Tag Archives: professional development

Can Your Marketing Manager Do This?

When you look at job descriptions for marketing managers these days you wonder if any one person can really fulfill the role.  Marketing has expanded greatly in the past dozen years as the Internet and digital marketing has exploded.  Today when I look at position descriptions for marketing managers and directors I see a huge list of skills required including:
Can your marketing manager do this?

  • Planning and coordinating marketing programs and campaigns
  • Identifying new marketing opportunities
  • Manage and develop CRM programs
  • Manage and track social media communications
  • Development of traditional sales collateral
  • Trade show and special events management
  • Development and management of online advertising, pay-per-click campaigns and Google Adwords programs
  • Create, manage and administration of website content with knowledge of HTML, CSS and other web technologies
  • SEO/SEM administration and tracking website traffic
  • Develop and promote demonstration videos, kits and point of sale programs
  • Write, edit and distribute press releases
  • Manage relationships with vendors
  • Develop and manage marketing budgets
  • Design and implement email marketing campaigns and programs
  • Various duties to support sales teams

What really amazes me is when people looking for managers to fill the roles they state 3 years of experience. Really 3 years to learn all of this?  In my first three years of marketing I learned about developing corporate collateral, managing tradeshows, direct mail promotions and tracking PR efforts.  We had a 3-5 person marketing team for a company of approximately 110 people with 3 distinct product lines.  Other members of the team were responsible for content development, budgeting, high level planning and CRM.

Realistically any company looking to have a single person do all these skills and efforts well is not being realistic.  I’ve discovered that small businesses trying to be all things to all people in marketing tend to skim the surface of these efforts because the one person doing all the work is trying to keep their head above water.  True the marketing manager should be involved in all these efforts but some of the work needs to be outsourced or additional resources should be brought in to help with specific programs like SEO/SEM and online ad management.  Heck Google Adwords alone is a full time job!

Even if you do find someone that is semi-proficient in all these areas how well do you think they can perform them in a 40 hour work week?

Tips For Branding on a Budget

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to speak to the Raleigh SEO Meetup organized by Ashley Berman-Hale and Phil Buckley @1918.  The topic was “Branding on A Budget,” and since I’ve worked for many small companies I’ve had my share of challenging marketing goals on little or no budget.  In preparing my speakers notes I came across some marketing strategies to help get the most from your budget.

  • Beatles Rockband Rock Your Sites Tradeshow DisplayFind a major media event that may be happening at the same time as your marketing campaign.  Last year I had to promote a trade show appearance for Site Dynamics.  I had a minimal budget of $300 for promotional items.  One of the big stories in the mainstream media at that time was the release of Beatles Rockband.  I decided to tie into the buzz of the video game release by giving away guitar picks and a copy of Beatles Rockband to booth visitors.  For more details on the campaign read the blog post here.
  • Make the most of major events.  Another client, SignalShare was preparing to work the Pepsi Fan Jam at this year’s SuperBowl.  Since the company was a start up and had a new story to tell I reached out to people I knew at WRAL Channel 5 and pitched them on the story idea.  It worked and WRAL did a story on SignalShare that aired the week before the SuperBowl.
  • Use Social Media where and when appropriate.  I manage the newsletter for the Triangle Chapter of the American Marketing Association @TriangleAMA and delved into social media as a method to increase exposure for the newsletter articles.  I found that by creating a blog and Twitter presence I was able to reach Triangle area marketing professionals and increase awareness of our programs and events.  Website traffic increased and so did meeting attendance.  Over the past two years we have incorporated social media into our strategic outreach and communication strategy.  Click here to read my case study on Triangle AMA social media.
  • Find partners with more money or brand awareness than you.  Many times we have corporate partners, resellers, etc. that have a strong brand presence.  See if they are willing to do a co-op promotion or campaign to increase their customer base as well as yours.  If you partner with a major brand, see what their co-op program offers.  Many large companies have entire departments for managing co-op funds and struggle to get partners to use them.

Overall these strategies are great for when you are starting to build your brand.  Ideally as your company grows so should your marketing budget and resources.  I’ve seen too many companies not do this and then when the economy goes south they panic.  Branding on a budget mostly requires creativity and savvy.  Building your brand requires a commitment to marketing and an understanding of its importance to your organization.  As with any organizational activity use your budget wisely, evaluate vendors and perform your due diligence.

I want to thank Ashley, Phil and everyone that attended and asked great questions.

What are your tips for getting the most from your marketing budget?

What’s Your Training ROI?

I had a great meeting with a training company today. We discussed many topics but one of the points that really hit home with me was when they stated that companies want to measure training ROI during economic downturns. Many times training gets cut much like marketing and the investment in the future opportunity is lost.

TrainingI’ve worked for many companies in my career and only one sticks out in my mind that got training right. I was the Marketing Director for Huffman Corporation a small manufacturer in Clover, SC, about 30 miles southwest of Charlotte. Huffman made multi-axis, superabrasive machinery that made parts for aircraft engines, turbines and other heavy metal parts. Huffman had a training policy that allotted and required each employee to take 40 hours of training each year.

At prior employers training was only mandated if there was a new product or service purchased and no one knew how to use it. Usually it required so much approval to get funding for training that either the dates passed or you got tired of explaining 17 ways to Sunday why it’s important for you to take the training. So when I heard that my company would give me a week of training I was ecstatic and a bit skeptical. However there were no tricks to this gift. The training had to be relevant to your work.

So I took two classes that year, one in HTML and the other in Microsoft Access. Both classes gave me the basic understanding of the technology and applications that I needed to build new tools (remember this was 1998 and web sites and CRM were new). Within a few months I had built a ROI database to measure all of my marketing leads and redesigned some pages for the company site. The training was not expensive, probably around $600 total.

My excitement came when I showed the company president my lead tracking reports generated from my database. He asked where I generated it from and I replied that I created the database using Access after my training. His eyes lit up because this was exactly why he created the training policy in the first place. The ROI was right in front of him.

Now many people view training as time to get out of the office. I’ve even heard it mentioned as vacation by some. These are the people who will end up asking you how to use the new technology once it’s implemented since they did not embrace the educational opportunity. These are the people that are checking email and surfing the web during training.

Other times I’ve had company management ask me to take training and then come back and train the rest of the team. This usually fails due to several reasons. I’m not a corporate trainer and I tend to get frustrated when people don’t learn as fast as me. With software I tend to quickly grasp the concepts and dive into the tools features and functionality. Those who are slower will drown in my wake!

Another reason it failed is because I usually don’t have time to customize and prepare training materials. Having examples to demonstrate how the tool works is vital to showing users standard approaches and best practices. Either way going cheap on training will cost you in productivity, quality and important customer engagements.

Therefore you’re ROI in training for important tools and technology is the same as your ROI in marketing. It’s an investment in your people; infrastructure and processes that managed correctly will pay dividends for years to come. If you expect a quick return on training you are only looking at half of the picture. Yes your staff comes back from training ready to use the new tool but initially there is some time investment in starting or changing the process.

How do you measure ROI for your training? Do you have to approve staff training or does it go through HR? Does your company have a training policy?

Your Brand is Being Discussed: Are You Listening?

Blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups and MySpace pages, what does it all mean to today’s marketing professionals? Whether you’re plugged in to social networking or not, these new technologies are allowing consumers to communicate and discuss brands in all aspects to a global audience. You may not have a Facebook page or Blog, but you probably use the internet to research major product purchases like digital cameras or household appliances. Most likely, the user comments, product ratings and other consumer feedback have a strong impact on your purchasing decision.

During the November meeting, Triangle AMA members and guests were able to hear firsthand from Sean McDonald, Director of Communities and Conversations at Dell, about the strategies, viewpoints and initiatives Dell has undertaken to give both customers and employees a voice in the brand. Through the effective use of Web 2.0 technologies, Dell has enabled interactions that result in direct consumer feedback and decreased support costs.

The goal of marketing is to get people talking about your brand. Traditional advertising tells us to buy their brand because it’s better, faster, and cheaper or whatever superlative you can fill in here. Advertising and traditional marketing communications have no dialog. Humans want engagement and ignore one way messages.

The Break Up
Uploaded by geertdesager

McDonald demonstrated his point with a short video clip portraying advertising and the consumer as a young couple breaking up. The problem between the couples is that they don’t communicate between themselves as in a typical conversation, and this is true of traditional corporate communication.

With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies consumers can do what comes naturally to them…have conversations. But why should a company care? Several reasons:

  • Your company has an online presence
  • You sell or service customer
  • You spend money on advertising
  • You spend money on branding
  • You want customers to be your marketing force
  • Your customers know how to use web search engines like Google and Yahoo!

McDonald explained that we are at the dawn of the connected age. With only 20% of the approximately 6.7 billion people in the world online, more and more people are participating in the internet and going beyond basic web searches and surfing. Every second there are more computers and web-enabled phones being sold, new blogs and domains created, and thousands of messages being sent via email, text and instant messaging. So many that the number of text messages sent and received everyday exceeds the population of the planet!

In terms of the population of the “online” world, expect to see the population double in four to five years from 1billion to 2 billion users. More and more content is being loaded to the web everyday and citizens have become publishers and content providers. A single blog post can have as much power as major news stories reaching millions of eyeballs with a global reach.

Citizens are now creating and publishing online at an amazing rate. Content creating, information sharing and publishing have shifted to customers, employees and other stakeholders. With Web 2.0 technologies content moves faster then ever before and across languages as consumers have the ability to publish content anywhere and at anytime. The corporate enterprise is not longer in control of information and communication.

What has not changed is human behavior. The opinion of a friend or acquaintance that has used a product or service before still ranks as the most trusted source of information. Nielsen reports that 78% of those surveyed rank consumer recommendations as the most credible form of advertising.

What can your company do to address these changes? McDonald offered a basic four point strategy:

  1. Listen
  2. Join Conversations
  3. Tell YOUR Story
  4. Collaborate with Stakeholders

From here McDonald demonstrated how Dell listens and engages with its stakeholders. Noting that it’s more about people and processes than technology, McDonald also stated that great technology facilitates better processes and ways for humans to connect. The tools and technology are social network sites like Facebook and Dell-created user communities like Digital Nomads a community that discusses how to stay connected and productive wherever you work outside of the traditional office. The people and process involve having dedicated resource(s) in your organization to monitor and respond to the communication. Negative feedback needs to be welcomed as constructive criticism and managed.

Sounds simple, but developing new processes, acquiring resources and dedicating your time is a challenge. It’s important to determine metrics and return on investment (ROI) when planning. ROI can be measured in terms of frequency of brand mentions and driving traffic to your ecommerce site, but it should not stop there. Creating positive external validation of your brand and customer engagement is as valuable as advertising. Dell was recently named the SNCR Brand of the Year as the brand that has made the most significant advances in utilizing social media tools, technologies and practices.

In closing, McDonald ended his presentation with several questions that marketing professionals can ask themselves when developing Web 2.0 strategies along with a list of the partners and tools his team at Dell uses. His parting thought was to “smile more” as it “makes your customers happy and your competition worried.” Click here to view Sean McDonald’s presentation at triangleama.org.