Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Top 10 Reasons to Love Social Media in Marketing

September 22, 2016

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1.Social media is present. – See things as they happen. Watch as conversations around your posts develop and mature over time. See what your consumers and clients are saying as they say it.

2.Social media is measurable. -You can track which messages are received the best by your followers. Data is present in almost every form of social media. Analyzing that data will give you actionable information to react to, whether that is discovering that sharing more photos will boost your click through rate or offering promotions as part of your posts will net your company more followers and likes.

3.Social media is fast. – Get your message out to your consumers faster without delays or airing schedules. Social media allows you to share things with clients and consumers faster than traditional media or news sources. If an event happens that paints your company in a bad light, you can use social media to respond and reassure your consumers all in one place hours before the evening news or newspaper.

4.Social media is able to put you where the customers are. – You can reach large amounts of people at the same time!. Social media gives you one more channel to allow consumers to discover your products or services without leaving the social media sites they already use.

5.Social media is global. – Anyone anywhere in the world can find you and follow you. Reach consumers in every country in the world through a social media site.

6.Social media is flexible. – There is a platform for everyone. Microblogging, blogging, pictures, videos – whatever the consumers would like to see, social media can do. The only limit is your imagination in how to use a particular platform to reach your consumers.

7.Social media is easy. – Almost everyone can use social media for their businesses. The platforms already exist, so no need to set up something special to try to reach consumers. No need for forums or listservs when your Twitter or Facebook account will serve the same purpose in getting out your message.

8.Social media is conversation. – Businesses can start a conversation with their followers and get in the minds of what they are really thinking. Hashtags and content tagging give consumers ways to find the content and allows you to link conversations as they happen. Follow the conversations through the content to find out what is really on your customers’ minds.

9.Social media is a way to see what your competitors are doing. – “Spying” is easy on social media. Discover what your business competitors are doing (or not doing) on social media and follow their trends and conversations to find out what is working and not working for them. Know why their customers love them and follow them. It may give you ideas about how to approach your own customers for the same products or services.

10.Social media is “digital word of mouth.” – Followers will share things with their own friends and families. This is probably the most powerful part of social media. Given the right motivation, enough people can share your message through “digital word of mouth” that no other advertising may be necessary. Find those passionate about your product or services and watch as they share that information with their own followers. Those followers may share that information, whose own followers may also share.

What are your favorite reasons to use social media in marketing?

From the Campaign Battlefront

April 19, 2016

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Rest assured, I am not writing a post about the 2016 election (you’re welcome). Rather, I’m reporting on my own mêlée: the exhausting, empowering, sometimes petrifying, but mind-blowingly rewarding human experience that is IMC 636 Campaigns. These last seven weeks and beyond have challenged me in more ways than I could have imagined, but I am seven days away from sending off what has become my most prized piece of work and alas, I can [almost] see the light at the end of the grad school tunnel.

sneak peek

Sneak peek!

For those of you who have achieved your MSIMC degree, perhaps you’re having flashbacks to those final days of scrambling, and for those who have yet to experience it, strap in. I know I’m making 636 sound like some untamable beast, but I assure you that this has been the most gratifying course of my college career. Today, between working full-time, building my IMC campaign, and teaching yoga on the side, I’ve somehow managed to find a free moment for reflection, and this is what I’ve realized:

The phrase, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” is a sham. I entered into this program because I love marketing communications, and I suspect that I share this passion with many of you, but I think that we can all agree that it will never not be work. This program, let alone this profession,  is undeniably challenging, and it requires large amounts of attention on a nearly daily basis. But what keeps us in the game is that feeling of pride after a job well done.

I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing IMC for the past month and a half, and not because I have to, but because I want to. Something shifts in you during the capstone course; the more effort you put into your campaign, the more effort you want to put into it. In the dwindling days between me and this due date, I genuinely look forward to sitting down at my computer to continue construction of my personal masterpiece. I’m reveling in the chaos, and that’s how I know I’m doing what I love. So, instead of aiming to never work a day in your life, aim to find something you love so much, you’re willing to work your ass off for it.

Using social media for qualitative research

November 10, 2015

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Market research is extremely important for marketing programs. Research helps companies develop products and services that meet the needs of their target customers. Qualitative research in particular is useful, because it involves figuring out what consumers think about certain products, services, or trends and why they think that way. Traditional qualitative research methods include focus groups, interviews, and observations. However, social media has opened up new ways to do qualitative research.

As I was searching the WVU e-library for information on market research, I came across an interesting academic journal titled Social media’s emerging importance in market research. The authors point out that traditional qualitative research can be costly. It’s also time consuming; it takes time to find consumers to study and to listen to them. However, social media advancements have made finding and listening to consumers easier.

Social media allows people to congregate at specific locations on the Web and share their ideas with each other. Additionally, many people do openly share their concerns, problems, and preferences on social media. Furthermore, this sharing happens instantly and transcends geography. People can get in touch with other people and even organizations no matter their location or time of day! This presents a great opportunity to directly engage with consumers and learn from them.

According to an article on Chron, the following are some steps you can take to come up with a plan for conducting qualitative research through social media:

1. Identify what kind of information you need to gather. For example, do you want to get consumers’ views on new menu choices, a new product, or website layout?
2. Figure out who you want to gather information from. Do you want to get the desired information from your target audience, past customers, or potential future customers?
3. Once you know who you want to gather information from, you will then need to figure out what social media platforms they “live” on.
4. Create the questions you want to ask. It is best to keep these questions concise and specific.
5. Determine the format you wish to present your questions in. This will partly be determined by the type of social media platform you are using.
6. Monitor social media platforms for responses to your questions.
7. Monitor social media platforms for mentions of your products, services, brand, or even the industry you are in. Many social media sites have search functions to help you with this task.
8. Analyze feedback from consumers to improve your business.

Here is a great graphic depicting the process:


Next time you have to perform qualitative research for a marketing program, think about the opportunities that social media presents!

Flex that Creative Muscle—Work out your Imagination!

September 15, 2015

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I’m a runner. More often than not, you’ll find me running countless laps around my neighborhood right after work. But, I didn’t always enjoy running. In fact, I used to be very bad at it. Back in high school, I would struggle to complete a mile in less than 15 minutes. However, after many years of conditioning and long runs, I have no problem running 5+ miles! Years of daily, hard aerobic workouts paid off, and now my mile time is around 8 minutes.

I believe it is also equally important to actively “work out” your mind. Depending on the type of mind exercises you do, you can improve your creativity and/or analytical thinking. As members of the marketing field, we need both creative and analytical thinking skill sets. So, why not set aside time to work out our minds so that we can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our creative and analytical thinking?

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Specifically, since I am currently in IMC 615 Creative Strategy, I want to focus on how to improve creativity. I wanted to share a few things that I personally do to exercise my mind. These “mind exercises” have helped me to become more creative and imaginative:

  1. Change your mindset. Switch from a “I can’t” way of thinking to a “what if?” mindset. This allows you to see a problem or a certain aspect of life from new and different angles.
  2. Daydream. There is no set way to daydream, but you should practice doing it. Personally when I daydream, I like to think of “what if’s” and turn them into detailed story plots. Therefore, daydreaming allows my mind to get better at creating stories and characters. In fact, storytelling has become very easy for me, because I daydream so much.
  3. Try something new. Break away from your routine. I like to take a Saturday trip once a month to visit a new place or State Park. Doing this opens my mind up to new experiences and new scenery.
  4. Immerse yourself in art—movies, paintings, music, sculptures, dances, theater, and novels. This allows you to see and experience other people’s perspectives and ways of thinking.
  5. Learn about other cultures and try to interact with people from those cultures. Many of us have narrow scopes and perceptions about the world; I know I did before I began traveling the U.S. and the world with the military. In fact, I once traveled to Africa for a month, and that experience opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and creativity. They had completely different lifestyles and artistic styles!

What about you? Do you have any specific “mind exercises” you do to improve your imagination and creativity? Please share!

Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

August 18, 2015

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Recently, I found myself on a trip for work that took me across the U.S. During the plane ride, I met an Army sergeant who was about to retire in a year and was working on his own small business. He told me that his business idea—a mobile phone app—was going to start out servicing his hometown area. He already had the programmers working on the app and he already had a target audience in mind, but he wanted to know more about how to market it during the product’s launch.

This immediately reminded me of the final paper I wrote for IMC 612 (Audience Insight).  For that paper, I chose to write about the power of electronic word-of-mouth marketing (e-WOMM) and how to use it to launch new products.

As many of us know, a significant number of new products fail. This could be due to a variety of factors such as a poorly designed product or a poorly designed marketing program.  However, if a product is designed well, meets the needs of the target audience, and is in demand, then a business needs to effectively break through the clutter and communicate the product/brand information to the target audience.

As I discovered when writing that final paper, word-of-mouth (WOM) is an effective tool to communicate this product information to the target audience. WOM involves consumers sharing information amongst each other whenever they are happy or dissatisfied with a product. Typically, traditional WOM refers to consumers physically talking to each other to share the information. e-WOM specifically involves consumers sharing this same information via the Internet through e-mail and social media. Businesses can benefit from this WOM because:

  1. Consumers perceive this WOM information as more credible when it comes from other consumers (as opposed to advertising which comes from the business)
  2. WOM (especially e-WOM) incurs very little monetary expense
  3. WOM leads to effective targeting because consumers will more likely share the product information with friends, family, and other acquaintances who have similar interests
  4. Through e-WOM specifically, information can be quickly spread to a large group of people

After discussing these points with the man on the plane, I told him how he could generate and manage e-WOM. First, I told him to become very familiar with the social media platforms that his target audience uses. Each social media platform is capable of different things, and each platform attracts a different crowd. Next, I told him to use these social media platforms (and other internet tools):

  1. To give his consumers something to talk about (i.e. good content)
  2. To create communities within his target audience and to connect them
  3. To work with influential groups/people that would interest his target audience
  4. To create advocate programs
  5. To study consumer feedback
  6. To engage consumers in open conversation
  7. To involve consumers in marketing projects

Then, after pointing out how to generate and manage e-WOMM, I talked about when the best time was to use WOMM tactics. When I was putting together that final paper for IMC 612, I discovered that using e-WOMM prior to the launch of a product was much more effective at enhancing product awareness and increasing the adoption of new products than using e-WOMM after the launch of a product or not using it at all.

Prior to the connectivity and speed of the Internet, conducting WOMM before a product launch was not as feasible. In fact, traditionally what would happen was that a product would be released, consumers would purchase it, and then consumers would talk about it. Now, however, the Internet has allowed businesses to efficiently share information about the product prior to its release and consumers can start having conversations with each other about it. In fact, consumers don’t even have to be on the same continent anymore to have these conversations!

Finally, I pointed out to the man on the plane that WOMM should not be the only marketing communications tool utilized for his product launch. It is very effective, but it should be incorporated with other marketing tools.

A Few Final Tips for the WVU IMC Program

July 15, 2015

kat shanahan wvu imc reed college of media

 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I keep reaching for my computer thinking that I have copy to write, an ad to design, or a budget to adjust. The reality is that I’m not missing anything. My final IMC campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is uploaded and in the mail.

I’d be lying if I told you submitting the campaign was all sunshine and puppies. I needed a reality check after I submitted it because I was worried that someone was going to steal the mailbox…yes…the entire mailbox. Putting everything you have into a campaign for roughly nine weeks takes a toll on you. I’m still working on processing the fact that I’m actually done, but as I reflect on my 3 years (90 weeks of class) in the program I wanted to share what I learned.

  1. Plan, but don’t over plan. I LOVE to plan.  I’m the kind of person that enjoys planning their free time. When I started the program I went through and planned out my entire schedule. I picked and scheduled all of my classes including my electives. While planning my academic future was beneficial, as I moved through the program my areas of interest changed. As I learned more about different areas of IMC I wished I could go back and change some of my electives. I will say it’s a good idea take your electives when they’re offered (because they’re not offered every term), but keep in mind that your interests may change over the course of the program.
  2. Remember why you’re doing this. Prior to enrolling in the WVU IMC program I told a friend of mine that I would never get a master’s degree. As I started to change my mind I looked at the WVU IMC curriculum and my mouth started watering. I fell in love with the content and immediately made connections between what I was doing at work and what was being offered in classes. I started this program because I wanted to grow as a professional. I didn’t start the program to earn As in all of my classes. It can be easy to get wrapped up in grades and making sure you get a 10/10 on discussion posts, but that’s not why we are here. Think back to your undergraduate days. Do you remember every single assignment in which you didn’t earn the grade you wanted? You’ll forget about grades, but you won’t forget about putting in the work and getting everything you can out of your time in the program.
  3. Get to know your professors: When I met Prof. Sader for the first time at INTEGRATE 2015 he told me that I worried too much. He was 100% correct. He also told me that he was there to be a mentor for me and not just give me a grade. He encouraged me to reach out with questions or problems. Professors actually want to help you grow as a professional. I didn’t take advantage of that enough while I was in the program. They want to get to know you and help you learn everything you can. Take advantage of that because you may not be able to find those resources elsewhere.
  4. Go to INTEGRATE! This is a big one. My entire graduate experience changed when I went to INTEGRATE. The second I stepped on campus I felt like a Mountaineer. You can’t get that feeling unless you visit campus. INTEGRATE is a fantastic conference. You get to meet classmates, build relationships, and talk to professors and program administrators, while hearing from amazing industry professionals. The first year I went I traveled by myself and knew no one in the program. Now, I’m in a book club with WVU IMC alumni and get to talk marketing with them every month. You never know who you’ll get to meet and connect with, so take advantage of it!
  5. Fill out course evaluations. I know this sounds like a plug on behalf of the program, but I promise you it’s not. My life motto is that I can’t complain about things I have the power to change but decide not to. So I either stop complaining or step up and do something about it. We have the power to implement positive change in the program, but change cannot happen if we don’t use the right channels.
  6. Develop your voice and personal brand. I’ve already shared my thoughts on personal branding, so I won’t bore you with that again. But, I will say that this is the time to experiment with your voice and your style. Use this as an opportunity show your style in a professional way.
  7. Develop and trust your process. In the program you’ll write roughly 99 discussion posts, 400 responses, 70 papers and 1 enormous campaign. Start to develop and trust your writing process. This took me a long time to develop and I’m still working on it. But here’s what I know
    1. I need to spit out a first draft before doing anything else (The Ugly First Draft if you’re an Ann Handley fan, which you should be.)
    2. I need to re-read things the next day
    3. Most of the time, I get a second opinion
    4. I need to cut myself off – If allowed, I will read and read and read until the absolute last minute. At some point, I need to stop overanalyzing and hit submit

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with 100 more things to keep in mind, but that I think it’s time to wrap things up.  If you’ve made it this far I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading my thoughts over the past few years and thank you for sharing yours. To all of you in the program – best of luck. You can absolutely do this and you will be a stronger marketer for it. Reach out to alumni if you need anything, we are nerdy marketers who love to connect with students in the program.

All the best,

Kat

Understanding Consumer Habits

July 9, 2015

One of my reoccurring goals is to read two books every month—one book that will help me professionally and one book that will entertain me. This last month I read a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal. This book was extremely applicable to marketing, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it.

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As marketing students, we know that consumer habits can be a huge competitive advantage. Habits are acquired behavior patterns and are formed by performing an action on a frequent, regular basis. Since they are done so often, habits sometimes become automatic and don’t require much thought. Many companies—especially those selling products with short re-purchase cycles—attempt to get consumers to form a positive habit or a regular routine with one of their products.

…So, what formula are the successful companies using to build habits and routines with their customers?

The book Hooked covers the 4 main steps of building habits with consumers. The author calls these steps the “Hook Cycle”: trigger, action, reward, and investment. A consumer must go through these steps multiple times in order to form a habit. A trigger can be any external or internal que that motivates a consumer to buy/try a product or service. An action is what behavior the company wants the consumer to do—this can range from simply clicking a “Find Out More!” button to actually buying or using the product.  Once a consumer performs the action, a reward of some sort is expected—such as a positive experience. Then after the reward, a consumer may choose to invest more time or money into the product or service.  If a consumer begins to invest, it increases the odds that the consumer will go through another round of the “Hook Cycle.” The book goes into great detail to explain these steps—it’s definitely a good read! (Also, I wanted to explain that consumers must positivity benefit from going through the Hook Cycle and building a habit—otherwise, this could become more of an addiction and could be considered unethical. Remember the main objective should aim at building positive, trusting, and engaging relationships with customers).

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I feel that this information is very applicable to marketing. A marketing campaign for a product or service should be designed with these steps in mind. For example, marketing efforts are extremely applicable during the trigger phase. Marketing tools such as advertisements, commercials, free samples/trials, and social media posts can create triggers, which are especially important if it is new product that is being introduced. These exposures of the product are external cues and need to be designed to motivate and/or remind people to try or use the product.

Another aspect where marketing could be integrated into the cycle is the reward phase. Brand positioning and marketing efforts should communicate what the reward is: social status, a fun experience, saving money, decreasing boredom, etc. Marketers should know their customers well enough to know what types of rewards will be useful and relevant….Do you have any other examples of how marketing efforts could be integrated into this “Hook Cycle?”

Hello from Vegas!

June 23, 2015

Comfort zones—we all have them. Some of us break out of them more easily than others. For me, this last year has been all about stepping outside my boundaries of comfort—such as deciding to pursue a significant career change and starting the WVU IMC graduate program. Also, becoming a student blogger definitely involved moving beyond my normal level of comfort. I have never blogged before, but I’m excited to write and share some experiences!

So, as one of the new IMC student bloggers, I just wanted to introduce myself to everyone! My name is Breanna, and I am currently working on a career transition out of the Air Force and into the marketing field. While the Air Force has been a great experience (I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan, Africa, Kuwait, and multiple states in the U.S.), it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.

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I have always been extremely intrigued by how businesses operate—but more specifically, how businesses develop and implement marketing programs. Every day we come into contact with different marketing programs through various communication tools such as commercials, sales promotions, social media, and advertisements. Each tool is used to send a message. Each marketing message tries to cut through the clutter and competition and attempts to make a connection with consumers. It’s all so very interesting, and I’m extremely glad that I get to develop these marketing communication skills in this IMC program.

I’m currently in my third course, and it has been a great learning experience so far. Despite the fact I have no background in marketing or business, I feel really comfortable with the class materials and assignments. So, for those of you who are interested in pursuing the IMC program, don’t worry if you have limited experience with marketing! Also, for those of you already in the program, I hope you enjoy the blog!

Email: bmschmidt@mix.wvu.edu

How To Name A Marketing Agency

April 13, 2015

The first surprising thing I discovered in my IMC Capstone journey is that naming a marketing agency really tests your creative skill. Idea? Google it. Already taken. Better idea? Backspace and Google again. Also taken.

It’s a process I recommend starting before Week 1 if you can. I learned to prioritize the “how” of my then yet-to-be-named agency. How did I want my agency to approach a client’s project? That starting point inspired me to then relate my concept to less-literal names, finally leading me to a winner.

During this process, I stumbled upon a helpful agency name graphic I hope you’ll find just as useful.

While I mostly recognized the Founder names, the other categories offered the most inspirational ideas during my brainstorming process.

Because Capstone requires you to thread your agency’s unique approach throughout your integrated marketing proposal for the chosen client, take some time to build a strong foundation for your project. Having a clear agency identity makes writing other sections in your project easier to accomplish because you have a defined perspective to work from.

WVU IMC alum, current and future Capstoners: What advice/comments/questions do you have about naming a marketing agency?

-R

Content Marketing is the New Black

March 4, 2015

There is a fundamental shift in the way that we create, consume and share content. To quote Marc Mathieu from Unilever, “Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it’s about telling the truth and sharing it.” With an ever-more crowded marketing environment, it behooves brands to move away from thinking like marketers or advertisers who are selling a product and more like publishers.

To do this, companies must create and curate relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage their target audience. While this is done with the objective of driving sales, it’s not truly advertising or public relations – rather it’s a bit of both. Content must be consumer and not brand-focused. It also must answer customer questions across the buyers journey. Successful branded content is often more effective than advertising because it tells a story that engages the user. These stories help to build stronger relationships. They make people care about a product, brand or cause in a way that sales can’t.

Even the news media is challenged by the increase in content marketing. Upstarts like BuzzfeedUpworthy, and Digiday, to name a few, are creating new news paradigms. In the past four years, nearly every media company has rolled out sponsored content as a new revenue stream, to varying levels of success.

As an example, let’s look at Buzzfeed. One could argue that the front page of BuzzFeed looks like a 21st-century tabloid. BuzzFeed provides shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to a global audience of more than 200 million. It isn’t the New York Times, but it may be a new iteration of the New York Times and the future of how consumers get news. Buzzfeed provides newsworthy content to consumers in digestible bites. These bites come in an assortment of styles ranging from listicles to infographics, timelines and more.

In owned social channels, brands must adopt a similar strategy if they hope to keep up. But, the content game is one that all companies must tackle with their eyes wide open. Content creation takes resources, insight, endurance and persistence. It is not about posting once a month and expecting to see sales gains. It takes a lot more time and effort.

Ultimately, there are 3 types of content that brands should try to incorporate into their marketing strategies, these are sometimes called the 3 “C’s” of content production. They are:

  1. Created. This could be dubbed the hardest part of content marketing. Creation happens when a brand or company makes entirely new content to put forth via their owned channels. Hubspot recently posted a blog outlining 44 types of content that can help to get your content creation juices flowing.types-of-content_(1)
  2. Curated. Curation is done when a brand finds pre-created content that engages the target audience, they then collect it and add in their own creativity to it. This could come in the form of offering an original spin on the initial content. The new breed of online publishers (Buzzfeed, Upworthy etc.) is, at the core, clever content curators.
  3. Crowdsourced. Consumers love to share content, whether it is photos, images, videos or content that resonates with them. Ask and you shall receive.

Ready to get started? Many brands have upped their content marketing game in the last year. This article from Outbrain, shares 6 epic examples from 2014.

What types of content marketing have caught your eye thus far in 2015?