 

“Timeless can be new.” -Tom Doctoroff

 

Tom Doctoroff has more than 20 years of experience shaping hundreds of global brands ranging from Microsoft to Ford to Nestle.  He’s appeared regularly on NBC, CBS, CNBC and other major media outlets. Tom’s new book Twitter is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing is all about engagement. Its wisdom spans the two worlds, combining digital and traditional marketing to win and engage consumers.

 

The Marketing Identity Crisis

Tom, you’re the CEO of J. Walter Thompson in AsiaPacific and for decades have shaped some of the world’s biggest brands. Your new book title, Twitter is Not a Strategy, seems to imply some level of frustration.  Did you write this book with some level of frustration?

I wouldn’t call it frustration exactly.  But, yes, I do think the communications industry is going through something of an identity crisis.  The fundamentals of advertising and branding are too often forsaken as marketers seek technological and algorithmic salvation. The rise of digital has led to marketer anxiety, consumer confusion and too many transactional brands.  But old and new, traditional and digital, broadcast and “lean in” media are complementary.

 

“Each creative expression of the brand idea should be conceived with a specific behavioral objective in mind.” -Tom Doctoroff

 

Twitter is Not a Strategy is not meant to be a breakthrough book.  Indeed it might even be “anti-breakthrough.”  It is a call for the entire industry to stand up and reclaim the conceptual high ground of marketing communications.  Carefully crafted strategies and executions—adherence to the ABCs of brand building—will remain our lighthouse.  As brand pioneers, we must explore the shoals of a new digital landscape.  But let’s not become stranded by anxiety and indecision. Timeless can be new.

 

Traditional versus New Marketing Tension

Your book explains the traditional top down branding approach (message clarity) with a bottom up (consumer empowerment) approach. How do these two approaches need to work together?Twitter is Not a Strategy

To avoid confusing consumers, engagement needs to be both authentic and constructed. Marketers must forge a paradigm that allows freedom within a framework, pulling off the trick of simultaneously permitting consumers to participate with brands while empowering marketers to manage the message and dialog.  Marketers must achieve:  harmony between the clarity of top-down positioning and the dynamism of bottom-up consumer engagement; between long-term brand equity and short-term tactical messaging; and between emotional relevance and results driven by data-driven technology.

Different kinds of media reach us for complementary purposes.  Analog (traditional) media shape our brand preference while most digital media deepens our engagement and leads to brand loyalty.

The former boast broad reach.  They forge perceptions across consumer masses. Film—with its sound, color, movement, and ability to break through clutter—is an indispensable tool to guide consumers amid an explosion of offerings. Even in the United States, despite the proliferation of smartphones and other digital devices, the 30-second broadcast television commercial continues to rule (and increase). Manufacturers spent some $67 billion on network and cable advertising in 2013 – and not for sentimental reasons.

The latter encourage engagement with brands. With more opportunity to trigger behavioral changes – learning more, using more, buying more, advocating more – marketers can increase the probability of purchase and repeat purchase.

 

Traditional media shape brand preference. Digital leads to loyalty.

 

As consumers move toward purchase, direct and digital media should dominate. These media provide more opportunity for engagement—that is, direct interaction with a brand idea and its creative expression. Marketers have more opportunity to trigger behavioral change and increase the probability the consumer will buy a product.

Advertising can encourage a limitless range of actions—from clicking through a banner ad and spending more time on a microsite to increasing consumers’ frequency of washing their hair. The arsenal of tools marketers can deploy to encourage certain behavior is broad. Marketers also can use analog media to trigger specific behavior during later phases—for example, by using stunning “product beauty shots” and other point-of-sale material to stimulate trial usage.

 

Start with the Brand Idea

Why Adapting in the Social Age is Key to Survival

Hand Holding A Social Media 3D Sphere

Do you think social media is something to assign to the marketing department?

Do you think social is mainly about getting out your message?

Do you understand that the Social Age changes everything?

 

Adapting to a Social World

I recently had the opportunity to talk with my friends, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt about their new book A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

They are both social media experts who help leaders and companies understand and thrive in the new social age.  Ted Coiné is co-founder of one of my favorite leadership communities, Switch & Shift and he was named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer.  Mark Babbitt is CEO and founder of YouTern, a social community for college students and young professionals.

 

“Social is not a campaign. Social is a commitment.” -Stan Phelps

 

Talk to the corporate leader who really is not online; the executive who maybe has a Twitter account but hasn’t signed in for a year.  What does she miss?

Business leaders not active on social are missing an asset that decision-makers in the Social Age desperately need to remain relevant and to spot trends: real-time, unfiltered market intelligence.

Through social listening, we learn what our customers are saying about us as they say it.  We observe how our brand is perceived.  We also see what our competition is up to – and perhaps even opportunities they’re missing because they are NOT listening.

Suggestion boxes?  Focus groups?  Surveys?  Those tools were all great in the Industrial Age – but they can’t begin to compare to the real-time market intelligence available to us for free on social.

 

Downsides of Social Media

Let’s flip to the other side: What are the downsides of social media?

Social media is an equal-opportunity amplifier. It amplifies the good, certainly.  But it also amplifies the bad.  Be insensitive, act unethically, mistreat a customer or employee, kick a dog in an elevator, put short term profits over people – or even this-quarter profits over common sense – and your brand will suffer.  Because today – through what we call the “Social Robin Hood Syndrome,” where the public is more than ready to rally in order to right a wrong – a complaint can very quickly become a tsunami of bad press.

While these downsides of social are very real, the vast majority of social horror stories are caused by ignorance, corporate arrogance, unethical leaders, uninspiring or even abusive employers – all who become easy targets when customers, employees and watchdogs turn to social for justice.

Fortunately, this phenomenon is also a positive; this forced accountability helps leaders realize that we must run our organizations in an ethical, honest fashion.  And if you’ve been leading in a commendable way all along, this amplification feature of social is your company’s best friend.  Over time, you’ll earn the market share of your less-than-exemplary rivals.

 

“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” -Jan Carlzon

 

 

Adapt to Survive

The subtitle of your book is “How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.” What are some of the dangers of a company largely ignoring social media?

What we learned from trend watching over the last five years is that social isn’t a technology radically affecting how we lead our organizations. Rather, the Social Age is a new era; social has changed business forever. The Industrial Age had a good run, but it’s over.

The business world is already showing us what happens when companies continue to operate under Industrial Age “best practices.” Look at the fate of JCPenney and Sears versus Amazon and its 17 million likes on Facebook. Ford, with its exceptional community building, and to a certain extent, new kid Tesla, are doing amazing work on social compared to competitors General Motors and Chrysler. And think about all the old-school beverage companies that are struggling while Red Bull rocks social media with 36 million likes on Facebook and 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

 

3 Recommendations for a Customer-First Social Strategy

Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success

young businessman adds promote word

The New Rules

You’ve heard the advice, but maybe you are uncomfortable:

Why standing out is more important than ever

The importance of personal branding

How to get noticed in a crowded world

More than ever, your career opportunities are dependent on your reputation.  The good news is that there are more tools than ever to help you get started.

Dan Schawbel is a columnist at Time and Forbes.  He is the managing partner of Millennial Branding.  If you haven’t read his many articles and blog posts, you may have heard or seen him in the media.  As I was reading his latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, I happened to catch an interview with him on National Public Radio.  He is an expert on personal branding and understanding and reaching the Millennial generation.

 

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, what you earn depends on what you learn.” –Bill Clinton

 

Why Personal Branding Is Important

What are the top 5 reasons that personal branding so important?

  1. You will be found in search engines when either a recruiter is looking to hire for a specific position or a prospect is looking to hire a consultant.
  2. You will gain confidence in yourself because you’ll know who you are and how your expertise fits into the business world.
  3. You will be able to communicate who you are and what you do at networking events without being stressed out.
  4. Your personal brand will give your company more credibility and make it easier to promote your company in the media.
  5. Your brand will help you both attract the right opportunities and repel the ones that aren’t a good fit, saving both you and others time in the research process.

 

“Think of your career as a series of experiences.” -Lenny Mendonca

 

“If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it is the box that needs fixing. Malcolm Gladwell

 

What do you say to critics who say that personal branding is self-centered and egotistical?

I really don’t think it’s possible to build a strong brand without the support of those around you.  I also don’t think that being selfish is necessarily a bad thing, especially in a tough economy like this.  Being selfish, in some regard, is a way of saying “I’m investing in myself so I can become more valuable and in doing so help others.”  As long as your intention is to help others today or in a year, everyone benefits from you being selfish.  Those that have built strong brands have empowered others to build their own and promoted their work.

 

“Become the expert your company can’t live without” is powerful advice. What steps do you recommend to make this a reality?

Promote Yourself CoverIn Promote Yourself I talk about how you need to become an expert in your field.  65% of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists. You need to align your strengths to areas in your company that need improvement.  Back when I worked at a Fortune 200 company, I was the only social media resource.  If a department wanted to learn social media or use the tools for their own purposes, they almost had to contact me.  This truly makes you valuable to your group and to your company, while at the same time giving you visibility which creates opportunities.

 

65 percent of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists.

 

Use Social Media as a Career Tool

You talk about the importance of social media. Why is it critical for leaders to understand and leverage social media?

Social media is the fabric of our society at this time.  I started using it in 2006 because I realized that it puts everyone on the same plane, regardless of job title.  Through social media you can easily connect with people in your company, profession or industry, which creates opportunities.  Another aspect of social media is that the customer now has a voice, and people, in general, are moved by experts and influencers.  Leaders need to understand social media because it’s a channel that people will use to follow them if they have something interesting or important to say.

 

“Social media is the fabric of our society at this time.” -Dan Schawbel

 

 

How did you use social media to propel your career?

Why You Should Comment on Blogs

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I’ve been blogging for just over two years now.  One of the strange things I have noticed:

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers.

Why You Should Comment

So, if you aren’t a blogger, why should you comment on a blog?

If you like what you read, it is hugely rewarding to the blogger when you share the post via your social networks.  When I see a post take off, I know what is resonating and it helps me prioritize what to write about in future posts.

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers. -Skip Prichard

There’s nothing worse than writing a post and hearing nothing but crickets.

In addition to sharing, consider adding a comment.

Why comment?  Well, technically it helps the blog because it shows that the page is updated.  That, in turn, increases the relevance and the chance that Google will rate the blog higher.

But that’s not why you should do it.

ENCOURAGE

Yes, that’s reason enough.  If you like the blog you are reading, why not encourage the blogger by jumping in?  When I started commenting on other blogs, I saw the power of a little encouragement. Feedback matters. In addition to encouraging the blogger, I have noticed that it encourages the community of readers at the site to think about issues differently.

INFLUENCE

What I like to see is the dialogue, the conversation, the debate, or the agreement.  You may add a story or an additional thought.  You may agree or point out something that I missed.  You may change someone’s thinking.  My own views are more informed when I read what others are writing.

RELATIONSHIP

You are able to build a relationship with someone fast when you comment regularly.  I have made friends this way and have connected with my regular commenters, too.  It makes a difference.

Why don’t most readers comment?  It ranges from fear of making a mistake to not knowing how to do it or even worrying about getting spam email.  It really isn’t hard.  Most blogs, like this one, do not spam you or send you any email because of your comments.

COMMUNITY

I receive a lot of personal email from people about posts I write, but I have decided not to engage in side conversations for the most part.  Because, if you have a comment or question, others likely will have the same one.  Why not let everyone benefit?  And, frankly, I just don’t have the time to answer a question many times when it could be done once.

Why Bloggers Comment

Why do bloggers comment on other blogs?

If you study Web marketing, you know that there are many reasons you want to be a regular commenter.  A few of those reasons are:

  • Gain traffic back to your Website.
  • Build backlinks to your blog.
  • Build a relationship with the other blogger or the community.
  • Increase your authority as an expert.
  • Improve your search ranking with the search engines.
  • Because they appreciate and know how hard the job of blogging really is!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER LEFT A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG.

I do have a comments policy where I reserve the right to delete any comment that is inappropriate, spam, advertising, offensive, profane, or for whatever reason is not wanted.  That’s the right of the blogger.  I try to leave comments that disagree with me and have only deleted a handful of comments in two years.