Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Customers Are Changing, But Is Your Marketing Keeping Up?

Today’s customers are smarter than ever before. “Empowered with mobile devices and social media, customers are reshaping the dynamics in both B2C and B2B environments.” As a result, marketers and brand strategists must understand all available data to drive engagement and sales across all touch points.

Does your business need help in navigating the turbulent marketing landscape? How well does your business know its core audiences? How well does your business know your extended audiences in the race to attract new customers? How well does your business understand its marketing analytics?

Don’t get left behind. Understand today’s smart customers by answering these questions:

[1] How many customers use social media to engage with your brand on a regular basis?

[2] Do your have a social media plan to engage with customers in real time?

[3] Does your brand have a mobile-accessible website?

[4] If you offer e-commerce, are e-commerce options easily transferable to the mobile environment?

[5] Do you have a crisis communication plan when and if something negative is written or spoken about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, or another social site?

[6] What are your customer service capabilities? Do you offer online chat? Do you offer 24/7 service? What are your alternatives if your customer service options go down?

In addition to intelligence, today’s customers have high expectations. They demand customized experiences and quality service. They also demand the same level of service across all interactions: website, emails, text messages, in-store and face-to-face interactions, advertisements, social media, call center, direct mail, display and paid search ads, and post-sales service and support. According to IBM’s State of Marketing Survey from 2012, only 29% of marketers believe that they are effective at integrating channels, which means that your business can become an industry leader if you create a compelling message and carry it out across all channels.

If your business designs a complete customer journey and coordinates marketing efforts across all communication channels, you will have the opportunity to lead your industry and set the standard. Your brand can become the one everyone talks about. Don't you want that?


To read the entire white paper used as the basis for this post, “Marketing: Connecting with the Chief Executive Customer,” here’s the link: http://www.rethinkyourcustomer.com/form/MKT-EBK

Image Credit: suphakit73 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Instagram as a Branding Tool

All of the social media sites have fans, but when it comes to business opportunities, which is the best fit? While some industries are natural fits for some sites, others are less clear. For example, real estate agents can use YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter to capture property features and quickly publicize them. Restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality venues can use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to showcase their locations and also offer real-time discounts and offers. But if you sell something a little less mainstream or provide services, how can you actually show prospects and customers? Your solution may be Instagram.

A study by Simply Measured in October revealed that “Instagram’s growth has been so substantial that it now rivals Google+ and Pinterest in terms of brand adoption.” According to the study, 71% of the most recognized international brands are now active on Instagram, up from 40% last year. Photos receive more comments than videos, and hashtags are the norm. 83% of posts include at least one hashtag, but many include several. And most users add a filter of some sort to customize their photos.

According to Instagram’s website: “Capture and Share the World's Moments. Instagram is a fast, beautiful, and fun way to share your life with friends and family. Take a picture or video, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram – it's that easy. You can even share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more. It's a new way to see the world. Oh yeah, did we mention it’s free?” Initially available for the iPhone and Android smartphone audiences, Instagram.com can also be accessed on desktops and tablets for a viewing experience.

But Instagram is much more than an app to share photos with friends and family. It offers a way for brands to communicate with their fans and customers through visual communication, whether photographs, word art, or anything else imaginable. Some brands showcase company employees in action at tradeshows and other events. Some brands showcase brand appearances in ads and historical events. Some brands create contests to engage their followers and request photos with specific hashtags. Some brands introduce and feature new products.

Here are 10 examples of successful Instagram pages and why they attract followers:
[1] Sherwin Williams (sherwinwilliams) – 150 posts showcase color in very clever ways
[2] Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii (turtlebayresort) – 490 posts of hotel and local area
[3] San Diego Zoo (sandiegozoo) – 425 posts of residents
[4] Guide Dogs for the Blind (dgb_official) – 40 posts tell the story of this unique non-profit
[5] American Heart Association (american_heart) – 199 posts promote this non-profit’s events
[6] Crumbs Bake Shop (crumbsbakeshop) – 167 posts of edible delights
[7] Snowboarder Magazine (snowboardermag) – 1799 posts of snow and athletes in the snow
[8] Tiffany and Company (tiffanyandco) – 525 posts of sparkling products
[9] Jet Blue (jetblue) – 108 posts of how the company supports the community (for example, NY Fire Department logo on an airplane), invites contributions from users, and creates contests for its fans and flyers
[10] Oreo (oreo) – 294 posts of fun and yummy ways to eat this timeless treat

In order to build a brand presence on Instagram, consider these questions first:
[1] How will images improve the dialogue between my customers and my brand?
[2] Do my customers need to be tech-savvy and photo-savvy to participate on Instagram?
[3] Are there specific types of images that would fit for a brand presence on Instagram?
[4] Are there staff resources to respond in real time to Instagram posts that reference my brand?
[5] Would an Instagram presence align with my brand’s presence on other social media sites?

There is also a sub-culture of apps that enrich the Instagram experience, and here are just a few. Instaquote allows users to add text to a selection of backgrounds to create memorable word art images. Photorepost allows users to share other users’ posts by adding the original poster’s name in the image. GuessWhere allows users to guess the location of featured posts.

I invite you to check out my page on Instagram at http://instagram.com/debbielaskeymba.

So try adding Instagram to your marketing mix – you may receive attention from people who aren’t active on many of the other social sites. And you may get new customers in the process!


If you’d like to learn how Flipboard, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn can help build your brands, check out the posts I wrote on my Blog and elsewhere for useful tips.

Flipboard as a Branding Tool

How to Build Your Brand on Twitter

Twitter Can Be a Marketer’s Best Friend

Five Things You Can Learn From Facebook

A Facebook Brand Presence Is Important

How to Build a Brand with Pinterest

Lead by Example with LinkedIn

Image Credit: Instagram.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top 10 Marketing Terms for 2014

While marketing may be a single bullet in your regular leadership team meeting agenda, how much time does your team actually apply to marketing your products or services? With all the buzz surrounding social media, traditional marketing has taken a back seat, and that’s a shame.

All types of business – whether B2B, B2C, or non-profit – need to understand all elements that fall within the marketing pie, and one important piece of the marketing pie is the lingo or terms that create their own buzz each year.

Here are my top 10 marketing terms and definitions to assist your business as 2014 dawns.

BEHAVIORAL TARGETING (also Audience Targeting):

With more social networking sites in the news as a result of their privacy policies and questions as to how they access and use customer data, behavioral targeting is a hot topic. Websites capture data generated by website and landing page visitors and determine the effectiveness of their campaigns. Ads can also be created based on this data.

With so many brands in the marketplace and so much noise as a result of social media, now marketers treat brands as if they had personality traits. When brands are given human personality traits, such as, creative, friendly, happy, etc., brands quickly stand apart from the crowd.

Content marketing is any content (blogs, white papers, eBooks, Infographics, case studies, guides, etc.) that has been created to provide value to customers and prospects on a regular basis. The goal of content marketing is communicating as opposed to selling.

Digital marketing makes use of electronic devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, cellphones, digital billboards, and game consoles to engage with consumers.

Engagement marketing is also called "participation marketing." This is because it strives to connect a consumer with a brand with the objective of creating a long-term connection. Once consumers are engaged with a brand, the hope is that they are no longer passive receivers of messages, but instead, they are brand advocates or ambassadors who share a brand’s strengths with others with positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Loyalty marketing is when a business focuses on growing and retaining existing customers as a result of incentives. These incentives can be discounts, coupons, free products that correspond to purchased products, etc. Imagine that you purchased a specific brand of car or truck. An example of loyalty marketing would be a postcard via the US mail or an email offering a special price due to your previous purchase and an invitation to return to the same dealer for a unique test-drive experience.

Consumers do not actively seek marketing content. Websites, blogs, and streaming media (audio and video) are examples. In each of these, users have to navigate to specific websites to view content.

The marketer sends a message without the consent of a recipient – for example, display advertising on websites and blogs. Email, text messaging, and web feeds can also be classified as push digital marketing when the recipient has not given permission to receive the message.

As a result of social media, share of mind has limitless opportunities. This is because share of mind measures how often consumers think about a specific brand as a percentage of all the times they think about all the brands in the same category.

KPMs or KEY PERFORMANCE METRICS (also Key Performance Indicators or KPIs):

While also a member of last year’s list, this term is so important that it should be on the mind of every business person every day. All marketing campaigns must be evaluated to determine the return on investment. How many click-thru’s to your main website or campaign-specific landing pages resulted from emails? How many leads came as a result of tradeshow attendance or telemarketing? How many likes appeared on your Facebook page? How many mentions and retweets appeared on Twitter? How many of your videos were uploaded on YouTube? How many sales resulted from your social media activities?

What’s your favorite term to start the New Year?


Image Credit: Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.