Marketing Sherpa/Norton Case Study (Featuring Solange Deschatres)

2SUMMARY: Designing a meaningful experience for customers online requires a strategic and thoughtful approach that leverages customer education over fear. The right digital experience can create a lasting relationship between a brand and its customers.

Learn how Symantec pushed customer-focus over product-focus in launching a one-stop digital platform for Norton Security’s content, offers and deals for auto-renewal customers. Read more

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Stop ‘Littering’ The Internet!

There’s a lot of information out there. I mean, a LOT. Since Content Marketing became the hot, new marketing buzzword, everyone’s hitching up to the rollicking bandwagon, putting out blogs, video, listicles, eBooks, slideshows, etc. It’s great to see that a lot of companies are recognizing the value of content, but, with the influx of content being released into the wild blue Web, we quickly realize that not all of the content being put out is actually valuable.

The Harsh Truth: You’re Just Not That Special

One major point to recognize is that, even when your company has an engaged audience, that audience may not instantly find value in what you have to say online. Not only that, but, the more “wasteful” content you put out into the universe that doesn’t completely encompass your brand identity and thought leadership will diminish audience trust in the very foundations on which you’ve built your brand. Online brand identity and reputation is a very shaky foundation to begin with, so why test its strength by diluting it?

Building A Valuable Strategy

What is valuable content? There are a few questions to ask yourself when building a content strategy.

1) What is my audience and where will they be accessing my content?

Figuring out the audience will determine the right voice and information for your audience. Figuring out how that audience will be accessing the content can help refine the tone and develop lead generation opportunities.

2) What brand values does this content address?

Everything you put out there either bolsters or takes away from your brand value and identity. Therefore, everything you produce should ladder up to your mission and value proposition, no matter how small.

3) Does this content add something new to the online conversation, and, is it useful?

There are millions of voices out there on the Internet, so it’s important to stand out. Look at competitor thought leadership and try to determine how your brand’s point of view differs on a topic. Be provocative, but, most importantly, be helpful (and, to be helpful, you need to refer to Questions #1 and #2 first).

4) How does it measure up?

Utilize analytics to their fullest potential. Measure performance over the short and long-term. Aim to produce content that has a longer “shelf life” in order to get the most ROI.

Strategically building content so that it is useful and worthy of your audience requires taking a step back and answering these types of questions. Not everything you put out there will be a crown jewel for the ages, but, by starting with a foundational strategy, you can avoid adding to the ever-expanding Internet landfill.

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Come See Me At The Media Leaders Digital Growth Summit!

Just a quick note that I will be joining a panel on email marketing at the Media Leaders Digital Growth Summit in Santa Monica, CA, on November 15!

Here are more details:

Where: Shore Hotel, 1515 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA
What: Seven topics that help brands and businesses build a better online presence to attract more customers.
When: Friday, November 15th
– Checkin: 8:00am to 8:30am at Shore Hotel Lobby on Ocean Ave.
– Breakfast: 8:30am-9:00am
– Panel #1 starts promptly at 9:00am (Please don’t be late)
– Lunch at Noon
– Last panel ends at 6:00pm
Who: This event is limited to 70 professionals from brands, businesses, startups and agencies that want to learn key tips and trends from panelists.
Why: In one full day each attendee will learn dozens of tactical formulas they can instantly implement at their company.
Link to the event site: http://medialeaders.com/digital-growth-summit/

Getting Mobile: How To Reach Your Anywhere Market

The numbers are showing that the majority of people in the United States have a smartphone, and those numbers are growing. Now, more than ever, consumers are on the go. Business is being conducted from home, cafes, hotels. People are interacting with their surroundings and each other using mobile apps. So, how does a company set itself up to hit these now-moving targets? Contrary to popular notions, there isn’t a one-size solution.

Does My Business Need A Mobile App?

Before you go shelling out mega buckaroonies to create mobile software, take into consideration that there are thousands upon thousands of mobile apps out there. While having a mobile app for your business is certainly a cool novelty, there are a few things that you should consider before going into full on production.

1) How useful is this app in relation to my business or service? If, say, you’re an independent hair salon and you create a mobile app to book appointments and remind clients of their appointments, to keep track of hairstyle ideas, and to order products, it might be a cost-effective way to retain clientele. However, if you’re a lesser known rock band, you might want to consider going a different route to gain popularity and to get people to play and buy your songs. People use apps that are useful to them, that fit into their everyday life structure and behavior. Games and other entertainment apps, while they can modify consumer behavior temporarily, get old, unless they change frequently or there’s a social element (and even then, they eventually die). If there isn’t an incentive to use your app, people will tire of it, and you’ll be left with the maintenance bill.

2) Does my business have the resources to maintain, support and market my app? If you build it, it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Apps need to be tested, refined, and tested again, launched to the public, and maintained for optimum performance and changes in mobile software and devices. Features need to be modified and changed based on consumer preferences and the optimization of user experience. Plus, you’ll need some go-to-market strategy on how to let consumers know that you have an app. In other words, an app is basically like starting a whole new division of your business.

3) Why am I launching the app? If your primary goal is to build a consumer base, stop right there. Do not pass ‘Go’ or fork over any money toward that app until you’ve got a consumer base. Not that you can’t attract more business via mobile app, but it’s an expensive way to market your brand, and, again, not very effective. Instead of having one marketing strategy for your business, you also must have an independent strategy for marketing your app, thereby investing time and money trying to convince people that they need an app to do business with a company they’ve never heard of. It gets complicated and I do not recommend it.

There Are Other Ways To Go Mobile

Fortunately, there are tons of other ways to reach consumers on the go, many of which are free of charge. Location-based apps like Yelp! and Foursquare let consumers check-in to your business with their mobile phones, write reviews and share their location with friends via social networks. You don’t have to spend a dime to appear in these apps, but you can pay for premiums, like being a featured location in searches, or providing special promotions and deals.

Don’t forget that social media is also mobile. Facebook and Twitter users are accessing their accounts as much by phone as by computer. Know your audience. If you have a fan page, speak to your mobile users as much as your traditional computer interface users. Encourage them to take on-the-spot photos, to talk about how long they’ve been waiting in line at their grocery store, and more. Find freedom in their freedom. And this mode of mobile advertising is free too!

Of course, you can always pay for mobile spots, ad services like AdMob, TapJoy, Google Mobile Ads, and InMobi are all great ways to launch and monitor mobile ad campaigns. From mobile banner ads to placement in mobile apps, these ad services have you covered, are easy to use, and can be tailored to your business needs.

If you’re still unsure of how to go mobile, consult your friendly neighborhood mobile marketing pro, or reach out to me anytime at solange DOT deschatres AT gmail DOT com to discuss how I can guide you through a safe, cost-effective journey into the mobile wilderness.

Cheap Thrills Are Not So Cheap: Why “Casual Gaming” Is Failing

Walking around San Francisco’s SOMA district last week, I noticed a dark cloud hanging overhead, and it wasn’t just the usual marine layer. Zynga, one of the heavy hitters in that area, is facing a dismal prognosis. The company that made its mark with Farmville and Mafia Wars via Facebook isn’t harvesting any cash crops this year. In fact, its stocks have plummeted almost 80 percent in 2012. That’s a whole lotta lettuce.

The casual gamer market was great for a while, but, as the label suggests, the consumer doesn’t want to invest too much of his or her time playing around in virtual worlds, especially if he or she isn’t getting much out of it in real life. The entertainment value of these games weakens over time. A person can only obtain so many virtual cattle before he or she becomes virtually lactose intolerant–that is, a casual consumer can get sick of doing the same thing over and over again for only virtual rewards.

It’s not hard to hook a hardcore gamer on a new game, but the casual gamer is much harder to land and to keep interested. To maintain the relationship with the casual consumer, the consumer must have:

1) Constant stimulation and new content. As in a marriage, keeping things “spicey” will keep the relationship fresh. New games, new skins, new levels, special surprises, and more, at a constant rate, keep a person interested.

2) A sense of ownership and a personal connection. Not only the ability to customize a farm or a city, but also a consumer wants a personal connection to the brand, to know that the brand knows that he or she exists. Maybe he or she gets a personalized membership card, or a name on a virtual wall. He or she wants to be heard, to make suggestions via social media or email, and to receive a human response.

3) Short engagements. Casual gamers do not want to spend all day on the computer or the phone. They have lives, schedules, kids, work, you name it. Sometimes only a few minutes per day is all they have to spend. Keep game play short enough so that a consumer can reap benefits without spending an hour of his or her time, unless they have it to spare.

4) Real world rewards and access. In the U.S. everyone expects to get something for nothing. Freebies and coupons abound. Inventing strategic ways to integrate the consumer’s real-world experiences with the virtual world, and offering incentives along the way keeps your consumer engaged. If a person must complete level 50 to earn a $25 coupon to Old Navy for back-to-school time, a busy mom is going to be more likely to eek out a few minutes a day to get there. Additionally, games designed with location or activity integration stand a better chance of being played via mobile for the casual gamer on the go.

5) NO SPAM! There’s nothing that would-be casual gamer hates more than being bombarded by game requests. At its height, Zynga had its users spewing Mafia Wars and Farmville requests all over Facebook. Would-be casual gamer, Yours Truly, politely declined, declined, declined, declined, and then threw up her hands and screamed, “ARRRRGGGHHHHHH! Stop with the Farmville requests already!” Often it was the same people, cramming cows and pigs daily down the throats of their Facebook friends. Want a surefire way to guarantee that no one will ever play your game, ever? That’s probably it. Put a cap on the spam, or, better yet, find more imaginative ways for people to share how much fun they are having playing your game.

Can Zynga’s future be recovered via mobile? Perhaps with a major company overhaul, tightening the proverbial belt, and coming up with more cost-effective promotional ideas beyond pay-per-click advertising (it’s costly, limiting and should be used very strategically), they can turn the ship around, but they are going to have to come up with some new strategies, and fast.

Are you a mobile gaming startup in need of marketing help? I am currently available for contract or full time work in Los Angeles, CA or the San Francisco Bay area. Please feel free to reach out to me so that we can discuss how my tech biz savvy and creative smarts can go to work for your company.

Just Maybe…

Tom Fishburne (TheMarketoonist.com)

“You Can Fool All Of The People Some Of The Time”–Value vs. Tricks

Marketeurs are a wily bunch. We watch TED talks, attend seminars, read books about how to boost consumer engagement. Most of this stuff is crammed with ways to dangle that proverbial carrot in front of the nose of the consumer or client. Many of the strategies proposed extend into a sort of “dark arts” territory of marketing magic, whereby consumers fall right into a carefully constructed psychological trap.

Take the McDonalds Monopoly game, for example. By building a gamification strategy, McDonalds lured consumers back with the promise of more game pieces and the potential for scoring big prizes. The game itself had very little to do with the food, but people “ate it up” and sales rose (5.5% in 2011). Gamification does work to boost sales, but only for a limited time. Once the offer ends, people go back to their regularly scheduled programs, waiting for the next big thing.

Now, take Starbucks, the Seattle-born coffee chain that made shelling out $4.00 for a cuppa joe an everyday occurrence. Starbucks has no games, no particular gimmicks, it simply designs its menu based on consumer demand. In 2012, Starbucks hit a record second quarter. What the heck? They expanded into Tazo-branded K-cups, opened their first store in Norway, and continued to deliver a particular standard of value to consumers. They continue to grow and to stay competitive in the market, offering convenience (isn’t there a Starbucks on every corner now?), quality, and consumer satisfaction.

While “tricks” strategies and “value” strategies are not always mutually exclusive, when a company is deciding on its next quarter’s plan, it has to look at the broader scope. Are sales really low right now? Maybe a “trick” strategy is more important this quarter, but if the value is not there next quarter, the carriage turns back into a pumpkin, and all of the hard work you put in last quarter can just go, “poof!”

The key to a good value strategy is excellent research. Hire someone who is good at getting to know your consumer base, who knows how to create and execute effective surveys, is involved in target communities, and who does a heck of a lot of reading.  Understand your consumers and the rest is as easy as collecting $200 when you pass “Go!”.

A New Era Of “The Good Ol’ Days”

Andy Griffith is gone. The days of local bakeries, corner stores and community are over. People don’t have time for pleasantries. They want convenience, a quick transaction, an attractive offer waved under their noses. They don’t want to be bothered with connections to a brand or its followers — or do they?

According to a Harvard Business Review article by business executive, Bill Lee, consumers do want to feel connected, and community marketing wildly trumps the effectiveness of traditional marketing. People are tired of being “talked at”–they want to feel like their opinions and ideas matter, that brands are listening. Social media has been a fantastic vehicle for community marketing. Entrepreneur and social media wizard, Gary Vaynerchuk, has given talks on the importance of real community marketing, of departing from a strict numbers game, to genuinely reaching out to people online to share information and expertise, to build a committed following.

“Most social media gurus are clowns,” Vaynerchuk has said. While his sentiments may be controversial, it can be stated that most social media “gurus” still follow the traditional marketing principles they learned in college. Personally, I’ve attended social media talk after social media talk, where “gurus” focus solely on weekly page insights and on how to post engaging content on company pages. I believe that community marketing is a two-way street, that companies must focus less on the “hard sell” and more on building the brand.

Contrary to research and numbers on the downward-falling effectiveness of traditional marketing, many companies are still hard-focused on hiring analysts over community managers and brand development specialists. The narrow, short-term focus of creating engagement number spikes, over the broader, long-term, brand-affinity picture, may work for some companies, such as small start-ups looking for a fast sale, but, in most cases, this thin-sighted view can actually thin out numbers over the long-term.

Focusing only on short term successes and all but ignoring brand and community development is a mistake that I see made even with long-standing global brands. Their social media pages spike with large contests, and ebb when those contests disappear. Companies are prompting, pulling and grappling for consumer engagement, when they really aren’t sure how to get it. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old girl with Leukemia has acquired hundreds of thousands of comments on each of her posts via YouTube. How does that happen? Companies have got to stop thinking like companies. No, don’t throw numbers and the analyst out of the window, but be human. Reach out to followers and potential followers. Show them that someone is listening. Post content that is helpful to them, whether or not it is directly related to the product or service.

For more questions about how to build an online community, please contact me directly: Solly.chan AT gmail.com.

I’m Available! Act Fast!

As luck would have it, I’m currently seeking a brand new, full-time position with a company like yours! Check out my portfolio and follow my links to see just a small sampling of what my 10+ years of experience in interactive marketing, writing and design can do for you. If you like what you see, please contact me via the Contacts page.

I look forward to working with you.

Cheers,

Solange