Does community always matter?

April 6, 2016

…and additionally, is “community” always the same or does community look differently depending on time, circumstance and context?

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A Cosplay gathering (Image courtesy Pixabay user nile | CC0 Public Domain)

Brain Solis has been quoted as saying: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” The sentiment expressed here seems to be that belonging for the sake of belonging may drive longevity, but it definitely does not drive engagement. At least not in long run. Engaging together as a group in an activity is what makes belonging matter…at least from a community building perspective.

But is that actually so? Do we need to be involved in the sense of “doing something together” to be a community? Does community always equal engagement? Are communal activities always needed to drive community?

It seems to me that sometimes, we just want to be a part of a community, and that there are different levels of commitment, but all may be communities. After all, there are valid arguments that belonging matters more than engagement in the sense of shared activity: it matters to us for visibility…or the size of the group may be what matters… or we may belong because the group inspires trust. In fact, there seem to be times when just belonging for the sake of belonging is what matters. And these “communities” are often vibrant. The real question though may well be: are they long lasting or just a moment in time?

I have listed some references below that speak to various aspects of this thought. I’d like to know yours.

Just belonging matters:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201203/it-is-motivating-belong-group

http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/18/belonging-matters-researchers-halve-racial-gpa-gap-with-brief-exercise/

Visibility matters: http://gradworks.umi.com/36/63/3663476.html

Size matters: http://macdgroup.com/2013/10/15/why-size-matters/

Trust Matters: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00661/full

Build engagement, not dominance with your customers…

March 28, 2016
Man-looking-happily-at-phone-Betsie-Van-Der-Meer-Taxi-Getty

A man who is happy with his mobile experience

 

“As the consumer’s device of choice, mobile is almost always on hand. It’s the brand’s first point of contact with the consumer, but that doesn’t mean forcing them to walk around with the entire website in your pocket. Rather, the mobile experience needs to address the context of a mobile user.” ~ Carin van Vuuren, Usablenet

Fit the technology to the user, rather than the other way around. An important thought to live by in this era where many organizations still view technology, rather than engagement, as the path to competitive advantage.

Proximity marketing…is there value?

March 19, 2016

I have been much more active lately posting and sharing on LinkedIn than on this site. I do hate duplicating content, and have not had the opportunity to do both as well as I would like.

I am going to try and work on that. Maybe I could start with a discussion thread on tracking your phone (by beacon or WiFi), as the whole issue of tracking within the store is an interesting one.

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I believe (my opinion only) that in the past couple years, consumers have become more accepting of in-store proximity marketing, if for no other reason other than it has become so much better. Understanding the likely reason to be in the store (based on past interaction with that retail brand), and ability to pinpoint specific areas of the store has definitely improved. Retailers are learning what is too much (or too little messaging) and how to gauge time in store, time in a specific area, and progress through the store in sending these messages at more appropriate times.

Yet, this is a practice that is certainly still in transition, and mistakes are still made. How this process is executed may cause consumers to get their backs up. Receiving an offer after just making that purchase is annoying. Many are opposed to the practice of having competitor’s geo-fencing another store and providing competing coupons, while others find this fascinating. Getting bombarded upon entering the store is usually not desirable.

Also, consumers may not recognize that they may have opted to receive messages from the store location itself, but may also simultaneously be receiving ads and messages from other apps that they have on their phones and other sources they have previously opted to have messages from. To say the least, at times the whole process can get messy.

Here are a few data points that all the more underline why proximity marketing may the best way ahead (note: the originator of this material certainly has a vested interest in beacon technology, but interesting still the same):

  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.119%, according to a recent Wordstream report
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for an email is 1% to 3%, according to a recent report by Mailchimp
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for beacon based push notifications can be as high as 80%, according to the data published by push notification technologist Kahuna (Beaconstac, 2016).

(more on this discussion can be found here: Sheehy, A. (2013, August 19). The Mobile Advertising Value Chain.  http://www.nakono.com/tekcarta/analysis-insight/mobile-advertising/mobile-advertising-value-chain/  )

I do think that one of the big drawbacks to this type of push marketing is that not all consumers have their phones out at all times (I know…it varies by generation, but it still can be a pain to have your phone out in a department store sometimes).  That is why I am encouraged by some of the other ways that proximity marketing can be accomplished such as displaying digital instore signage of items that might be of interest if you have your phone on or through Near Field Communications (NFC) marketing, where you hold your phone close to the sensor to receive more information. Personally, I also like the fact that proximity marketing for that brand ends when you leave the store or certainly shortly thereafter.

What about you…proximity marketing, yea or nay?

Thought and Planning also Required…

January 24, 2016

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” ~ Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer and science fiction writer.

Some experts thinking on marketing in 2016…

January 8, 2016

This is a particularly good and succinct collection of predictions/thoughts on inbound marketing for 2016: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/145335/16_on_16-_Inbound_Marketing_Predictions_for_2016.pdf?t=1452198942029

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Paul Roetzer’s section on Artificial Intelligence and Automation is particularly interesting to me, but all of the thoughts contained here are intriquing. You will also want to check out Luke Summerfield and his thoughts on industry shifts.It will be interesting to see how much of this actually occurs in 2016. Cheers…

“Begin, be bold and venture to be wise.” – Horace

January 2, 2016

  Just had to share..this is a great overview on Joint Ventures by Stuart J. Davidson – Grow Your Business Through Joint Venture Marketing 

Joint venture marketing can be very valuable for the reasons listed in this article. Joint ventures can quickly add to revenues, but also can add to the credibility of both parties and help build customer loyalty. The key is finding a partner that has as much to gain (from their perspective) as you do.

Forget what you know…find a way to listen to the customer…

September 16, 2015

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” ~ Doug Larson

I am constantly reading about the shortage of digital pros or hybrid technologists in the market. And I agree that there is certainly evidence to support that the rate of change in our information needs and abilities has outstripped the ability to completely fulfill the demand.

That said, this is still amazing state to me given how many people participate professionally in the digital space, and the sheer numbers present even within specialized area such as technical SEO, content creation, paid search, various technical platform specialties, analytics, and so on…

My thought is there is actually a gap; and it is a role that is not being filled in many organizations …specifically the ability to manipulate the data or technology AND also understand the result from the perspective of a human being.

You have the technical side: Practitioners in this area know every technical aspect of their work like the back of their hand. This is true whether they be data gurus or system wunderkinds. Today, a certain level of technical knowledge may well be a prerequisite to being in marketing in today’s world, but it is certainly not the complete answer.

With all of the amazing advances that technology and inexpensive computing power has brought, there are still areas where we need to improve. Technological myopia can lead to poor usage of the technology or resulting data and analysis. Understanding how systems work and what the numbers represent is not the same as knowing if those numbers (metrics) represent value, if we are measuring the right aspects of our audience’s behavior or that they are appropriate for our business model.

When we look to the wrong measures and drift to what is conventional, our path can lead to a lack of vision as to what all of this data could be used to achieve. In the end, the result we achieve is often not actionable, and certainly not optimal, because it fails within our business context. This result does not lead to positive change.

This is not to say the technology is not important, because it is…critically so.

The technology today is driving huge changes in the way we communicate and how our organizations are built and interact with the world. However, too much focus on this area can lead to whiffs in other still important aspects of marketing, building a brand and running a business.

Then there is the qualitative side of the marketing community that has limited recognition of the pervasive nature of the technology, the accelerated pace of change we now live with, and its impact on our organizations and customers. While this group will embrace the new communication methodologies, they often will try and use these tools directionally to execute outdated models of customer relationship interaction. On this side of the coin, we have not yet learned that pushing corporate/brand/product messaging to disinterested audiences is not viable. This also will not lead to the intended or optimal result.

Like most other things in life, balance in implementation is key. While technology often renders “what we know” useless or invalid (sometimes within the same year), there are also certain fundamentals of life that remain consistent. People and organizations still have needs, many of which remain very basic. How they communicate to the world around these needs is what has changed, and continues to change, radically.

The difficulty lies in combining empathy for both the quantitative and qualitative sides of the puzzle. This is a combination that neither of these sides usually have individually, necessitating yet another skill set. The emergence of marketing operations and a well-conceived project manager model comes into play here.

All organizations need that balanced view that has best interests of customer and the organization/brand in mind. Especially important is that balance between what constitutes a good use of technology, and yet is still being customer friendly (in all senses of that discussion…usability, creepiness factor, etc…but this topic is a discussion for another time.)

The customer must be recognized above all, as ultimately they have the final vote. Whether we are seeking to interact one-on-one on an individual level or create a heightened connection though finely tuned personas, the approach must be customer-centric, not on our own perspectives of how things work.

Marketing crack: Kicking the habit

May 23, 2015

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“We’ve created a gambling culture in which we tune out everything except the most immediate outcomes.”

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

“Addiction is a pathological attachment to something attractive in the short term, but destructive over time. Recovery is about looking where we’re going and choosing a path that can last.”

Dr. Chris Johnstone, addiction specialist

IMPATIENT TIMES

Would you rather receive $100 today or $125 a year from now? Although a 25% increase is an excellent one-year return on investment, the average decision-maker would choose the smaller immediate gain rather than the larger future gain.

Psychologists tell us that this is because decision makers generally feel disconnected from their future selves – which leads them to prefer smaller immediate gains to larger future gains.

This tendency to discount the value of future gains is what psychologists call “temporal discounting” and what economists term “rates of time preference.” It’s…

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Elon Musk on branding…

April 26, 2015
Elon Musk at TED

Elon Musk at TED

“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” ~ Elon Musk

Very true. At this point in our history, a brand is truly what the targeted audience feels it is. It can also be quite volatile. Scary thought for those of us in marketing and branding…

Consistency is a full time job….

April 22, 2015

“You have to stay true to your heritage; that’s what your brand is about.” ~ Alice Temperley

In Ms. Temperley’s statement, staying true to your heritage is all about consistency. Consistency though is a term that has numerous facets, and all are important to establishing, maintaining, and as much as possible, owning your brand.


In the overall context, consistency is about remaining aligned to your DNA…to your core values, guiding principles and the characteristics you brought with you to the dance. How you demonstrate this consistency or integrity to your core is demonstrated outwardly in several different ways:

  • Consistency of voice – How you engage with the outside world in term of stance and tone must be consistent from occasion to occasion, and also with what is at the heart of your organization.
  • Consistency of message –The content of your communications must remain consistent to themselves and to your overall organizational perspective. This lack of message to message consistency often can muddy the brand and lead to many of the differences in brand perception that can occur with different factions of your audience.
  • Consistency of response modality – How you respond to external requests and events, timing of your response, who you respond to, along with the two points above can determine the overall strength of your brand in the mind of your audience.
  • Consistency of execution- It is important to communicate proactively on a consistent basis. This is not to say that there must always be a rigid timeline, but you must be placing content or communications on a reliable basis. If you communicate three times per week, it is not the end of the world to miss once in a while and only communicate twice that week. Likewise upon occasion, four times in a given week may be desirable. The key is to maintain the perception of consistency with your audience.

Getting these visible manifestations of your brand in line with your overall organizational culture and philosophy will enable your organization to better communicate with your target audience and therefore be better able to maintain your brand image with the external world.