Consider a New Direct Mail Strategy of Turning a ‘No’ to ‘Yes’

I read a book recently called “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. It’s all about negotiating skills. It got me thinking about how some of those same strategies could be applied to direct mail.

Direct mail has been around for a long time, so there are many established strategies to get the best results. You have probably tried several of them.

I read a book recently called “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. It’s all about negotiating skills. It got me thinking about how some of those same strategies could be applied to direct mail.

Direct mail is not a negotiation, but it is trying to convince people to buy from you. The better you are at convincing, the more response you will get.

So let’s take a look at one specific strategy that focuses on getting people to say “no” in order to get them to say “yes.” I know that you are thinking this is crazy. “No” is bad, and we don’t want people to say “no” to us. But hear me out. I think I can change your mind.

Why ‘No’

Simply because it works. Consider this, by allowing your prospect or customer to respond to a question with a “no,” you put them into a more confident position of being in control and decisive.

So by starting your direct mail messaging with a question that prompts a “no,” you will have more success getting a “yes” to them buying from you.

So how does this work? When people say “no,” they are now secure and confident. This leads them to take more action.

Let’s say you are a pest control company, selling your services to homeowners. To start with a “no” question, you could ask them: “Do you like ants in your house?”

Of course they will say “no.” Then you can follow up with some information about how ants get in. Then finally, finish with the real question you want them to say “yes” to; which is, will they hire you to remove bugs?

Why ‘Yes’ First Sets the Wrong Emotions

When your prospects or customers receive your mail piece, they know you are soliciting them. It’s not a big secret that you want them to buy from you. So they are already in the mindset of being wary and defensive. This is not the best mood to be in when making decisions that will be in your favor. By forcing them to answer your “yes” questions, you seed this mood within them more deeply.

In order to move them quickly to the right mindset, you should start with a “no” question. When you get someone to say “no,” you open them up to opportunities and to saying: “Yes, I will buy from you.”

In this context, “no” is a very powerful motivator.

Have you tried this tactic before? Many times, the strategy is to ask repeated “yes” questions, with the expectation that the final “will you buy from me?” question will then be “yes.”

This does work.

But starting with “no” can work better.

Because results matter, why not give the “no” strategy a try? You can run an A/B test one with your usual strategy and one that starts with a “no” question to see what works best for you. This “no” strategy scenario works for both B2B and B2C direct mail. Are you ready to get started?

Making Time for Strategy in Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing teams juggle a lot of work. How do you decide where to focus? How do you show leadership that your efforts align with business goals? This article includes a helpful, downloadable template.

Healthcare marketing teams juggle a lot of work to support the organization and key departments. A typical day can include strategy, event management, creative development, corporate communications and a lot of random projects. It keeps everyone busy but may also leave you with a nagging concern about how time is spent.

How do you decide where to focus? How do you show leadership that your efforts align with business goals? This article includes a helpful downloadable template.

No Margin, No Mission

First, a short step back on why it’s important to be strategic in your use of time. Over the past few years, the uninsured rate declined to a record low of 8.8 percent nationally, bolstered by Medicaid expansion in 31 states plus D.C., commercial insurance through the Exchanges and an economic recovery that added jobs.

For hospitals, this meant more patients had some type of health insurance coverage, even if the reimbursement rate was lower than desired. That trend appears to have maxed out. The stalled funding of CHIP, $0 penalty for not having health insurance, uncertainty about rate stabilization subsidies and spiking premiums mean coverage is likely to contract by some amount. This will invariably impact your organization’s bottom line and intensify expectations of marketing.

“No margin, no mission,” is a commonly heard expression in healthcare, originated by Sister Irene Kraus, who led Daughters of Charity National Health Care System (now Ascension Health). Marketers are expected to help each facility earn discretionary choice among those with “good insurance” to earn revenue that helps offset uncompensated or under-compensated care. And so in your busy day, you have to make choices reflecting you understand that.

A Strategic Healthcare Marketing Framework

The foundation for decision-making is a clear link between the organization’s business goals and the marketing strategies and tactics developed and implemented by your team. This means tackling it from the top down, rather than instinctively defending how time is currently spent. Undoubtedly many of your activities support business goals, but in the absence of strong, obvious linkage, they may seem frivolous to a casual observer. The work you do matters; this template helps you show why and how it matters.

Feel free to use and modify this flexible template as needed: Healthcare Marketing Survival Guide Strategic Framework.

  • Start by expressing the positioning for your overall brand or service line. Everything you develop should flow from and reinforce that positioning.
  • Then capture high-level business objectives from your organization’s strategic/business plan, mission, board minutes or executive speeches.
  • Achieving each objective probably means you need to reach multiple audiences (internal, upstream and end-user) so list all of influencers and decision-makers that impact success.
  • Then you need to express the strategies/methods you will use to persuade each audience on an on-going basis. This is an opportunity to identify any market research efforts you might use to refine downstream elements.
  • Next, fill in the messages to deliver to each audience, tailored to address that segment’s perspectives, interests and motivations.
  • Then move to granular tactics, timing and measurements.

It’s easy to struggle with the difference between objectives and strategies, and Harvard Business Review did a nice article recently about that distinction here.

The template forces you to be succinct and to show clear linkage from left to right. At first, your grid will look like a partially completed tic-tac-toe board. Gaps may reveal where you are missing an opportunity to align. Any of your current activities and expenditures that don’t roll-up to a top-level objective may need to be re-considered, re-articulated or streamlined to free up time.

Your goal is to be able to quickly demonstrate how marketing is supporting the organization in the context of business drivers.

To work with this template, use the split cell, merge cell and delete cell functions. You can use shading/fill to black out non-applicable cells. And yes, you can also replicate this form in Excel.

The healthcare industry continues to undergo change and uncertainty. Your alignment with business strategy will help the organization and your team.

Think Before You Marketing Metric — We Must Stop Chasing Our ‘Tails’

Not so long ago, in a data-driven marketing seminar I was giving for some Brazilian Microsoft executives, I asked how many of the more than 40 participants “have a subscription”? Fewer than 10 hands were raised. Then I asked: “How many of you have Netflix?” Nearly all of the hands went up.

subscription
“Subscribe,” Creative Common license. | Credit: Flickr by Dominic Smith

Not so long ago, in a data-driven marketing seminar I was giving for some Brazilian Microsoft executives, I asked how many of the more than 40 participants “have a subscription”?

Fewer than 10 hands were raised.

Then I asked: “How many of you have Netflix?” Nearly all of the hands went up, and you could see on their faces the growing wave of recognition: While they hadn’t thought of their Netflix access as a “subscription,” they realized that they had “subscribed” for services to be paid for on a periodic basis, with or without a time commitment. Not a bad definition of a “subscription.” They also realized that not only were their insurance policies, cell phone contracts and utility connections all subscriptions, but Microsoft’s move to the “Cloud” business model was a classic example of subscription marketing.

So why should their software customers have to decide to purchase new versions of the tools when they can receive them automatically, without any new investment, as part of their monthly — yeah — subscription?

Had you measured the penetration of “subscription” possession in our group before that “eureka” moment, the metric would likely have been in the 25 percent range. After a different presentation of the question, however, it would have raised the rate to at least 80 percent. Does it matter? It certainly does.

So much of today’s marketing is driven by greater and greater amounts of data. And those of us whose job it is to plough and harvest this hayfield can be simply overwhelmed by its volume.

In trying to find the haystack needles to accurately inform marketing strategies that should deliver the best results for the lowest cost, we risk missing critical insights. Blame it on too much pressure or too little time; it has the same negative result and we wind up unproductively chasing our tails.

How many times have we heard advertising professionals argue for spending the lion’s share of the budget on TV because “we’ll reach more eyeballs, more often, at less cost per thousand”? It’s the same thinking that drives us to defend the proposition that because email is so cheap, we should broadcast our message with greater and greater frequency, rather than pay the price of quality analytics resulting in fewer eyeballs but the right ones.

Imagine that you are the responsible marketing executive for Pampers. You know that you are going to have to pay for a 30-second national TV spot at approximately $25 per thousand impressions. And let’s assume (an impossible assumption) that 100 percent of your viewers are going to be women. Thanks to Google, we discover that the national average of pregnant women in the U.S. population at any given time is 4 percent. That means that if you reach each of them — another wild assumption is that they are all at least thinking about “disposables” — as well as reaching the additional 8 percent who have kids 0 – 2 years old, as you can see from the diagram, you will be paying $208.33 per thousand — almost 10 times the rate card price to reach your target audience.

Image from Peter Rosenwald for subscription postWithout building a media plan, it is obvious that if you can afford $200-plus per thousand for reach, you have a lot of additional media that might be more efficient and cost-effective than TV spots. Certainly, a single viewing is unlikely to have maximum impact. So that cost of $200 will need to be multiplied by the frequency of broadcast.

What metrics do you use to determine the real commercial value of the marketing spend, the ROMI? How do you gauge whether one medium with a higher CPM will bring you customers with a greater lifetime value than one with a lower CPM? Without a direct and measurable purchase metric, traceable to the specific media spend and message, we’ll never really know for sure. Sadly, that’s the reality.

The metrics specialists will have fancy computers full of PowerPoint slides, defining and dashboarding each step in the customer journey and providing KPIs and benchmarks for clicks, open rates, etc. But in my experience, however, no matter how conscientiously these have been developed, they will have major distortions which are the result of failing, somewhere during the development process, to address basic questions like the meaning of words like “subscription” or “engagement.” The “specialists” will get away with their fantasy solutions more often than not because management tends to look at the big picture, not the details.

Perhaps the best preventive for this is for marketing managements to task their planners to provide not just their “objective” recommendations, but to cook up and serve a smorgasbord of choices and, wherever possible, to reference these choices to solid metrics.

Otherwise, we are likely to spend a great deal of time, effort and money chasing our tails.

5 Essentials for Every B-to-B Website

“If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business.” By now, this maxim is well understood. But what kind of functionality does your website really need? What website strategies should you pursue for business marketing? Here are five must-haves for every B-to-B website.

“If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business.” By now, this maxim is well understood. But what kind of functionality does your website really need? What website strategies should you pursue for business marketing? Here are five must-haves for every B-to-B website.

The five elements every website needs are:

1. Thought Leadership
Establishing your company as a knowledgeable authority in your field is job one for a B-to-B website. You want to be seen as not only up to date, but trustworthy and helpful—sort of like the Boy Scout law. So make sure your site is filled with useful, non-salesy information about your category and the problems your customers are looking to solve. This is a classic content marketing play, whereby you provide libraries of case studies, research reports, presentations, archived webinars, blog posts, how-to videos and all manner of information intended to help visitors learn, and to present yourself as their trusted partner in that task.

2. Help Your Customers Buy
As discount retailer Sy Sims used to say, “An educated consumer is my best customer.” You want your customers and prospects to be as knowledgeable about solving their problems as they can. And you also want to influence them as they move through their buying journey. When they are ready to make a purchase decision, they will better understand how you can help them—and why they perhaps should select you over your competitors. In some ways a subset of thought leadership, helping your customers buy means teaching them how to be a good customer for you. Oracle, for example publishes a Software Investment Guide to help prospects’ decision-making.

3. Lead Generation
The perennial number one goal of just about every business marketer is generating sales leads. If you make the effort, your website can be a productive source of high quality, low cost leads for your sales force. So don’t squander the opportunity to turn your website into a lead generation tool. There are basically two ways to approach this objective:

  1. Add an offer, a call to action and a landing page with a data-capture form. If the offer is of sufficient interest, a small but steady percentage of visitors to your site will fill out the form and leave behind their contact information. Treat that data as an inquiry, and run it through your normal qualification and nurturing process. Add similar offers throughout your site, varying the deal to suit the surrounding content.
  2. Install IP address identification software that allows you to observe the domain name of business visitors to your site. You won’t know their actual names, but you will know the firms they represent. You can do a look-up by hand, or use automated processes from such providers as NetFactor and Demandbase Real-Time Identification. Once you have a sense of which companies are researching information on your site, you can then reach out and offer to help.

4. E-commerce
As I discussed last month, e-commerce is fast evolving into an effective tool for automating all kinds of B-to-B sales and marketing processes. Even if a classic shopping cart is not suited to your offerings, you are sure to find pieces of your go-to-market that can benefit from e-commerce, from quotes, to purchase orders, to selling low-margin replacement parts.

5. Community
Business marketers benefit from connecting their constituents in myriad ways: sharing expertise, promoting word of mouth, enabling channel partners, informing shareholders-the list goes on and on. Some terrific case examples come from the Kinaxis community for supply chain enthusiasts, and the Cognizant Community invitation-only forum for senior executives at its top clients. Communities can be as simple as setting up a LinkedIn group or Facebook page, or as complex as Ingram Micro’s 15-year old peer-to-peer VentureTech Network for its U.S. and Canadian resellers. However you go about it, the pay-off in community connections is huge.

So, that’s the line-up. And here’s the bonus: Not only will you advance your business goals with these strategies, you’ll also improve your SEO findability. A win win.

Do you have any website essentials to add to my list?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology.

DM 101: A Small Business Primer

Yesterday, Target Marketing hosted a webinar called “Direct Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.” I was honored to be a speaker, along with Cyndie Shaffstall of Spider Trainers. Considering all the resources available for DM information, I was completely surprised when I learned that over 1,000 people registered. During the live event, we were deluged with questions and there wasn’t enough time to answer them all, so I thought I’d dedicate this blog to trying to cover a few DM strategies that might make your marketing life a little easier

Yesterday, Target Marketing hosted a webinar called “Direct Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.” I was honored to be a speaker, along with Cyndie Shaffstall, of Spider Trainers.

Considering all the resources available for DM information, I was completely surprised when I learned that over 1,000 people registered. During the live event, we were deluged with questions and there wasn’t enough time to answer them all, so I thought I’d dedicate this blog to trying to cover a few DM strategies that might make your marketing life a little easier.

There’s not enough room on this page to cover everything I’d like to say, but based on the questions, here are my top five pieces of direct marketing advice:

1. Before You Begin Any Marketing Program, Decide Where You’re Going
Start with your company’s business objectives (Grow revenue? I certainly hope so!), and work backwards.

There are really two key marketing strategies to achieving this objective: Retain existing customers (i.e. retain existing sources of revenue), and add new customers. Duh. But retaining existing customers should include measurable marketing objectives like increasing average order size, increasing number of transactions per customer, and increasing frequency of purchases. Marketing to cold prospects might include metrics like increasing the number of qualified leads into the sales pipeline, or driving more traffic to your web store. Depending on your objective, different marketing strategies and tactics will be utilized.

2. Know Who Your Existing Customers Are
If you can’t profile them by the data you collect, you can append data from a reliable third-party data provider—and many of them offer analytic services so you can get a good handle on your buyer profiles.

Another option is to think about your product/service and how you might market it differently if you knew your customers better. For example, if you knew your customers had toddlers, would that drive a different set of messages than, say, parents of teens? Do a survey and ask your customers to share key information with you. (An incentive to fill out a SHORT survey often works; make sure you only ask questions you can use the insights from in future marketing efforts.)

On the B-to-B side, do your customers tend to come from a handful of industries only? Then you have a better chance of selling to more customers in those industries than in a brand new industry. Knowledge is power, so it’s difficult to plan and execute successful marketing efforts if you don’t understand your customer base.

Don’t forget about taking a deeper dive into your data to find your “best” customers. Chances are 20 percent of your base is driving 80 percent of your revenue. Better know who they are—and fast—so you can make plans to protect and incent them to stay loyal.

3. Clean Up Your Act Before You Try to Make More Friends
Since most customers will visit your website first, make sure it’s optimized for site visitors … and for smart phone users (yes, the future is NOW). On the B-to-B side, you better have your LinkedIn profile updated with a professional picture and solid bio, because, yes, people do judge a book by its cover.

4. Choose the Right Media Channels
This is probably the hardest one to get right. Do magazine ads work? Yes, if your audience reads a particular publication. Does cold prospecting work? No. End of statement. Does direct mail work? Yes, if you spend time identifying who your best customers are, profiling them, then overlaying that profile on a list to find look-alikes, and you combine a meaningful offer in an appropriate format. There are lots and lots of nuances in direct mail, and most folks get it wrong. So how do you make the right media decisions? If you know who your best customers are, find out where they congregate—that’s where you want to have a presence.

In the B-to-B world, this can be made a little easier as business people get together at industry events, join industry associations, read industry publications, etc., etc. It’s a little easier to figure out ways to get your message in front of them.

In the B-to-C world, you need to be much more analytical. Go back to the profile of your best customers. What do they have in common? In what context would your product/service appeal to them? Instead of trying to “interrupt” their behavior by placing an ad where they’re not even thinking about your solution, try to place your ad in an appropriate context. For example, if you’re a nonprofit trying to reach high net-worth prospects for charitable giving, use your PR skills to try and get a story placed about your efforts. Then, purchase banner ads on the publication’s site so they run next to the article about you—or place an ad within their publication when the article runs. Use Google Analytics and AdWords to understand the most popular search terms for products/services like yours. See what your competitors are doing and figure out how you can differentiate yourself with your message.

5. Format Matters
I’m often asked if postcards work. Or is a #10 package better than a self mailer. And what about Three-Dimensional packages—are they worth it? The answer is yes, yes and yes … but here are a few things to consider:

  • Postcards work best when you have a single, simple message to convey. Keep it short, sharp and to the point.
  • Self-mailers work better if you need a little more real estate to tell your story. Plus, they can be quite “promotional” in nature, so they’re not taken as serious communication.
  • Envelope packages work best if you have a more complex message. A letter (with subheads, please, as we’re all scanners of content), order form, brochure and business reply envelope (yes, they still work like a charm), can all work if your audience is older. (Here’s a hint: Not everybody wants to go to your web site, fill out a form and give you a credit card number if they can check a box on your form, add a check and mail it back to you on your dime.)
  • 3D packages can work like gangbusters if the item inside is engaging and makes sense as it relates to your brand/message. Inexpensive tchotchkes don’t usually work very well—they don’t garner attention and they don’t make your brand look smart.

Net-net, marketing is a skill. And, considering you will invest to get financial gain for your business, you really shouldn’t try to do it without professional help.

Social Media Is a Waste of Time for B-to-B

There. I’ve said it out loud. Now let the crucifixion begin. But before you write a retaliatory remark, hear me through. While I strongly believe that B-to-B marketing strategies can leverage many different marketing channels, I don’t think social media is at the top of my “things-I-must-do-to-help-drive-my-business-forward” list. Why? Because too many brands still need to get their act together in the basics, before spending precious resources chasing their tails on platforms that will yield very little to the bottom line.

There. I’ve said it out loud. Now let the crucifixion begin. But before you write a retaliatory remark, hear me through.

While I strongly believe that B-to-B marketing strategies can leverage many different marketing channels, I don’t think social media is at the top of my “things-I-must-do-to-help-drive-my-business-forward” list. Why? Because too many brands still need to get their act together in the basics, before spending precious resources chasing their tails on platforms that will yield very little to the bottom line.

So before you write me a nasty post suggesting that I’m old and out of touch with the times, consider these basics about your B-to-B product/service:

  • Website: Yep. This is where first impressions are made, so it better be designed and organized for easy navigation. And, it better be intuitive—allowing visitors to find their way around and get to the information they’re seeking without having to fall down a rat hole or two. Is the information arranged in a logical fashion (no, not the way your company wants it, but how your target audience THINKS)? Can information be downloaded and printed without sucking my printer dry of ink? Are there high-end videos to watch that are informative, engaging and helpful? Relevant case studies to my industry? Quotes/endorsements from users? White papers that truly examine an industry issue without making self-serving claims about your company? On a scale of 1 to 10, what score would you give to your website? If it’s less than an “8,” stop spending time on social media initiatives and get your website in order first.
  • Customer Service: Have you ever called your own toll-free line or emailed your own company as a “mystery shopper?” Who answers and how quickly? How are you treated? Is it easy to get your questions answered without being transferred? What kind of follow up is in place? Many companies separate this step from the rest of their marketing efforts and it often exemplifies everything that is wrong with your organization, which no amount of social media can fix. Remember, it’s easier to sell more to an existing customer then it is to find a sell to a new prospect, so if the after-purchase experience is less than stellar, stop chasing your tail and concentrate on getting your customer service house in order.
  • Industry Presence: No matter what product or service you sell, there are probably one or more industry organizations/conferences/events that attract potential prospects. This is where many targets go seeking information and your brand needs to be part of the discussion. Attending trade shows does NOT necessarily mean plunking down cash to have a booth on the trade show floor and handing out useless promo items, although that can be helpful if done right. What it does mean is that you need to get engaged in the event. Find out how to become a speaker, or participate in a roundtable discussion. Build awareness of your brand and your knowledge about issues facing the industry and the role that your product/service plays to help solve that issue. This is the original world of social media—not an online, digital presence that has no real value unless someone “clicks” but true engagement and dialogue between two individuals where one has a pain and the other one can solve it.
  • Relationship Building: Before LinkedIn and webinars, we all attended conferences, listened to speakers, met over cocktails and exchanged business cards. We followed up, stayed in touch and reconnected when we needed help finding useful products or services. I admit that I love LinkedIn as a tool for organizing my contacts, but the Discussion Groups can be quickly taken off topic or slow to take off in any meaningful way. If you have a solid topic that is of value to your industry, hire a researcher/writer and get an article/whitepaper written. Then share it with potential prospects, post it to one of your industry sites, send it to an editor of your trade publication. Every digital outlet is begging for valuable content and you could place yourself at the top of the knowledge chain through this endeavor. And everyone likes doing business with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Speaking of LinkedIn, if you’re in sales, you need to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile posted. And please, use a professional picture of yourself, and not one of you and your dog or the one taken by the camera on top of your computer (which is creepy looking, by the way). When you talk about your current employer, make sure you’re using consistent language about your brand. Look to your marketing or PR department for the 25-word description you know exists. Make sure you create a thorough profile and reach out to past customers / clients for endorsements—they do get read, believe it or not.

If you can honestly say that all five of these marketing tools are optimized and working like well-oiled machines, then by all means spend your time, money and resources on Facebook pages, Pinterest sites and Tweets. If you prove their value, write me—show me the money.

Making Your Video Go Viral, Part 2

Today we cover seven ideas to get more views for your video and give it a shot at going viral. These tactics include promoting your video to your tribe, strategies for visibility on shared media, leveraging owned media, the opportunity for success in organic discovery of your message, how you can promote your video through earned media, your options using paid media and retargeting. But before we begin with these ideas, you must remember

Today we cover seven ideas to get more views for your video and give it a shot at going viral. These tactics include promoting your video to your tribe, strategies for visibility on shared media, leveraging owned media, the opportunity for success in organic discovery of your message, how you can promote your video through earned media, your options using paid media and retargeting. But before we begin with these ideas, you must remember that you can’t make your video go viral. Only the audience makes that decision.

With these strategies in Part 2 of Making Your Video Go Viral, you have a better shot of achieving the video distribution of your dreams.

If you’d like a checklist of sources mentioned in today’s presentation, use the link to the left and send an email to me. It’s free.

And please comment below with what has been your biggest challenge, or your greatest success, with online video marketing. We’d love to hear from you.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

Part 1 in Making Your Video Go Viral covered five ideas that will help keep the viewer glued to your video. These ideas are essential to follow if you want your video to be watched by the masses. Watch the first video here here if you missed it.

How Much Time You Invest in Social Media Does Not Matter

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn and/or Facebook per day?” Stop. Behind this question is a lie that is preventing your success. Wanting to know the optimal amount of time to invest in social media platforms each day is a natural desire, but having that answer won’t make social strategies produce more leads. That’s why top social sellers are putting down “hour-a-day” books and picking up a new habit: Changing the question entirely.

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn and/or Facebook per day?” Stop. Behind this question is a lie that is preventing your success. Wanting to know the optimal amount of time to invest in social media platforms each day is a natural desire, but having that answer won’t make social strategies produce more leads. That’s why top social sellers are putting down “hour-a-day” books and picking up a new habit: Changing the question entirely.

Lack vs. Abundance
As it turns out, social media is evolutionary, not revolutionary and time is abundant, not lacking. Say to yourself, “I have nothing but time.” Seriously, say it to yourself right now. Try living the life of abundance for just one day and act as if you have time for social media. Play along; you just might just find yourself working differently—more productively.

Social platforms like LinkedIn are a better, faster way to get hired or locate and nurture a sales lead—if you honestly believe them to be. If you don’t, they’ll just be another “marketing channel” to react to in a very uncreative way that doesn’t increase your effectiveness or liberate you. Your thoughts manifest reality.

The harsh reality is that many of us find ourselves reacting to social media rather than getting creative with it because we’re adopting it out of the fear of being left behind by—or losing control of—customers. I know it sounds all woo-woo and kum-ba-yah, but an attitude of abundance goes hand-in-hand with generating more leads and sales; it always has.

Stop Worrying About Time
LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging … these strategies are making a difference to a select few marketers and business owners who see time as being abundant. They see—and experience—LinkedIn, blogging, educational YouTube videos, Facebook, etc., as time-savers, not time-wasters. And you can too.

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn per day?” is a valid question. But when you ask it, you’re investing in lack—what you do not have. Time. But you do have time to invest in saving time, right? That’s what LinkedIn represents, after all. In coming weeks I’ll prove it to you by describing my own lead generation success using LinkedIn.

Change the Question
For now, let’s start by changing your question to: “How can I determine what LinkedIn’s purpose is for me, how I can best use it to achieve that goal in shorter time?”

More widely, you can be asking, “How can I get clear on what social media’s purpose is for my business—and how I can best use it to achieve that specific goal?”

See the difference? By asking these questions—first—deciding how much time to invest occurs naturally, painlessly and obviously as part of everyday life.

What if your purpose was to find a faster way to net a sales lead—rather than seeking out a “silver bullet amount of time?” What if your purpose was to meet the right prospect and pitch them in less time, get hired faster, have your manuscript discovered by a publisher sooner, speed up the conversion to sale process … whatever.

Make Purpose Primary, Time Secondary
Everyone I interviewed in my book said the same thing: If you want to sell with social media, start focusing on creating crystal clear business—not marketing—purpose for it before anything else. Time will work itself out. Trust in it, have faith.

Think about how you feel when you ask “How much time is this going to take?” You’re reacting, defensive. The presumption behind the question is that LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging or whatever is somehow “different.” But what if social media could be a better way to achieve a particular set of goals you have-rather than being “so different” and such a pain? It can be if you so choose.

Social media is not rocket science. The more you think it is the more you’ll believe time investment is what makes the difference. It does not. As Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Retargeting With Demand-Side Platforms in Display Performance Media

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

Large brands will fuel much of this growth as they shift large ad network budgets to DSPs for better pricing, increased transparency/brand safety, centralized ownership, protection of visitor data, among other benefits. Even marketers who failed with display in the past can achieve success with the ad vehicle in the present via DSPs, thanks to the inherent advantages some DSPs bring to the table.

Many direct and performance-based marketers who were unable to measure traditional display buys to a reasonable return on investment in the past are starting to explore DSPs as a new source of incremental sales and leads. Since a retargeting buy is publisher agnostic (i.e., the advertiser is buying impressions served to specific cookies, not impressions served on specific websites or content channels), DSPs offer the most scale and efficiency, reaching 98 percent of internet users through one-bid management platform using global frequency controls.

Thanks to these advantages and the relevance they offer, retargeting campaigns often convert two times to 10 times more than traditional display ads, and can, at times, show an ROI equal to or better than generic search or content targeting campaigns.

Display advertising continues to evolve, and certain key strategies are starting to take shape that can help advertisers control risk while gaining valuable insights for future channel maximization. Depending on website traffic and ROI flexibility, performance-based advertisers typically have the most success kicking off testing with site-based retargeting.

This strategy enables advertisers to retarget consumers who visited their site, browsed and left without ever converting into a lead or sale. By placing a retargeting tag in the footer of these pages (e.g., the home or shopping cart pages), advertisers can build and bid on multiple retargeting segments using segment-specific messaging or offers across the web through an ad buy on either a DSP or ad network.

So why not just limit testing to retargeting? Although advertisers may be able to achieve ROI close to search or affiliate campaigns with retargeting, impression volume will eventually limit growth. Similar to the role of generic terms in driving brand term volume in a paid search campaign, it’s important to test and explore a broader set of display performance media strategies that may work at higher, more flexible RS/CPA levels in conjunction with retargeting to help drive site traffic that feeds a retargeting cookie pool.

DSPs can help advertisers implement these strategies. Run of network buys (testing different DSPs/networks with and without filters), contextual targeting and site targeting, when bought in a biddable marketplace, are all viable in driving cost-effective traffic to an advertiser’s site. If an advertiser has the right tools and processes in place, DSPs can even be profitable in and of themselves.

For advertisers that are willing to be more flexible and effectively leverage it, display performance media can quickly become the next big untapped channel. These emerging strategies will continue to evolve and pave the way for targeted display advertising for years to come.

Special thanks to contributing author Kirstin Peters of Performics.

The Retail Marketing Virtual Conference & Expo is On Demand!

Did any of you dial into Retail Online Integration’s Retail Marketing Virtual Conference & Expo? If not, there’s still time to register for the on-demand version of the event.

Did any of you dial into Retail Online Integration’s Retail Marketing Virtual Conference & Expo? If not, there’s still time to register for the on-demand version of the event.

The focus? Best practices, tactics and techniques around integrating your marketing strategies across all of your sales channels. We’re very excited to bring this unique event right to your computer.

The program is packed with interviews and panel discussions with some of the brightest minds in the business. You’ll learn the latest strategies, tips and viewpoints on cross-channel retail marketing. Sessions include:

* Design Lab: How to Make Your Retail Website Search Engine and Visitor Friendly

* How to Create Loyal Customers and Sales With Social Media

* The Bucket List: Strategies for Marketing to Your Multichannel Customers

* Going Mobile: How to Get and Keep On-the-Go Consumers.

This virtual environment truly has some great features to help you connect with others in the industry. We hope you’ll take advantage of what it has to offer, and share your insights and experiences with other attendees or friends as well. And don’t forget to tweet about the show! Use the hashtag #retailmkting when posting.

I hope you enjoy the first ever Retail Marketing Virtual Conference & Expo, and take away lots of ideas and practical strategies to help you excel in this fast-paced, ever-changing, wonderful world of cross-channel retail marketing.

Enjoy!