With 140 Characters Comes Great Responsibility

With the introduction of social media came the birth of many new marketing channels, which businesses have fallen over each other trying to leverage and master. But, are they doing so effectively and responsibly?

Social media light bulbHistorically, when a business person speaks “off the cuff,” his or her PR staff quickly steps in to minimize any fall-out. Today, Twitter is the new “off the cuff” megaphone — but in most businesses, tweets are carefully controlled; crafted by someone in PR or marketing and often passed by legal. Despite that structure, there are plenty of instances of irresponsible business messaging (for example, Home Depot’s racist photo) and their typically instant consequences — like the loss of a job.

The world has already been exposed to President-elect Trump’s unfiltered “off-the-cuff” tweets, and his most recent slam of Boeing had an immediate impact on Boeing’s stock price — which leads me to my point.

With the introduction of social media came the birth of many new marketing channels, which businesses have fallen over each other trying to leverage and master. But, are they doing so effectively and responsibly?

Our agency posts daily tweets on behalf of several of our B-to-B clients. To keep them on topic and relevant to their brand and their followers, we are very thoughtful and selective about what we tweet and retweet under their brand name. But this does not seem to be the norm.

When looking at the tweets of those they follow, there are thousands of messages unrelated to the business at hand. During this divisive election year, there were plenty of tweets about one candidate or the other — a topic I would recommend any business shy away from unless they are looking to alienate part of their customer base. Sometimes, they share a cartoon or other form of humor; one business posts the latest stats on the chances of winning the lottery.

Are these important, responsible and relevant posts? Do they help their stakeholders feel more engaged with their brand? Or are they merely checking the box that they’ve tweeted each day?

As our email inboxes continue to fill with unwanted email solicitations, and our personal Facebook pages become overrun with commentary from our friends or family that require us to scroll by and eventually unfriend, I’d like to suggest that any business using Twitter — as a channel to promote and build relationships with their fans and future brand evangelists — should use a filter before they hit the “Tweet” button.

Tweeting is not about volume. It’s about maintaining a dialogue with your followers on relevant topics of mutual interest that serve to enhance your brand. And without applying any sort of personal filter on your efforts, there will be consequences. Just ask the guy who used to work for Home Depot.

Marketing Takeaway: ‘Trexit,’ Data Truths and Our Quickening Loss of Empathy

The Economist probably wrote the best post-mortem on the U.S. Election of Donald J. Trump – and published it one week in advance of what actually happened. But why the surprise? Turning inward, how could all that polling and data analysis not see this “Trexit” outcome, particularly after Brexit – which should have acted as a data barometer warning of electorate measurement? I see at least three reasons, all of which have ramifications for marketing.

american flag donald trumpThe Economist probably wrote the best post-mortem on the U.S. Election of Donald J. Trump – and published it one week in advance of what actually happened.

National and foreign media outlets are dazed, but I’m not alone in seeing this outcome as a true reflection of what’s going on in the world, not just in the United States. We are not immune to fear of rapid change from the rise of globalization, digitalization, urbanism, multi-culturalism and “white (male) privilege” being left behind. No matter which flawed candidate you may have voted for, perhaps we have been played by a piper.

But why the surprise? Turning inward, how could all that polling and data analysis not see this “Trexit” outcome, particularly after Brexit – which should have acted as a data barometer warning of electorate measurement? I see at least three reasons, all of which have ramifications for marketing.

First, because swathes of individuals who voted for our President-elect may largely be unseen and unaccounted for in polling, may steer clear of social media and certainly fail to be reflected in the echo chambers that are Washington, New York and Los Angeles. They barely leave digital crumbs — and they are the ones who shop offline, don’t answer marketing surveys and let the answering machine pick up the call. One of the most favorable polls for Clinton — that of Huffington Post — excluded polling of landline-only households, for example. Helloo! Artificial intelligence can only process what is fed into the data funnel. But missing data doesn’t explain all the inaccuracy.

Second, those of us who have had to deal with self-reported data know one inconvenient truth: such data, at least in the marketing world, is sometimes inaccurate, predictably so. In politics, this can be true, too. People may not admit publicly who they support. (There are lots of quiet people in the office, even as others around them banter loudly about politics.) People are very capable of saying what they think makes them look a certain way, rather than behave differently, and that’s why observable consumer behavior is valued in the marketing data marketplace at a premium.

Third, in doing a consulting assignment for a new client (Stirista) and I came across a recent blog post on its site that I truly found insightful, no matter who we are, what we believe and where we live. We are losing empathy: We are losing the ability to walk in another man or woman’s shoes — whether he or she is across town, across state lines, across the country or around the world. We are insulated from each other, often wantonly. In the ad business, this is dangerous. In society, it’s destructive. If we can’t reach out and listen to a fellow citizen, without judgment, and participate in a healthful exchange of ideas, how can we construct a democracy that functions? In marketing, we need to explore all the personas that motivate, not just those that we might expect, even if they may at first seem counterintuitive.

Take one more page from The Economist:

“Mr Trump was the nominee of a party which, after losing the presidential election of 2012, commissioned a post-mortem that concluded that until Republicans built a new coalition, including many more non-whites and other fast-growing demographic blocs, it would struggle to win national office again. Mr Trump’s gamble was to take an exactly opposite approach. He bet everything on a strategy of nostalgic nationalism, summed up in the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’, precisely because his hunch was that the country is home to an underestimated mass of voters who do not want to be part of any rainbow coalition, thank you—and certainly not if the price is granting amnesty to immigrants in the country without the right papers, or embracing gay marriage.”

We have liberal media. We have conservative media. And we have lots of data segmentation separating the two. How about something different: Can we have middle media? Can we have “data bridges” — finding commonalities in data sets to unite, rather than unique values to separate? The Plural Generation is upon us. Whoever is in the White House, no one can tell us to stop building those bridges, to stop exchanging ideas, to stop sharing our hopes and fears. We need all the ad community to do the same.

Is the Entire Trump Campaign Just a Revenue-Generating Marketing Ploy?

You can say a lot of negative things about Donald J. Trump, but he can never be accused of not being a business opportunist. As this election cycle painfully swirls to a close, Trump has cleverly set himself up for his next income stream, whether he’s in the White House or not.

Donald TrumpYou can say a lot of negative things about Donald J. Trump, but he can never be accused of not being a business opportunist. As this election cycle painfully swirls to a close, Trump has cleverly set himself up for his next income stream, whether he’s in the White House or not.

Take a step back for just a moment and consider this: You’re sitting in a strategic planning meeting with a brand whose popularity is on the decline. Revenues have been slowly sinking, consumers have been losing interest in your products and services, and the brand is considered old-fashioned or stale. As a marketer, what do you suggest?

Revamp the brand with fresh new messaging and content? Create new brand extensions that might appeal to a new audience? Abandon products or services that are no longer making a positive contribution to the business? Generate brand buzz with timely and relevant offers? Cement brand loyalty by listening to your loyalists, and then tapping into their hearts and minds by giving them what they’re asking for? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!

Now consider this:

In the late 1980’s, Trump toyed with a presidential run while he struggled with the financial debt of his purchase of the Taj Mahal casino and the bankruptcy of the Trump Plaza Hotel.

In 2000, Trump announced his candidacy as a Reform Party candidate. He was in financial struggles again after:

  • “Trump: The Game” had been discontinued
  • Trump Airlines had failed to turn a profit
  • Bought, sold, bought and sold the New Jersey Generals
  • Trump Hotels and Casinos Resort filed for bankruptcy – twice
  • Trump Mortgage fails

In March 2009, Trump joins Twitter but doesn’t tweet anything significant for 2-years.

In January 2011, Trump tweets a link to his fan-made website shouldtrumprun.com – and leverages feedback to craft his new brand message.

In March 2011, Trump is a leading presidential contender.

In May 2011, Trump announces he will not run. During the remaining months of 2011:

  • Trump Vodka fails
  • Trump Steaks fails
  • Trump Ice fails
  • Trump University fails

Election 2016 Email: A Quick Look at Clinton vs. Trump

I vowed a few months ago that I wouldn’t write any more about the email (or direct mail) from this year’s presidential election. Maybe I should have written it down. On the email side, there are some interesting points that are worth mentioning, though.

I vowed a few months ago that I wouldn’t write any more about the email (or direct mail) from this year’s presidential election. Maybe I should have written it down.

PicardFaceIt’s been an ugly one, full of so much rage, fear, cynicism, and cruelty that I wasn’t sure there could be anything that could be learned from this big mess. Or that it would be worth my professional attention.

The Clinton and Trump fundraising direct mail, aside from the messaging, is pretty unsurprising when compared to the past several elections. No new tactics or formats. No surprises. Maybe it’s better that way.

On the email side, there are some interesting points that are worth mentioning, though.

In the Cards

Both of the two main campaigns place a lot of importance on offering a special “card” via email to their donors. And why not? This has been a direct mail tactic for a lot of years.

Like many memberships, a tangible thing may not have any monetary value. But it does make them feel better, like they are part of something greater than themselves, and can carry proof of that with them.

HRCWomanCardThis past spring, in response to Trump’s claim that “the woman’s card” was responsible for her primary success, the Clinton campaign issued a “Woman Card” to donors through its website. According to the email, supporters said “that they’d like a “woman card” of their very own — to display proudly on a fridge or pull out of their wallet.”

TrumpCardThis is the Trump Black Card, recently offered in exchange for a donation of $35. “You’ll be on a team that will be sending a message to Crooked Hillary to watch out, that we’re coming for her,” the email promises.

Common to both efforts? An appeal to exclusivity. And, both offers say that they’re for a limited time.

Donation Buttons

This is something I haven’t seen very often.

TrumpAsksIt came from a recent Trump message with campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson as the sender. Using multiple donation buttons in an email is a tactic that’s shown up in other Trump campaign emails as well.

The Fine Print

I often read the fine print on emails, so this really stood out to me.

HRCFineIt offers the donor a way to scale back the frequency of what shows up in their inbox, reminds them of the campaign’s social channels, and even shows a little humor.

So, that’s about all that I found interesting about both campaigns’ emails. I thought there would be more going on in this channel than I found. Maybe what’s most important to both campaigns is that these approaches are working well for them in firing up the “right” people and driving donations. We’ll see how much it mattered in less than a month.

 

Donald Trump Gets the Why Behind the Buy

Ted Cruz still doesn’t know what hit him. Neither do most of the Republican party establishment, and large segments of the non-Republican electorate. But Carolyn Goodman has a pretty good idea: “Trump really understands the why behind the buy.”

Last night, a beleaguered Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after yet another loss to Donald Trump on the Republican primary campaign trail. After another drubbing in a state that was supposed to reject Trump’s big city conservative populism, Cruz said, “It appears that path has been foreclosed.”

Ted Cruz still doesn’t know what hit him. Neither do most of the Republican party establishment, and large segments of the non-Republican electorate. But Carolyn Goodman has a pretty good idea.

“Trump really understands the why behind the buy,” said Carolyn, president and creative director of Goodman Marketing Partners, during yesterday’s webinar on optimizing lead nurturing.

Pain Point Research > Persona Research

Carolyn’s answer was in response to an audience member’s question during the webinar Q&A: “Do Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders demonstrate that emotion drives more than facts?”

And it tied into something Carolyn said earlier in the webinar: Know the why behind the buy.

What that means is, for anyone asking people to choose their brand — whether it’s at the store, in an email or on the campaign trail — understanding why customers are in the market and why they choose your brand over another is the most important factor to turning a lead into a sale.

In fact, she said doing research on the pain points that lead customers to choose you, and marketing to those pain points, is far more important to successful lead nurturing and long-term sales than marketing to personas.

In effect, what you know about why they buy is more important than what you know about their demographics, niche and theoretical wants. And Donald Trump’s campaign is a perfect example of this, according to Goodman.

Donald Trump’s Marketing Epiphany

While the rest of the Republican field developed messaging around the grooved talking points of GOP politics today, Trump identified the why behind the buy (or vote).

This time, many Republican voters are making the buy based on frustration with what they see as stifling political correctness and a coddling bureaucracy that they don’t think can protect the country from a host of threats. And the only thing they want to vote for is change, to get “bought” career politicians out of office.

That’s the why behind their buy, and Donald Trump gets that.

If Trump hears voters saying the other candidates aren’t willing to tell what they see as a “truth” about immigrants, Muslims, tariffs or any other topic, he embraces that “truth” and speaks it as often as he can. If the other candidates say something might not be achievable, or affordable, Trump tells voters it is and he’ll make sure it’s paid for.

If voters are frustrated about politicians not doing something, Trump promises to do it. If they’re frustrated that something’s not being said, he says it.

Trump’s not over-analyzing the demographics or overthinking the personas of his voters. Instead he’s just listening to his likely voters’ pain points and addressing them.

Trump gets the why behind his customers’ buys.

Do you get the why behind yours?

The One Thing to Learn From Donald Trump

Some weeks I have the time to obsess over a new marketing strategy or the possibilities of the year ahead. Other weeks my interests are more scattered. This has been the latter kind of week, but that doesn’t mean the world runs out of interesting marketing! Here are four quick ideas I’ve been mulling over while winter’s settling in over the Northeast.

Some weeks I have the time to obsess over a new marketing strategy or the possibilities of the year ahead. Other weeks my interests are more scattered. This has been the latter kind of week, but that doesn’t mean the world runs out of interesting marketing! Here are four quick ideas I’ve been mulling over while winter’s settling in over the Northeast.

Donald-Trump-Make-America-Great-Again-TFPP
On Twitter that’s #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.

1.The One Thing You Should Learn From Donald Trump
In an interview with CNN, Tea Party activist Scottie Hughes pinpointed the one thing Donald Trump and Sarah Palin could teach almost every marketer: How to reduce complicated issues to hashtags.

Said Hughes: “[Palin] has these great catchphrases, these great catchlines, these great hashtags that trend. And that’s something that Mr. Trump is good at as well — sitting there and taking a large issue and putting it down to just a key phrase that people repeat days after the statement is made.”

What complex idea should you simplify to a hashtag? #MarketingMatters.

2. Discrimination Costs Talent, Sometimes the Best Talent
I was watching a show about the history of Captain America, and they brought up that a lot of the guys in comics were Jewish kids who couldn’t find “legitimate” work in the Madison Avenue ad agencies because they were Jewish. This includes Jack Kirby, perhaps the most talented action illustrator America’s ever seen. Could his talents have saved brands? Absolutely.

The "Kirby Hand," one of Jack Kirby's trademark action panels.
The “Kirby Hand,” one of Jack Kirby’s trademark action panels.

This blows my mind, but you find stories like it all over history. Forget fairness for a moment. At some point, everything becomes a number game. If you have access to a million people, you’ll probably find a 1-in-a-million talent. If you have access to 2 million, you’ll probably find a 1-in-2-million talent. If you have access to 10 million, etc.

If you cut Jewish people, or black, or women, or Indian, or Muslim or Latino or any other large group out of the talent pool for non-talent reasons, you’re just reducing your chances of finding geniuses.

Not to mention, you’re being a prick.

3. A Too-Perfect Metaphor for Marketing
There’s a riddle going around Facebook: There are 10 fish in a tank. Two drown, four swim away, three die. How many are left?

fujzosdcc6cvdmvdugnsThe answer is, all of them. They’re all still in the tank.

This is a great way to think about the customers and prospects who got away. Whether they stopped responding to your marketing or went to a competitor, those customers are still in the tank with you, ready to be won back.

It’s still an unfortunately accurate metaphor when it comes to the dead fish. We still get marketing mail for our apartment’s previous owner, who died before we moved in 4 years ago.

Don’t forget to scoop the dead fish out of your lists.

4. Totally Tasteless Marketing for a Tasteless Age
And finally after the way January’s gone for musicians, I am relieved and surprised to have never seen an ad like this:

“Cole … Lemmy … Bowie … Fry …
Eddie Van Halen US Tour 2016: See him while he’s still alive!”
–Ticketmaster

But seriously:

SandmantoDeath
The Sandman and his sister Death trademark DC Comics.