Four Steps To Better Data-Driven Marketing

Data Disruption By Greg BonsibCheck out the newly published Mighty Guides eBook Data Disruption and my chapter on data-driven marketing.

Data has always played an important role in marketing. What has changed in recent years is the sheer volume of data now available from so many different sources.

If we were once challenged to see the forest through the trees, we’re now challenged to see the forest through the leaves.

“I look at data strategically, with the essential premise that the customer is the ultimate focus of interest.”

Here at Zenith, we primary sell our products through our network of retail partners. We do have a product website, but it is not a major source of our sales. In my role at Zenith Products Corp., I look at data strategically, with the essential premise that the customer is the ultimate focus of interest. With that in mind, I have a four-step approach to using data in customer marketing:

  1. Start small. For example, we often use Amazon Services (AMS) ads to test the effectiveness of promotional strategies. We will focus on a product or a phrase or an idea and watch how it performs. By doing so, we can create a test with a focused objective, and we can keep the cost of our tests very low. Amazon Webstore provides an excellent data environment in which to try something small at low cost and capture meaningful performance data around it.
  2. Test and learn. By keeping the test small and the cost low, we can try many different variations. For instance, I used AMS to test category ads, product ads, brand ads, ads based on search words, ads based on competitors, even ad placement that AMS recommended. The good thing about this method is that Amazon provides data that allow us to track ad performance directly to Amazon Webstore sales. In this way, we can identify ad strategies that perform well and those that are total duds. Failures are as important as successes. The best-performing ads returned $5 in sales for every $1 spent on marketing—a 500 percent return on investment (ROI) on marketing spend.

“In this way we can identify ad strategies that perform well and those that are total duds. Failures are as important as successes.”

  1. Build on success. Using the proof point of a 500 percent marketing ROI, I can then build that ad concept into a larger marketing strategy that involves product packaging, in-store promotions, and many other things. Then, I start looking at other kinds of performance data. For instance, if a store is running a promotion on a product, I pay close attention to the halo effect of that product on the sales of other products.
  2. Document your knowledge. It is incredibly important to document what you do. Documentation enables you to build a body of knowledge about what works and also to share that knowledge through your organization.

The power of this kind of data-driven marketing is that when you have data that prove your strategy, you can gain credibility and resources to do it again.

Key Lessons for Better Data-Driven Marketing

  1. When testing ideas, it is important to create a test that has a focused objective and to keep the cost of tests low.
  2. The power of data-driven marketing is that when you have data that prove your strategy, you can gain credibility and resources to do it again.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Are You Throwing As Much As You Can Into The Marketplace, Hoping People Will Buy?

Changing Your PerspectiveDoes your traditional way of selling − your “selling chain” − always start with your products?

Of course, you present them to your potential customer be they retailers, distributors, corporate buying offices, contractors, etc. And, I’ll bet you are telling great stories about how good those products are for your customers.

But let’s be honest. You are reactive to those customers. Too often, when they say jump, you’re asking how high.

You may be afraid to take price increases, wary of losing volume.  Your products and programs are all aimed at their needs. You wait and hope that they take your products and market them – for you – to their customers, and you hope even more that your products reached their final destination: consumers.

I’ll bet you support these efforts with elaborate marketing plans, POP materials, promotions, sales literature, and more. You also may communicate with consumers through TV, trade magazines and promotions.

Are You Throwing As Much As You Can Into The MarketplaceYou may call it pull marketing, demand generation, or selling through, but what you are really doing is simply producing and throwing as much as you can into the marketplace, hoping people will react and that consumers will buy.

That’s a lot of wasted money and effort. Some even call this the “black hole” of marketing spend. (Your Ops team may even claim that every dollar they save through cost improvement is squandered in marketing.)

Changing Your Perspective A New “Selling Chain”

Time For ChangeYou need to turn your perspective completely around.

Instead of starting with the customer, start with the consumer. Now we ask them what they need. Strive to understand their problems and concerns, and determine their needs, at the retail level.

Task your teams to provide products and solutions that meet those needs and drive everything from new product development to merchandising and POP materials.

The better you understand your end consumer’s needs, the easier it is for you to communicate, and the consumer to accept, your products as a solution to their problems. Only then do you focus on calling on the next level, contractors and builders, working your way up the chain.

Share with them what the consumers shared with you, and show how your products are meeting their customer’s needs. Then, just like you did with the consumer, find out what are the builder’s needs, and show them you can help them stand out from the competition and sell more homes by providing solutions to their problems.

Next, work your way up to the distributor and retailer. As before, share with them what the consumers, builders and contractors are sharing with you. Tell the distributor about the tools you provide to meet everyone’s needs, about the products, solutions and systems that will help them make more money − solutions and systems that apply all the way up the pipeline.

Task your teams to provide products and solutionsIf you’ve done your job, you shouldn’t have to tell distributors and retailers much at all. They’ll already know about your products and solutions from their customers. They’ll know you talk to their customers, and their customer’s customers, and are creating demand for products they sell.

And all you’ve done is reverse the direction of the “Selling Chain,” and changing your story from one that highlights product features and turned it into how you’re introducing a simple approach to solving consumer problems.

Differentiating Yourself on Something Other Than Price

Differentiating Yourself On Something Other Than PriceDistributor and retailers still buy “product” and think in terms of discounts, profit, and “What’s in it for me?” But now, instead of increased profits from lower cost of goods, you can bring them higher profits from increased sales.  You can demonstrate this by telling them:

  1. What the consumer is telling us
  2. What the builder is telling us
  3. What the contractor/remodeler is telling us

Then show them the tools you have to meet those needs, including products, solutions and systems to help them make higher profits. Because they know that you have been talking with consumers and builders, they will be receptive to your presentations.

Listening to the Future

Listening to the FutureThere’s an old saying in sales that says, “We never make a mistake when we make a decision in favor of the customer.” The basis for that philosophy is formed by putting the customer’s needs first.

Remember that you need to think about your customers broadly…consumers, distributors, retailers, dealers, contractors, builders, the investment community, and so on. A customer-driven company defines their customer as broadly as possible…opening up incredible opportunities and difficult challenges.

A customer driven company also knows what their customers want in their terms, not their own. They have an external focus and bias to all they do.  They will do things in the short term that are costly in support of their customer needs, knowing full well that they will repaid 1000 times over

Task your teams to provide solutionsIt’s good to have these perspectives as part of a company philosophy, but it’s equally important that you remember that if you listen closely to the customer and put their needs first, you will benefit from a preferred position and market share while achieving outstanding customer satisfaction.  And it will touch every aspect of your company, including quality, brand, service and value.

Focusing on the customer is a key to your future – for without them, you have no future.  Any time you hear a customer request, listen closely, that’s the future talking.

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

Using Content Marketing to Drive Sales

Content Marketing Is Driving Brand ConversationsSocial media offers brands a set of inexpensive tools that can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth and, properly managed, can deliver measurable results.

You can use content marketing to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.

Use a two-pronged approach to creating awareness and driving interest and sales

To do this successfully, you need to take advantage of both a top down and a bottom up approach to social media.

  • Your top down strategy is to create broad awareness and credibility among experts and consumers
  • Your bottom up goal is to drive consumer awareness and engagement through grassroots and in-market activities

How to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation

Social media platforms for your content marketingHere’s how to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation through social media:

  • LISTEN:  Track and identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers
  • DEVELOP:  Build content that makes it easier for consumers to share and recommend your brand
  • ENGAGE:  Work together with consumer influencers to drive discussion, posts, reviews, give feedback, conduct contests and share recommendations with others
  • OPTIMIZE:  Ensure both new and existing content is tagged to make brand discussions easily searchable and sharable
  • PROTECT:  Establish a protocol for responding to negative word-of-mouth and mitigating damage from competitors and brand detractors
  • MEASURE:  Build-in metric that demonstrate the impact of engagement at each point in the Conversation Engine

The most important step in building your social media foundation is creating a “sharable story”

Sharable story is like an elevator pitchA shareable story is basically an elevator pitch story with messaging that connects your key points together in everyday, natural language.

The sharable story shapes all engagement to ensure the story you want to tell is infused into all of your conversations.

Become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in your space

Next, you need to engage leading industry eminents across all relevant vertical channels. Find and engage those individuals who can influence people to consider your category and become interested in your brand.

Screen influencers using rigorous criteria to ensure identifying only the leaders:

  1. Reputation
  2. Reach
  3. Visibility
  4. Accessibility

Remember, these influencers are going to give you credibility so focus on engaging the right online influencers.

Track & identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers

Track & identify key trends, stories, posts and influencersThrough either subscription-based tools or through publicly available free tools, develop a daily monitoring routine to identify opportunities, influencers, and key trends.

Create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products

Social media platforms for your content marketing

Now you are ready to activate your online social media channels. You want to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.

Consider doing this in stages so you don’t overwhelm your team or confuse consumers by creating online content but not having the time or energy to keep it fresh and current. A possible phased approach is to launch on Facebook and Twitter initially.

Once you have Facebook and Twitter up and running smoothly, and the team is comfortable managing and posting content, it’s time to expand to additional channels like Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Google+, etc.

These channels allow you to broaden your content and create additional content that your created and control to help further enrich the consumer education process and provide opportunities to link into your customer websites with rich content.

Your goal is to drive fans and followers with these two sites. Remember, these sites require you to engage regularly. That means you need to manage and moderate daily, especially since you will quickly find consumers using these sites to post customer service, quality or warranty issues.

Don’t worry if there are negative comments. Ultimately your goal is to bury these comments under an avalanche of helpful tips and advice on where and how to buy your brand. It’s this kind of news that will ultimately shape your brand conversations.

Focus on building assets that make the benefits of owning your brand shareable and portable

This will allow you to leverage the full capabilities of online multimedia sharing sites to maximize visibility and reach.

  • Action Words Bullhorn Megaphone Motivation MissionCreate checklists for occasions or life events that should include your brand
  • Build video demonstrations and distribute to YouTube and beyond through services such as TubeMogul
  • Build photo libraries that illustrate specific benefits of safe ownership and distribute to publicly indexed networks like Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram
  • Encourage consumer-generated testimonials (stories, videos, photos) – leveraging the capabilities of Facebook and Pinterest for running sweepstakes and contests

A good way to draw consumers to your social media sites is to host contests. It’s a straight forward way to build followers of your brand and ultimately to have them “opt-in” to being open to receiving email offers from you for new products, services or promotions.

Create and share content regularly that engages consumers and encourages them to share, recommend and, ultimately, buy

The final step is to measuring the impact of your online social media efforts.  A great way to do that is with a measure call an Earned Digital Engagement or EDE.   Earned Digital Engagements are the metric you can use to measure the direct impact of your online social media efforts, independent of natural conversation.

Using an EDE methodology, you’re able to provide a comparable measure of the number of people reached online, but this form of measurement also accounts for their action.  The EDE measures the number of people reached through a brand’s social media efforts across channels – from blogs to Facebook to Twitter and YouTube and Flickr.

An earned engagement consists of the number of people influenced by an interaction with your brand that results in a:

  • Post
  • Tweet
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Or public Facebook engagement

Forrester Research said it best: “…interactive marketers must move beyond experimentation by making social applications a permanent part of marketing, measuring and demonstrating their value, and integrating them into marketing efforts.”