Tag Archives: marketing strategy

Bamboozled by oodles of data? Time to measure what really matters.

little data latestThe challenge we have as marketers and data analysts is that there’s now just so much stuff we can measure.

With more marketing channels than ever before – the role of the marketer is far from simple.

When deciding which channels to focus on and optimise – none of us can escape the necessary  relationship with, and in some cases, dependence upon,  data.

We’ve got mass reports, analytics coming out of our analytics, the opportunity to explore different aspects of analysis.  All this data is giving us fundamental insights. Right? But this is where our ‘let’s get real’ heads need to kick in.

For me, my simple and pragmatic thinking brings me back to reality and helps me to focus on what really matters. And that’s the challenge I have with big or mass data – just because we can measure everything – is it actually useful and beneficial to do so?

Here we are, spending so much time trying to keep up with the data, running round in circles measuring everything and spending a significant amount of time monitoring and keeping on top of dashboards and stats – that potentially we’re taking our attention away from key fundamentals that really matter?

If we’re honest – there’s definitely a big ‘SO WHAT’ factor with many of the insights and stats that we as marketers rigidly spend time measuring and monitoring. Analytics – mass data – big data – programmatic data – call it what you will – the real question is – does what we are measuring actually  matter.

Yes, it may be telling us stuff – but is the stuff it’s telling us actually important and does it fundamentally impact achieving key objectives?

Little Data – my hero of the day

Just as there are potentially different descriptions about mass data – I’m sure there are too about what I refer to as ‘little data’. From a very basic perspective – for me, ‘little data’ is about getting down to the nitty gritty of measuring what really matters. The key word here is ‘relevance’.  Objectively driven metrics. I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:

  • What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
  • What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure success or progress?
  • What simple discipline are we going to apply to ensure we are continuously capturing, monitoring and learning from these absolutely fundamental necessary metrics?

For me, what’s key is the development of a simple set of key metrics that help you to identify that the activities you are undertaking are actually delivering on your objectives.  There’s real progress.

Of course, in order to deliver on your objectives – you’ve got to have very clear objectives in place. And in my humble opinion, this is where many businesses and campaigns fall down.

Having absolute clarity in what needs to be achieved and drilling down to the necessary metrics to monitor effective progress is often missing.

Measuring everything we can no doubt uncovers some interesting insights – but those insights are not necessarily going to keep our eye on the ball and keep us focused on delivering  key objectives that ultimately make all the difference.

Little data, or objectively driven data, for me is all about ‘relevance’– they may be ‘little’ and few but it’s this ‘little data’  that focuses attention for BIG impact.

Agree?

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email michelle@carvillcreative.co.uk 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Meaningful marketing – right message, right person, right time

It was back in 2009 (blimey almost 7 years ago now) when I blogged about right person, right message and right time.

The post largely focused on direct mail – and the fact that many of our clients were challenged by the fact that they were getting low response rates to their one hit wonder marketing attempts.

Of course, in the past 7 years – everything has changed and yet nothing has changed.  The sentiment in the blog post I wrote almost 7 years ago remains the same – it’s just that tools, channels and technologies enable us even more with our endeavours to get the right message to the right person at the right time.

RMRPRT

However, whilst the tactics haven’t changed, the playing field has. There’s now more content delivered to consumers daily than ever before.

As Eric Schmidt famously said in 2010 ‘Every 2 days we create as much content as we did up to 2003!

With an abundance of content around – and technology at our 24/7 fingertips making whatever we need accessible to us – then there’s real skill required to get into the hearts and minds of your audience.

However, the practical tactics I talked about in 2009 remain:

1) A clear understanding of the purpose of the mailing (what need is it fulfilling).

2) Accurate and relevant targeting (the benefits may be great but if they’re not relevant to your audience – you’ve missed the point).

3) A way to compel and involve the reader to take action and respond.

So let’s take a look at the winning combination: Right message, right person and the right time.

Right Person

Targeting is the first step in any campaign.  Question your logic: who are you trying to attract?  Who do you want to reach?  Targeting is easier these days, but you still have to have systems in place to learn as much as possible.  You need to have some knowledge of your audience, in order to be able to target effectively.

A great start to targeting is utilising existing customer information, their user behaviours, the journey they’ve taken to reach you and where possible, ask questions during your purchase processes where relevant to find out more about them. Different WordPress website designs will attract different personalities so experiment with them in a way where you can see the differences. Such information should enable you to identify with them – understand what motivates them.  The more you have the more you are able to profile them into segments that focus on them as real people rather than ‘batches of behaviour’. The more your know, the closer you can get, the more personalised you can be – the more authentic the relationship you can build.

Right Message

There are many tactics and ideas for making your communications ‘stand out’.   And indeed some businesses spend enormous amounts of money on gimmicks, creative and incentives both online and offline.

It’s worth remembering that what customers (aka people) are really looking for is relevance – they are far more likely to respond to a mailing which has an offer they are interested in, than to one which has a great design or gimmick, but is of no relevance to them.

Indeed, it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘attention grabbing gimmicks’ – this is the fun stuff.   And whilst the ‘whacky’ designs may catch attention – what all communication experts agree on is the importance of ‘relevance of message’.  In a time strapped world, if you’re going to ‘show up’ and be useful, then you need to be as relevant as possible.

Experts agree that the creation of the ‘message’ needs research and planning.

The focus of the message is to win attention and encourage your readers to take action.  Some key tips to consider when crafting your message:

  • Be yourself – personalise communications as much as you can and demonstrate a sound knowledge of your audience’s business dynamics (if relevant) and a clear understanding of the obstacles they face.  If the reader believes you have empathy with their situation – they are far more likely to engage with your message.
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself – readers are interested in what you can do for them – not what you do.  Focus on the opportunities your products and services present for them. A good mantra is to uncover the ‘benefits of the benefits’.  If you’re too ‘feature’ focused – you’re missing the critical element of what’s in it for them.
  • Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible and minimise the ‘we’s’.  This will warm up your messaging considerably.
  • If there is an offer in your message – then be direct about it – and get the value proposition or the offer in early on in the communication.   If you can save them £500 immediately (and if that’s a relevant message to them) – then tell them this in the headline.  And of course, repeat the offer again at other points – don’t let them miss the opportunity.
  • Make it easy for people to buy/engage/take action.  So often I read communications where I’m thinking – ‘what do they want me to do’.  Be sure you have clear instruction of how to take action.
  • Be sure to keep any response mechanisms (in order for people to engage and take action) as simple as possible and where relevant provide a few response options.  Don’t stipulate that orders must be done ‘online’ – as that may present an obstruction to buy.

Right Time

A key aspect to all effective communication is  ‘timing’.  It’s very difficult to know exactly when your target customer is ‘ready to buy / engage or take action’.  Of course, there may be some seasonal opportunities which determine an opportune time – and so consider this when planning.  But remind yourself, that it still doesn’t provide any guarantees.

Timing is exactly why ‘one hit wonders’ are extremely rare – if evident at all.  More often than not – deciding when to communicate, email, target – is more of a case of what you can internally manage and resource.

And that’s fine – provided that you don’t plan on doing communications or campaigns in ‘isolation’.  By this I mean – that you do not attempt to attain the elusive ‘one hit wonder’ – but instead plan an integrated marketing campaign of which direct messaging is one component.

Regular communication is the only solution to the ‘right time’ problem.  Even with sophisticated consumer behaviourial profiling, knowing just ‘when’ a customer is ready to buy – requires skills beyond the realms of our 5 senses.  Of course, marketing automation helps us to keep moving those interested in what we’ve shared forward – but again, be sure all communications are as ‘human’ and personable as possible. Often – automated communications are obvious. I know I’m being marched through a funnel – albeit a sophisticated one. So make the experience as personable and personalised as possible.

Having continuous conversations with your audience is key as even if your offer is amazingly compelling – for many of the people you target, it may simply be a case that now is just not the right time for them.  However, 6 months down the line – it may be the perfect time for them.  And so – regular communication, providing genuine value with each message, allows you to build ‘share of mind’, loyalty, and eventually ‘hit the mark’.

Let’s think about it this way.  Research in ‘sales activity’ tells us that the optimum number of times you need to ask the customer to buy in order to gain a positive result is 7.   This tells us that regular communication is necessary to achieve the end objective.

So – right time, right person, right message, six simple words – yet a whole load of complexity in getting it right.

In a sea of sameness and overload of marketing messages, consumer offers and choice – making your marketing activity authentically personable and meaningful has never been more important. So taken on the challenge of complexity, commit to getting close to your audience – like in case of doing the bluetooth beacon marketing – so you genuinely understand their needs – and you’ve got a whole lot more chance of getting the right message, to the right person at the right time.

My message to you is that if you’re not investing time in learning – then you’re just ‘churning’.  And my guess is, that’s not proving to be very effective.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email michelle@carvillcreative.co.uk 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Where are you heading in 2014 – What’s your Vision?

The creation of your business may have been down to many factors – timing, a brilliant innovative idea, discovering a gap in the market, an invention – however, whatever it was, to bring your business to life and ensure its longevity, then knowing where your business is heading and having a vision, which you can ‘share’ with employees, investors and customers – is an all important, yet often overlooked, part of the business planning process.

The Visioning Process is really the critical starting point – if you have a clearly set out a vision for where your business is heading, you have something that you can live by – and any other stakeholders, can easilyvisioning process michelle carvill at carvill creativing online visibility and social media experts understand. After all, if you have everyone associated with your business singing from the same hymn sheet – all clearly focused on the direction of the business – then you are ahead of the game in getting there.

Visioning isn’t simply about creating an inspirational ‘tag line’ such as ‘Be the best’ – it’s about the processes which are implemented and the values that underpin what ‘being the best’ means.

I recently read a case study about the vision at Motorola – their vision is very simply ‘wireless’ – simple, yet hugely ambitious.   3M focuses on ‘solving unsolved problems’.  These statements are simple enough to be shared by all team – and they are clear in saying what the companies should not be doing. Try showing up at Motorola with a wire and see what happens!

Visioning is an important strategic process – which whilst may take a bit of time to implement, it is certainly worth doing –  ensuring that you are 100% clear on where you are heading.

There’s a great saying; “People who set out without a target hit it with remarkable accuracy!” – so let’s take a look at a step by step framework for the Visioning Process

Step 1:Where are you now?

1.Do you have a vision?
2.Could you write a brief statement of your own vision?
3.Do you or your team have a mission of purpose statement? (Do they know what the business is focused on?)
4.Do you have a unique competence? (And unique is the word here).
5.What strengths, weaknesses, and areas of special skill do you or your team bring to the business?
6.What is the scope of your business? (Current products, services, markets and customers).
7.From number 6 above, can you identify what will be expanded or dropped in the future?
8.What distinguishes your business or products/services you provide.

Going through the ‘Where are you now’ questions helps you to consider a framework for your Vision.

Step 2: Preparing for Change

You’re now into the design phase of your Vision. You’ve probed and asked questions of yourself and your business – and now you need to create a vision which is clear and focused.

1.What is the direction of your future?

2.What future range of responsibilities, skills and new or expanded services will you consider?

3.How will the current and future ranges of skills or products differ?

4.What key capabilities and resources will you need to succeed?

5.How will your vision impact your businesses growth?

6.If you could create the future, what future would you create for yourself?

7.How many categories of future development can you identify that will impact your vision?

8.Can you make a list of expectations for each of those categories of future development?

9.Can you prioritise that list of expectations for each of those categories that would have the greatest impact onyour vision?

Step 3: Pulling together your Vision

With all the ‘background’ analysis undertaken – you are now in the position of putting your vision together. This is the combination of your intuition, personal vision, experience, judgement, information, values and culture.

Of course, your vision has to be shared with those associated with your business. Therefore, the vision must be distinctive and establish standards that employees and partners find necessary to follow. Doing this is no easy task – but the steps below provide a useful model for ensuring you have considered all areas:

Review all the information and materials you have compiled. This information is valuable and insightful – however, don’t ignore ideas you may be avoiding – consider all possibilities.

  1. Consider all your driving forces:
  • Products or services offered
  • Users/customers
  • Markets served
  • Low cost production, capability, capacity
  • Marketing/sales methods
  • Technology
  • Method of distribution
  • Return/profit
  • Size/growth
  • Natural resources
  • Prioritise the key elements within your vision. In your view are your strengths, driving force and culture and values consistent? Is consistency important – or is change a higher priority?
  • Having prioritised, and satisfied yourself that this is the vision you really want. By this stage, you should be able to put it into a really short, easily understandable statement that focuses and reflects:
    • An exciting future
    • The creation of value for you and your team
    • Standards of excellence and reflect high ideals, standards and uniqueness to everyone that you and your team interact with
    • Clear criteria for decision making and evaluation
    • Enthusiasm and commitment
  • Step 4: Cementing your thinking

    You’ve gone through the information gathering and analysis process – and created your vision for a new direction. And so at this point – it’s a time for reflection:

    •  Is this the best vision?
    • What are the chances for its success?
    • If it fails, what can I salvage?
    • Should we even try?

    Whilst these questions may seem hard-going – it’s important to ask yourself these questions in order to remove any doubt that your vision inspires commitment and enthusiasm. Do YOU really believe in it? Is it right for everyone who will interact with it, will it lead to business success and improved performance?

    Doubt and uncertainty are inevitable when considering a new direction – so resolve this doubt by asking the following:

    •  Does everyone clearly understand the vision?
    • How does the current situation compare with the new vision?
    • How will the vision affect the business and team?
    • What changes, if any, will be required to make the transition to the new vision?
    • Will your new vision require new or additional resources, technology, skills?
    • Have you set a timeframe – it is realistic?

    And of course, if you are not wholly confident of your Vision – test it – get a small group of people you trust to be honest to act as a sounding board.

    Step 5: Implementing your Vision

    Of course, your Vision Statement is nothing more than words until it is put into action.Whilst the words are important – it’s implementation that changes your business direction. So many times, time is given to an important strategic process – be it, business planning, strategic planning, marketing planning etc – and yet the all important implementation – the getting on and doing it, just doesn’t happen. It starts – but then fizzles out… loses energy.

    There is a strong and relevant  ‘mantra’ – lead by example.  And indeed – for any change of Vision and business direction to happen, you have got to ‘live’ it. And I suppose this is where passion comes into play – because if you are truly passionate about something – then you are more likely to pursue it than let it ‘fizzle out’.

    In what I believe is an important ‘Futuristic’ business book – Funky Business (written some 11 years ago I must add, but still highly relevant) – they cite examples of organisational vision being driven top down – such as: the multi-billionaire founder of Ikea still travels economy and stays in ‘value’ hotels, rather than the1st class and 5 star –  some may expect.  Is it okay for senior management to travel first class when those not part of that tranche are tasked with saving money on paperclips?  Over to you… But at Ikea – the founder is living the vision.

    To put the new Vision into action you need to:

    •  Demonstrate a personal commitment to the vision.You are the direction setter, the change agent and even coach.You are the visionary leader – and therefore, you must consistently apply the vision to all your actions and decisions.
    • Commit to communicating the significance of the vision to everyone.Your team need to know that your vision is working – and know that your commitment is true. It’s important to regularly communicate and demonstrate how the vision is impacting the business.
    • You are the primary communicator of the vision. Beware! It is doomed if your actions and words fail to reinforce it.

    Step 6: Keeping your vision alive!

    There are no set rules as to when to re-evaluate a vision – but 6 monthly reviews are probably sensible. Of course, by definition, all visions are always ‘just beyond reach’ – and therefore, you need to be assessing that this is the case – refining and revising in line with ongoing environmental changes. Remember, your vision needs to be keeping ahead of the rapidly changing times and technology – so reaffirmation and support for the vision are crucial.

    Clearly, a vision statement is far more than a ‘paragraph’ – it’s the starting point for quality management and continual improvement. It captures an ideal, unique and attractive image of your future and answers the question,

    “What do I want to create”.

    For more information about the Visioning Process – Building a Shared Vision, by C Patrick Lewis is a great resource.Many of the stages of the visioning process included within this article are gleaned from his book, which provides a practical framework for effective vision creation.

    For more marketing advice, news, ideas and tips why not subscribe to our blog or follow me on Twitter.

    Michelle Carvill is founder and Director at Carvill Creative – an online visibility agency covering all aspects of digital online marketing, social media and website design.