Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

August 18, 2015

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.

hookcyclebook

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).

hookcycle

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.

Afghanistan

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?

Snickers Does IMC Right

March 2, 2015

Snickers has done an incredible job with the You’re Not You When You’re Hungry campaign. I think it’s a shining example of integrated marketing communication.

Most importantly, the success of this campaign stems from an authentic expansion of their brand. Snickers has positioned themselves as a solution for being hungry. They are building off of their “hungry, why wait?” campaign and focusing on Snickers being a delicious treat to alleviate hunger.

What I really liked about the Snickers campaign was that it gave customers engaging content that was tailored to the platforms Snickers selected. Let’s take a quick look at how Snickers has expended their messaging across a few different platforms.

Print advertising: In their print ads, Snickers focused on showing regular, every day people doing things that were uncharacteristic for the activity they were performing. The ad below shows individuals that are unable to focus on the task at hand. These normal activities have become difficult and unmanageable because they’re hungry.

soccer1_1500

Television advertising: Many of us have seen the Snickers ads featuring Betty White and Joe Pesci portraying individuals who are, again, acting uncharacteristically because they are hungry. This idea furthers the central message of the campaign, but tailors the message so it enhances the medium. The addition of sound and motion means that simply recycling the print ads wouldn’t work.

Super Bowl Ad: In keeping with their celebrity theme, Snickers cast 70 year-old Danny Trejo to play Marcia Brady. The Washington Post considered it one of the best commercials of the game. Prior to releasing the Super Bowl spot, Snickers had a portrait of Marcia Brady painted on a building with the tag line #Whats UpWithMarcia. Over the course of a few weeks, the painters transformed the photo from Marcia to Danny Trejo. Recently, Snickers created a video of the building being painted as a kick off to their new U.S. promotion. According to AdWeek, customers can go to EatA.Snickers.com and post photos and videos of who they are when they’re hungry for a chance to win prizes.

Guerilla Marketing: This is probably my favorite tactic. Snickers put a photo booth on the street in Brazil. Customers entered the photo booth, had their photos taken, and then picked them up as the exited the photo booth. When they looked at the photos they were photos of other people. Again…furthering the message that you’re not you when you’re hungry.

But, did it work?

According to the 2011 Effie Awards, in the first three months of the campaign, Snickers saw global growth. In the United States alone sales volume increased 8% and single sales rose by 13.4%. Additionally, the year-on-year household penetration rose 1.8 percentage points after previously declining by 1.6.

Snickers seems to have found the prefect recipe for IMC. They started with an idea that was central to their core values and then they tailored each message to the medium they needed.

What other campaigns have you seen that resonate with you?

Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Web Metrics

February 19, 2015

If there’s one thing that I’ve realized since enrolling in the WVU IMC program it’s that IMC is most effective when it runs through the veins of an organization. I hope this series of posts will help you gain buy-in for your marketing efforts across you organization and I hope that you’ll comment and share what is working for you, or what you’re having trouble with.

You can gain a great deal of information from Web metrics and there are many ways in which Web metrics can be used “outside the marketing department.” I wanted to share two things that worked for our organization and encourage you to share your stories.

Which app comes first?

The ID card office on our campus was faced with a challenge. They had the opportunity to develop a smartphone app, but didn’t know which one would be the best choice for the initial launch. When we got together with the department we discussed the possibility of doing a survey. A simple smartphone poll on Facebook would have provided us with preliminary information to make our decision. We have had success with surveys on campus, but we didn’t want to over-survey our audience.

As a solution to the issue, we analyzed the Google Analytics of our overall Web site and the pages that are specifically dedicated to the ID card office. From the information provided in Google Analytics we could see the numbers of viewers that accessed our content on an iPhone or Andriod phone. Using Google Analytics was faster, easier, and provided more information than a survey.

Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 9.08.01 PM

Using Google Analytics helped us show the ID card office the importance of Web metrics, which helped gain support for further evaluating other marketing initiatives including paid advertising.

Paid ads

Again, the ID card office wanted to measure the success of a paid ad that was on the cover of a local publication. We created a unique URL in order to track the traffic. We knew it was not a perfect solution, but we also knew that it would help guide the advertising efforts of the office. The result: There were only two hits on the unique URL. That doesn’t measure awareness of the ad, but it does measure action.

Implementing IMC in your organization can be very challenging. What have you found that helps you take Web analytics “outside” the marketing department and further into the organization?

5 Reasons to Use Twitter Lists

January 28, 2015

What did I spend my Saturday night doing? Well, in between class readings and discussion posts I decided to re-organize my Twitter feed by updating my lists. I’ve used Twitter lists in the past, but my feed needed a mid-winter cleaning. I felt like I was seeing content from the same accounts all of the time and was missing great information.

If you’re new to Twitter, afraid of Twitter, or just need a reminder…Twitter Lists are a fun little feature that allow you to organize the people you follow. Twitter Lists make your life easier for a variety of reasons and my top 5 are listed below (in no particular order).

  1. Looks out for the little guy – The median lifespan of a Tweet is approximately 18 minutes. It is absolutely unrealistic to read every Tweet that flitters across your stream. Lists help organize content so that you have an easier time seeing content from people who Tweet less than every 18 minutes.
  2. Helps you find good content – A great feature of Twitter lists is that you can subscribe to lists other people make. Subscribing to the lists that your trusted contacts create helps you find more valuable people to follow.  Here’s a great WVU IMC list by Thomas Armitage.
  3. Organizes the people you follow – If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for Twitter accounts that share valuable information. I often see articles that featuring the top 50 people to follow for this reason or that reason, but after I follow them I forget why I did. Organizing the people you follow by content area allows you to easily remember why you’re following someone and what content they bring to the table.
  4. Bridges online and in-person relationships – You can also create Twitter lists for conferences that you’ve attended so that you can better manage how and where you meet people off-line. I have a list of Higher Education colleagues that I’ve meet through various conferences and events.
  5. Helps with Twitter chats – Twitter chats are a great way to build relationships online and learn more about a particular topic. Twitter lists can help organize contacts so that when you’re participating in Twitter chats it’s easier to filter information.  You’re never going to keep up with ALL the Tweets, but lists can help make the content more digestible and less overwhelming.

I will admit Twitter doesn’t necessarily make it easy to build lists. I had to go through all of the people I was following and add them to lists individually. You can do this by clicking on the gears icon and selecting add to/remove from lists. After a while, I had to take a break because I was repeatedly given error messages. The process is a bit time consuming if you’re trying to organize a large number of accounts. I highly recommend creating and adding to lists as you go.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.09.03 PM

To view your lists, click on your icon in the top right corner of the screen.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.08.32 PM

 

Twitter is a great resource and knowing how to manage it will help you get the most out of your Twitter experience.

What are some lists you’ve subscribed to?

Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Market Research

January 15, 2015

If you’re in a position similar to mine, you’re lucky enough to be part of the marketing department, but people don’t always understand or buy into what you’re trying to accomplish.  I still struggle to share the significance of marketing with our entire organization.  I strive to make marketing something that is seen as an overall asset to our organization – instead of a department I supervise.    IMC and branding are the keys to success for the entire organization.   As members of the WVU IMC program we know the importance of market research, but how do we get the ‘higher-ups’ on board with it?  I want to share with you my ideas and experiences on how to share the value and importance of marketing, specifically market research, with your colleagues and I hope you’ll join in the discussion, too!

One of the areas this has been essential to our organization was in our employee engagement area.  Over the past three years, we’ve been able to get every department on board with creating IMC campaigns.  (My IMC binder is the proud owner of 10 marketing plans.) This year we decided that we wanted to create a section of our target audience analysis specifically dedicated to achieving a better understanding of our student employees.  One of our organizational IMC goals is to increase brand awareness in our student employees.  We have approximately 100 students employees and they tend to graduate on a regular basis.  They’re an essential target audience of ours and we didn’t have the best understanding of who they were.

In order to remedy to this situation we conducted a survey of our student employees and learned a great deal of information that helps us not only better market to them, but also schedule events that better meet their other obligations. Our HR department was concerned with the attendance at their events. The information from the survey showed that 88% of our student employees are otherwise engaged on campus (student organization, other campus positions, or both). Knowing how busy these students are helps the department better gauge a realistic attendance number for their events. It also provides the marketing department with essential tactics that improve our internal communication.

In addition to marketing and program benefits, market research can improve the value of products in the lives of consumers. Market research helped to improve the Ford Escapes by developing the kick-activated liftgate. The commercial explains that the engineer on the project grew up on two continents and noticed that people always had their hands full. So, they created a kick-activated liftgate that made loading the vehicle easier. This essential information changed the features of the vehicle to make it more appealing to their target audience. Innovations such as this helps c-level executives see how, what is traditionally viewed as “marketing information”, can be beneficial for the entire company.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 9.59.57 PM

As marketers, it’s essential for us to showcase the value of marketing throughout the organization and its impact on products, services, and ideas. What have you done to help show the overall company benefit of market research?  Any advice you would like to share?


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