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marketing

Have you ever slipped into the assumption that just about everything (and everyone) is fully connected over the social web?  That a connection is one click away on the latest smartphone?

Randall Craig at North York Harvest Food Bank. Sorting food at North York Harvest Food Bank

Recently I had a stark reminder, in the most unlikely of places, that this is absolutely not the case.  For several hours, I spent sorting food at the local food bank. Instead of going through the front, where patrons were able to pick up their food, I went through the back, where potential food bank users had to register for the privilege of being able to eat.  This group wasn’t sitting in chairs surfing on their smart phones (they didn’t seem to have them). They weren’t using the “surf station” (there wasn’t one), and they weren’t talking to each other about the latest innovation on Facebook or LinkedIn.  The only computer in the entire area seemed to be a 1990s-era machine used to record the volume and type of food collected.

While you and your organization may not consider food bank users a target market, this experience was a great reminder that in our haste to adopt social and mobile marketing, we may inadvertently ignore bona fide groups that either do not have access, or choose not to use, these channels.

This week’s action plan:  Has your excitement about social and mobile caused you to inadvertently de-emphasize or ignore an important, but unconnected group?  This week, look between the cracks of your existing outreach plan, and seek to identify parts of your market that you may have left behind.

Internet insight:  The reasons for “not connecting” are quite varied. In large parts of the country – particularly rural areas – high speed internet is simply not available.  For others, it may be a philosophical barrier: they have concerns about privacy.  For others it is educational: they don’t feel comfortable with technology.  And for others, economics play a role, either for the cost of the technology, or the cost of data access.  And of course, there are many others, including language, accessibility/access, and even lack of awareness about your organization.  Connecting with each of these overlooked populations may mean the difference between success and failure.

Lessons from the food bank:  I had the opportunity a few years ago to interview Gail Nyberg, Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank.  This organization distributes over 1 million pounds of food monthly, through 170 member agencies.  Here is the interview:  http://www.professionallyspeakingtv.com/gail-nyberg/

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: Twitter is in its death throes. It won’t be around in just a few short years. And when this happens, there will be no shortage of pundits who: “saw it all coming”, or perhaps “Twitter is dead – long live Twitter!”

It wouldn’t be the first Social Media death. Consider those who have come (and gone) before: hellotxt, retaggr, timely, booktour, Google wave/reader/orkut/iGoogle, LinkedIn Polls/Answers, and many, many more.

Here’s the argument:

1) Encroachment by messaging apps: Twitter’s functionality is being nibbled away by a number of more compelling competitors. Twitter is not the only game in town anymore.  Direct messaging apps, for example, make it really easy to have point-to-point (or group) conversations. Every message on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and others means one less Tweet on Twitter.

2) Encroachment by social apps:  Many Social Media apps have effectively duplicated the status and microblogging functionality that previously was only available on Twitter. LinkedIn and Facebook are most notable; Facebook has even incorporated hashtags and trending topics.  Every status update on Facebook and LinkedIn is one less Tweet on Twitter.

3) Learning curve limits growth: None of these competitors are hampered by Twitter’s arbitrary 140 character limit, nor are they required to learn the arcana of hashtags, DM’s, Retweets, and more.

4) Commercial viability: As a public company, Twitter’s finances and stock price have plummeted from a high of $69, to below $20.  But beyond Wall Street’s valuation, are there other commercial factors that suggest Twitter is teetering?  Here are a few: where are the advertisers, and where is the growth in users? And is the staff complement growing or shrinking? On all of these dimensions, Twitter appears on shaky ground. It was late to the advertising game, and will never catch up to Google and Facebook. The number of monthly average users is no longer growing, and depending on the measure, may actually be shrinking. And there has been significant disruption in the management ranks. And before that, layoffs.

While a counter argument may be made in Twitter’s defence (existing momentum, huge behavioral database, direct connection to media) does Twitter’s condition merit a change of strategy for those who use it? Our recommendations:

  • Seek to capture the Twitter relationships within a CRM, Marketing automation, or email system. While this should be standard practice already, it is also an important defensive move.
  • Broaden the user engagement across different social platforms. If Twitter isn’t the only game in town anymore, then it shouldn’t be your exclusive playing field either.
  • Tighten the purpose of using Twitter. For example, rather than using it as a general purpose social platform, use it exclusively for customer service, media outreach, and risk discovery.

Twitter has successfully extended the “texting” metaphor to the web, and whether it lives or dies as a business, no one can argue its influence.  But again, no one can argue the influence of MySpace either, and look where that platform ended up.

This week’s action plan: Twitter’s instability is just one example of the fluidity (and fragility) of the social space. This week, consider the “impossible”: how would your marketing and engagement plans change if any of your key social platforms shut down?

Marketing Insight: The core issue is not about Twitter or any other specific platform: it is all about two things: ensuring that you have a mechanism to discover the platforms where your target users are spending their time, and then using social as an on-ramp for driving their commitment.  In other words, fish where the fish are.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

 

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Brand Building and Brand Transfer

by Randall Craig March 4, 2016

Beyond ads, media mentions, and the web, is there another mechanism to build your organization’s brand? One that might cost significantly less, yet yield powerful positioning advantages? Brand Transfer is the “borrowing” of another organization’s brand to better convey – or even amplify – your own. Consider the following examples: How differently is your organization perceived when […]

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Invite: Leveraging your digital investment – and your messaging

by Randall Craig January 15, 2016

Have you ever decided to try something new, just to see what would happen? Beyond the Tipsheet, every month for the last three years I have been delivering a new professional development webinar.  If you haven’t attended, then I encourage you to do so: it is 60 minutes of no-fluff “news you can use”, all focused on rethinking […]

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Marketing Congruency

by Randall Craig November 27, 2015

At one time, a marketer needed only consider a few communications channels: Print, TV, Packaging, and the speaking points within a salesperson’s sales pitch. Today, all bets are off:  Traditional channels still exist, but have been eclipsed by the website, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and 100s of other Social Media sites.  These newer […]

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Delivering Engaging Webinars

by Randall Craig June 6, 2014

Have you ever listened to a webinar, and found your mind wandering?  Or perhaps you let the webinar play on while taking care of other more important activities on your computer?  While this is unfortunate, the question is whether that incredibly dull webinar presenter might actually be you.  And that the mind-wandering, computer-keyboard-clicking audience is […]

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Viewpoint: The End of Social Media

by Randall Craig November 8, 2013

Here’s a bold prediction: The End of Social Media. Yes, despite the success of the Twitter IPO, and before that, Facebook’s public offering, social media is quickly moving to its end. Consider the evidence: Over a billion users on Facebook, and hundreds of millions each on LinkedIn and Twitter. All of these platforms (and others) […]

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Selling Products using Social Media

by Randall Craig October 25, 2013

Forget likes, shares, retweets, and comments: how can you use Social Media to actually sell products?  (Here’s a post on selling services.) To do so effectively means understanding two key concepts: the funnel, and conversion.  The funnel refers to the process that prospects go through before they actually put down their credit card and transact.  […]

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Insight: Omni-channel experience

by Randall Craig June 28, 2013

How often do you research a product online, and then purchase it at the store?  Or, check out the product at the store, and then use the internet to make the purchase?  If so, you’re not alone. These newer consumer behaviors are both the new reality for retailers – and a special challenge.  It even […]

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Generating ROI: The other 95%

by Randall Craig May 31, 2013

How do you determine the ROI on your marketing and sales investments? The standard formula is simple: divide the return, less investment, by the investment. A marketing campaign costs $1000, and reaches out to 1000 prospects. Five per cent of these respond, generating $1000 profit, for an ROI of zero: (1000-1000)/1000.  If the profit is […]

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Social Media Planning Calendar

by Randall Craig April 19, 2013

How do you organize your Social Media activities?  Most people have a system – whiteboards, excel documents, Google Calendar, or often, scraps of paper.  Unfortunately, none of these are particularly effective, nor are they efficient.  And they certainly don’t help you share your activities with your colleagues. Our take on scheduling and planning:  Social Media […]

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Just In Time

by Randall Craig November 1, 2012

What can the world of manufacturing teach us about Social Media, Marketing, and Stakeholder Engagement?  On the face of it, not much, but look more closely, and there are two concepts that are surprisingly relevant: Continuous Improvement, and Just-in-Time. Continuous Improvement:  In the manufacturing world, continuous improvement is all about making incremental improvements in product […]

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Social Attention Span

by Randall Craig August 10, 2012

How long is your attention span?  How long is the attention span of your clients, colleagues, or kids?  The conventional wisdom is that it is very short – 30 seconds – the length of a typical TV commercial.  Supposedly, the attention span of a Gen-Xer is even shorter. Thankfully, both of these urban legends are […]

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Viewpoint: Email, R.I.P.

by Randall Craig July 12, 2012

Picture this scene from a few decades ago: you’re working in your office, and your assistant bursts in, with an important announcement:  You’ve received… a FAX!  The correspondence was critically important – and you were too. Then a few years later, the FAX was replaced by AOL’s chirpy voice, announcing to all, “You’ve got mail!” […]

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Three Marketing Models

by Randall Craig June 6, 2012

Model One: One of the most powerful real-world networking techniques is called “give-to-get”. You  meet someone, find out what they’re interested in, and then find a way to give it to them. If you do this periodically, eventually they will return the favor. Model Two: To compete, an organization must do so on Price, Expertise, […]

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QR Codes: Qritical or Qraze?

by Randall Craig May 9, 2012

Check out the latest brochure, advertisement, billboard, or business card, and you’ll see that ubiquitous square:  the QR Code.  For those who don’t know what about them, here is how they work:  a special “app” on your smart phone takes a picture of it, decodes it, and (usually) sends your smart phone’s browser to a […]

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Trust Takes Time

by Randall Craig November 3, 2011

How long does it take to make a sale?  And is it faster using traditional marketing and sales techniques, or Social Media-based ones? In traditional marketing and sales, advertising informs prospective customers about a product or service. Those who have a need show up and make their purchase. In the more sophisticated business-to-business sales process, […]

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Build It and They Will Come: Social Media Promotion Strategy

by Randall Craig October 19, 2011

While Build It and They Will Come might work in the movies (remember Field of Dreams?), it doesn’t quite work that way in the world of Social Media. Yes, you can put up a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or YouTube channel, but how can you truly attract followers?  And how can you truly drive engagement?  […]

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Reflections on Steve Jobs and the impact of Apple

by Randall Craig October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs was a visionary:  incredible focus, a market disruptor, a tech genius, a serial entrepreneur, and so on.  All true, but there is also something else – a thread that underlies and connects everything that Apple does: their focus on the empowered customer.  From day one, this was reflected in the user experience. It […]

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Gutless and Spineless…

by Randall Craig March 2, 2011

…and afraid of the marketplace of ideas.  These are not exactly the attributes that most organizations (or people) aspire to. Yet most have a Social Media strategy that conveys precisely that.  Here’s the case: Many organizations now have Facebook “Fan” pages.  Some of them have invested significantly in nifty functionality that runs contests, quizzes, and […]

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