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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:

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

Randall Craig

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


Most marketers think of themselves as builders. Their work grows the organization, grows market share, grows the portfolio of products and services. A bit more tactically, the marketer builds page views, conversions, and social engagement; underlying all of these activities, the marketer builds relationships.

But is there merit in growing marketing itself? Not the ad spend or departmental head count, but the number of simultaneous marketing initiatives that the organization can successfully run?

With tighter marketing budgets and a higher scrutiny of results, improved marketing effectiveness isn’t just a sufficient condition for success – it’s a critical necessary.

Unfortunately, many organizations have a marketing heritage based on campaign thinking. The agencies pitch a campaign, the client buys into the concept, and (hopefully) it is successful. Then this repeats. And repeats. And repeats. The fundamental problem with 90% of all campaigns is that they leave nothing behind. True, there is a positive brand bump, but at best there is only a short tail of changed behavior. That is, until the next campaign.

Instead, consider the concept of a marketing stack. The idea is to build autonomous continuing initiatives, one layer at a time. Sometimes, a layer can function on its own, in a “set and forget” mode. Other types of layers require care and feeding to maintain their effectiveness. The goal of the marketing stack is to build sustainable marketing capacity – not a time bound “campaign”.

Here is one example of layers in a marketing stack:

  1. An in-brand mobile-friendly website that is targeted at key audiences.
  2. Ecommerce capability to process orders and encourage cross-selling/upselling.
  3. Content strategy that attracts target audiences to the website (e.g. videos, white papers, articles, blog posts etc.).
  4. Social Media strategy to empower employees, business partners, and others to engage their networks with the organization’s message.
  5. Marketing automation system for lead collection and drip marketing.
  6. Integration between the Marketing Automation System and the CRM (customer relationship system).
  7. Development of a marketing analytics dashboard, to aggregate data and allow for improved decision-making.
  8. And so on.

Each layer in the stack is a project, with a beginning, middle, and end. But each layer builds enduring value long after the project to implement the layer has finished.

Only once the marketing stack is completed will the ROI of any campaign be maximized; in a certain sense, the marketing stack is a campaign multiplier.

Over time, changes in the organization’s strategy, business environment, client requirements, and competitive response will cause the effectiveness of certain layers in the stack to erode. For this reason, once the stack is built, the focus must change to optimization: Improved SEO, more relevant content, additional marketing automation sequences, social media community building, mobile, etc.

This week’s action plan: Are you stuck in a “campaign thinking” rut, or are you a marketing builder? This week, identify which layers of your marketing stack need to be optimized – or created.  And if you haven’t defined your stack fully, then that is where you should start.

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

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Viewpoint: the Unintended Consequences of Low Fidelity

by Randall Craig July 10, 2015

It wasn’t that many years ago that both people and organizations craved higher and higher fidelity: 7.1 Dolby Digital sound, Ultra High Definition TV screens, and so on. Today though, mobile (and digital) is driving size in the other direction: smaller. An unintended consequence, however, is that the fidelity of the user experience has also dramatically shifted downwards: Mobile phone operators […]

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Three approaches to mobile responsive design

by Randall Craig June 12, 2015

If you use the web on a mobile device, do you ever get frustrated by a site that forces you to pinch-and-zoom to read the content?  Or a mobile website that seems to hide what you think is key information – like the street address and phone number? If your organization is considering a new […]

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Mobile Marketing: location, just-in-time, and simplicity

by Randall Craig January 2, 2015

What have been the most transformational marketing innovations in society?  TV and Direct mail/database marketing rank up there.  Email, the web, and social media also do.  And so does mobile – but why? It is too easy to think of mobile as nothing more than a small screen.  Web designers and developers work hard to […]

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Mobile site or Mobile App?

by Randall Craig November 28, 2014

At a certain point, every organization will ask the question about whether or not they need an App.  Putting aside whether there is a bona fide reason for investing in an app or not, there is a second related question that always gets asked: if we have a mobile (eg responsive) website, do we actually […]

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Increasing Newsletter Registrations

by Randall Craig August 29, 2014

Are you really satisfied with the response rate of your newsletter registration form on your website?  Do you think that, just maybe, your list could be bigger? Instead of thinking of the sign-up form as a sign-up form, think of it as a transaction.  The user – a prospective client – is paying for your […]

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Marketing Insight: Improving Web ROI

by Randall Craig April 25, 2013

Does this sound familiar?  You have a website (or two), a marketing budget, and more than likely, a desire to grow.  It doesn’t matter if growth is defined as more event registrations, newsletter sign-ups, leads, or transactions – the problem is that too often, a web initiative doesn’t always pull its weight. There are four […]

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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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