Humanizing a brand is something that companies both large and small can struggle with on many different levels. Whether it’s introducing employees through personal blogs and YouTube videos, or sending out holiday greeting cards to clients, brands need to establish ways to connect with their audience both digitally and emotionally in order to gain loyalty [...]
Humanizing a brand is something that companies both large and small can struggle with on many different levels. Whether it’s introducing employees through personal blogs and YouTube videos, or sending out holiday greeting cards to clients, brands need to establish ways to connect with their audience both digitally and emotionally in order to gain loyalty and drive leads. The goal is to remove some of the barriers that could keep a prospect from making a personal connection with the brand. It takes a lot of courage for some larger brands to provide that kind of access. It takes an even more courageous (or dare I say Unconventional) mindset to give visitors to your website a concise visualization of how they’re personally and professionally connected to your company.
This is the exact concept behind LinkedIn’s expanded set of integration plugins for your website. LinkedIn is the most popular professional social network for a reason. It’s a great resource to learn about what matters to your business and enhance the way it operates while making connections. It also helps that the majority of your professional network is probably already actively using it.
These plugins (software components that add capabilities to existing sites) are specifically designed to help the LinkedIn user make a personal connection with the brand when they visit a company’s site. Not only do these tools boast SEO benefits through linking to active pages and consistently updating content, they also encourage users to actually engage with the brand as well.
Here are three active LinkedIn plugins that can not only humanize, but also optimize your company’s digital presence….
The Company Insider plugin allows users signed into LinkedIn to see how they are professionally connected to a company when they visit its web site. It will show if any of their friends work there, have previously been employed by the company, or even show if they have any “extended connections” (friends of friends) who are involved with the company as well.
Apply With LinkedIn
In recruiting mode? LinkedIn plugins can also help bridge the Human Resources gap directly from your site. Posting open positions through LinkedIn directly onto your site will allow you to see your applicant’s entire professional history through their profile. It also gives you insight into their background and connections, and allows for your open positions to be distributed virally with ease through the almighty “Share” button.
Recommend With LinkedIn
While we’re at it, let’s not forget about the power of a personal recommendation. LinkedIn has a plugin specifically designed for users to leave a word of mouth style review of a company’s products or services right on their own site that will also appear on their company profile. Think of it as a Yelp style review section that can work wonders for the B2B crowd.
So no more excuses, go forth and humanize your brand with just a few simple clicks.
In one of my favorite scenes from Marjorie Garber’s Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses, the author discovers that all the showings her house has been receiving, none of which has resulted in a single offer, are in fact “negative showings.” In other words, brokers brought clients past her house on its busy [...]
In one of my favorite scenes from Marjorie Garber’s Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses, the author discovers that all the showings her house has been receiving, none of which has resulted in a single offer, are in fact “negative showings.” In other words, brokers brought clients past her house on its busy street for a look and essentially said, ‘Now compared to what they’re asking for this, the place you’re considering is a bargain.’ For the author, it was a real blow to be told that hers “was the kind of house that helped sell other houses.”*
You could say the same thing about the stories marketers tell about their online results. Making sense of the data from the latest campaign of banner ads, nano-sites, text links, pre-rolls, post-rolls, and interstitials may well place you in the same position as Garber’s broker. When you present to your colleagues, should you paint a picture of surging positive interest based on your clickthroughs and time on page stats, or do you come clean and admit you haven’t got a complete story yet – or that the data actually looks pretty lackluster?
Trumpeting business results where you have only clicks – what I like to call ‘cooking the looks’, a variation on the financial term ‘cooking the books,’ seems to be on the rise these days. When I hear online reports and updates that tout clickthrough rates 50% higher than the national average, and then try to tie this response directly to higher awareness, I wonder to myself, “Who’s cooking the looks here?” A .15% rate may be middling, wonderful or awful, but what was the goal? Too often, a true goal – against which a clickthrough or rollover might be establishing something – is either unarticulated or missing.
So what should you be demanding as a CMO in your online marketing results?
Three things, for starters.
1. Be Honest About Where You’re Going. Are you measuring an awareness lift or cost per lead or greater consideration for your brand? To set a creative and media team off with the charge to raise awareness and then to demand to know where the leads are six weeks later is disingenuous and betrays a lack of understanding. If you want to lower cost per lead, fine, but put that out there as the goal so you and your team can agree on the success metrics.
2. Don’t Whistle in the Dark. Attribution – unambiguously determining the role each online and offline marketing experience played in driving consideration or purchase – is the dream of every CMO. The waking reality is too often someone saying with great confidence and their fingers crossed behind their back, “We had banners running all that week, so the bump in sales we saw has some direct attribution to them.” Don’t try to guess or gut-check your way to an attribution call, though. Whether you’re using Adometry Attribute, a Google tool or something homegrown, take credit in a way that’s defensible based on a model that aligns with your campaign goals.
3. Always Be Optimizing. Success in online marketing is never in the first step, but in the steps you take after that. You have a finite number of levers to pull – the creative, the offer, the placement, and the media choice – so work through all of them to get to the sweet spot. If you continue to optimize placements and formats with the same creative and get no lift, the creative is probably at fault. Not that it’s bad: it just may be off-target.
CFOs at companies like Enron have found that cooking the books can end them in very hot water. In marketing, cooking the looks is best avoided at all costs as well.
Hugh Kennedy is Partner, EVP of Planning, and Healthcare Practice Head at PJA Advertising + Marketing in Cambridge, MA.
* Marjorie Garber, Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses (Anchor Publishing, 2011)
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There are lots of lists out there about “Top 10 Signs It’s Time To Fire A Client” and “Top 10 Signs Your Client Is Crazy.” So adding to the mix, as my boss likes to say, is not a very interesting conversation. But while reading Dharmesh Shah’s recent post on LinkedIn, “14 Telling Signs You [...]
There are lots of lists out there about “Top 10 Signs It’s Time To Fire A Client” and “Top 10 Signs Your Client Is Crazy.” So adding to the mix, as my boss likes to say, is not a very interesting conversation. But while reading Dharmesh Shah’s recent post on LinkedIn, “14 Telling Signs You Love Your Job,” it occurred to me that, in the advertising business, about 80% of what you do depends on who you’re doing it for.
I’ve had dozens, if not hundreds, of clients over the years. I loved some. I’ve loathed a few. But very often, in the thick of the battle, it was hard to remember which was which or who was who. I started asking myself, which clients did I really love working for—and did I even realize it at the time?
I decided to reach out a few friends and co-workers with a simple fill-in-the-blank: “You know you love your client when…” Here’s my take on some of the things I heard; the ones that really rang true. What do you think?
1. You forget that you’re the agency.
If people ask who you work for—and you hesitate, just for a moment, because you were about to say [insert client’s name here]. That’s love.
2. You never sell them anything.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was: Be yourself. Get to know your clients. Understand their problems. If they see that you truly care and are working in their best interest, you’ll never have to sell them on an idea.
3. They invite you to their wedding and you actually want to go.
This is one of the more poignant ways to sum up a sentiment I heard time and again. There are clients you dread talking to, and there are clients you’d love to Two-Step with in a crowded bar in Austin. Try to find more of the latter.
4. You go to work for them. (Once your non-compete is over, of course.)
5. You make them look good, and take none of the credit.
As an ad agency, you often have to bask in the glow of reflected light. And that’s fine. But there are times when you really gotta give it your all—and no one will ever know it, except the client whose butt is worth saving.
6. You never have to say, “Well, off the record…”
The great clients understand you well enough to know when you’re speaking the truth—and they won’t hold it, or use it against you. (That said, in general, if you get the urge to speak “off the record,” maybe you should just keep it to yourself.)
7. You stay up way after past your bedtime to work on their project.
I often do this because I have to. But there are some clients that I do it for because it’s gotta be better than right, better than smart, it’s gotta be friggin’ awesome.
8. They send you new clients.
Holiday gifts are nice. But nothing says “I love you” like the referral of a friend or colleague.
9. You actually care what they say about the work.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I pay attention to what all my clients say about the work. But when I find myself really (really) caring about what they say, that’s something different. Because…
10. You think they actually make your work better.
When you have a great client, they elevate your work to an entirely different level. And it becomes “our” work. And then they fight for it just as hard as you do. And sometimes…
11. ‘These goes to eleven.’
The really fantastic clients—the guys who you’re not afraid to go off the wall for—are the clients who get excited about that certain big idea. You know the one. The one you presented last. The one that makes even you a bit uncomfortable because it’s just crazy enough to work. And you all jump into it together. And it’s brilliant.
Those are the ones I love.
Because I have younger nieces and a nephew, I’m somewhat versed in memorable quotes from kid movies. One of my favorites is from Kung Fu Panda. The following exchange between the protagonist, Po, and his adopted father, Mr. Ping, is a key moment in the film. (All you Moms and Dads out there with children [...]
Because I have younger nieces and a nephew, I’m somewhat versed in memorable quotes from kid movies. One of my favorites is from Kung Fu Panda. The following exchange between the protagonist, Po, and his adopted father, Mr. Ping, is a key moment in the film. (All you Moms and Dads out there with children of a certain age will get it right away!)
Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is… nothing!
Mr. Ping: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po’s realization is similar to the one many people have regarding social media once they elevate it as part of a marketing program. The expectation is that pushing out content into social channels might just be the special sauce that immediately transforms a campaign into a cultural juggernaut. Clicks! Views! Shares! Likes! Millions and millions! As scientists and mathematicians muddle to discover an easy panacea, I side with Mr. Ping – there is no secret ingredient. This realization came from my own personal experience with user-generated content.
Two years ago I created a recipe blog. It began as a practical way for me to easily keep track of new and interesting dishes without cluttering my kitchen with piles of pages torn from epicurean magazines or printed recipes from web sites. One day, an email arrived from my blogging platform alerting me that there was a comment on one of my posts. Really? Wow. And it was very nice. I had no idea anyone could find my blog but through the magic of Google Search in the long tail someone did. My curiosity was suddenly whetted. Were there others finding my private obsession? To find out, I linked my blog to Google Analytics.
Bingo! I now had data and it was incredibly interesting. Who knew that a Russian might enjoy frying chicken or an individual in Malaysia found Red Velvet Cake appealing? It was the start of a journey that transformed traffic to my blog from fifty or so unique visitors per month to over 3,000.
Through this process, I learned some important things:
- NOT ALL SOCIAL CHANNELS ARE EQUAL
- Although I linked the blog to all my social outlets, it was Pinterest that generated the most traction. Makes total sense. Recipes are visual first and foremost. This changed my strategy for blogging, as I made sure each post had an eye-appealing photo to help standout in the Pinterest board clutter.
- MO, MO, MO, MOBILE!
- Over the past year, mobile traffic more than quadrupled and now represents over 40% of total traffic. This required me to focus more on recipes that were shorter and easier to view on those devices.
- BACK TO BASICS
- As much as I was enamored with unique dishes and fancy desserts, the biggest drivers of engagement and sharing were very traditional dishes: salads, biscuits, Salisbury steak, Slow Cooked Chicken, etc. These types of dishes now represent over 70% of my blog’s activity a few are high performers in organic search.
This might sound very basic and intuitive but it took time and energy for me to discover all this, which is why social media exposure isn’t easy. I guess that’s why it is referred to as EARNED. And just like Mr. Ping’s Noodle Soup, there isn’t a secret ingredient. However, based on my own experience there is a good recipe for success: link all your social content together and make sure you are measuring everything, create content that is mobile-friendly from the start, and let the consumers drive your long-term content strategy regardless of what you might think they want.
By the way, here is my blog if you are looking for something yummy to fix for dinner tonight: http://douglicious.blogspot.com/
(Another lesson: never miss an opportunity to generate traffic!)
For most B2B marketers, events are a tried and true element of an annual marketing plan. Whether your objective is to build awareness, generate leads or engage current customers, the value of getting face-to-face with buyers is well understood. What’s less well understood, however, is the additional value marketers can derive from events when they [...]
For most B2B marketers, events are a tried and true element of an annual marketing plan. Whether your objective is to build awareness, generate leads or engage current customers, the value of getting face-to-face with buyers is well understood.
What’s less well understood, however, is the additional value marketers can derive from events when they take an unconventional perspective on the aggregated audience that’s available to them at an event. Changing your point of view can drastically change not just what you plan to bring to the event, but even more importantly, what you plan to take back to the office.
A traditional point of view is to see attendees as a source of potential revenue. Whether you consider them as prospects to sell, or customers to resell, this kind of a revenue-driven orientation means:
- You bring “sales stuff” – presentations, brochures, and experts to explain the value of your products and services, and booth premiums intended to keep your brand name in front of that prospect once they leave the show. In a lot of cases, you’ll also bring prizes to give away as part of traffic-driving promotions.
- You take home “sales opportunities” – everything from the raw, poorly qualified contact information of every visitor to your booth, some qualified opportunities garnered from in-depth discussion with true prospects, all the way up to strong expressions of interest in and commitment to your future product roadmap from current customers.
The ROI generated with a revenue-driven orientation isn’t necessarily easy to calculate, but it’s a discipline most modern marketing organizations have developed. That’s why marketing and sales agree so often that events are a good thing.
These days there’s another form of math you can use to take a different perspective on events – content marketing math. Content marketing, practiced well, can be a critical tool for building awareness, consideration and evaluation – with the added bonus of being almost completely trackable and quantifiable.
Quality leads generated from a content-driven marketing program are another thing marketing and sales can usually agree on – and most marketers will tell you that the regular creation of quality content is a constant challenge when keeping a content program fresh and relevant. (And freshness and relevance are key SEO drivers for your content, by the way, so they’re qualities with real value beyond pure novelty.)
The unconventional approach starts when you change your thinking about what you’d like to take away from an event. For example, what if you could also use an event to create the following:
- Two dozen thirty-second video clips showing prospects talking about the key challenges they face in their businesses – and speaking into a microphone branded with your logo. You could post them on your Youtube channel, write about them on your blog, and promote the blog posts in email and tweets.
- Transcripts and video from a two-hour roundtable discussion among a dozen senior executives from prospect and client companies, in which they dissect key issues facing their industries and the ways they go about solving them. Co-brand this with a prominent publisher to show the forum is objective. This is perfect fuel for a three-minute video, infographics, and half a dozen blog posts.
- Results of a short survey, which you could cleverly substitute as the entry process for those prizes you brought to the event. Who doesn’t want (another) iPad, right? The results make great input for infographics, blog posts, tweets and presentations you can post on SlideShare and Scribd.
The secret of this shift is to think about attendees as experts. They aren’t necessarily experts about your product, but they’re experts about their own needs, and the challenges they face, and they can teach you a lot about the way they plan to go about solving them. And those needs, challenges and buying approaches translate into search terms, too, which makes them great to understand as entry points for your content program.
Next time you’re planning an event, take an unconventional perspective. Plan to bring something home that can help you reach, convince and convert many more prospects than you’ll engage at the show – plan to bring home some valuable content.
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