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Archive for the ‘Integrated Marketing Strategy’ Category

The Six Questions You Should Ask to Get a Powerful Testimonial Are:

In Business Strategies, Communications, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, marketing campaign, Public Relations, Tips You Can Use on August 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm


1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product/service?
2. What did you find as a result of buying this product/service?
3. What specific feature did you like most about this product/service?
4. What would be three other benefits about this product/service?
5. Would you recommend this product/service? If so, why?
6. Is there anything you’d like to add?


In Integrated Marketing Strategy on July 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Bottomless Pit by Majdalenka-d4kd667

Bottomless Pit by Makdalenka

Long-lasting systems can’t survive if they remain insatiable.

An insatiable thirst for food, power, energy, reassurance, clicks, funding or other raw material will eventually lead to failure. That’s because there’s never enough to satisfy someone or something that’s insatiable. The organization amps up because its need is unmet. It gets out of balance, changing what had previously worked to get more of what it craves. Sooner or later, a crash.

More fame! More money! More investment! Push too hard and you lose what you came with and don’t get what you came for.

An insatiable appetite is a symptom: There’s a hole in the bucket. Something’s leaking out. When a system (or a person) continues to demand more and more but doesn’t produce or give back in response, that’s because the resources aren’t being used properly, something is leaking.

If your organization demands ever more attention or effort or cash to produce the same output, it makes more sense to focus on the leak than it does to work ever harder to feed the beast.

The ROI of Social Media

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet, Tips You Can Use on July 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm



The most-asked questions  are “Where’s the ROI in social media marketing?” and “How much should I be spending on social media marketing?”  My answer is always, remove the term social media from those questions and ask them again:  “Where’s the ROI in marketing?” and “How much should I be spending on marketing?”

Social media isn’t a tool box of silver bullets given to us by aliens.  It’s simply a new set of technologies and concepts that we need to add and integrate into our existing marketing strategy.

And, there is always an ROI to marketing.

Holistic Market Research

In Business Strategies, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Marketing Plan, Marketing Research on July 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Holistic market research2

Let’s face it. Most business leaders and marketers don’t do a sufficient job with the market research component of their strategic planning. There are a few reasons behind this:

  • It’s not real exciting (unless you’re the analytical type and really into data)
  • It can be incredibly expensive (and everyone wants to save the budget for the fun stuff)
  • We’re afraid of what we might find out (it can be easier to create a view of the market we want than to face the market realities).

Holistic market research

And, for those of you who do go through the considerable effort of market research, scouring the reports from Jupiter, Gartner, or other industry watchdogs, you’re still missing the boat. This global look at the market is important, but not complete.

Unless you have unlimited budgets (and if you do, RPM would love to talk to you), the critical step of market research can’t be short-changed. To make sure you’ve covered all the bases, consider these four methods for a holistic market research effort:

  1. SURVEY Customers and potential customers, as well as colleagues in or around your industry or target market. One of the best market research sources you have, is your own customer base and      sphere of influence. Conduct a web survey (of no more than 5 questions) aimed  at pulling future trends from this valuable resource. Ask your customers  a) what the most important factor is for buying a product like yours; b) what is the biggest hurdle they’ll face in      next 12-months; and/or c) if they could change your product or service,  what would they like to see (and why). Choose three of the most important      research questions and have your sales team actually call those customers  who didn’t respond to the web survey for their answers!
  2. GATHER Team Input  It is important to include your internal staff when conducting market research. Your “front lines”  can pass on valuable “feet-on-the street” trends they see and  hear every day. Every team member from sales to product development to customer service can contribute important data that should be considered  in your marketing plan. It is also important to solicit team feedback INDIVIDUALLY and not as group input.  Research shows that group dynamics tend toward having the more vocal opinions expressed at the expense of quieter group members, or having such a general response as to not be relevant.    Once you’ve collected individual feedback, compile the results into one document and review for completeness, consistency, and consensus. Where      consensus is lacking, address as a team—using the data from your other research methods to guide the way.
  3. STUDY  Your Competition (consider “secret shopping” to  get the “real experience”).  I often      hear from clients “we know our competition.” Then, as our marketing team studies and “secret shops” the competition on their behalf, a completely different picture unveils itself. It’s important to an effective marketing strategy that we not make assumptions      about our competition (who they are, how they position themselves, their      strengths/weaknesses, etc.). If you don’t have the resources to conduct a thorough competitive study, hire someone who can. It will be enlightening, as well as valuable to the research you need for an effective marketing strategy.
  4. EVALUATE The Market (concentrate on information that indicates size, trends, and need). This is the method where most marketers focus all of their attention. It doesn’t, in and of itself,      provide a complete picture, but it is important to your strategic planning. When evaluating the market perspective, start with trade associations, publications, and research companies focused on your industry. Many of you can’t afford the reports or fees from the research companies covering your industry, but don’t be discouraged. Most of the reports include free executive summaries that will give you what you need.

Once you have gathered, compiled, and analyzed the information from these four research methods, you’ll want to summarize the significant points from your learning in the research section of your Marketing Plan.

This holistic approach to market research will give you everything you need to create an effective marketing roadmap.

10 Skills PR Pros Will Need in 2020

In Communications, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Public Relations, Tips You Can Use on June 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

Media Coverage

A year ago on June 12th, Arik Hanson Keynoted  the Puget Sound PSRA Pro Conference. The topic he spoke on — What skills does tomorrow’s PR pro need to be successful? — a topic he knows a thing or two about. Through his business in Minnesota; Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO), he talks, at length, to a number of people about the skills required in today’s marketplace.

That’s not to say that traditional PR skills are dead. On the contrary, they’re more important than ever. But these emerging skills are also critical. And in most cases, they’re simply a layer on top of the traditional skills we’re all so familiar with.

This list is based on conversations Arik has had with recruiters, agency owners, and colleagues over a period of a few years. These are skills many employers are not just looking for—they’re demanding them. More and more, we’ll see this become a trend.
For now, let’s roll through Arik’s list of the 10 skills tomorrow’s PR pro must have to succeed (along with resources and tips):

1. Advertising copywriting

“Tactics I’ve seen include social media management, e-newsletters, Facebook advertising, Google Adwords, and more, and I expect that to increase. Because online advertising is often rooted in messaging rather than creative, it makes sense for PR agencies to drive a lot of it.” – Rachel Kay, owner, RKPR

Resources:Social Fresh Facebook Ad Report

2. Video editing/production

“I predict a large portion of our client budgets will be devoted to creating, editing, and distributing unique company content (blog posts, video interviews, photo albums, etc.). PR professionals will be expected to be savvy with several tools, from social networks to editing software (like Final Cut Pro and PhotoShop) to monitoring and analytics tools (like SM2, Sysomos and Radian6). ” – Anne Buchanan, owner, Buchanan PR

“iMovie should be a standard skill that PR pros should be familiar with. Apple offers some great easy tutorials and, of course, free workshops at their stores for Mac owners. Baseline knowledge of Final Cut and even sound editing using Garage Band [is] even better.” – Scott Meis, director, digital strategy, Weber Shandwick.

Tom Martin’s 28 ways to use an iPhone for blog content:

3. Mobile

“In the next few years, PR professionals will (hopefully) embrace and start leveraging mobile as part of recommended strategy and daily work. To date, I see too many poor examples of leveraging the medium (lazy slapping on QR codes, for example), and our PR peers not understanding the important nuance that mobile can add to campaigns today.

“Mobile should be a business driver, not a one-off add-on or neutered experience. Unfortunately, much like social media years back, it’s my assumption the PR industry won’t place importance on this channel until our clients start specifically asking for it.” – Greg Swan, vice president of digital strategy, Weber Shandwick

Mall of America uses QR code event to drive awareness, sales on Black Friday.

Follow @aaronstrout and @schneidermike, both of whom are great location-based marketing experts. Or, if that’s too hard, just buy their book, “Location Based Marketing for Dummies.”

4. Social content creation/curation

“I think we’ll begin to own the content piece of digital marketing. Right now, too many executives, marketers, and sales people own it, which creates more sales-y content that doesn’t go anywhere. PR pros, by nature, are storytellers and the content will begin to shift to those who know how to write engaging and valuable content.” – Gini Dietrich, owner, Arment Dietrich

Check out Joe Pulizzi’s blog, which is full of great content ideas and strategies. I also think Shel Holtz has some interesting ideas around content curation; he’s a big fan of Storify (which I love as a tool for brands).

5. Analytics

“The PR professional of tomorrow is faced with an unlimited source of data about their key audiences. It will be critical for the PR pro to be able to analyze large amounts of data pertaining to search behaviors, engagement patterns on Facebook and other social platforms and, most importantly, understand how to measure their contribution to the impact of a communications program and business objective(s).

“The time has long since passed where the PR pro can claim ignorance on how to gather, analyze, and develop insights from data. There isn’t an expectation that he/she will be a data analyst, but if he/she isn’t comfortable working with a data analyst then they will be left behind.” – Chuck Hemann, director of analytics, WCG

The Google Analytics blog and KD Paine’s Measurement blog are must-reads for those looking to learn more about analytics.

6. Search engine optimization (SEO)

“Unless they’re trying to hide, PR pros must accelerate content discovery & distribution with social & SEO skills.” – Lee Odden, blogger, author, owner, TopRankMarketing

Don’t let SEO take over your content.

Lee Odden’s Online Marketing blog and SEOMoz are great resources if you’re looking to learn more about SEO.

7. Speed to information

“It’s a lot easier to anticipate opportunities and challenges when you’re aware of them before your competition or detractors.” – Len Kendall, Golin Harris

Tools for content discovery:
Diigo, Google Reader, Evernote, Instapaper

8. Programming skills

“The PR pro of the future (quite frankly, today) will definitely need to have a firm grasp of all the necessary tools to create, manage, and analyze digital content. For example, the ability to manipulate code in a WordPress site or a content management system such as Buddy Media has quickly become a basic requirement.” – Alex Tan, director, digital, Golin Harris

Resources: is a great resource for the average PR pro looking to learn more about coding. You can get a lesson a week send to you each week for a year to get you started.

9. Managing virtual teams

As more companies allow their employees to work remotely (in fact, some businesses are entirely virtual), the challenge of managing a remote workforce will come to the forefront. How will managers motivate, monitor, discipline, and inspire workers spread across the country, even the world? Not to mention foster engagement among them.

Focus on results, not time in the office

Check out for some great posts and tools to help you better manage virtual teams.

10. Blogger outreach

“In PR, one of our core roles is to help brands deliver the right message to the right audience. Media relations is one effective tool. But a number of bloggers are also building strong readership in niche subject areas. If you’re ignoring bloggers, I think you’re doing a disservice to your clients. Pitching bloggers isn’t the same as pitching other kinds of media; however, PR people need to understand how to innovate media-relations best practices and incorporate blogger outreach into their strategies. “ – Heather Whaling, owner, Geben Communication

Resist the urge to sell right away

Heather Whaling’s PRTini is one of the better and more forward-thinking blogs when it comes to blogger outreach strategies. Subscribe now.


In Business Strategies, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on June 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

Content Beast

Web Content Development

We’ve all done it. Whipped out some copy for a website, brochure, ad, or direct marketing piece on the fly and then edited it in the layout to make it more appropriate for the vehicle. Sometimes this is necessary due to time and other resource constraints, but ultimately it can be a killer to the effectiveness of your marketing communications vehicles, a lot more expensive, and take even more time.
We’ve said it before, but it is important enough to say it again—in marketing messaging you must live by the rant “repetition, repetition, repetition.” If you say the same thing, the same way, over and over again, eventually your audience will be able to repeat your message in the exact way you want it told. And then they tell two friends, and so on. Now, among many other positive results (like efficiency), your brand not only gains awareness, but relevance.
Writing effective marketing copy for websites, brochures, and other marketing communication pieces efficiently not only takes copywriting talent, but also the ability to create a structure that can be repurposed across all vehicles consistently. Over the years, we have helped many clients refresh their marketing materials to reflect a clear, compelling, and consistent message, ending with the one tool necessary to repurpose their content into new materials consistently and efficiently—the Content Specification. The truth is, taming the content beast does take a little elbow grease at first, but it can be easier when you use the following steps:
Audit Your Materials. First look at all of your company’s marketing materials—direct mail, brochures, website, press releases, media kit, etc—and perform an audit. Make note of what content is used, the inconsistencies you find, and the gaps of content that may simply be missing or inaccurate in each piece.
Identify “Repurposeable Content.” Once you have completed your audit, you should now be able to identify or create the content that will be repurposed across all vehicles into a Content Specification. We recommend you document your specification in Word, as it is easy to copy and paste from it into all types of design applications. At a minimum, your Content Specification should include your company and product positioning (in 25, 50, and 100 word versions), brand story (your background of how you came to be), brand identity (logo, taglines, etc.), and contact information. These elements should be present in every marketing communication piece. Be sure to store the Content Specification somewhere where anyone tasked with content creation can locate and use it.
Roll In Your Content. The final step is to take the content from your Content Specification and roll it into each of your existing marketing pieces, taking great care
to make sure that any edits you make in the process get reflected in the master spec.
Now that you have a structure for your marketing content, you can quickly pull copy together for new pieces and ensure that your marketing pieces work more powerfully together as
a system.
During this process, you may discover that your company’s messaging is no longer relevant and needs to be refreshed before moving forward. If this is the case, you may want to hire an outside resource to help you develop the consistency you need. A third party brings an outside perspective and an objectivity that is essential to creating clear and compelling messaging for all types of audiences.
With a comprehensive approach to content creation and execution, you can put the power of repetition to work for your company. Creating a Content Specification allows you to cost-effectively create consistent marketing messaging and ensures your team can efficiently use it—every time.

Writing is a Critical Marketing Skill

In Business Development, Integrated Marketing Strategy, Social Media, The Internet on April 29, 2011 at 1:01 am

Denny Hatch (an expert copywriter) wrote an article discussing why professional copywriting is critical for marketing. He shared a story in that article that has remained with me:

“What do you do?” a guy at a cocktail party was asked. “I’m a brain surgeon,” was the reply. “What do you do?” “I’m a write,” the guy replied. “Ah,” said the brain surgeon. “I’ve often thought that when I retire I’d like to try some writing.” “And when I retire,” said the writer, “I plan try a little brain surgery.”

I loved that story! It resonated with me for several reasons, but most markedly because I have continually run into businessmen and other individuals who believe that writing only requires stringing words together on paper. Good writing requires both talent and skill. And if your goal is to market a product, idea or service, create content that interests someone other than yourself or simply to share information with others, developing the skill and having a strategy for your content is essential.

Over recent years marketing strategy has changed in one very important way. To be successful, it’s necessary to become an active participant. Instead of coordinating external sources for short-term campaign execution such as in advertising, marketers need to take real-time action That means writing of all kinds…which can mean creating a Blog and making regular posts, contributing relevant comments to discussions taking place on the Web, adding value by sharing tools and ideas on various social media, writing articles for e-zines and even the simple act of communicating directly with customers and prospects via e-mail.

While it’s still preferable to hire professionals for major writing projects, some types of writing require an authenticity that can only come from “the horse’s mouth.” The purpose of content development is not to spout the virtues of your own products or services, but to inform target customers and prospects about key industry issues, sometimes involving your products.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a client or prospect that you’ve been communicating with online and they have a need for immediate information. They request it from you –> If your response is; “Sure, I can have that for you in a couple of days,” you’ve just missed an opportunity or possibly lost a client!

The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in the brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert.

If you can’t step up to the plate and write engaging content that can be published now you’re not likely to survive in today’s highly competitive business environment. This is ever-so-clearly illustrated in David Meerman Scott’s book, Real-Time Marketing. Content Rules by Handley and Chapman also convincingly make the case for content marketing.

There are certain networks that require direct participation (without the help of a professional writer.) Linked In offers an example. Although it isn’t a formal network, the way you write is an important reflection on you and your business.


• Everything you write doesn’t have to be a masterpiece of formatting and graphic design.
• Short article formats work well if the content provides meaty, useful insights. An 800 word, tightly-focused article is more than ample for engagement and asks for less time than a bigger piece.
• Know your customers/clients well enough to write for them — being unsure how to flip focus from your company and products/services to address their needs is a huge obstacle.
• If you aren’t sure where to start, it’s the direct result of a lack of content strategy.
• Being crazy-busy is not an excuse to avoid developing content.

Writing is no longer optional. Marketing today is driven by content. Tools like the social media and other Internet publishing technology only demand more fuel (content) to feed the beast!

So, tune up your keyboard and allow the writer in you to escape!


In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, marketing campaign, Marketing Plan on March 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

The buzzword for business success, for as long as many of us can remember, has been INNOVATION; how you keep consumers tantalized, competitors at bay, and margins growing. LEADERSHIP was all about fostering the creative environment that generated the ideas that gave you your edge.

Different kinds of outer diapers. Baby diapers.

But maybe innovation’s day is done. Not that long ago, a leading consumer goods company invested vast amounts of time and money developing an innovative new product: a light-weight, environmentally friendly, impeccably dry diaper—with built-in cream to prevent diaper rash! The marketing mavens behind it confidently expected to roll out their new product with a stiff price tag attached because it was the answer to every parent’s prayers.  This was innovation marketing at its best: as old products were copied and discounted, you introduced newer, more inventive ones at higher prices.

But that dream diaper never made it to the marketplace. Why? Because it cost too much! When given the choice between the “all-in-one nappy” (it was to launch in Britain where diapers are called nappies) and traditional choices, modern consumers settled for the old solution because it was cheaper.

Every business should think long and hard about this diaper because it signals a deep shift in the market.  What it shows us is that new technologies mean that cheap imitations are now very good, and the Internet makes it very easy to find them. With good, cheap copies readily available, and consumers and businesses both fleeing from debt, the extra-featured “deluxe” version of a product isn’t compelling. Today we’re all buying generics. 

The old way of segmenting markets is rapidly changing (right along with the economy.)  Buyer strategies have changed in all echelons.  Most, when given the choice between multiple features or cheap, cheap wins! Less is now more. The battle for innovation has faded and the battle for value (defined by price) has returned with a vengeance, reminiscent of past times. 

That doesn’t mean quality and customer service can slip: if anything, the anxious consumer is more demanding than ever. The belief that you can keep customers loyal and trading up has vanished. This is a lesson that Southwest Airlines taught many of its competitors.

That doesn’t mean the challenge of innovation fades, just that it focuses more on processes rather than products… How can you deliver your product for less? How do you make it easy for your customer to find you and stick with you? In this new market, customer loyalty proves more difficult to win. Only price and ease of access prove compelling.  Consumer anxiety has provoked change that is likely to last.  “If I can find a stress-free experience at a lower cost,” that is the winning combination!

10 Tips For Social Media Marketers

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on July 11, 2009 at 12:56 am
Social Media Very Basic Overview
Image by litbel via Flickr

Businesses these days are engaging with consumers in new ways through social media like YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn and others.  Many set up their own social site or designate an area on their existing Website. 

Whatever vehicle you choose for your business, these are ten key lessons about social media that every marketer using these vehicles would be well-advised to take to heart:

  1. Every Brand can and should be “Social.”  – Conversations about your brand and products are happening everywhere.  You need to be a part of the conversation (not to control it, but to add your voice!)
  2. Just Get Started!  It doesn’t require a large budget to get started in social media marketing.  Start by listening.  Set up Google Alerts to monitor conversations about your brand or product.  Use TweetDeck and set up a search to monitor what is going on about your brand or product on Twitter.  Then participate in the conversation.  Just remember to be authentic, honest and transparent.  If you take those first steps and engage in the conversation , you’ll l learn more about how your brand fits into the social media space.  This will guide future programs that you may launch.
  3. Integrated marketing VS Social Media.  There is a difference between an integrated marketing campaign that includes viral components or onllne/offline coordination and a social media program.  Marketing campaigns have a short life. They, generally have a particular focus and are designed to capture the attention of your target audience.  A social media program is a commitment to engage and communicate with consumers when and where (online) the consumer wants to communicate and at no other time. If you start a marketing campaign with social components versus implementing a social media program, it’s important to start with the end in mind.  The worst thing you can do is build a group of fans, friends or followers around an initiative without a clear strategy once the marketing campaign is completed.
  4. Find Your Own Unique Path.  What works for one brand in social media doesn’t necessarily work for another.  A movie franchise communicates very differently with its customer than, say, a video arcade.  Your unique traits should be reflected in the content you create, the tone that you use and the online programs that you develop.
  5. Expenditures for Publicity.  Companies can spend a lot of money trying to launch a social media program.  Most of those efforts can be classified as part of an integrated marketing campaign.  Your approach and funding of an integrated marketing campaign should  be in line with the size and scope of your overall marketing budget.  Social media programs are much more cost-effective when viewed strictly from within your “media” budget but they need people to manage them.  So, in many cases you exchange media dollars for staff time and its relative cost.  If you are at step one: listening to and engaging in conversations about your brand, for example, while there’s no media buy someone must be dedicated to scanning and responding to the network.  That person needs to be an employee of the company.
  6. PR Agencies can play a great role, but the “VOICE” needs to be your company’s.  Remember that the consumer wants to connect with you, not your PR agency!  Your agency’s role, if involved, should be to monitor and identify opportunities. But it is the company who must respond – Authenticity is key.
  7. Get legal professionals involved from the beginning, if you have legal considerations to comply with.  Your legal department or consultant can be an ally or a roadblock.  It’s important to understand that there is not a lot of legal precedent to reference in the social networking arena.  This makes your legal experts nervous.  You want them on your team, so involve them early and help them understand your goals. This should help solidify a partnership.  When risks are identified, ask them to help you find solutions rather than put the kibosh on a program.  There are usually solutions to mitigate risk.  Together you can find these.
  8. Have a Crisis Management Plan.  In a world of 24/7 communication, the brands that can respond quickly to a crisis will be the brands that weather the storm.  A good crisis management plan must begin with active monitoring.  Good judgment must be exercised to distinguish a customer service issue from a crisis needing management.  Once a crisis has been identified, it must be responded to quickly (with a couple of hours is reasonable.)  Taking no action will certainly escalate the issue.  Immediate response helps nip a crisis in the bud.  You may find that, if your company has been active in the social media community for a while and has amassed followers who trust you, they may lend to your credibility by defending you!
  9. Convincing the C-Suite.  One of the most popular questions  asked by corporate public relations staff about social media programs is; “How do we garner the support of the “C-Suite for a social media program?”  Having a clearly defined objective is critically important to gain support of any initiative.  Since the C-Suite is most focused on ROI (Return On Investment), it’s important to demonstrate to them, why social media have become so important to the bottom line.
  10. More about Return On Investment.  Discussions regarding the return on investment of social media are prevalent these days, and with good reason.  In a tightening economy, businesses are scrutinizing their spending, anxious to ensure, that resources are being allocated wisely.  In the emerging social media space, ROI has been redefined  by some as “Risk of Ignoring”.  So when  the decision maker in your company asks you the ROI question, your answer should be, “Yes. If we create a plan, and set goals, then we can measure the returns …”
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In Communications, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing on June 4, 2009 at 3:30 am

Comm Planning ModelCreating and delivering compelling communications in a world inundated with messages is one of the biggest challenges confronting organizations today.  Now, more than ever, it is crucial to break through the clutter to deliver your message and project your image.  The key is reaching your target audience with a cogent, engaging set of communication tools that accurately reflect your brand identity and your position in the marketplace.  In short, your message must get through.  In today’s marketing environment, it is imperative to engage in effective communications  with your customers if your brand is to enjoy a future of relevance and growth.


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