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it’s not about the tools, it’s all about strategy
start with a strategy
“I know half my advertising isn’t working. I just don’t know which half.”
Lord Leverhulme, the founder of Lever Brothers (now Unilever) www.LonSafko.com /Fusion/01.mov
he soundest strategy you can have is to start with a sound strategy. That may sound silly, but when it comes to social and digital media, most marketing people start with a tool, such as Facebook or Twitter, and try to build a strategy around that tool. Marketing isn’t just about the tools, though. You wouldn’t assemble your team and say, “We’re going to build a strategy exclusively around print ads.” You’d make print ads part of your overall strategy. In the same way, Fusion Marketing starts with the development of a successful, integrated, and interconnected strategy using tried-and-true traditional marketing and media, social media, and the latest in digital media.
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Don’t jump into social media without a plan. One Fortune 500 company I consulted with had more than 19 million friends, all chatting about its products. At first I was impressed, but once the initial excitement about the number wore off, I asked, “So how are you monetizing that?” The people present fell silent, looking like deer in the headlights. They were using a tool, but they didn’t have a strategy. If you’re not monetizing your friends, your tweets, your e-mail lists, and your blogs, then why are you using social media? Everything you do should be directly related to revenues. If it isn’t, stop doing it!
Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and YouTube aren’t strategies, they’re tools. Having a large number of friends, followers, and readers is great exposure, but you have to do something with those eyes, ears, and credit cards.
develop a Clear Conversion strategy
Develop a clear, individual, well-defined conversion strategy that will ultimately increase your revenue. Increasing your likes on Facebook could be a specific conversion strategy. Increasing your followers on Twitter could be another strategy. Building your e-mail list could be another. Getting more conversation and comments on your blog might be one, too. But how do you convert this activity to revenue? That’s your next strategy.
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Here are some potential objectives and conversion strategies: Increase my e-commerce. Gather user-generated content. Increase web traffic to a specific page. Build loyalty and peer support. Crowdsource innovation. Drive attendance at events. Build brand awareness. Improve customer service. Reduce tech support. Increase e-mail subscriptions. Increase telephone sales. Liquidate inventory. Here are some of my personal objectives and conversion strategies: Drive book sales. Raise sponsorship for PBS television special on social media. Develop a radio campaign to promote the book. Increase my number of speaking engagements. Send direct mail to top 100 speakers’ bureaus. Raise awareness of the book in universities. Develop free press coverage. Increase my likes on Facebook. Increase my activity on LinkedIn. Drive attendance at my seminars.
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Send e-mail blasts with free material. Increase Twitter followers. Some of these objectives are generic, while others are more specific. Some are so general as to be only starting points, while others involve better utilizing my tools. Let’s look at how I developed my strategies over the past year, when I started with a goal as broad as “drive book sales.”
six steps to a successful Conversion strategy
1. What is your specific objective? Of course your goal is to make
money, but how? What segment(s) of your target market will you be focusing on? What specific products or services do you want these people to buy? What is your timetable for success?
2. What is your marketing landscape? The environment in which your
business exists will influence your chances of success. Did you want to start a travel agency in 2004, when the Internet was sending most of them into bankruptcy? Not a good idea. Did you want to build spec houses in 2009? Also not the best idea. Do you want to provide health services to seniors in 2015? That’s probably a great idea with a healthy economy and lots of retiring baby boomers. There are seven categories of environmental influences that you must consider:
a. the economy and jobs. Are people spending, and on what?
Which sectors are getting hot and which are not?
b. the competition and vendors. Can you get the supplies you
need? How tough is the competition? Can you compete?
c. new technology. How can you use it or suffer from it? d. government regulations and politics. What new laws will af-
fect your business?
e. the society. Are there social factors that will influence your
business, such as confidence in the economy or demographic
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changes (for example, a growing Hispanic population, an aging population, fewer couples getting married, or later childbirth years)?
f. Health and the environment. Are there health and environ-
mental trends that will affect your business, such as global warming, increased emphasis on sustainability and green awareness, and increased skin cancer and obesity?
g. Your customers. Who are the specific people in your niche?
How are they doing? Whom are they buying from and why? How do they feel about your brand? Each of these categories provides both risks and opportunities. You must analyze your company’s strengths and weaknesses carefully in relation to each. Providing healthcare services may be a great idea, but unless you have the funds to create such a business, trying to do so could just bankrupt you. Do your strengths let you overcome the risks and take advantage of the opportunities? Do your weaknesses put you in mortal danger and preclude you from benefiting from the opportunities? Take your time and do this analysis carefully. Think of it as a minefield. If you miss a mine now, it could blow up later, after you’ve committed a lot of money to your strategy.
3. What branding strategy will help you stand out from the competition in a positive way for the customers in your target market? To stand
out, you must offer value that your competition doesn’t, and that is important to your customers. Scope took market share from Listerine by emphasizing that it not only stopped bad breath but left your breath “kissably fresh,” an important positive value that Listerine doesn’t provide. Often the best strategies are the simplest. Look at your product or service through your customers’ eyes: what logical and emotional benefits do they gain from using your product? Promise to sell them the satisfaction that they want, and use product features to prove that you can deliver. Scope promised breath so fresh that your loved one would want to kiss you. That is what people wanted to buy.
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4. What tactics can you use to reach your target market with your message in a way that is affordable and effective? Maybe you plan to
emphasize print ads, social media, newspaper stories (PR), and video. Each channel must be judged on how many target-market eyeballs it will deliver for the cost. The greater the anticipated ROI (return on investment), the better. If you run an Italian restaurant at one end of a large city like Phoenix, and you spend $30,000 for a newspaper ad in Section A, most of the people who see the ad will live too far away to eat there, so those eyeballs are a wasted cost. But if you spend $5,000 on an ad in the North Phoenix newspaper insert, you will reach a smaller audience, but nearly all of those people will be within driving distance of your restaurant. The key is to maximize ROI.
5. What tools can you use in your tactics? You need the right tools to
make your tactics work. If I want to promote expensive blue jeans to teenage girls using videos of cool girls with cool guys, what tool should I use? YouTube will be more effective and far less costly than TV. You’ll learn all about tools and how to plug them into your specific tactics in later chapters. For now, just keep in mind that you need to identify specific tools—like specific magazines or newspapers or TV shows or websites—that will carry your message into your buyers’ minds. You’ll also see that you can use different tools, whether they’re traditional, digital, or social media tools, to create even more specific and effective tactics by using just one little word!
6. What is your message? Tools are vehicles that carry your messages.
What you say and how you say it make a huge difference. You’ll get a lot more people to have breakfast with you if you invite them out for “bacon and eggs” rather than for “fatty strips of hog back and unfertilized chicken ova.” Your messages must reflect what your target market wants to buy (“kissably fresh breath,” not mouthwash). Promise them what they want and offer more value than the competition. When you follow these six steps, you’ll have a strong strategy for converting potential customers into buyers. We’ll cover tactics and
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tools in greater depth throughout this book, particularly in Chapter 15. I will even show you how to develop microstrategies. In the following example, let’s say my objective is “drive book sales.”
The Five Ws
Remember the Five Ws from grade school English class? The who, what, where, when, and why (and how)? The Five Ws came from journalism. They were developed by the New York Times back in the 1890s, when the paper used kids as (cub) reporters. The editors taught the kids to just bring back the Five Ws. If they did, no matter how bad a reporter the kid was, there would always be enough information to craft a complete story. The what is “drive book sales.” The who is me, although it could also be my team, my department, my division, or my marketing company. The when might be now or it might be in the first quarter, 30 days before the end of the fiscal or calendar year, or before a trade show. The where could be locally, nationally, internationally, or something else. The why, of course, is to increase revenue. The how is where the gold is, and this will require a little mining. To drive book sales, I have to ask how. I can do this by raising the level of awareness about me and the value of the book’s content. The more people who are exposed to me and the book and how it will help them look at their marketing and sales in a completely different way, the more people will buy the book, and the more they will talk about the book. The more they refer to the book, the more the book will sell. This is absolutely true for any product.
The Seven Whys
The Seven Whys is a technique that is credited to Toyota, and I use it when teaching workshops on building dynamic, productive teams. It provides a way to get to the bottom of a “we can’t do that” issue. As a kid, I was always asking why. “Mommy, why is the sky blue?” “It’s because there’s water filtering the sun’s light.” “Why, Mommy?” “Well, it’s because the sun heats up the water, and it evaporates and floats into the sky.” “Why, Mommy?” “Well, it’s because when water becomes a gas, it’s lighter than the air and rises.” “Why, Mommy?” “Because the molecule of a gas is . . .” And so on.
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Using the Seven Whys to get to a root-cause dogma* is a really effective exercise. Here’s how that conversation might go: “We can’t do that.” “Why? “Because it can’t be done.” “Why?” “Because it has never been done that way.” “Why?” “Because we don’t have enough staffing.” “Why?” “Because we don’t have the budget to hire additional staffing.” “Why?” “Because management never approves additional budget.” “Why?” “Because we never presented a good proposal explaining the benefits.” “Why?” “Because we never took the time to create one.” “If I helped you create a killer proposal to justify the additional staffing budget, could we get it approved?” “Sure!” Somewhere between a few whys and seven whys, you will uncover the real root cause of your problem. Let’s use the Seven Whys (changed to Hows) to determine how we can raise the level of awareness to drive more book sales.
*Dogma: Noun: a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
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objective: How can I raise the level of awareness?
Develop a radio campaign to promote the book. Use direct mail to increase my number of speaking engagements. Raise awareness of the book in universities. Develop free press coverage. Increase my likes on Facebook. Increase my activity on LinkedIn. Drive attendance at my seminars. Send e-mail blasts with free material. Increase Twitter followers. Increase video content on YouTube. Do these look familiar? These are all tools: radio, e-mail, direct mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, newspapers and magazines, seminars, universities, public presentations, and so on. They are also actual campaigns that I created and executed over the past year. Out of all these traditional and social media tools, let’s pick one (“Increase my activity on LinkedIn”) and continue the how questioning.
How can I increase my activity on LinkedIn? I can increase the number of postings. I can fine-tune my profile. I can create a group. I can create and moderate a question. I can e-mail my contacts. I can increase my number of connections.
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I can connect with prospects, customers, and vendor partners. I can participate in industry group discussions. I can answer questions based on my area of expertise. I can ask for or offer “recommendations.” These are tactics. If you don’t know how to use a given tool, do a Google search. For example, I searched for “Top + Strateg + Linked-In.” (You could also add “business.”) I used “strateg” so that Google would return “strategic,” “strategy,” and “strategies.” Read a few of the SERPs (search engine result pages) to see what the “wisdom of the crowds” is. Pick the ideas that you like and that are appropriate for your business and write them down. But wait, you can take this even further! Let’s pick one of the specific tactics related to using LinkedIn and apply the how questioning to it.
tactic: I can create and moderate a question.
How can I create and moderate a question to increase awareness of me on LinkedIn? I decided to run a contest. I used LinkedIn “Answers” to post a subject-matter question in the form of a contest. Public questions on LinkedIn are amazing! They: • Show up on the Open Questions page for others to answer. • Are visible to all LinkedIn members to browse and comment on. • Appear in your profile. • Generate an update sent to your connections. • Generate an update when someone answers the question. • Can also be delivered as a message to 200 of your connections. • Will show up in search engine results. • Are open to responses for up to seven days or until you close the question. • Can be reopened after they’re closed.
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Within 15 minutes, I got exposure to thousands of people and received dozens of correct responses to the question. What was the contest? I simply asked, “What was the very first social network?” I suppose you would like to know the answer too—it was SixDegrees. This chapter outlines the traditional way of de- www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki veloping a successful marketing campaign with /SixDegrees.com a sound conversion strategy to increase revenue. Coming up, we’ll examine more sophisticated and exciting methods of developing these strategies, all the way to the point of using threedimensional fractal analysis. Don’t worry, this is going to be fun! To access additional materials, go to:
s uM M ar Y • start your successful marketing with a strong, sound, clear strategy. Facebook, twitter, Linkedin, print, seminars, and direct mail are tools, not strategies. • Make a list of all of the things you might want to do for your next campaign. • analyze that list using the six steps to a successful conversion strategy: 1. develop your Objective. start with one general objective.
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2. identify your marketing landscape. 3. determine what branding strategy will help you stand out from your competition. 4. develop tactics you can use to reach your target market with your message. 5. identify what tools you can use with your tactics. 6. determine what your message is. • Choose one objective. • identify the Five Ws of that strategy and develop that list in detail. • use the seven Whys in the form of Hows to achieve the objective. • From the list of hows, choose a tool. • Continue the how questioning to discover the right tactic. • Continue the how questioning again to determine how you can implement the tactic. • Lather, rinse, and repeat!