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All posts by chuck

The Best Website Builder List for 2016

The Best Website Builder List for 2016

Wix is a drag-and-drop website builder, founded in 2006. They started utilizing HTML5 in 2012 and now power more than 70 million websites, with 44,000 new member sign ups every single day.Dominant features include free for life plans (hosted on Wix’s servers and domain), a large App market, hundreds of designer templates, mobile friendly layout and a vibrant community. Wix went public in 2013 and is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Did you happen to catch their latest Super Bowl ad?

Based in San Francisco, Weebly is another leading host and website creation service. Catering to freelancers, small businesses, and service providers that are building a website for the first time – Weebly is easy to use and fast to deploy. Some say they have managed to create appealing websites in under 15 minutes.

Being featured in magazines and journals, such as Entrepreneur & WSJ, they are praised for simplicity and versatile features, in addition to their ecommerce abilities. They are reasonably priced, and it is always good when a service includes a free-for-life plan as well. See our extensive Weebly themes and templates collection.

WordPress is a leading open source, PHP based content management system that reportedly powers more than 24% of the internet as of 2016. With a mission statement to “democratize publishing”, this blog solution is great for intermediate users, and enables endless possibilities due to a vibrant community and related marketplaces.

If you are looking for an ecommerce solution, Shopify might fit the bill. Based in Ontario, they were set to disrupt the online store market with a new solution that incorporates social channels, multiple high end integrated applications, and premium support.

Today, the company reports that more than 200,000 store owners use their online software and has even added offline features, like a point of sale system, which integrates into the online shop. They are a bit pricey but we do think Shopify is a great ecommerce solution, and they have a two week trial, too.

Bigcommerce, a privately held company, is another one of the big ecommerce solutions out there. They recently reported that more than 5 billion dollars in sales were processed, using their platform. Social and mobile integration applications were professionally executed, and the overall design and feel of the platform is inviting. We thought their pricing was fairly high and recommend using Bigcommerce if you already have some basic experience.

Drupal is known as an advanced CMS suited for advanced designers and developers looking to handle large traffic volumes and pages. Distributed under the General Public License and great for corporate users, Drupal gained traction and marketplaces for add-ons, designs and services sprouted over time. Drupal templates and themes are available at relatively low price.

Web.com is a publicly traded company, based in Florida, which offers web and marketing services to small – medium sized businesses. With millions of customers, thousands of templates to choose from, and great support, it’s no surprise they are one of the leading website creation services. That being said, Web only offers a limited free option, and most start with the monthly plan (which includes a .COM domain).

Web has introduced the “Website Coach” system, in which a certified expert guides you as you build your first website, including live help after the launch. Their system fits both first time novices and business.

GoDaddy started as a domain registrar and hosting provider back in 1997. They provide web creation services for personal and enterprise uses as well. Pricing for their various plans is competitive, compared to offered space and bandwidth. Although the brand is solid and known internationally, the service is not quite up to par with industry standards to our taste. You can definitely try GoDaddy, but there are better solutions in our opinion.

Chuck Reynolds

Contributor

Markethive

Leadership – How Can Leadership Programs Be Measured?

 

Leadership – How Can Leadership Programs Be Measured?

Perk up your discussion with these facts of leadership.

This short article on leadership aims at offering you with all the essential matter you will need to understand more about leadership. Read it well.

The nature and intent of that effect identifies the influence, instructions and outcome of leadership. Organizations depend on leadership for instructions, momentum and a plan for sustainable success. How can leadership be determined?

Usually, leadership is specified by attributes and results. Formal leadership development nearly always focuses specifically on qualities, relying on hope that results will take place.

Never hesitate to admit that you don't know. There is no one who knows everything. So if you have no idea much about leadership, all that needs to be done is to read up on it!

For instance, an individual in a leadership function is considered "successful." We want to replicate the leader's success, so we try to reproduce the qualities, skills, values, competencies, actions and habits of the leader. We try and edify to emulate these qualities in others, but we hardly ever get the same results. Business America is full of "competency-based" leadership development programs, what one might call the "injection-mold" technique. Competency-based leadership development has a result on organizational culture, no doubt, but not always the wanted result. Leaders who somehow "determine up" to the wanted proficiencies do not always produce wanted outcomes.

Ultimately, producing outcomes is the reason we study leadership, the factor we seek to establish leaders, the very factor we need leaders. So it stands to reason that leadership likewise has been determined based on the results produced, despite how those results were achieved. We require look no further than Richard Nixon or Kenneth Lay to recognize the downside of such one-dimensional steps.

Getting info on specific topics can be rather annoying for some. This is the factor this short article was composed with as much matter referring to leadership as possible. This is the method we intend to assist others in finding out about leadership.

The leader's function is to establish the conditions (the culture, the environment) under which others can take right action to achieve preferred results. "Desired results" are well specified by the vision, objective, values and objectives of the team or organization. Leadership is finest determined by the how well fans perform the vision, objective and goals while "living out" the desired values. This leads us to a brand-new property: that leadership must be measured by the results produced and how they are produced, as so often stated. There is a critical 3rd component, that is, by whom are the outcomes produced. This should rightfully be associated to individual action without any contributing impact from the habits of others if it is the leader that produces the desired results.

There is an apparent link between interaction and leadership– the fundamental reason for communication and for leadership is to prompt some kind of behavioral reaction or action. Fan habits, not leader habits, defines leadership. This might lead one to argue, mistakenly, that there is little difference between leadership and browbeating.

Utilizing the intuition I had on leadership, I thought that writing this article would undoubtedly be worth the difficulty. The majority of the pertinent details on leadership has been included here.

Ultimately, the brand of leadership we seek in contemporary life is best defined, developed and measured based on whether intended results are accomplished, how they are achieved, the value of these results to others, and whether fans take discretionary action to attain the leader's vision, objective and objectives. Leadership development need to be tied to planned results of those who are lead more than proficiency sets of those who lead.

All this matter was written with passion, which caused the speedy completion of this composing on leadership. Let this passion burn for a long time.

Ultimately, producing results is the reason we study leadership, the reason we seek to develop leaders, the very factor we require leaders. It stands to reason that leadership likewise has been measured based on the results produced, regardless of how those results were accomplished. There is an obvious link between communication and leadership– the standard factor for interaction and for leadership is to trigger some type of behavioral response or action. Eventually, the brand of leadership we seek in modern life is best defined, established and determined based on whether planned outcomes are attained, how they are achieved, the value of these outcomes to others, and whether fans take discretionary action to achieve the leader's vision, mission and objectives. Leadership development should be tied to planned outcomes of those who are lead more than proficiency sets of those who lead.

Contributor
Charles R Juarez Jr

Markethive

The Help in Organizing for Growth

The Help in Organizing for Growth

Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers in a company. We say this not to disparage marketers but to underscore how holistic marketing now is. To deliver a seamless experience, one informed by data and imbued with brand purpose, all employees in the company, from store clerks and phone center reps to IT specialists and the marketing team itself, must share a common vision.

Our research has identified five drivers of organizational effectiveness. The leaders of high-performing companies connect marketing to the business strategy and to the rest of the organization; inspire their organizations by engaging all levels with the brand purpose; focus their people on a few key priorities; organize agile, cross-functional teams; and build the internal capabilities needed for success.

Connecting.

In our work with marketing organizations, we have seen case after case of dysfunctional teamwork, suboptimal collaboration, and lack of shared purpose and trust.

Despite cultural and geographic obstacles, our high-performing marketers avoid such breakdowns for the most part. Their leaders excel at linking their departments to general management and other functions. They create a tight relationship with the CEO, making certain that marketing goals support company goals; bridge organizational silos by integrating marketing and other disciplines; and ensure that global, regional, and local marketing teams work interdependently.

Marketing historically has marched to its own drummer, at best unevenly supporting strategy handed down from headquarters and, more commonly, pursuing brand or marketing goals (such as growing brand equity) that were not directly related to the overall business strategy. Today high-performing marketing leaders don’t just align their department’s activities with company strategy; they actively engage in creating it. From 2006 to 2013, our surveys show, marketing’s influence on strategy development increased by 20 percentage points. And when marketing demonstrates that it is fighting for the same business objectives as its peers, trust and communication strengthen across all functions and, as we shall see, enable the collaboration required for high performance.

Another way companies foster connections is by putting marketing and other functions under a single leader. Motorola’s Eduardo Conrado is the senior VP of both marketing and IT. A year after Antonio Lucio was appointed CMO of Visa, he was invited to also lead HR and tighten the alignment between the company’s strategy and how employees were recruited, developed, retained, and rewarded. Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers. All employees, from store clerks to IT specialists, must be engaged in it.

Inspiring.

Inspiration is one of the most underused drivers of effective marketing—and one of the most powerful. Our research shows that high-performing marketers are more likely to engage customers and employees with their brand purpose—and that employees in those organizations are more likely to express pride in the brand.

Inspiration strengthens commitment, of course, but when it’s rooted in a respected brand purpose, all employees will be motivated by the same mission. This enhances collaboration and, as more and more employees come into contact with customers, also helps ensure consistent customer experiences. The payoff is that everyone in the company becomes a de facto member of the marketing team.

The key to inspiring the organization is to do internally what marketing does best externally: create irresistible messages and programs that get everyone on board. At Dulux, that involved handing paint and brushes to thousands of employees and setting them loose on neighborhoods around the world. Unilever’s leadership conducts a quarterly live broadcast with most of the company’s 6,500 marketers to celebrate best brand practices and introduce new tools. In addition, Unilever holds a series of globally coordinated and locally delivered internal and external communications events, called Big Moments, to engage employees and opinion leaders companywide directly with the broader purpose of making sustainable living commonplace. Research shows this has led to a significant increase in employee commitment. Nike has a marketing staffer whose sole job is to tell the original Nike story to all new employees.

Inspiration is so important that many companies, Unilever among them, have begun measuring employees’ brand engagement as a key performance indicator. Google does this by assessing employees’ “Googliness” in performance appraisals to determine how fully people embrace the company’s culture and purpose. And Zappos famously offers new hires $3,000 to leave after four weeks, effectively cutting loose anyone who is not inspired by the company’s obsessive customer focus.

Focusing.

When we asked eight global marketing executives in one organization to list their top five marketing objectives, only two goals made it onto everyone’s list. The remainder was a motley assortment of personal or local objectives. Such misalignment, our data show, increases the farther teams are from an organization’s center of power. With marketing activities ever more dispersed across global companies, that risk must be carefully managed.

By a wide margin, respondents in overperforming companies agreed with the statements “Local marketing understands the global strategy” and “Global marketing understands the local marketing reality.” Winning companies were more likely to measure brands’ success against key performance indicators such as revenue growth and profit and to tie incentives at the local level directly to those KPIs. Ironically, almost all companies were meticulous in planning and executing consumer communication campaigns but failed to devote the same care to internal communications about strategy. That’s a dangerous oversight.

Marc Schroeder, the global marketing head for PepsiCo’s Quaker brand, understood the need for internal cohesiveness when he led a cross-regional “marketing council” to develop and communicate the brand’s first global growth strategy. The council defined a purposeful positioning, nailed down the brand’s global objectives, set a prioritized growth agenda, created clear lines of accountability and incentives, and adopted a performance dashboard that tracked industry measures such as market share and revenue growth. The council communicated the strategy through regional and local team meetings, including those with agencies and retail customers worldwide, and hosted a first-ever global brand stewardship event to educate colleagues. As a result of those efforts, all Quaker marketing plans are now explicitly linked to one overall strategy.

Organizing for agility.

Our research consistently shows that organizational structure, roles, and processes are among the toughest leadership challenges—and that the need for clarity about them is consistently underestimated or even ignored.

We have helped design dozens of marketing organizations. Typically we enter the scene after a traditional business consultancy has done preliminary strategy, cost, and head-count analyses, and our role is to work with the CMO to create and implement a new structure, operating model, and capability-building program. Though we believe there is no ideal organizational blueprint, our experience does suggest a set of operational and design principles that any organization can apply.

Today marketing organizations must leverage global scale but also be nimble, able to plan and execute in a matter of weeks or a few months—and, increasingly, instantaneously. Oreo famously took to Twitter during the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl, reminding consumers, “You can still dunk in the dark,” making the brand a trending topic during one of the world’s biggest sporting events. That the tweet was designed and approved in minutes was no accident; Oreo deliberately organized and empowered its marketing team for the occasion, bringing agency and brand teams together in a “mission control” room and authorizing them to engage with their audience in real time.

Complex matrixed organizational structures—like those captured in traditional, rigid “Christmas tree” org charts—are giving way to networked organizations characterized by flexible roles, fluid responsibilities, and more-relaxed sign-off processes designed for speed. The new structures allow leaders to tap talent as needed from across the organization and assemble teams for specific, often short-term, marketing initiatives. The teams may form, execute, and disband in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the task.

New marketing roles.

As companies expand internationally, they inevitably reorganize to better balance the benefits of global scale with the need for local relevance. Our research shows that, as a result, the vast majority of brands are led much more centrally today than they were a few years ago. Companies are removing middle, often regional, layers and creating specialized “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and share best practices while drawing on needed resources wherever, and at whatever level, they exist in the organization. As companies pursue this approach, rules and processes need to be adapted.

Marketing organizations traditionally have been populated by generalists, but particularly with the rise of social and digital marketing, a profusion of new specialist roles—such as digital privacy analysts and native content editors—are emerging. We have found it useful to categorize marketing roles not by title (as the variety seems infinite) but as belonging to one of three broad types: “think” marketers, who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining, media-mix modeling, and ROI optimization; “do” marketers, who develop content and design and lead production; and “feel” marketers, who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in roles from customer service to social media and online communities.

The networked organization.

A broad array of skills and organizational tiers and functions are represented within each category. CMOs and other marketing executives such as chief experience officers and global brand managers increasingly operate as the orchestrators, assembling cross-functional teams from these three classes of talent to tackle initiatives. Orchestrators brief the teams, ensure that they have the capabilities and resources they need, and oversee performance tracking. To populate a team, the orchestrator and team leader draw from marketing and other functions as well as from outside agencies and consulting firms, balancing the mix of think, do, and feel capabilities in accordance with the team’s mission. (See the interactive exhibit “The Orchestrator Model.”)

Companies are using this model to create task forces for a range of marketing programs, from integrating online and physical retail experiences to introducing new products. When Unilever launched Project Sunlight—a consumer-engagement program connected with its sustainable living initiative—the team drew talent from seven expertise areas. The international cable company Liberty Global uses task forces to optimize the customer experience at key engagement points—such as when customers receive a bill. These teams are led by managers from a variety of marketing and nonmarketing functions, have different durations, and draw from each of the three talent pools in different measure.

The task-force model is both agile and disciplined. It requires a culture in which central leadership is confident that local teams understand the strategy and will collaborate to execute it. This works well only when everyone in the organization is inspired by the brand purpose and is clear about the goals. Google, Nike, Red Bull, and Amazon all embrace this philosophy. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos captured the ethos when he said at a shareholders’ meeting, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Building capabilities.

As we have shown, the most effective marketers lead by connecting, inspiring, focusing, and organizing for agility. But none of those activities can be fully accomplished, or sustained, without the continual building of capabilities. Our research shows pronounced differences in training between high- and low-performing companies, in terms of both quantity and quality.

At a minimum, the marketing staff needs expertise in traditional marketing and communications functions—market research, competitive intelligence, media planning, and so forth. But we’ve seen that sometimes even those basic capabilities are lacking. Courses to onboard new staff and teach targeted skills are just the price of entry. The best marketing organizations, including those at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and the Japanese beauty company Shiseido, have invested in dedicated internal marketing academies to create a single marketing language and way of doing marketing.

Senior managers across the company can benefit from programs for sharing expertise on consumer habits, competitor strategy, and retail dynamics. Virgin, Starbucks, and other corporations have created intensive “immersion” programs for this purpose. Executives at the director level can profit from advanced courses that focus on strategic considerations such as portfolio management and partnering. We find that senior leaders often gain a lot from digital and social media training, as they’re frequently less well versed in those areas than their junior colleagues are. Appreciating this, companies including Unilever and Diageo have taken their senior leaders to Facebook for training. We’ve collaborated with partners at Google, MSN, and AOL to develop similar programs, including “reverse mentoring,” which pairs very senior managers with younger staffers. Even the CMO can benefit from continued, targeted training. Visa’s Antonio Lucio, for instance, hired a digital native to teach him about social media and monitor his progress.

Underperforming marketers, on the other hand, underinvest in training. Their employees receive just over half a day of training a year, on average, while overperformers give people nearly two full days of tailored, practical training by external experts. At first blush, the Marketing2020 study reveals what you might expect: Marketers must leverage customer insight, imbue their brands with a brand purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience. They must connect, inspire, focus, organize, and build, as detailed here. The finding that’s striking—and should serve as both a warning and a call to arms—is that most organizations haven’t been able to put all those pieces together. Our data show that only half of even high-performing organizations excel on some of these capabilities. But that shouldn’t be discouraging; rather, it illuminates where there’s work to do. Regardless of how marketing delivers its messages in the future, the fundamental human motivations that marketers must satisfy won’t change. The challenge now is to create organizations that can truly speak to those needs.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Markethive

The Ultimate Marketing Machine

The Mighty Marketing Machine

Tools and strategies

 In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition. With the possible exception of information technology, we can’t think of another discipline that has evolved so quickly. Tools and strategies that were cutting-edge just a few years ago are fast becoming obsolete, and new approaches are appearing every day.

Yet in most companies the organizational structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago. Hidebound hierarchies from another era are still commonplace.

Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts. But in our research and our work with hundreds of global marketing organizations, we’ve found that those CMOs are struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. A simple blueprint does not exist.

Marketing leaders instead must ask, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.

To understand what separates the strategies and structures of superior marketing organizations from the rest, EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer)—in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab, and Adobe—initiated Marketing2020, which to our knowledge is the most comprehensive marketing leadership study ever undertaken. To date, the study has included in-depth qualitative interviews with more than 350 CEOs, CMOs, and agency heads, and over a dozen CMO roundtables in cities worldwide. We also conducted online quantitative surveys of 10,000-plus marketers from 92 countries. The surveys encompassed more than 80 questions focusing on marketers’ data analytics capabilities, brand strategy, cross-functional and global interactions, and employee training.

We divided the survey respondents into two groups, overperformers, and underperformers, on the basis of their companies’ three-year revenue growth relative to their competitors’. We then compared those two groups’ strategies, structures, and capabilities. Some of what we found should come as no surprise: Companies that are sophisticated in their use of data grow faster, for instance. Nevertheless, the research shed new light on the constellation of brand attributes required for superior marketing performance and on the nature of the organizations that achieve it. It’s clear that “marketing” is no longer a discrete entity (and woe to the company whose marketing is still siloed) but now extends throughout the firm, tapping virtually every function. And while the titles, roles, and responsibilities of marketing leaders vary widely among companies and industries, the challenges they face—and what they must do to succeed—are deeply similar.

Highlights from the Survey

Winning Characteristics

The framework that follows describes the broad traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. Let’s look first at the shared principles of high performers’ marketing approaches.

Big data, deep insights.

Marketers today are awash in customer data, and most are finding narrow ways to use that information—to, say, improve the targeting of messages. Knowing what an individual consumer is doing where and when is now table stakes. High performers in our study are distinguished by their ability to integrate data on what consumers are doing with knowledge of why they’re doing it, which yields new insights into consumers’ needs and how to best meet them. These marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths.”

The Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services, for instance, combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick with troves of data. Nike+ incorporates sensor technologies embedded in running shoes and wearable devices that connect with the web, apps for tablets and smartphones, training programs, and social networks. In addition to tracking running routes and times, Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes, and even coaches. Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress. An aspiring first-time half-marathon runner, say, and a seasoned runner rebounding from an injury will receive very different coaching. People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media, and can compare their performance with—and learn from—others in the Nike+ community.

Purposeful positioning.

Top brands excel at delivering all three manifestations of brand purpose—functional benefits, or the job the customer buys the brand to do (think of the pick-me-up Starbucks coffee provides); emotional benefits, or how it satisfies a customer’s emotional needs (drinking coffee is a social occasion); and societal benefits, such as sustainability (when coffee is sourced through fair trade). Consider the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which defines a set of guiding principles for sustainable growth that emphasize improving health, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods. The plan lies at the heart of all Unilever’s brand strategies, as well as its employee and operational strategies.

In addition to engaging customers and inspiring employees, a powerful and clear brand purpose improves alignment throughout the organization and ensures consistent messaging across touchpoints. AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands, offers a case in point. In 2006, AkzoNobel was operating a heavily decentralized business structured around local markets, with each local business setting its own brand and business goals and developing its own marketing mix. Not surprisingly, the outcome was inconsistent brand positioning and results; Dulux soared in some markets and floundered in others. In 2008, Dulux’s new global brand team pursued a sweeping program to understand how people perceived the brand across markets, paint’s purpose in their lives, and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments. From China, to India, to the UK, to Brazil, a consistent theme emerged: The colors around us powerfully influence how we feel. Dulux wasn’t selling cans of paint; it was selling “tins of optimism.” This new definition of Dulux’s brand purpose led to a marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.” It enlists volunteers, which now include more than 80% of AkzoNobel employees, and donates paint (more than half a million liters so far) to revitalize run-down urban neighborhoods, from the favelas of Rio to the streets of Jodhpur. In addition to aligning the once-decentralized marketing organization, Dulux’s purpose-driven approach has expanded its share in many markets.

Total experience.

Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. Some deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know about a given customer to personalize offerings. Others focus on the breadth of the relationship by adding touchpoints. Our research shows that high-performing brands do both—providing what we call “total experience.” In fact, we believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”

A spices, and flavorings firm, emphasizes both depth and breadth in delivering on its promise to “push the art, science, and passion of flavor.” It creates a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touchpoints, such as product packaging, branded content like cookbooks, retail stores, and even an interactive service, FlavorPrint, that learns each customer’s taste preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations. FlavorPrint does for recipes what Netflix has done for movies; its algorithm distils each recipe into a unique flavor profile, which can be matched to a consumer’s taste-preference profile. FlavorPrint can then generate customized e-mails, shopping lists, and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Markethive

Myths About Affiliate Marketing You Should Know

Myths About Affiliate Marketing You Should Know

There are lots of myths out there surrounding affiliate marketing, and these can frequently cause brands/businesses to pass on these kinds of programs. It’s important you understand some of these myths so you can make the correct decisions for the future growth of your business.

Whether you’re the brand manager at a Fortune 100 brand or the marketing director/everything else at a startup, setting up a solid affiliate program can open a revenue avenue without much of the hassle usually associated with setting up new marketing initiatives.

1. Affiliate systems are quick and easy to manage

An affiliate marketing program is a lot of work, and in most situations, there’s a lot of competition so you’re not going to be bringing in money immediately. Business owners and entrepreneurs suppose that all you need to do is setup a site and choose an affiliate to associate with and then just let it run its course. But according to Three Ladders Marketing, only 0.6% of affiliate marketers surveyed have been in the game since 2013. That means that affiliate marketing takes time and effort to build and make money.

Affiliate marketing myths busted. Source: tips.affiliatevote.com

The affiliate marketing business relies on fostering relationships. You foster these relationships by:

*Bringing the right partners into your program

*Seeking out better and more efficient partnerships

*Updating your content regularly to keep things new and fresh.

An affiliate program is only going to help bring traffic to your website or business; you are in charge of turning that traffic into conversions.

2. You need to work in a very popular and lucrative niche to make affiliate marketing work for your business.

A lot of companies do not even bother trying an affiliate marketing program because they think their market is too little. Some companies will try and break into bigger niches even if they don’t have any interest in the market niche.

It is true that popular niches do better with affiliate marketing, but that doesn’t mean you do not have a chance at success. Stay in line with the goals and mission statement of your company and find affiliates who understand the relevance of working in a market where you are comfortable.

3. Affiliate marketing is a strategy of yesterday

Due to Google’s new algorithms for SEO, link building is becoming outdated which can discourage affiliate activity. Even if this is the case, there are many new ways to use SEO and build your brand.

You might come across a couple of link problems with Google if you are not managing your program, but for the most part the entire notion of affiliate marketing still makes sense to Google –it offers another relevant and related resource to consumers.

4. Success in affiliate marketing comes from getting your product on as many sites as possible

The best way to think about affiliate marketing is quality over quantity. There are a lot of small websites that will promote your product, but the key is finding a small number of partners that will deliver conversions. For example, an equity management services firm has over 20,000 affiliates in its system, but only about 25 affiliates generate 85 percent of revenue.

The real deliverables will be dependent on locating the right affiliates, big or small, which drive results. According to the same study done by Three Ladders Marketing, the most traffic for affiliates were driven by SEO, 79% and social media, 60%.

Although studies show that affiliate marketing isn’t easy, as you remember to foster relationships, focus on your niche, focus on a few key affiliates, and create a system that generates performance for both the advertiser and the affiliate you can drive profit and conversions for your small business.

Affiliates Beware

There are caution flags, however, when it comes to affiliate marketing. In a piece late last year, Affiliate Theft Could Be Costing You Millions, Forbes contributor Jabez LeBret wrote of unscrupulous affiliate marketers’ tactics which cost brands and businesses millions of dollars every year.

LeBret adds that affiliate theft”…could be preventing you (brands/businesses) from beating profit expectations while making it difficult for you to properly allocate your marketing budget to programs that are working.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

What, Exactly, Is Business Development?

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What, Exactly, Is Business Development?

 

“Do biz dev.”

Few times in history have more ambiguous words been spoken.  Ask ten “VPs of Business Development” or similarly business carded folks what is business development, and you’re like to get just as many answers.

“Business development is sales,” some will say, concisely.

“Business development is partnerships,” others will say, vaguely.

“Business development is hustling,” the startup folks will say, evasively.

The assortment of varied and often contradictory responses to the basic question of “what, exactly, is business development” reminds me of the way physicists seek to explain what, exactly, is the universe.  With conflicting theories on the nature of black holes and bosons, the ultimate goal for those scientists is a Grand Unified Theory, a single definition that can elegantly explain how the universe itself operates at every level.

Lacking any concise explanation of what business development is all about, I sought to unite the varied forces of business development into one comprehensive framework. And eureka, for I have found it – the Grand Unified Theory of business development:

 

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.

There is elegance in simplicity, but perhaps this definition leaves you    wanting more.  At its heart, business development is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth.  But a theorem requires a proper proof, so let’s break that statement down:

 

Long-Term Value

First, what do I mean by “long-term value?”  In its simplest form, “value” is cash, money, the lifeblood of any business (but it can also be access, prestige, or anything else a company seeks in order to grow).  And there are plenty of ways to make a quick buck for you or your company.  But business development is not about get-rich-quick schemes and I-win-you-lose tactics that create value that’s gone tomorrow as easily as it came today.  It’s about creating opportunities for that value to persist over the long-term, to keep the floodgates open so that value can flow indefinitely.  Thinking about business development as a means to creating long-term value is the only true way to succeed in consistently growing an organization.

Customers

The “customers” portion of the definition may be slightly more obvious – customers pay the bills.  They are the people who pay you for your products and services, and without them, you won’t have any business to develop.  But not everyone is a natural customer for your business. Maybe your product doesn’t have the features I’m looking for.  Maybe your product is perfect, but I don’t even know your company sells it.  Or maybe you’re not reaching me because you’re not knocking on my door.

Markets

That’s because customers “live” in specific markets.  One way to understand markets is by geography – if I only focus on selling in the U.S. but you reside in London,  then you are currently unavailable to me as a customer as I do not currently reach the European market.  But customers also “live” in markets that are defined by their demographics, lifestyles, and buying mindset.  Identifying opportunities to reach new customers by entering into new markets is one important gateway to unlocking long-term value.

Take for example the Pet Owners market.  The customers who live there, of course, are people who own cats, dogs, fish, etc.  Petco is a company that clearly sells to customers who live in the Pet Owners market.  I, on the other hand, do not have a pet.  I don’t live in the Pet Owner market. So what if Petco wanted to sell something to me? Then they’d need to find a way to enter into a market where I do live.  For example, I have red-hair and pale skin and as such, I am prone to spontaneously combusting when exposed to the sun.  Therefore, one market that I “live” in is the Sunscreen Buyers market.  If Petco wanted to sell something to me, perhaps they can find a way to enter into that market by offering sunscreen, hats, or sun-reflecting aluminum foil suits.  Now, determining whether that’s a good idea or not for Petco to do so is a job for the business development team – and another story for another blog post.

Relationships

And then there were “relationships.”  Just as the planets and stars rely on gravity to keep them in orbit, any successful business development effort relies on an underlying foundation of strong relationships.  In Building, managing, and leveraging relationships that are based on trust, respect, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s value is fundamental to enabling the flow of value for the long-term.  Relationships with partners, customers, employees, the press, etc. are all critical to the success of any business development effort and as such, they demand a bold-faced spot in any comprehensive definition of the term.

So, is business development actually sales?  Is it partnerships?  Is it all about hustling? Well, frankly, yes.  It’s all of the above and as we’ll see in future posts, it’s much more.  It’s a complicated and fascinating discipline that deserves a clear understanding so that we can marvel at the beauty of a well-done deal as much as the stars.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

The Many types of Marketing

The Many types of Marketing

Forms of Marketing

Lots of people are talking about all the new forms of marketing a company can pursue. It’s true, certain traditional marketing has been around for a long time and is still used today, but with the Internet now playing such a huge role in any company’s success, people are coming out with more and more ways to market their products or services. The more we thought about all the different varieties of marketing, the more we realized there are so many different ways to promote something. Here’s a list of marketing terms that we hope you find useful:

Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is any marketing strategy that takes place online. Also referred to as online marketing, it encompasses a variety of marketing forms like video advertisements, searchengine marketing and e-mail marketing. It is the opposite of offline marketing, and can also fall under digital marketing. Internet marketing needs a good approach in areas of design, development and advertising. A company with a total website marketing plan will have more success online than one that has just designed a website without thinking of how to market their company through it.

Offline Marketing

Offline marketing, the opposite of online marketing, includes all forms of marketing that aren’t done on the Internet. Examples of offline marketing are local advertising in newspapers and on television. In today’s marketing world, companies are finding ways to leverage their offline marketing campaigns with their online ones, making them complement each other.

Outbound Marketing

When you think of marketing, the different forms you come up with are mostly outbound marketing (also called traditional marketing). In fact, the majority of companies today are using different types of outbound marketing to reach their potential customers. Outbound marketing includes any marketing efforts that are taken to introduce a product or service to someone who isn’t looking for that product or service. Some examples are cold calling, sending newsletters, billboards, and banner ads on different websites.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing focuses on having your company found by customers, as opposed to reaching out to them directly like in outbound marketing. The important thing to remember here is that a person starts out with the want/need to purchase a product or service, and they go out to find it. When they search for that product/service on a search engine, the search engine results page will show inbound marketing results. Instead of using paid advertisements, inbound marketing is the search engine optimization (SEO) part of web marketing.

Newsletter Marketing

Newsletter marketing and email marketing refer to ways of promoting your company through emails. Typically, a firm using newsletter marketing will have a group of contacts that they will send a newsletter containing some interesting information to. The success of newsletter marketing depends on grabbing attention, writing good content and reaching a large number of potential clients.

Article Marketing

Businesses will often write articles related to the industry they are in and distribute them online and offline. These free articles will inform people about an important topic and give the company that wrote it more credibility within the market. The organization can also include their business contact information in the article, allowing them to get new clients.

Trade Show Marketing

Companies that want to reach a large number of potential customers can participate in public or private trade shows. Trade shows and other forms of event marketing are often a large investment to participate in, but trade shows allow companies to demonstrate new products and examine what is going on in the industry.

Search Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the way in which companies promote their business through paid placement on search engines like Google. Instead of increasing the organic search results that a website has, companies will pay to have their advertisements in the sponsored section of search engines. This is also known as Pay Per Click Advertising or PPC.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing’s main goal is to send a message directly to consumers, without having to use any third-party outlets. Examples of direct marketing include mail marketing, telemarketing, and direct selling. Direct marketing is often preferable because the results can be easily measured, giving the marketer a better understanding of the success of that campaign.

Niche Marketing

When a product or service is not being readily supplied to a certain portion of a market, a company can focus their efforts on that niche to address a need that isn’t currently being addressed. This targeted marketing is successful because the marketer has identified a need that isn’t being resolved by mainstream providers. Sometimes it is beneficial for a company to focus on a niche instead of trying to compete in a larger market.

Drip marketing

Drip marketing is the act of sending out scheduled targeted emails that are all coordinated to a specific goal of client conversion. The sender uses email marketing software that allows them to setup multiple emails at one time and let them “drip” over time. This sometimes includes phone calls to check in on the clients along the way.

Social Media Marketing

Social network marketing and social media campaigns provide a window to market a product or service on the Internet through different social networks. Companies can use these outlets for their marketing, customer service, and sales. The most common and successful means of social media marketing are found on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and even company blogs.

Referral Marketing

One of the less strategic types of marketing, referral marketing relies on a company’s customers to refer new customers to that company. Also called word of mouth marketing, this is a more spontaneous way of receiving new business, and can not be solely relied on because results aren’t very predictable. However, word of mouth is still a powerful part of a company’s efforts to bring in new business, especially in the social media community where communication travels freely.

Guerrilla Marketing

With a smaller budget, guerrilla marketing makes a splash by relying on energy, timing and unusual approaches to get the consumer’s attention. The unconventional marketing involved tries to get the most out something small and make a lasting brand image in the consumer’s mind.

Promotional Marketing

Promotional marketing is a common form of marketing strategy that companies use to motivate a consumer to make a decision and purchase their product. There are a number of ways that businesses will promote a product or service, including holding contests to win a prize, offering coupons for purchasing a product at a discount, and having samples of the product so people can experience it before they purchase.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing most likely involves four different groups that contribute to the marketing effort. The Merchant is the company that is producing and selling the product, the Network is the outlet that is used to promote the affiliate link, the Publisher or Affiliate is the person who has the website with the affiliate ad and of course the customer doing the purchasing. Affiliate links are found on all types of websites, and they are used to drive traffic to outside websites.

Viral Marketing

This type of marketing relies on the message of a marketer being spread quickly through various social networks in order to increase brand awareness. The name viral marketing stems from the rapid spread of viruses in general. Typically, a viral marketing campaign will not last as long as other marketing efforts, but if a company can come up with a good idea for viral marketing and reach the right people, it will become highly successful in a short amount of time.

B2B Marketing

Any type of business, whether an organization, individual, government or other institution that markets to other businesses is involved in a business to business marketing. Since B2B marketing involves companies trying to sell mass quantities of product to one another, there is a more personal relationship that needs to be established between businesses. If your company sells to other businesses, your marketing efforts will most likely be more direct.

B2C Marketing

Business to consumer marketing campaigns try to reach a category of people that will be likely to purchase their product or service. The marketing efforts the company takes should be broader than B2B, which focuses on specific companies. B2C marketing can involve different marketing techniques such as door to door marketing, promotion marketing, newspaper marketing, television marketing and radio marketing. In today’s marketing world, B2C Internet marketing is becoming more important to reach consumers.

Mobile Marketing

Along with Internet marketing, mobile marketing is part of the newest groups of marketing activities. Companies have been experimenting with the certain ways to reach consumers through their phones, especially with the rise of Apple’s iphone. Some ways to marketing a product or service through a mobile phone include SMS marketing, in-game marketing, banner marketing on different web pages and location based marketing.

Reverse Marketing

This form of marketing is similar to inbound marketing. The goal of reverse marketing is to market a product in a way that will cause the consumer to seek the firm doing the marketing. Reverse marketing can be conducted through such means as television, print, and Internet marketing. If a company has a product that solves a problem in the market, they will have more success using reverse marketing because they will seek out that product.

Telemarketing

A form of direct marketing, telemarketing’s focus is on reaching consumers by phone. Most of what we think of as telemarketing is cold call marketing, which is unpopular and has lead to laws being created against it. However, telemarketing can be effective if the right person is reached on the phone at the right time.

Direct Mail Marketing

Most people receive large quantities of marketing material in the mail, which is considered direct mail marketing. Companies will send paper mail with promotions or other information to a list of addresses, usually in a common geographical area. This form of marketing is also called junk mail by some because the customers receiving the mail aren’t expecting it and usually don’t want to open it.

Database Marketing

Database marketing is similar to other types of direct marketing, but the focus is more directed towards analyzing data. Companies try to narrow their marketing efforts down to certain groups of people, and they use database marketing to analyze statistics like name, address, or sales history, in order to create the most accurate model possible.

Personalized marketing

The goal of personalized marketing is to create a unique offer for each individual customer. This form of marketing doesn’t work for every company, but certain ones can capitalize on their unique products and customer demographics to market to individuals. With the Internet becoming a more popular place for marketing, companies are finding that personalized marketing is effective in cases when they can track a customer’s specific interests and send them more information for future suggestions.

This list should give you a good idea of different ways companies can market themselves to consumers or other companies, but there are still more types of marketing out there. If you think of any, let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Depending on your company and the industry you are in, you will definitely choose different kinds of marketing that will produce the best results for you. No matter which type of marketing you want to use for your company, Design & Promote can help you research and implement a marketing campaign that will allow your company to win the consumer’s attention and hold the search engine results. Contact us today to explore more ways Design & Promote can help market your company.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Why is Content marketing Important?

Why Content Marketing?

Why is Content marketing  Important?

Perhaps more important than understand is what content marketing is, Is understanding why content marketing is important to your business. First, we need to understand the four steps of the buying cycle:

  1. Awareness. Prior to awareness, a customer may have a need, but they are not aware there is a solution.
  2. Research. Once a customer is aware there is a solution, they will perform research to educate themselves. For example, a car buyer will try to find out what different types of cars exist, and which one will fit their needs.
  3. Consideration. At this point, the customer starts comparing different products from different vendors to make sure they’re getting a high-quality product at a fair price.
  4. Buy. Finally, the customer makes their decision and moves forward with the transaction.

Traditional advertising and marketing is great when it comes to the second two steps. Content marketing taps into the first two stages of the buying process by raising awareness of solutions and educating consumers about a product they may have never considered before.

At my own company, we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high-pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.

The return on investment for content marketing can be phenomenal if executed correctly. We haven’t spent a dime on our own content marketing, or even that much time. 95% of the success we’ve experienced with content marketing can be traced to a handful of articles I’ve written, adding up to perhaps 20 hours of work.

Content marketing also provides additional benefits in that it supports other digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. In fact, for many companies, the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.

How Do I Get Started?

There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger, you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.

Great Content

If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100-minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.

The #1 Secret of Content Marketing

Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We’ve already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does look at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos because they’re getting the value they want–good skating. As a skater, I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.

If you’re not sure how you can add value through content marketing, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now, or would have been helpful to them when they were looking for your product or service. They’ll tell you.

How Can I Learn More?

Read Joe Pulizzi’s excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers can access content. Also, read Michael Hyatt’s Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won’t take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.

Most companies are not doing real content marketing…yet. That’s why you’ll have an advantage if you jump in.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

What is Content Marketing?

What Is Content Marketing?

         There's digital marketing for the entrepreneur as well as the CMO.

You’ve just heard someone mention “content marketing” and you get the idea you should already know what it is, but you’re too embarrassed to ask anyone. Congratulations, this post is for you. The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing thusly:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course, the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.

Five Content Marketing Examples

There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content–far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.

 
  1. Infographics. These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing curated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.
  2. Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
  3. Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast–all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
  4. Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high-quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
  5. Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”

Those are just a few examples of content marketing. I could also have mentioned white papers, ebooks, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs. Entire books have been written on using each of these in content marketing efforts.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

 

Markethive

Inbound vs. Outbound: Part 2

Inbound vs. Outbound: Part 2

Why is inbound marketing better than outbound marketing?

Outbound Marketing: With outbound marketing, you are always the footnote. You are forced to stick out or not be seen at all. It makes your relationship with your customer based on attention-grabbing rather than value. If you are at the trade show you can have the best booth with the best giveaway prize, but you are not the keynote speaker. When you are advertising at the Super Bowl you can be the best commercial but the best commercial is merely a footnote to the main event. At best, with outbound marketing you might strive to be the best footnote. Unfortunately, to stick out in traditional advertising you usually have to sacrifice your message for a gimmick and hope that some of the people who see the gimmick look closely enough for the footnote.

Inbound Marketing: With inbound marketing, you are the story. You are the keynote speaker. Inbound marketing is all about creating great content to share with your audience. It’s about telling stories and speaking to your audience where they want to be spoken to, how they want to be spoken to. It’s about delighting them, educating them and engaging them in an open and transparent way. But inbound marketing is much more than simply being the keynote speaker at the trade show; it’s about being the article featured on the cover of the magazine. It’s about being the most valuable player at the Super Bowl. And when done correctly, inbound marketing can open up these amazing distribution channels that make it so you don’t have to wait for the next trade show, the next magazine or next year’s Super Bowl to show off your brand. You can do it on-demand with laser-like precision penetrating a group of your peers and the influencers in your industry.

Linear vs. Holistic

Best inbound marketing linear vs holistic

Outbound Marketing: With outbound marketing, the strategy is very linear. You only have so many marketing mediums to choose from like radio, TV, direct mail, tradeshow, billboard, sponsorships, etc. With this linear strategy, you assess which mediums most accurately address your target market and you start checking the boxes. You begin to attribute higher percentages of your budget to the more effective mediums and leave out the least effective mediums. You create a unified message across all mediums, and your job is done for the period. Come back again next period, sift through the data, reassess the percentages and do it again. Digital marketers can make the mistake of approaching the web with this outbound marketing approach. Social media, check! SEO, check! Email marketing- check!

Inbound Marketing: With inbound marketing, the strategy is holistic. Inbound marketing is a much more complex approach than outbound marketing. It takes simultaneous usage of all the digital channels, continuous strengthening of the website, development of effective content and implementation of measurement tools all in concert with one another to achieve these unparalleled results. Many digital marketers don’t understand the complexities, they stick with the approach that they are comfortable with, the outbound or linear approach applied to the digital world. This approach gets you the traditional results. The difference between digital marketing and inbound marketing are the complexities and the holistic approach.

Inbound marketing is like a holistic lifestyle — in order to carry out an inbound marketing campaign, a website needs to have a strong foundation. It needs to be in good enough shape to carry out strong messaging, a content marketing strategy and be a hub for distribution. It needs to have a blog, it needs to be responsive, it needs to have a call-to-action strategy, it needs to have micro and macro conversions and it needs to have an easy-to-use CMS. Once the website is in shape, the content can be created and the distribution can begin.

Content creation needs to be engaging and meet the objectives of your keyword strategy. The distribution needs to tap into all avenues: RSS-fed email for blog subscribers, social media channels, lead nurture campaigns, etc. But it is not the linear check-box approach of outbound. Inbound requires daily attention with constant analytical review. Like a holistic healthy lifestyle, it requires discipline and fortitude. Sometimes you need more content, sometimes you need more distribution, sometimes more landing pages, sometimes more blog posts, sometimes better conversion rate optimization, sometimes a stronger call-to-action strategy, but it always takes adjustment and strategy.

When a holistic inbound marketing strategy is hitting on all cylinders, your website is rock solid, your distribution is amplified and your distribution channels are feeding the website a steady diet of visitors, where prospects are being converted with the utmost optimization.

Obfuscate vs. Educate

Outbound Marketing: With outbound marketing, the message is inherently obfuscated, duplicitous and full of shit. It has to be. With very little room to work with, whether it be in a newspaper ad or a few seconds on the radio, the goal of outbound marketing has always been to stand out. And in order to do this, to be a clutter buster, the relationship with the client is compromised. Think about it: how else can we get someone to see your mortgage product in a quarter-page ad at the bottom of an article about Obamacare? If you’re lucky enough to know where the ad will appear, you can try to force the message to fit the audience, but this rarely succeeds, and more often than not, you’re trying to message males and females ages zero to one hundred with the same message. It’s all one big hoax. Misdirection. It’s pulling that shiny quarter from behind your ear.

Inbound Marketing: With inbound marketing, the message is specific and useful. Rather than forced upon you, the message is instead offered up on a nice shiny silver platter — ready for you to consume whenever convenient. This message contains quality content that educates and engages. It’s meant to answer a consumer’s question, to fill in the blank. I remember not long ago when marketing professionals would advise their clients to create deep discounts and BIG sales and then advertise them to the masses. The thought process was that more consumers would then thereby seek out the product and the increase in customers made up for the lost product value. The idea that I got paid to offer up that piece of bullshit advice is astonishing. The reality today is that instead of advising our clients to slash prices or advertise on all mediums, we instead encourage them to offer something of even greater value — thought leadership (and if we have to offer discounts, we offer them to our loyal brand ambassadors… a reward for subscribing).

Renting vs. Owning

Outbound Marketing: With outbound marketing, you are always renting your distribution. As most advertisers know, you’re only as good as your last campaign or your last media buy. If it works and sales get a bump, it’s on to the next campaign. If it fails, then jobs and budget are on the line. With an outbound campaign like direct mail, the leads come in for a couple weeks when the mail’s hitting households. Once those leads are processed and the mail is distributed, you need to start again, new message, new distribution.

All marketers know there is only one good tradeshow a year, the rest are all washes. The Super Bowl only comes once a year, the World Cup eventually comes to an end, and the newspaper gets recycled tomorrow. Nothing in outbound marketing is iterative, and there are always costs associated with lead generation. This often makes for a negative ROI, finicky CEOs and an overall high-pressure job.

Inbound Marketing: With inbound marketing, you own your distribution and it depreciates much more like an asset. You build up your subscription-based email list, you earn a top ranking on product-related keywords, you build a following on social media and voilà: you are creating assets. There is a cost of acquisition (creating the content), but it is iterative and it keeps working for you long after you stop the acquisition/creation phase.

For the first time in a marketer’s career, we are creating value that will last beyond our tenure. Create a 20,000-person email list, acquire 50,000 social media fans, rank in the top 10 for 400 plus keywords with a total search volume of 1 million monthly searches and you’ve created a Super Bowl opportunity every month of the year. There are companies (Hubspot) literally lobbying our federal government to allow them to book inbound marketing as an asset instead of an expense. It makes a lot of sense. If you have 10,000 blog posts generating 1,500 leads per month through online searches and you stop posting for a year, that lead volume will likely only diminish slightly. Over the years, you might see some fall-off, but it is a lot more like depreciation of traditional assets. Needless to say, this is the type of marketing that makes CEOs happy and makes heroes out of the marketing department.

Immeasurable vs. Quantifiable

inbound marketing vs outbound marketing - immeasureable vs quantifiable

Outbound Marketing: With outbound marketing, the success of the marketing is hard to measure. We can ask our prospects how they heard of us, but in general, the results are unreliable. This makes for a margin for error that is inherent within this archaic and linear model of marketing. Sure, it’s great to hear that the company call center received a few dozen calls as a result of a targeted marketing effort. It’s also great when someone fills out the “How Did You Hear About Us?” form, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. The margin of error occurs when you assume you know the whole story and assumptions lead to underperforming campaigns. The measurement of outbound marketing lacks complexity and a lack of complexity leads to a lack of results.

Inbound Marketing: With inbound marketing, everything is digital, and everything is quantifiable. There’s no need to assume anything. Complex algorithms track not only if your marketing strategy is effective, but also if it is converting potential customers into full-blown clients. An inbound marketing strategy is highly measurable. It allows for analysis of everything from the ROI of various distribution methods to whether the size and shape of a CTA button is more likely to attract a customer or not.

What I love most about inbound marketing is that it allows for closed-loop reporting. It lets me track someone’s IP address from the second it hits our website; it tells me how that IP address got there and how much time it’s spending on the site. It gives me an in-depth glimpse into the thought process of a consumer — showing me which blog posts they have read, which pages they viewed, whether they entered the site organically or through another avenue like social media, and lead generation metrics. Again, inbound marketing is highly measurable.

Inbound marketing succeeds because it allows you to talk to people who have given you permission, and to tell your story in a holistic, educational way on your own distribution platform, with quantifiable metrics. We know this to be true because we’ve experienced the shift, from our founding days in branding in 2001, through the rise of the digital marketing age and into this new era of inbound marketing. Why is inbound marketing better than outbound marketing? It works. We’ve made it work for us and our clients. Talk to us to see how we can make it work for you.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

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