Archive for the ‘Marketing Planning’ Category

Sample Social Media Responsibility Hierarchy

July 13, 2010

We often get asked by our clients how they should go about delegating time, manpower and resources to managing a site using new media / social media. This sample chart illustrates how an organization can designate responsibility and the time that each resource should spend maintaining. Keep in mind this chart is an example of a specific organization. Each organization should create their own flowchart for accountability based on their available resources. One thing is for sure though, time and responsibility must be delegated.

PDF Download: Sample Social Media Management protocol

Hiring the right firm for your new website (an only partially biased article)

March 17, 2010

Most of the problems that we see when it comes to how people hire website companies comes from a lack of clarity from the person doing the hiring regarding what they want out of their website.

There are three primary types of website companies.

1. The IT company.
2. The Design Company.
3. The Marketing/Advertising company.

There is nothing wrong with any of the three; they each have a specific niche.

The real problem is that all three say they are fully capable on any front when they aren’t. The issue is compounded when a client doesn’t know the difference or doesn’t know what to look for when hiring the firm.

The IT guys.
There are many levels of Information Technology (IT), web development starting from the company whose main work is fixing your computers all the way up to the enterprise level company that solves large technical problems. You can easily spot an IT firm at presentations because they focus on the technology first and the marketing communications second. These providers can be the right solution for the smaller level companies without large budgets. However, in many instances, organization assume that all websites are technical tools which should automatically go to an IT firm when modern websites are usually marketing tools that an IT firm isn’t best suited to build.

The Design Shop
You can spot the design firm presentation because they will focus heavily on their past designs or showing you designs of what your new website might look like if you hire them. Assuming it’s a good shop, a design firm can help your web image look fantastic. There are many mid-level design firms that can get you on the web at an affordable price. Often times design focused firms will hire out freelancers to actually do the technical work on the site while they focus on making you look pretty.

The Marketing Guys
The Marketing or Ad Firm can be the best or worst decision among the group. Usually, they are most expensive due to high overhead (i.e. employees, buildings, offices, etc.). You can spot the Marketing Agency because they will talk about results first with design and tech as simply parts of the solution. The trick is being able to separate the good firms from the poor, as well as managing expectations. A good firm can deliver impactful change for your organization on the web. A weak firm may leave your wallet empty and you wondering what happened.

Here are some steps to help decide and make your new website experience more fruitful.

First, start at the end.
Define what it is you want from this website: What do you want it to do? More sales? Better image? More awareness? Provide a service? Once you know what you want to provide on the web, the type of firm you should hire will become much more clear.

Ask about Time, Project Management and Process.
A website is a multi-part process that can vary in production time due to a multitude of factors. The agency you hire should be able to clearly demonstrate how they will mange the project, as well as give you time estimations based on your particular variables. This point goes for every type of firm. Ask questions. At what stage of the project will we see what? Will they just disappear and show up with a “finished” site three months later? What work are they outsourcing? What happens with maintenance and support after the website goes live? Many firms will not show a design until the site is built. While for some this is okay, most organization like to see an illustration or sketch of what the end product before hundreds of hours are spent building it.

Define Deliverables
Because some clients are uncomfortable when talking about the web, they fail to ask for specific deliverables from their agency. Not defining deliverables or having them defined for you can lead to an open ended relationship where the web people are delivering what they think you want or the minimum they think they can get away with. But building a website is like building a building or any other product. You need to know what to expect. So, at the start of the project, outline specific functions of the website (i.e. timelines, content, etc.). If you can’t define these deliverables, ask them to define them so there is no inconsistency in expectations.

Where’s the beef? (Content)
Content is overlooked consistently but it’s what fills up your website, it’s what visitors will be looking at, and it’s what Google uses to rank you in searches. Is your content going to be text, pictures, video, some combination, or something else? Does the firm develop the content for you? Do you want them to? The IT Firm typically doesn’t develop content. The Design Firm usually subcontracts it out. And the Marketing Company does it at a premium.

Education
Do you want to be educated on the possibilities of the website and have a relationship with the firm so they always keep you on the cutting edge? It’s a good idea to look for a firm that talks about the present and the future.

How much money you got?
Figure out what your budget is going to be for this website because that will determine the level of service that you will receive. Spending more does not necessarily mean you will get more. But, like your father said, you get what you pay for in life. You don’t necessarily need to share your specific budget with the firm, but try to determine the amount you could conceivably budget on the project keeping in mind your goals (if you want a site to make you millions, you probably should spend more than $500). Different agencies charge a really wide variety of prices based on factors like expertise, location, staff size, and more. Websites can range from $1,000 to $200,000 and its a good idea to know what priority you give your site.

Check the References.
This gets overlooked more often than we like to think about. Ask and check references because it can save you time, money and sanity. If you call ten references and eight had amazing experiences, it’s much better than if none or one did. Think of it like you’re hiring an employee or accepting a tenant. You wouldn’t hire or let someone live in your house without checking their backgrounds. Why should hiring a web contractor be any different?

One other thing to keep in mind if you’re really small or have a super tiny budget: There are services out there that make building your own website (within templates and without any custom functionality) fairly easily. Companies like SquareSpace.com and Moonfruit.com are resources for this type of project.

And, finally, no questions are bad questions. So ask your firms the most basic of questions because, once your site is complete, it will always be more about you than it will be about them.

Expertise

February 10, 2009

Marketing today isn’t usually about a product. Or direct sales. Or traditional advertising.

Those can be important – but they’re not what good marketing is about.

Good marketing is about Expertise. Expertise goes hand-in-hand with being Unique.

Being an Expert in your field makes you Unique. Because most people trying to market what you’re trying to market probably aren’t Experts at what they do. They’re probably just trying to sell, sell, sell.

But knowing your industry inside-out, having a track record of success, knowing the players and the tools; that allows you to sell yourself (or your company or not-for-profit) as something your prospects or clients can’t get anywhere else.

Being a Genius is great. But being an Expert is better.

Being a Genius is great. But being an Expert is better.

Newman Development Group are Experts at developing and redeveloping land for a variety of uses. They know how to navigate the legal and municipal challenges, work through construction, get stores open, and everything in between.

eni are experts are Experts at providing wellness services to businesses and corporations. They provide ways for their clients to have happier and more productive employees.

The Northeast Classic Car Museum has more fantastic antique and classic cars that any other public museum in a dozen states. And they have a staff and volunteers who know those cars and their stories like no one else. They even blog about it.

Being an expert gives you a leg up on the competition because it eliminates most of those competitors.

So, ask yourself, am I an expert?

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

January 21, 2009

I’m still in Nashville conferencing it up about Business Development.

Blair had some brilliant sessions this morning talking about the buy-sell cycle and overcoming obstacles. One of the giant points that jumped out at me was about asking the right questions rather than talking about all the answers you can provide.

It gets back to the basic theme of good communications and connecting with your audience that’s true for politicians and for marketers: it’s about your customer/client – not about you.

Find out what they need. Find out when they need it. Find out if they’re serious about their need. Find out if they are willing to pay for it. Find out what it really is that’s driving them to even be talking to you.

So, whether it’s me seeking out clients-to-be, or your business seeking out customers, the key thing we need to keep in mind is: Are you asking the right questions?

The Slow Death of Traditional Media

January 8, 2009

smashed-tv

Have you advertised on TV, on the radio or in a print newspaper lately? You probably found that prices are skyrocketing and effectiveness is plummeting.

Why? Same reason as most major social shifts in the history of mankind: technology. Tivo and DVRs are devaluing traditional television ads. iPods and satellite radio are keeping people from listenting to the radio. And ask anyone you know under the age of 30 when they last picked up the print version of a newspaper.

Old school interruption advertising isn’t the same “that’s where the eyeballs are” media buy it was years ago.

So what’s a business or not-for-profit to do to keep their customers or clients engaged – and to get new prospects to become customers?

Learn as much as you can about e-Marketing. Social media, Business blogs, e-Newsletters, Microblogging (like Twitter) and Podcasts are where your customers, clients and donors are moving. So, in order to keep at the top of their minds, you need to move there, too.

Marketing and Sales in a Downturn. When the going gets tough – the tough get….

January 7, 2009

Here are some ideas on sales and marketing in the current economic situation and how we and many of our clients are weathering the situation.

1. Sales Down? Double or Triple your activity – fill your pipeline, go to new markets, develop new offerings. Get out there and make sure your prospects know you exist and make sure your clients know how valuable you are.

2. Look into Social Media Marketing. It’s almost free minus the work. Social media includes developing tools specifically for the web that allow your company/product/service to create a following. Having a following creates qualified leads. Having qualified leads always means you’ll get some sales.

3. Figure out ways to track your current marketing efforts. If your spending X thousand dollars on radio and TV, you have to know if it’s working or not. If you don’t know, it’s time to find out through surveying customers, tracking via online statistics, etc.

4. Give incentives to staff and potential customers to close more deals.

5. Ask staff to give a little more or take a little less less during this time is a much better alternative to having someone good lose their job.

6. Don’t stop marketing and don’t stop selling. Recessions are only an excuse to push harder; when you come out of them, you can be stronger and be on top of the hill.

I personally look at this downturn as one of the biggest opportunities of my generation. So we don’t plan on letting it slip by without taking action.

The Guns N’ Roses Brand and Natural vs. Artificial Exclusivity

December 5, 2008

One of the big recent fads in the music industry – especially for older acts trying to recapture former glory – is exclusive sales of new albums at certain big-box stores.

AC/DC just released “Black Ice” at Wal-Mart and one of my favorite bands of all-time, Guns N’ Roses, did it last week with “Chinese Democracy” at Best Buy (though they at least also offered tracks through iTunes, too).

Is it a good idea to create this artificial exclusivity?

I don’t know what kind of financial deals AC/DC or GnR got from Wal-Mart and Best Buy so who knows if it was good for their pocketbooks. But, as fans and consumers, it’s bad for us.

Like I said, I love GnR. Grew up on them. Learned to play guitar to “Appetite for Destruction”. Couldn’t get enough then. Even had my first date with my wife at a GnR concert (though it was the strange 2003 version).

 

A lot has changed from 1988 to 2008....

A lot has changed from 1988 to 2008....

 

But I was ticked that I had to drive 70 miles to spend my money to buy “Chinese Democracy” because my hometown doesn’t have a Best Buy. (Of course, I could have downloaded the album on iTunes but there’s something really primally satisfying about holding the actual album of rock in your actual hands.)

So Axl, Best Buy and Universal Music Group got my $14.99 (x2). That means that my brand loyalty to GnR was so high that I was willing to drive lengthy distances and overcome my annoyed-ness at having to do so.

But, if they do it again (hopefully not with a long 13 year wait again), my loyalty will fade a bit more.

A good brand creates a good gut feeling when you think about it.

Listening to the album (well, most of it at least) gives me that good gut feeling. But my experience purchasing it – forking over my money – sure didn’t.

I wasn’t the only one. “Chinese Democracy” debuted at #3 on the charts. 267K albums is certainly respectable – but it’s disappointing for what used to be the world’s biggest band.

Natural exclusivity can be great. But artificial exclusivity just alienates your customers and gives you short-term rewards for long-term loss of brand loyalty.

(I’ll save you my full review of the album – but the short of it is that I’m pretty happy minus a few duds. Here is Rolling Stone’s review if you’re interested)

The First Step to Good SEO: Have Good Content

November 14, 2008

A lot of our clients here at GrafiQa regularly ask us how to get ranked as high as possible by Google, Yahoo! and other search engines.

Their motivations are pretty obvious: get seen by more customers, get more qualified leads, get more business.

Many people think that Search Engine Optimization is about manipulating or tricking search engines into ranking your website higher. That’s dead wrong. Why would you want to trick Google or Yahoo? That means you’re tricking your potential customer (who isn’t really your potential customer anyway since he’s probably not really interested in what you’re selling if you tricked them).

Trickery isn't nice. And it's not real Search Engine Optimization either.

Charlie Brown knows that trickery isn't very nice. But it's not good Search Engine Optimization either.

The first step to effective SEO is actually having relevant and useful content about your product, issue or whatever it is you’re marketing.

Sounds simple, right? It is.

Think about it: if you want to buy small-scaled steel kettle drums, you want Google or Yahoo to direct you to the best, most relevant dealer for that type of specialized equipment. You don’t want them to direct you to some random music equipment dealer in Tacoma who’s really selling indian tablas but “tricked” the seach engines into thinking his selection was broader.

Successful search engine companies are smart. And they know that finding the best, most relevent sites for their customers is what is going to keep those customers coming back.

So, if you’re thinking about SEO, start by understanding that the first step is being honest about what you’re doing.

(Of course, there are a million more advanced things to do after that. But that’s a whole other post….)

How am I unique?

November 7, 2008

That’s question #1 to ask yourself before you take a step down the marketing-your-organization path.

We’re currently working with an organization to try to help bring more tourists into a small, rural community. It’s a great place – they have interesting little shops, cool restaurants, historic buildings, arts and cultural stuff, rivers, mountains, and more.

Unique? Sure was in 1985.

Unique? Sure was in 1985.

But the tough part of the project is that dozens of other destinations within 200 miles of this one have nearly the same kind of attractions. It’s just the nature of the region and geography.

So the question we posed is: how are you unique? The group came away with some really cool and interesting answers that helped us hone in on how to market this community to the rest of the world. And I’ll bet it’ll drive up tourism dollars for them over the next twelve months.

The lesson is this: before you dive into the messaging, targeting, designing and other fun stuff that comes with marketing and advertising, take some time to think about who you are and why someone would want to visit/spend money/etc. with your organization as opposed to a competitor. That’s how you are unique in the marketplace.

Don’t Tweak It – GrafiQ It!

June 3, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge

Let’s say you want to cross your kitchen from fridge to stove. You don’t need a gps to chart the exact coordinates of the fridge and the exact coordinates of the stove and draw a line between them. You can just turn and walk. If you’re a degree or two off, it doesn’t matter because you literally can’t miss it.

But let’s say you want to go from your fridge, in Upstate New York, to the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco. If you’re even one degree off your mark, you’ll end up in Los Angeles or Canada.

When people ask me what we do at GrafiQa, this is the analogy that always comes to mind. Yes, we design print materials and create websites and design logos, but that’s not really What We Do. Those are just the vehicles with which we accomplish our real goal, which is guiding our clients from their refrigerators to the Golden Gate Bridge without getting lost and ending up in the Yukon.