All posts by tnewhard

The Maturation of Social Media Marketing

Tim Newhard, Business Development Manager

Wow! Social Media sure is popular. And its use as a marketing vehicle has greatly accelerated as social media networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have been inundated with Babyboomers. In fact, the research organization Forester predicts that spending on social media marketing will soon outpace spending for email marketing (which is in some circles a form of social media marketing).

So what does it all mean?

In short, since social media marketing has come about so quickly – a lot of people probably don’t know how to use it. As a result, there are lots of businesses wasting time and money on a medium that is rich with data and buzz, but no clear use for the average business.

The average dialogue regarding social media probably goes like this: Gosh, everyone I know uses social media, in fact, I read in an article that the average Facebook user spends ONE HOUR a day on Facebook (true fact). I should open up a Facebook account. End Quote.

This idea has good intentions, but it lacks direction, goals, and any resemblance to a strategy.

Like any new thing, people are bound to grope around for answers while other people will claim to have all the answers in an effort to lead the groping masses to higher profitability. In an effort to help the masses, while not proclaiming to have all the answers, here are some social media tips from a real marketing strategy consulting and design firm: Continue reading

10 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking About Your Business

Marc Kramer wrote an article for Forbes Magazine last November. The title of the article is The 10 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking. The article is based in experiences the author had while trying to captain a sinking publishing business. Here are his 10 questions:

  1. What is our purpose for existing?
  2. Who is our target market?
  3. Does anyone need what we are selling?
  4. If there is a need for what we are selling, can we be profitable?
  5. What are our competitors up to?
  6. Can we reduce expenses without harming the product?
  7. Do we have the right leadership? Continue reading

Better Market Research = Better Profits

The future success of your business depends on your ability to perform meaningful market research. Does this come as a surprise? It shouldn’t. Market research allows you to:

  • Measure customer satisfaction
  • Make your marketing more efficient
  • Find new customers
  • Develop a customer-centric product development cycle

Assuming that you are selling a useful good or service, knowing any or all of the bullet points above would be considered useful by most business people.

A study done by an Australian research group discovered that firms that had strong market research capabilities had greater sales growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, and new product success rates were firms that had significantly greater market research abilities (Vorhies, Harker, Rao 1999). Continue reading

Forbes has our Back

Forbes has our Back.

Well… they don’t literally have our back, but we are preaching mostly the same thing. In a recent article by Larry Light, marketing is portrayed as one of the most important business functions that on many levels is not managed like a business function.

Mr. Light proposes that marketing is run like a trade. What he means by this is that marketers are becoming increasingly specialized. This is to the point that marketers in a particular specialty our unable to see the marketing and organizational big pictures and see their methodology, theory, or technology as the only true way to market things. They become disconnected from the organization they are a part or servicing.

Mr. Light feels that this trend is devaluing marketing. We completely agree with this notion.

We feel that all marketing strategies should be composed of the right tactical mix of many marketing tactics (trades). We also strive to help our clients understand how marketing is directly integrated with their key performance metrics (profit, sales volume, lead conversion). Continue reading

What Motivates Your Customers?

t_newhard_kMotivation is hard to quantify. It is not a tangible thing. Motivation does not make a sound, it does not hurt when it hits you in the head, and it cannot be measured with a ruler. Motivation is just a way of describing what drives us to do things. Sometimes the thing that drives us to do things is physiological – this is what drives us to want to eat and drink. But, what drives us to exhibit consumer behavior, buying stuff, can usually be explained as motivation. So, what motivates us to buy stuff?

Motivation is complicated, however motivational theory models do exist and they can be used to predict behavior. One that I subscribe to in particular is the Expectancy Theory of Motivation.

The theory itself is a little complex and has countless uses in defining motivation. From this theory we can glean that people are motivated to do things in order to achieve outcomes based on the desirability and probability of achieving those outcomes. Continue reading

Get Better Marketing Results Through Measurement

t_newhard_kIn a study of about 500 first year sales reps: 60% reported setting no goals; 32% reported setting general earnings goals; and 8% reported setting specific annual earnings goals. Of those surveyed – those that set general goals were 2 times more successful than those that set no goals and those that set specific goals were three times more successful (Hall 2003).

Good goals are tremendous motivators. Basic motivational theory states that basic motivation is composed of two parts: direction and intensity. Good goals do this. But what are good goals? Good goals are SMART goals. Continue reading

Please Keep Giving Us Quick Fixes

t_newhard_kPlease check out the following article and tell me whether you know more about marketing or not:

Are you back? I should say that this author may have had the best intentions in writing this article or perhaps it is another way to sell ad space. There is a difference between knowing tactics and knowing marketing. The author says these tactics are “must-try,” but some of these “tactics” cost several thousand dollars. It would be great if we all had $5,000 to “just try something out,” but most businesses don’t.

Let me tell you something about project management. Project management is a discipline of business that has been well studied. One of the most basic principles of project management is the principle of constraints; every project has constraints. Nearly all project managers acknowledge the existence of 3 project constraints: Time, Scope, and Cost (Budget). Constraints limit what is possible because time and money are finite (scope limit is usually bound by time and money, but imagination usually makes scope seem limitless). If one increases scope one must increase time or cost. If one decreases time and keeps scope the same, one must increase cost. One cannot simply wish for something and have it happen without compromise or consequence – there are real world constraints in play.

Like project management and most other things in life – there are no quick fixes in business and marketing. Continue reading

Marketing’s Biggest Secret

Marketint_newhard_kg’s biggest secret is that it’s all about the money. Some things are about awards, creativity, beauty, or buzz – but marketing isn’t one of these things. Marketing is a business function and like all other business functions, marketing exists to make that “dolla.”

To illustrate the absurd exceptions many smart people make for marketing, please allow me to share a hypothetical situation:

Imagine you are on the board of a company that sells widgets. It is time for your annual meeting and you, along with the rest of the board members and senior officers of the company, sit in a large conference room at a nice hotel. You have just finished lunch, it was delicious, and you are just settling back into a comfy leather chair to listen to the company’s CFO talk about last year’s financials. With the aid of a beautiful looking PowerPoint the CFO proceeds to explain metrics like the hypothetical future value, bank opinion index, and economic buzz forecast. He also mentions the two awards the company won: Most Creative Use of Money (from an industry magazine) and Most Innovative Investment Portfolio (from an industry group you pay to be a member of). He then concludes that all of these things resulted in a successful year because the firm turned a profit of X amount.

While everyone stares, mesmerized by the sheer beauty and grandeur of the presentation, you realize that your CFO has not actually told you anything useful. Hesitantly you clear your throat and say, “Mr. CFO, do you expect us to buy into these meaningless metrics? How do they explain anything?” To which Mr. CFO responds, “We clearly made a profit last year, so we can correlate the good performance of these metrics with the good performance of the entire company.” Puzzled, you stare back at your CFO and wonder if he has lost his mind. Continue reading

The Benefits of Super Bowl Ads

t_newhard_kAccording to Nielsen, about 90 million people watch the Super Bowl every year and it is fair to say that advertisers have a captive audience based on the hyper Super Bowl commercials receive. I’ll admit that I did not fast-forward past any commercials until the second half of this year’s Super Bowl. When one watches Super Bowl commercials, one expects to be entertained. But, at a cost of $3.01M (USD) per 30 second spot – what are advertisers hoping to get out of all of it?

Product Life Cycle Basics

The product life cycle describes the natural progression of a product throughout its lifetime; from the time that it is introduced – to the time it becomes obsolete or unprofitable and is pulled. In sequential order, the product life cycle progresses as follows: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Saturation and Decline. The roles of marketing and advertising change at each stage of the product life cycle.

In the first two phases the producers of a product are very concerned about using marketing and advertising to get the message out about their new product. They want to hit their target markets and they want to inform those markets about the benefits of using their product. As a product becomes mature its producers will need to differentiate it from its competition. They may try to do this by introducing new features or appealing to a particular segment of their target market, a niche. At the saturation and decline phase a product’s producer may look to spread into emerging markets domestically or abroad in order to start the product life cycle all over again. If they cannot do this successfully and the product does not live up to a certain level of profitability – the product “dies.” Continue reading

Brand Dissonance- What’s Going on with Toyota?

t_newhard_kCognitive dissonance is the anxiety that occurs when you or people or groups you know behave in ways that are counter to their attitudes, beliefs, and past behaviors. So what do we call it when a company behaves in a way that is counter to their attitudes, beliefs, and past behaviors? I’ll call it brand dissonance.

The most recent contributor to brand dissonance is Toyota. The Japanese automaker is renowned for quality. This is justifiable. I know a lot of people, 3 family members, who have either owned  or currently own Toyotas with no complaints. Their record is great and they have worked for decades to make quality automobiles. Toyota’s position within the import automaker industry is as a quality leader. This is a powerful position. If I am in the market for a car and want one that won’t break down…ever, I think Toyota. Honda is a very close second.

However, years of hard work at gaining and maintaining this position might come crashing down with the failure of one part, the accelerator pedal.

Continue reading