The Pretenders

February 15, 2016

Isn’t it interesting how many terms once only used and understood by marketing professionals have made their way into mainstream language? One of those decidedly ubiquitous terms is “branding”. Everyone is talking branding. What is your brand? How to market your brand. Branding your company.  On one hand, I think it’s great that companies pay more attention to branding and recognize its importance. This is a concept for which I fought many years in different companies. However, once new terms hit the daily lexicon, pretenders and charlatans follow. Everyone thinks they understand branding, but do they?

“BRANDING”

Think about SEO and SEM. Again, many people know those acronyms, but how many know what they stand for and how to actually perform and/or utilize the services. SEO is search engine optimization. SEM is search engine marketing. The two processes are similar in some aspects but do refer to different processes and results.

“SEO or SEM”

I can tell almost immediately when someone with whom I’m talking is throwing out these terms (and others) with no clue as to what they really mean. It’s easy to talk a good game, so companies hiring marketers often need to pass by numerous charlatans and pretenders before finding a true professional. My advice? Look at past results. Ask specific questions:

What is my brand?

How will you determine and develop my brand?

What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?

What results have you had?

Unfortunately, the pretenders can give marketers a bad name. A company will hire someone with high hopes for greater visibility and increased business but then get no results because they’ve hired a pretender. Good marketers will get you results. Those results cannot be attained on demand and they may take a different form than you had originally envisioned, but professional marketing executives will help you meet your company goals and improve your bottom line.  They know how.

 

 


Junked Up Web Pages or Not?

March 31, 2014

Are web sites becoming more succinct and less busy? Is web design trending away from cramming everything possible onto the home page? I can only hope that this nod towards simplicity I’ve noticed is indeed a trend and not just a coincidence.

When I built my first web site over a decade ago, things were simpler. At least the sites were simpler. We had a few pages, some graphics and some image maps. I convinced my boss we needed a web site by telling him it was like a 24-hour brochure.

Web sites are still 24-hour brochures, but as web technology advanced, many of these advancements landed on company home pages, oftentimes creating an incomprehensible mess. Countless businesses insisted (and continue to insist) upon using all the latest developments. I contend this does their business a disservice by distracting and frustrating potential customers. In fact, I wrote one of my very first blog posts on this a few years ago – See Junked Up Web Pages – Stop Screaming at Us.

Admittedly, some businesses offer myriad products and services, and a web site can and should showcase that. Some organizations are so complex and nuanced, their sites become very deep. Sometimes it is necessary; sometimes it is not. For the past 4 or 5 years, sites have become longer, broader and more confusing. How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t find their contact information.”? Terrible, especially from a marketing perspective.

Crazy, busy web sites will always exist, but I have noticed more basic sites in the last year or so. Is this because so many people are building their own? Perhaps, but then again maybe the new web technology has become so mainstream that everyone no longer feels the need to use it ALL.

I hope so.


Are You Still Behind if You Don’t Tweet?

September 4, 2012

If you feel like your company is behind everyone else in utilizing technology, you’re not alone, and chances are you’re not as behind as you think.

Twenty years ago, it seemed as if every company but mine had a web site. So I created one. From the kudos I received, I realized we were right in the flow, we weren’t behind at all, that was just my perception. When I publicized the new web site, I unintentionally perpetuated the notion that EVERYONE (except you) had a web site.

Now the onus has shifted to Twitter. So many people tell me they don’t like Twitter, don’t understand it, and even think it’s stupid, but they know they need to get their company on there, because EVERYONE tweets except them.  You are not the exception, although in another year or two, you likely will be if Twitter sticks around. (Some people will disagree with that last statement and insist that you ARE way behind, and they’re entitled to their opinion; I just don’t agree with that yet.)

So figure it out. Dig into Twitter and start using it. Take a class. Do research. Ask other people how it works. I began using it simply because I didn’t understand it and wanted to know what it was all about and why it was becoming so popular. To my amazement, I became a big fan.

I offer the same advice for all the other innovations out there, way too numerous to name here. I started to list some but then realized it would be impossible to list everything and I’d likely leave some out – like the one that just launched yesterday that I haven’t heard about yet. Don’t forget about the industry-specific applications and groups either.

As you integrate Twitter, FaceBook, a blog, other applications and social media into your company’s communications, remember that integrate is the key word. Your communications vehicles, modes, programs, plans – whatever you call them – should all work together. Your publications, press releases, web site, blog, speeches, Twitter and FaceBook accounts, keywords, conventions, events, outreach, etc. should be publicizing a consistent message or messages. They should reflect your company’s philosophies and goals, and enhance your reputation. They should be integrated throughout the company programs, so every employee and every endeavor is aligned.

This is a really exciting time for those of us in the marketing/communications field. After all, effective communication is all about building relationships, and there are more ways to do that than ever before.


Build Communities Online and Off-line for Successful Public Affairs

May 16, 2011

Communities. Interactions. Relationships. These are the basic tenets of social media.

These are also the basic tenets of a good public affairs plan. Are you implementing these strategies in all your company communications? You should be.

Once you define your message(s) and your target audience(s), you need to build relationships and create communities. It’s easier than ever to do this through social media. But don’t forget about more traditional communications methods like a phone call and an in-person interaction.

Building relationships has always been the key to a successful public affairs program. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind sending out masses of press releases and hoping for some coverage. Instead, I’ve always called, faxed or visited journalists, and set myself and my staff up as resources. Then, when I’m looking for coverage of something in particular, I can contact the journalists I already know. This strategy has always worked.

To understand customers’ needs, we used to conduct surveys and hold focus groups, not to mention simply picking up the phone. I’ve never assumed to know exactly what customers want, without using tools like this.

Then along came e-mail and web sites – much easier ways to communicate with journalists and customers. Now, I can e-mail, blog, text, or comment, in addition to calls or visits.

The advent of e-mail, websites and the subsequent online communities, such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, has made this process much easier. It has also propelled the idea of building communities to the forefront of companies’ communications plans.

It’s about time. I’ve been spouting this philosophy for years, much to the consternation of some former bosses and colleagues. Perhaps now they get it.


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