Practitioners versus Writers

The velocity of change in this Internet Marketing space is most definitely accelerating. There’s always a plethora of how-to blog posts, articles and books as well as white papers on how you should use all this newly created media.

Before you take much of this free advice, consider the source. Do the authors of these how-to pieces ever write in first person about results or experiences they’ve had with the topic they’re presumably expert at?

Being an expert user of a medium doesn’t make you an expert marketer in same. I find many of these authors are “do as I say, not as I do” writers.

I’d much rather read or listen to someone whose presentation skills aren’t so hot but whose content is the real deal, rather than a polished writer or presenter who is a mile wide and a half-inch deep.

In short, just follow those who walk the walk, not those who just talk the talk. LC

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When You Talk to Yourself, Listen

When I’m on a website or in an app, I’m typically pretty vocal about my frustrations and objections if I’m about to buy something. I’ve seen lots of people do exactly the same thing. That running monologue is valuable market research.

I suggest you stay very aware of what you’re saying when you’re surfing or buying online. You can imagine people are saying similar things about your sites and apps too.

One of my favorite things to do at trade shows is to watch the faces of people as they view my site on their phone. Many of the asides they utter are incorporated into ongoing updates to my site.

While human nature doesn’t change that much, people’s level of familiarity with media platforms does change substantially over time. In short, you’re never done tweaking your site. The moment you think you are is the moment you start to get dusty and dated. LC

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Predictive Analytics World Expo Hall

If you want to see what is in store for the future of online marketing, I suggest you walk the expo floor of a Predictive Analytics World Conference put on by Jim Sterne’s Rising Media.

I saw amazing tools that can predict the next move of a customer or prospect with very good accuracy. Pharmaceutical firms, financial companies and e-commerce sites are heavy into this technology.

Will there be privacy issues upcoming? Probably. But my guess is that’s a year or two off. In the meantime, it is astonishing what the technology allows marketers to do right now. How it all gets done can be learned in the show’s sessions. But for a drive-by taste of what’s going on right now, walk the floor of this show and others like it. You’ll find it’s time well spent. LC

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Test it Again … and Again

An A/B test is a snapshot in time. It may prove or disprove assertions you have. But one test does not fit all. There are variables both known and unknown. Seasonality, time of day, news headlines and many more aspects have an impact on your test results.

Cyclical and secular swings also play a role in results whether you know it or not. The only way to keep a pulse on what is really happening out there is always to be testing. Often enough you want to test different things: the offer, button color, audience, etc. But testing the same thing and comparing results with the original test can surprise you. The trick is to set a benchmark result and know you’re going to test it again and again, moving forward in time. LC

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Use LinkedIn Polls as a Call to Action Vehicle

I normally don’t take polls, and I’ll bet you don’t either. But, if the question intrigues me and I can immediately see the results of that poll, then I’m apt to answer a one-question form.

Offering a poll on LinkedIn is a sound way to reach your audience. Your poll will only be offered to people similar to yourself. It puts your name in front of your cohort. If your question resonates with enough people, you can be seen as a Thought Leader in your niche. This helps build your credibility and reputation. People generally feel much more comfortable connecting with and buying from someone they’ve heard of rather than a perfect stranger. It’s a slow build but a necessary one. LC

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Put Some Skin in the “Like” Button Game

Why should people “Like” your FB page? Maybe they really like you as a person or company. But, you know, you’re asking them for a commitment. When they Like you, they’re going to see your feed of posts on their Walls.

So why should they ask for more data feeds to their Walls when they’re already inundated? Unless you’re Apple, Jamba Juice, or some other “cult” brand, you’d better consider bribing them with something that they’ll want and get right after they hit that “Like” button.

Don’t beat around the bush. Tell them exactly what they’ll get for their “Like.” Maybe it’s a coupon, video or ebook. Whatever it is, make it so good that they’ll feel bad if they don’t “Like” you. LC

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What’s Your Agenda?

How many times have you gone to a website and not been able to figure out how the owners make money? Sure, it’s obvious with an e-commerce site. But, consultant sites or advertising-driven operations might not be as upfront and obvious.

I get very skeptical when I come across language about giving back to the Internet as a reason why the owner is making resources available, unless it’s a nonprofit org. But, in the commercial world, I want to know how an operation supports itself because that will tell me what its bias is and how I should judge the information before me.

Not making it obvious to the end user what your game is only makes people suspicious of your motives. In fact, being up front and transparent right from the get-go actually helps build credibility.

Let’s face it. There’s good reason for people to be suspicious on the Internet, whether on a website or within the walls of a Social Media platform.

The Internet has taken down many barriers between marketers and the people they market to. But, a psychological barrier often has to be overcome with a forthright interface if any transaction is to be had later down the line. LC

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I Remember Carol LaPlante

I was a few blocks away from the Twin Towers, just starting to send that week’s edition of this newsletter, when the planes hit. I didn’t know until about a year later that I knew someone who perished that day. Her name was Carol LaPlante.

Carol was the assistant creative business manager at DDB Needham when I was there in the ’80s. In contrast to many of the larger-than-life characters in that department, she was very quiet. But, man, I knew she was a presence. She was previously a nun and was one of the most intense listeners I ever met.

Carol sat in my office a number of times and listened to me go on about my dad, who had just passed away. She was a healer.

I speak little of 9/11. I don’t want it to turn into a series of rote stories. But I can pay homage to a deep soul I knew whom we lost that day.

I listen for her name when they call out the list of those who died during the memorial service each year. Writing this is the best way I can memorialize her. Thank you, Carol. LC

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B2B Sales Prospects are People Too

Many marketers believe that B2B products and services require no emotional appeal. After all, they’re not buying a BMW or life insurance for themselves or their families. But, there is emotion involved in the B2B sale.

Gord Hotchkiss, founder of Enquiro and now SVP of Mediative, points out that the B2B buyer seeks to avoid risk. Remember the saying, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM?” That speaks directly to the B2B buyer’s risk-avoidance instinct.

Furthermore, there is the all-important chemistry between prospective vendor and client. What runs through the client’s mind very often is, “Am I comfortable with this person? Can I work with him/her on a day-to-day basis, especially when something goes wrong?”

Online, you can set a tone with your site and marketing campaigns that anticipates what your prospective client will want next. Call this intuitive design and marketing.

There are a lot of dollars on the line with each B2B conversion, a lot more than a low-involvement B2C sale like package goods. The more homework you do in making your campaigns, sites, and F2F contact relevant and timely, the better your chances of converting B2B leads to prospects, and onto conversions thereafter. LC

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What’s Your Twitter List Worth?

That’s a question that isn’t easily answered. Some will say it depends on the number of followers you have. Some point out it depends on how many influencers you have on your list (an argument for quality over quantity). Still others will ask how often you are retweeted.

A classic direct marketer would look for conversions of some sort. How many people ultimately subscribe to your newsletter from your list of followers? Of course, the quicker you can connect followers to sales, the better.

But this is where things get dicey. It’s often hard to tell if a Twitter follower bought something from you because of your last Tweet, or a mounting positive impression over weeks, months or years, or because of social proof by his or her peers.

In other words, this is a very inexact science. But, despite the murky numbers, it is in your best interest to allocate budget to SocMed and watch for patterns sooner than later. LC

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