9 points you must consider when developing a marketing strategy

Remember needing to carry a dime or a quarter to make a phone call if you were out? How about just knowing people from your neighborhood?

What about having to wait until Saturday mornings to watch cartoons? Or NBC’s “Must See TV”?

Remember having to go to the library, rifling through shelves of books, after having searched through the card catalogue in order to do research for your class projects?

Well, teenagers today don’t.

Cannon - "Triple Revolution"

© Lincolnadams | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


The Triple Revolution, as Barry Wellman of the University of Toronto explains, is the merging of Mobile, Social Networks, and Internet, changing everyone’s lives (especially the lives of marketers!)

The mobile revolution is about continuous presence, with time and space no longer being as important as before. Mazda reminds us that Martin Cooper invented the mobile phone in 1973, leading the way for us to be physically untethered to landlines but forever connecting us to the world, 24/7.

Just 10 years ago, Facebook first hit the scene. It wasn’t the first in the social network revolution, but it’s become the biggest. Today, essentially 1 in 7 people on the planet are on this social network (check out Digital Marketing Ramblings for interesting Facebook stats). That means your “neighborhood” has gotten considerably larger. We’ve moved from social groups to social networks.

25 years ago this year, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, putting nearly all of the possible information you could possibly want, at our fingertips (remember World Book Encyclopedias?). The Internet has proliferated and essentially become more personalized for each person (think Google search, targeted ads).

When you put these three revolutions together, it means that for us marketers we have to live in the now, look to what’s coming in the future, and stop reminiscing about the past (except when hanging out w/ fellow Gen X’rs).

Here are 9 points you must consider to make your marketing efforts thrive in the midst of the “Triple Revolution”:  

  1. IT’S SO NOISY!!! The beauty of technology and its reach today is that everyone can be a publisher (and it seems like everyone is trying). For marketers though it means that your competition to be heard has grown exponentially. You need to figure out how what you have to say is going to cut through the clutter, be heard, and be acted upon. It’s not about screaming louder; it’s about saying something relevant.
  2. Listen to the chatter: The flip side of having to compete with everyone to get heard is that social media in particular gives marketers the opportunity to listen to what current and prospective customers have to say. This is a goldmine of information! But, you have to know how to take advantage of it and turn that data into actionable insights. So, listen carefully to take informed actions.
  3. Word travels fast: Today, one tweet can catch fire in a matter of minutes, even seconds. Ellen DeGenere’s Oscar Tweet was retweeted 2.4 million times in a 12-hour period. The good news: if you delight people, there’s a chance that word will spread. But, if your brand ticks someone off, there’s a very good chance that word will also spread, fast, and very, very far. Real-time marketing is awesome and powerful, but you always need to think before you act.
  4. Tomorrow is too late: People want what they want when they want it. That might be at 2PM or 2AM. If you aren’t there to help them satisfy their need, someone else will. Your prospective customers will simply Google what they need and find someone else who can provide it. And if they have a better experience there, you may have lost them for good. Think about your customers’ needs and organize your business around them.
  5. Communicate like you’re on sodium pentothal: No, I’m not advocating using drugs. Sodium pentothal is truth serum – the stuff of spy movies, that when taken forces people to tell the truth. What I am advocating is to be truthful, to be real, to inject a humanness to your communications efforts. People today expect it. If you are hiding something, it will come out and you will look terrible.
  6. Your customer is a person: I’m a huge believer in segmenting your audience. But, all too often we forget that inside these segments are actually human beings; ones with names, interests, fears, hobbies. Technology today allows us to personalize our messages. Do it. But don’t be creepy.
  7. It’s about mobility: Not only is it a 24/7 world, but maybe more importantly, we are now no longer at the mercy of wires to be connected. We have phones, phablets, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, Google glasses. Craft content with the user’s context in mind. The medium and message are connected.
  8. What’s private is now public: People now reveal their private thoughts and feelings to the public via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. In the public realm, people can share where they are through Foursquare, thus publicizing to the world where they are. At the same time, Snowden has brought front and center the issue of privacy and governments going too far. Brands need to be careful with the information they gather and use (look back at point #5).
  9. Communications has been democratized: Now that anyone can publish content, and share it, it means that the most compelling and relevant stuff can come from anyone and anywhere. That content can come from a global brand based in NY or a teenager in Buenos Aires. Brands no longer hold all of the communication or content cards. You need to know when to speak, when to listen, and where to find the influencers who can make your point even better than your brand might be able to.

So, I’ll continue to tell my kids about life with TV commercials, about NBC’s “Must See TV” and how if you missed the show, you missed the show and you had to wait until they ran it again. But in my day-to-day as a marketer, I know that I need to look at how these revolutions are evolving and what they have in store for people and those of us trying to market to them.

Have any other points you think are key to managing through these “revolutions”? Let me know.


Got a great marketing idea? Have someone else pitch it.

Light Bulb (FM)

Have you ever gone to your boss with what you think is a creative marketing idea that solves a problem, only to have s/he shrug it off?

Or, have had an epiphany for an enhancement to your marketing strategy that you know will drive results, only to have your boss pick it apart?

Worse yet, have you ever heard someone from outside your organization present to your boss a similar idea of yours, only to have your boss love it?

Well, you’re not alone. And there’s a reason why.

Apparently, “where the idea comes from appears to influence whether people think it’s creative” explains Shankar Vedantam, a science correspondent for NPR.

In the NPR story “Why We Miss Creative Ideas That Are Right Under Our Noses,” Vedantam refers to a research study where two groups of volunteers hear about a new shoe that uses nano technology to reduce blisters. One group is told that the idea for the technology was developed far away. The other group is told that the idea was developed near by.

The result: both groups reacted differently to the idea.

“We found that when we told people the idea was generated far away, they rated the idea as significantly more creative than when the idea was generated nearby,” explains University of San Diego researcher Jennifer Mueller.

It seems that when we think about things that are “far away,” we are in a different mindset, a bit more accepting of “creative ideas.” On the other hand, when we’re mired in the day-to-day, and we think about ideas that come from “the inside,” we’re more likely to poke holes in the idea, looking at it from a very pragmatic perspective. Managers tend to be risk averse.

This helps us understand why a consultant who swoops in from another city can present the same creative marketing idea you had, and get traction from your boss.

So rather than get frustrated about your marketing ideas not striking a chord with your boss; find or create your allies who can do the pitching for you. Or, at least find people who are outside of your boss’ immediate day-to-day and have them sow the seeds of your genius idea with her/him. Using “external” influences may be the best approach to getting your ideas in front of your boss and accepted.

What do you think? Can you relate?

The Marketer v. Fragmentum Chronicles: Battle for integration and focus (part 1)


Batman has the Joker.

Superman has Lex Luthor.

The X-Men have The Brotherhood.

The Marketer has Fragmentum.

Yes, Fragmentum. The evil villain who’s sole purpose in life is to disorient Marketer’s ability to develop and execute holistic approaches by throwing more and more channels to reach audiences.

Born of technology and innovation, Fragmentum entered the scene decades ago. While at first a friend of Marketer, providing him with new channels to reach Marketer’s target audiences (broadcast TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, direct mail), Fragmentum started going overboard. Fragmentum’s modus operandi became “more is better.”

The villain’s power has more recently been seen disorienting Marketer and pulling him away from using targeted channels, and closer to disintegration – using more and more channels just because they exist. Marketer faces fragmentation of the channel landscape.

For the last decade Fragmentum has tossed dozens upon dozens of shiny new digital channels in front of Marketer, tempting him to try them all: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs, microblogs, apps, QR codes, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo, digital billboards, email, cable TV, Orkut.

The temptation for Marketer is huge.

Despite knowing how important it is to utilize his finite resources (time, money, people) in a strategic way and focusing on high value channels, Marketer sometimes gets caught jumping into new channels without thinking through his strategy. He is drawn to the new channels without thinking through how all of the channels work together to achieve the ultimate goal of connecting with his audiences.

In some cases, Marketer doesn’t even know why he’s using a particular digital too/channel, or how it works with the others to reach a goal. He’s blindsided by Fragmentum; attracted by the novelty and the buzz of new channels. 

Could this spell defeat for Marketer, as he is spread too thin? Will he be unable to figure out what channels work best together to meet his goals.

Marketer most go back to his roots. He is trained in the art and science of identifying the optimal channels to reach his target, and then creating an integrated approach. He must make informed decisions to battle against “more is better.”

So what will Marketer do to regain focus and integrate the optimal channels?

Find out in part 2 of the Marketer v. Fragmentum Chronicles.

Mix listening with action to create marketing magic!

We hear about it all the time; brands need to listen.

Why? Because people are talking. They may be talking TO YOU, ABOUT YOU or ABOUT SOMETHING YOU BOTH CARE ABOUT. If you spend too much time talking rather than listening, you will lose opportunities to create magic; the type of magic that endears someone to your brand.

My wife went to a small high school in Bethlehem, PA – Moravian Academy. And like many high schools today, the school uses social media to connect with alums and keep them up to date with the school community. A few days ago, my wife commented on a post on the school’s Facebook page that the smell of Moravian beeswax candles always remind her of Vespers at school. 

For the uninformed like me, I learned that Vespers is a Moravian Christmas tradition. The community gets together at the chapel during the Christmas season to sing holiday music. And, in everyone’s hand is a beeswax candle “dressed” with a special red paper trim for the traditional Christmas Vespers held in Central Moravian Church.

Yesterday, a small thin package arrived at our home addressed to my wife. It was from the director of alumni relations at her high school. Inside were two beeswax candles dressed in red with a little note. Magic!

Vespers Candles

The alumni relations director had not only taken the time to follow the conversation on Facebook (something all of us should do for our brands), but went the extra mile and took action. She could have easily just easily responded to my wife’s comment on the page. But instead, she picked up a pen, wrote a note and sent my wife a piece of her school experience – the beeswax candles. And the result…Magic!

Not only did the gesture strike a chord with my wife, but now I’m writing about Moravian Academy and will be sharing the experience with others. And it will go beyond the good words that we have for the school; we’re now committed to giving back to her alma mater. Not a bad return on investment for the school.

So kudos to the alumni director!

Let’s all find ways to do a little more actively listening and try to find those opportunities where we can take action and strengthen the relationships between our brand and its communities.

Your brand needs a “belief framework”


Author and marketer Seth Godin defines brand as the “set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision of one product or service over another.”

These expectations result from direct and indirect experiences that current and prospective customers, members or fans have with a company, organization, individual or idea.

So how do you put a connected framework around a brand to begin to create and deliver positive experiences that deliver a sense of value to people, and have them wanting more?

Patrick Hanlon, author of “Primal Branding,” proposes that organizations must clearly identify 7 assets that are the essence of a brand belief system:

  1. Creation storyAnswers the question where you came from.  This lays the foundation for why people should care about you. Every organization has one. It can and should be crafted and shared with employees, customers and prospects so that they get a sense of the organization’s roots. Examples of brands with compelling creation stories include Coca-Cola, Facebook, and FC Barcelona.
  2. CreedAnswers what you want the person to believe in. It’s a mission statement or tagline that your audience can easily understand and embrace. Examples include, “Just do it” or “Soup is good food” or “Think different”.
  3. IconsAnswers the question how a person can recognize you in such a busy world. Icon’s are not only logos, but also can include uniforms (think of your favorite sports team) and designs like the shape of a VW bug.
  4. RitualsAnswer the question how people can interact with you and the community in a unique way. Consider what the NFL has done to Monday and Thursday nights. The NFL brand has created must-watch events during the fall and winter, where two nights a week (not to mention Sundays) people sit in front of the TV, or pull out their tablet/smartphone and watch a live football game.
  5. Pagans/non-believersAnswers the question of who doesn’t like you. Just like a superhero needs a supervillain, brands also have their “enemies” – and this is good as it helps you draw a line in the sand. Examples include Coke vs. Pepsi, Eagles vs. Cowboys, the Republicans vs. the Democrats. By identifying non-believers, you are likely better able to define/understand what you stand for.
  6. Sacred wordsLike rituals, these are special words and phrases that only those who “belong” know. Starbucks has it’s own language for ordering (check out the Huffington Post article, “The Most Obnoxious Starbucks Drink Orders” for a laugh). Universities too have a long history of “sacred words” – Seattle Sounders soccer fans all know the songs and chants that are becoming a part of the team’s tradition.
  7. LeaderAnswers the question of who people should follow. These can be the founder or CEO, or a strong person within the organization that is able to bring people together and create a sense of purpose and unity. Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, or the late, Steve Jobs.

Once identified, you need to actively manage and communicate the 7 brand belief assets through the channels that make the most sense for your organization and audiences.

Examples for communicating your brand belief framework include:

  • Using your website to tell the story of where you came from (video, text, old images, etc.);
  • Building a tagline and/or key brand words into all of the digital and print materials you develop and ensuring spokespeople incorporate this creed into their presentations;
  • Incorporating colors and key images throughout digital marketing efforts in order for people to immediately recognize the brand, without even having to read text;
  • Capitalizing on the Christmas holidays and delivering messages that tie your product/service directly into the holiday, like Stella Artois did in its 2012 holiday commercials;
  • Creating videos that demonstrate exactly who you are and who you are not so that it’s clear who the pagans are (remember the Mac v PC commercials);
  • Creating a webpage like the University of Georgia has where fans can listen to and learn your “battle hymn” and “fight song” and participate in the game-day experience; and
  • Having your leader use Twitter or a blog to share her/his vision and personal perspective like Bill Marriott’s “Marriott on the move” blog.

So, does your brand have a belief system? Are you actively managing the seven assets?

Take the time to understand the belief framework you have to work with. Build it out so you can better market your brand and build long lasting relationships with customers and members, and transform them into believers.

What comes first: the content or the design?


Unlike the circular debate about which comes first, the chicken or the egg, the “which comes first, content or design” question has a clear answer:


If you’re in marketing, communication or advertising, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of one or more of the following statements/questions:

  • “I need a brochure by the end of the week.”
  • “We need to create a new webpage for tomorrow.”
  • “Can you make an ad?”

If the statement is followed by something like, “Just start designing something and then we’ll give you the content later,” or “We can’t give you the content until we know what it’s going to look like,” just STOP!

That’s unless you’re ready to spend hours of your life going back and forth to deliver something that will likely disappoint you and your colleagues, and miss the mark with your target audience.

So where do you start if it’s not with crafting text or finding great imagery?

You begin by answering these four foundation-level questions before discussing any design or even messaging:

  1. Why you are designing something?
  2. Who needs to engage with message?
  3. What people should do or feel once they engage with the message?
  4. When and where (location, not platform or channel) people will experience what you are crafting?

With these answers, you can craft the basic message that you want to convey – I’m not talking great copywriting at this point; just defining in simplest terms what you want people to understand.

With the basic message identified, begin the conversation about the medium(s)/channel(s) that it will be delivered on.

You can now determine if you need something short and punchy for an ad on a search engine that people might see while researching. Or, maybe you realize that you need to provide more utility through a series of blog posts so you can begin to pull in new prospects. Whatever the medium or channel, the discussion on what you need to say and what it will look like is much easier when starting from a solid foundation, a foundation that is shared by the people you are working with.

Put a strong copywriter and creative director or designer together who both understand the answers to the four questions above, and you have the ingredients in place to deliver solid, and even amazing results.

The reality is, this process often has to take place in a matter of hours because of deadlines. But, it’s a process that can definitely make the final deliverable more effective, and at the same time, help you keep a little more sane.

What do you think? Share your perspective.