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A recent study released by Mondo suggests that 80 percent of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budgets over the next 12 to 18 months. The trend comes as digital marketing becomes increasingly important to business strategies. AdAge.com has the full story below:

As digital marketing becomes increasingly important to business strategies, 80% of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budgets over the next 12 to 18 months, according to a study released Tuesday by Mondo.

The study, “The Future of Digital Marketing,” was based on an online survey of 262 digital marketing executives at b-to-c and b-to-b companies.

Of those companies increasing their digital-marketing budgets, 40% said they would increase them between 5% and 10%; 32% said they would increase them between 10% and 15%; and 9% plan to increase them between 0% and 5%.

Image Source: adage.com

“One challenge that has been very prominent for digital marketers is the hiring of great talent, and companies are finally getting the budget to do that,” said Laura McGarrity, VP-digital marketing strategy at Mondo, a technology and digital-marketing resource provider.

According to the study, the top hiring barriers are finding skilled talent (cited by 65% of respondents); the cost of quality staff (30%); attracting top talent (21%); retaining top talent (16%); and culture fit (26%).

“Turnover has been a really big issue,” Ms. Garrity said, noting that the average tenure for digital marketing professionals is 12 months to 18 months. By comparison, average CMO tenure is 45 months, according to executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart in a March 2014 report.

“There is such high demand and it’s such a new space — people are hopping around to find the best jobs,” she added. “It is a candidate’s market, particularly in digital marketing.”

The top skill sets companies are hiring for this year are digital/social (54%), content creation (44%), big data/analytics (33%) and mobile strategy (30%), Mondo found.

More traditional marketing skills are lower on the list. Only 24% of companies plan to hire marketers for creative services, and 22% for product/brand expertise.

“Every week or every couple of weeks there is a new technology emerging,” Ms. McGarrity said. “People with a very specific technical skill set — say an Eloqua expert — are few and far between.”

The study also asked marketers which digital platforms will drive customer engagement in the future. It found that today, mobile is seen as a key driver of customer engagement by only 24% of respondents, but in the next three to five years, that will increase to 70%.

Video will increase as a key driver of customer engagement from 13% today to 61% in the future; and social will increase from 38% today to 49% in the future.

Another finding was the shift to a more “elastic” workforce, defined as a combination of permanent and freelance or contract workers.

“One big thing we’re seeing is the shift from a permanent workforce to more of a contract and freelance workforce,” Ms. Garrity said. “This is a shift. Marketing has not traditionally been about hiring contract resources.”

Today, 42% of companies are made up of 100% permanent workers, while in the next 12 to 18 months that is expected to decrease to 23% of companies, the study found.

And while only 1% of companies are now made up of a 50/50 mix of permanent and contract workers, that is expected to increase to 30% in the next 12 to 18 months, according to the study.

Mitch Berman is a pioneer in the creation of innovative digital consumer and business-to-business products and services. Follow this Twitter account for the latest news and updates in digital marketing.

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It’s never too early to plan ahead. Check out this article to know the areas of digital media that could provide major payoffs in 2016.

Image Source: searchengineland.com

I know what you’re thinking: This seems a bit premature. A 2016 article at the start of 2015? It’s not a typo, though, and it’s deliberate.

There are copious 2015 planning articles circulating at the moment — but if you’ve not started planning for 2015 yet, then you are probably too late to do anything big. Sorry.

And “big” is what I’m talking about here. What large-scale tasks do you need to complete in order to take advantage of everything that’s coming your way?

For major payoffs in 2016, you need to put extra effort into these areas over the next year:

  • Data Cleanliness
  • Data Sharing
  • Partnerships
  • The Displayification Of Search & Social
  • Closing The Loop

Let’s look at each in turn.

Cleaning Your Data

Clean data sounds simple. It sounds like a hygiene factor that should be assumed. In fact, if you ask the teams that look after your database, I’m sure they’ll tell you the data is already fine. It probably is, for some purposes. But we’re talking about your digital marketing, where requirements can be different.

Think about how many data-driven tools and platforms have been introduced in the last year: new Google Shopping requirements, AdWords ad customizers, dynamic content feeds for display ads and emails, and the list goes on.

Your data feeds control your targeting, your ad messaging, and even your bidding. You can manage large portions of your campaigns just by manipulating the content of feeds, and huge amounts of that should be automated straight from your website and database.

If you have 100,000 SKUs in your database, it’ll take a lot of work to make sure they all have every field entered correctly. No typos, “pink” instead of “fuchsia,” standardized sizings, for example. These all make a big difference to your discoverability when these terms are being used by platforms to create keyword lists and other targets.

On top of your own product data, your existing marketing data can always be cleaner. Have you categorized your remarketing lists based on their traffic source? Can you do search to display retargeting by search intent? Can you do it by social source?

Making sure that your tagging is amazing and that your remarketing lists take full advantage of that tagging is a great all-year-resolution. Trust me, this will take a while.

By cleaning your product data you’ll be ready to maximize the use of the existing data-driven platforms, and by creating strong data structures and hierarchies you can make the most of your marketing data.

Data Sharing

Once you’ve got all that data, you need a way to share it.

Feeds are the obvious first step. Make sure that your ecommerce platform can appropriately output whatever feeds you need. They’ll tell you they can, so put it to the test. The requirements for any digital marketing platform’s feed intake can usually be found in their help files. Check that you can produce a feed that can:

Be uploaded in the right way. It should be possible for the feed to be hosted by you on a secure http server, uploaded by you to the platform’s own ftp, and emailed to an appropriate email address.
Be produced in the right format. This matters, and isn’t as trivial as it seems. A CSV file is a very straight up spread sheet format. Two dimensional, rows and columns with a single entry per cell. But your database might have multiple entries per field. If your product is both black and white, then you might have both colors in your entry for that item. So what does the CSV conversion do? How does it combine two entries into one? The answer to that question makes a big difference to your data output. XML is usually more forgiving, JSON can do almost anything, but both can be harder to create and then parse. What does the receiver need, and can you genuinely create it?
Be manipulated by an intermediary. Hopefully this was a 2014 add, not a 2015 one, and you already use an intermediary to optimize your data feeds. If your product name is “3 little pigs pink and white low profile easy-pour gravy boat” then you might want the version that goes to Google Shopping to move “gravy boat” to the front. It’s better for keywords and better for ads.
Be changed without needing more developer time. Requirements change regularly, and if you’re so locked into a platform that you can’t make changes when needed then start rectifying that now, to be ready for 2016.

As well as your feeds, you need to be able to share your website data and your marketing data. You have several options for this, ranging from DIY through to enterprise.

The most basic solution is Google Analytics. Chances are you already have this tracking your site, and at no fee you can track everything coming into your site. The sharing mechanism here is in Google Analytics’ remarketing lists. Set these to put people into lists based on the criteria you already created, and you can use it in Google products.

If you want to go a bit further and use them in non-Google products, you need to be able to use their own remarketing lists (or custom audiences, if you prefer).

Google Tag Manager can help you to set these up based on similar criteria to Google Analytics. Use query strings in detail, and use macros to trigger the remarketing tag to fire when you need it to, and get every data hierarchy you need into every platform you need it in.

The top level setup is to use a Data Management Platform (DMP). These dedicated services work wonders for data sharing.

Think of one as a set of relational databases, that link to almost any service or API you can imagine. If your CRM contains Name, Email, ID and Address; and your website browsing data contains page views and ID, then the DMP is the place that links those two datasets together, in this case by ID.

Import data from almost any system, link it via any and all pieces of information they have in common, create valuable segments of users, and turn those segments into targetable remarketing lists. Then do lookalike modeling to find new users who match. Awesome!

Partnerships

We all use first-party data a lot, and we use third-party data where we can, but we’re focused on aggregated, anonymous information. We’ve become so obsessed with the statistical significance of the data we’re buying that we forget about its quality.

The best way to be sure of the quality of your data is to know where it comes from. So think about other businesses you work closely with, and whether you can negotiate data-sharing deals directly with them.

Displayification

I love this word — partly because it’s so ridiculous and partly because it helps search-centric people think about the convergence of search, social and display from a broader point of view.

All three platforms allow programmatic buying, and all three allow dynamic content in their ads. They each have some target options unique to themselves (keywords, placements and social profile) but share a lot as well.

Consider that, by 2016, you’ll be treating them all similarly and managing them on the same (or similar) platforms. Make sure that your teams are set up accordingly — no silos, shared skills/training where possible, and every optimization session should consider all of them.

Closing The Loop

Attribution is still as difficult as it was when we started talking about it. It’s rarely done well — in most cases it can’t be done well — and there isn’t much on the horizon promising to make it better.

Cookies are a limiting factor that can’t handle offline and can’t work across devices. User IDs of the kind Facebook have are a limiting factor that are non-standard, walled gardens and still can’t work offline. As soon as any user’s path to conversion deviates from your stereotypical funnel (and most do) the challenges to modeling that behavior become very tricky indeed.

So what can we do? Let’s change the conversation and change expectations. Instead of attribution modeling, let’s talk about closing the loop. We know that we need to get the data about the value of conversions back into the media channels that drove those conversions, and we know that we need to account for the fact not every touch point was worth the same.

If we stop thinking about trying to solve the problem, and start thinking about improving our current position, we break away from trying to say, “This is what’s really happening,” because we can’t get that right. Instead, we want to say, “This is what I know now that I didn’t before,” and we’ve closed the loop a little bit better.

Everything Else

Obviously, this list is entirely made up of things that can be done now. For the advertisers at the absolute forefront, this was a 2014 list. But almost nobody does all of these well, and they all take a long time to set up.

It’s too late to get these all implemented in time to be at the forefront in 2015, but you have twelve months and a strategy so that you can be there by 2016.

Mitch Berman of Zen Digital Fund is a renowned digital marketing expert with over 30 years of experience in consumer and enterprise marketing, operations, and sales. Check out this Facebook page for more information about his career and the tools he developed that helped shape digital media.

The content of your company’s website and social media channels plays an important role in driving and creating sales. Forbes provides the following tips to help you make an effective content marketing strategy.

Image Source: forbes.com

Great copywriting is like having a competent salesperson working on behalf of your business, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The same can be said for the content that you create for your website, guest posts, and social media channels, provided that it’s developed with selling in mind. Understanding the basics of effective copywriting helps drive the creation of a content marketing strategy which helps you achieve your business goals.

This happens in two ways. First, by putting persuasion techniques into play with your content, you’re connecting your content to your business goals. Second, by closely tying the content that you create to your sales funnel, you’re developing assets that support both the online and in-person sales process in a meaningful way. Here’s a general framework and some practical tips to help you sell better through your content generation efforts.

A closer look at the sales funnel

If you’re already familiar with the concept of the sales funnel, consider this a refresher. Many people in the content creation space or who are looking at developing their content strategies for the first time find it helpful to revisit the core concepts behind the sales funnel. Understand each of the steps along the way from an initial thought about a product to making a purchase. You’ll naturally derive creative ideas for content that attracts leads, nurtures relationships, and drives conversions.

The idea behind the funnel is simple. Each person moves from a space of never having heard of your product or brand to buying from you. Along that journey, there are several touch points, decisions, or potential moments of influence that good salespeople try to leverage. The funnel happens in every business, but it’s most commonly understood within the context of B2B sales.

Usually, a prospect begins a process by trying to solve a problem or fulfill a desire. On the consumer side, they may be looking to lose weight, find a date, or identify the best speaker system for their iPhone. On the business side, they may be searching for a marketing coach, an SEO agency, or a software package that simplifies their accounting efforts or increases the power of their customer relationship management capabilities. Whether they hear about your brand or begin to research solutions, they now have moved into the research phase.

The length and depth of the research phase varies, by prospect, product, and the size of the sale. Suffice to say that in general, buyers are seeking to understand the boundaries of the purchase, what criteria is important, and what options are on the market. They may be clarifying key factors such as budget or proximity, and narrowing down their options to what they can afford (or think that they can afford).

A narrower list of options emerges, and your prospects may go more in-depth on their research. If you’ve made it to the short list, this is where they really begin to scrutinize your products and your brand. They might read your website, case studies, or online reviews and comparisons. Some customers will reach out to your company and open a dialogue or ask specific questions. Buyers then make the emotional decision to move ahead with the purchase.

The funnel for every company, and even every product, is slightly different. In some cases, the research phase takes months. In other instances, what you get is a micro version of the process that I just described that’s over in fifteen minutes. In either case, it’s important to spend the time to get to know your own buying cycles, and make content strategy choices that support those. Your goal is to create content that fulfills the prospect’s need at each step of the journey and encourages them to take action and move to the next step. Below, I’m going to explore a content strategy development process that’s tied to steps in a general sales funnel. As always, adapt these recommendations to your own specific needs.

1. Understand your audience

The key to moving a prospect along the sales funnel begins with understanding your audience and customers. Who is buying your product? What’s their story? Is there a specific issue, need, or pressing problem that brought them to your door? Uncovering this central motivation is critical to developing effective content later during the sales process. There are specific steps that you can take to help you do this:

  • Create a demographic overview of your core customer base. What does a typical customer look like for you in terms of gender, marital status, age, income, geographic location, employment, and similar points?
  • Develop a more in-depth picture of their hobbies and habits. Where does this person spend time? What do they read? Where do they hang out on the internet? What keywords do they search for?
  • Focus in on buying behaviors. Is this person an occasional buyer that spends on big ticket items? Frequent online shopper? Deep researcher or impulse buyer? Do they buy on credit and go into debt, or are they focused on delayed gratification (e.g. saving for that vacation of a lifetime)? The more you understand their buyer profile, the more you’ll be able to trigger the behaviors that you want them to take.

Once you’ve developed a holistic view of your customers, you’ll be able to quickly identify prospects. You’ll also be able to test any idea against this profile, and quickly decide whether or not that content would help you to convince them to buy your product. It’s also helpful in the process of brainstorming content ideas. Once you start imagining this person, you’ll find it easy to spin out content ideas that would capture their interest.

2. Assess your publishing channels

Many writers and business people craft the blog posts or articles first, and then look to find homes for them. I advocate a different approach; think strategically about where you want to publish your content before you go about creating it.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. By targeting your content to channels, you’ll increase the chances of publication and limit wasted time creating content that doesn’t get picked up.
  2. A smart channel strategy focuses on publishing your content on outlets that your prospects and customers pay attention to.

A content strategy that makes a clear link between where your content is published and where your audience spends time will be a success. It’s worth taking the time to understand several aspects of your prospects’ or customers’ content consumption including:

  • What kind of information that they go looking for
  • How they use content consumption – as the basis for education, entertainment, discussion purposes, etc.
  • What types of information they like to consume in terms of platform – video, audio, visual such as infographics, long written such as a full newsletter, or short form like a blog post
  • The general tone or voice of what they like to read or watch (for example, is it authoritative like CNN or informal like I Can Has Cheezburger?)
  • What brands, platforms, and approaches they trust

The more you understand about these issues on a fundamental level, the smarter the choices you’ll make regarding building your platform.

3. Choose topics tied to business goals

There are a number of different ways to choose topics for your content strategy. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Evergreen topics related to your industry (“Is Email Marketing Right for My Non-Profit?”)
  • Your customers’ most frequently asked questions (“How Do I Choose An Accounting Software Package?”)
  • Hot topics and developing trends in your industry (“The Ten Latest Trends in Prefabricated Agricultural Buildings”)
  • How to’s and tutorials (“How to Repair Your Own Frayed Jeans”)
  • Commentaries on the news and current events (“The Best Strategies to Recover From Google’s Latest Updates”)
  • Top 5 or Top 10 lists that highlight a specific insight or area (“5 Strategies for Creating Leadership Opportunities for Your Administrative Staff”)
  • Bringing insights from another discipline or domain and looking at what it teaches you about your own area of expertise (“What The Bachelorette Teaches Us About Urban Planning”).

Your sources of inspiration will be diverse, from the things you read to your customer interactions. Ensure that your topics hit two key points. First, topics you select should be geared toward your target customers and not to your industry peers. This is a common mistake. Second, ensure that there’s a tangible connection between what you’re discussing and what your brand represents. Off-brand or off-topic content can be damaging to cohesive market image.

4. Focus on delivering value

You’ve heard it time and again – focus on delivering value before making the hard sell. It’s doubly important to underscore this message in terms of the context of this piece, where we are exploring how content strategy helps you sell. There’s a tension around how to do this effectively. On the one hand, strong content employs the best of direct marketing calls to action. On the other, the goal of content marketing is to bring leads and prospects to your business by showcasing your expertise.

It’s never the wrong choice to focus on delivering tremendous amounts of value. As part of your content marketing – aside from sales letters – make providing value your top goal. Solving problems, making it easy to access information, showing off how much you know in a way that’s helpful and productive. When your content connects with people in search of the information you provide, sales and leads will happen. Specific approaches such as a call to action and a compelling bio that helps them easily find you are important, but more subtle, ways to get it done.

5. Find creative ways to promote your content

The final portion of a content strategy that helps you sell is having a plan in place to disseminate it. There’s a myth around inbound marketing that once you put content on the web, it’ll just be magically and organically found. It will, to an extent, through good SEO. But a smart promotion strategy adds velocity to the content that you’ve created and helps ensure that get the ROI you’re hoping for.

Promoting your content essentially means three things:

  • Optimizing your content so that it’s found organically in search engines;
  • Optimizing your content so that it’s easy for readers to share on social media, once they’ve found it, read it, and loved it;
  • Optimizing your content so that it’s integrated into an overall “click trail” that leads potential customers from one piece of content to the next, as they move through the buying cycle to the sale (or whatever conversion is meaningful to your business).

Be prepared to share your content on multiple platforms, link back to it in future pieces, disseminate to interested influencers, and more. Many experts, for example Derek Halpern, recommend spending just as much time (or more) promoting content that you create as you do writing or producing the content itself. The more people that see your content, the more potential sales you’ll make.

An effective content strategy requires a plan from start to finish, from investing in understanding your audience to driving a dissemination campaign around the content you create. Inbound marketing that’s intricately connected to your selling cycle is more likely to help you attract leads, delight visitors, and convert prospects into buyers. Are you integrating your content strategy with your sales funnel? Let us know your tips in the comments below.

Mitch Berman, Zillion TV founder, is adept in creating innovative digital consumers and business-to-business products and services based on the principles of influence, sharing, and reward. Catch the latest news and updates in business and marketing on this Facebook page.

Max Knoblauch of Mashable writes about the predictions of some tech experts regarding what’s in store for email in the next 10 years.

Email is not sexy. That is to say, the design and functionality of electronic mail, since its inception, have remained fundamentally consistent and relatively unexciting— we type out messages, send them to our contacts and wait for a reply.

In 10 years, that foundation will still exist, but we’ll likely have a lot more options.

     Video Source: Vimeo.com

According to experts, such as Yesware founder Matthew Bellows, the time for email to expand and innovate is now.

“There was an idea that email was dead a few years ago,” Bellows tells Mashable. “That’s just not true, obviously.”

Though competing messaging platforms and other options have come and gone, email has remained perhaps the primary use of the Internet since it began. When Gmail entered the mix 10 years ago, the seeds of evolution were planted. Now, email seems due for another great change.

We reached out to developers and designers like Bellows to see what those changes will look like, and how they’ll affect the way we send and receive email.

Image Source: Mashable.com

1. The dawn of third-party applications

Currently, most major email providers do not expressly support third-party applications. This makes it challenging for other companies, beyond the provider, to increase the usefulness of email as a whole for users with niche needs. For Bellows and the team at Yesware, whose tool is built on top of preexisting email providers to allow users simpler solutions to common business problems, this fact makes it difficult to grow.

“We’re kind of hacked in right now,” Bellows says. “Every time Gmail changes, we have to change.”

According to Bellows, email providers would be wise to encourage more and easier third-party programming. He believes that when Facebook launched its “Facebook Platform” for third-party development in 2007, the value of its service exploded. Users could go to Facebook for niche interests such as gaming, and all Facebook had to do was open the door. Users stayed on Facebook longer, third-party developers had an easier time reaching customers and your over-sharing aunt was able to play Farmville to her heart’s content.

In 10 years, Bellows sees third-party development exploding on email services like Gmail.

“I don’t think [Gmail is] against it, I think it’s a matter of priority for them,” says Bellows. “I think it says something that in the meantime, they haven’t shut us down.”

Gmail Product Manager Alex Gawley doesn’t disagree with Bellows prediction, but sees third-party development happening in different ways.

“It’s less about third-party devs building on top of Gmail than building within the emails that they send,” Gawley tells Mashable. To him, the future will be about senders putting richer information within emails — package tracking data, surveys, etc. — rather than building apps to improve the service itself.

2. Smarter input, history and management

“What’s going to be constant is this:We will be sending each other electronic messages and we will have way too many of them,” Bellows says.

According to him, the usefulness of speech recognition tools such as the iPhone’s Siri have yet to be fully developed. In the future, he believes more of us will send emails through voice input programs rather than keyboards. Pointing to Google Glass as an example, Bellows sees email adjusting and adapting to innovative new tech in ways that, for now, remain largely speculative.

Augmented intelligence, Bellows says, will help us figure out what to say, along with whom to say it to. And our conversation histories will more adequately inform us about whom we speak to and and how we know them. All of this, it seems, will help to increase the productivity of the ever-increasing pool of digital workers.

3. Personalized design

Kevin Fox, former user experience design lead at Google and the original creator of the Gmail interface, sees the future of email design evolving on a similar path to that of the greater web.

Email is so much the lowest common denominator in terms of design,” Fox tells Mashable. “Lots of communication that would’ve been done through email 10 years ago is now being done through chat, social networks and texting.”

More than ever, there is reason for email providers to start thinking seriously about design. To Fox, this means a greater focus on message building. Similar to Twitter bios or Facebook cover photos, Fox believes the emails you compose in the future will have more user personality included.

According to Fox, message composing could adapt a system somewhat similar to pre-built template documents, creating greater ease in messaging, depending on whom you’re communicating with.

4. Large user growth through mobile

Approximately 6 billion people will be using email in 10 years, according to Bellows. As more of the world’s population gets connected, the need for innovation and structural changes will only grow. Experts agree that most of those users will come from mobile.

“Mobile usage is growing very fast — that’s why we’ve invested so heavily in it,” Gawley says. “That’s certainly where we see a lot of growth.”

According to Fox, the increase in mobile use will likely lead to more ways users can send emails. “Email on mobile devices is more of a reading tool,” he says. “You’ll compose a message if you have to, but it’ll be shorter and there’ll be mistakes.”

Fox believes more and more emails will be created in ways other than through simply opening a compose window typing up a message.

While the future of email is largely hypothetical at this point in time, it seems clear that it will finally get a bit more exciting.

 

For more stories on technology and digital marketing, subscribe to this Mitch Berman Facebook Page.

 

Fresh off the heels of the brand’s successful Black Friday campaign featuring Melissa McCarthy,  Old Navy has signed ‘Parks and Recreation’ actress Amy Poehler to headline and co-direct Old Navy’s series of advertisements this summer. Adage has the deets on Poehler’s latest gig.

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Image Source: adage.com

Old Navy has tapped Amy Poehler for a series of ads set to run through this summer.

The “Parks and Recreation” actress is starring in, as well as helping to write and direct the spots. In the first ad, slated to break tonight during American Idol, Ms. Poehler plays an executive at a law firm. When a job candidate enters her office for an interview, Ms. Poehler is sidetracked by the woman’s outfit, which is, naturally, from Old Navy.

“There’s something about creating a sense of urgency around the product and this reaction of, ‘I just have to run out there and get down to Old Navy,'” explained Ivan Wicksteed, global CMO at Old Navy. “It’s a format for TV that works for us.”

After running a Black Friday ad featuring Melissa McCarthy — she runs off the set of a game show to get to Old Navy — Mr. Wicksteed said the brand began playing around with other, similar scenarios. The brand had a hugely successful Black Friday on the back of that ad, Mr. Wicksteed said.

“We approached Amy with a list of scenarios we’d come up with, and she started playing around with them too. She liked some, didn’t like some, came up with some new ones,” Mr. Wicksteed said. “Amy is protective of her own brand and thinks very carefully about who she wants to work with. I think that was an important consideration in deciding to work with us. We gave her a lot of creative control. We’re not dictating what she has to say in advertisements.”

Chandelier Creative, New York is handling the campaign, which will also air during “Parks and Recreation,” as well as an airing of “Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler.”

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Image Source: adage.com

Mr. Wicksteed, an alum of Cole Haan and Coca-Cola, said the ads represent an evolution in his thinking about the brand, since joining a year ago. For Old Navy, it’s important to inject humor but not at the expense of having a strong fashion point of view. “This work, even though it has a sense of humor is very, very focused on the product, the desirability of the product,” he explained. “I felt in a lot of the previous work, the product was an afterthought and not essential to the script or idea.”

Old Navy’s marketing approach and sales results have been spotty in recent years. For fiscal year 2013, the brand reported a 2% increase in same-store sales globally, compared to a 6% increase the year prior.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, quite honestly, in terms of changing people’s perceptions of Old Navy,” Mr. Wicksteed said. “There are a lot of people who think of Old Navy as selling clothes that don’t look particularly good and don’t fit really well, and that’s just not true.”


Zen Digital Fund CEO Mitch Berman is a digital strategist who intends to harness the capabilities of the different platforms of media to to spur the creation of innovative “digital” consumer. Subscribe to this Twitter page for the latest headlines on advertising, media, and marketing.

Check your wardrobe for the best attire you have, read these tips from Firmology.com, and wow your clients with the best sales presentation.

presentation

Image Source: www.firmology.com

We have seen it all before. Presentations permeate the business world and we’ve sat through them enough times we have run out of patience for anything less than a professionally polished approach. Sales presentations are still the norm but the expectations are so much higher.

That said, presentations are still essential for pitching products. You will always be pitching to a blend of visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners so you better arrive to your sales meetings capable of communicating ways that reach everyone in the room. A rock solid sales presentation goes a long way toward making that happen.

Following the popularity of a previous post, How To Create the Perfect Sales Presentation,” we put together six tips for crafting an effective sales presentation.

1. Start with a Solid Foundation

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Thousands of professionally designed presentation templates are waiting for you on the web. The trick to picking the right one is to dive a little deeper. Presentation programs like Keynote and PowerPoint offer stock templates straight out of the box. Do not use these. Look for a third party template that is professionally designed. Your company may provide you with a template worth using or you may have to invest towards buying your own. Either way, make sure you are using a template that is clean and doesn’t look like something you or your prospect has seen a million times before. Lifehacker suggests some good presentation templates to check out.

Bonus tip: Don’t overload the foundation. It is tempting to slap your logo, name and contact information on every single slide. Resist. Good design will provide that common thread and you have surely shared your card and contact information in plenty of other places including on the first and last slides.

2. Start with a pain point

The product you are promoting was designed to solve a problem. Start there. Make it personal. You should know enough about the people you are pitching to tell the story of the problem they are facing and the pain point your product is going to solve. Tell it at the beginning of your presentation. A short paragraph or even a few lines is sufficient.

This approach captures your prospect’s attention and demonstrates your expertise. It shows that you are aware of their current situation and causes them to sit up and take notice.

3. Skip the corporate spiel

You sound insecure when you continue to hit the same hammer over the head. To set the mood, many sales people spend far too much time talking about their company. They have been coached into believing this approach builds brand trust. It doesn’t. Highlight your expertise in the very narrow subject matter that is relevant to this pitch and flash a single “jewel” slide that boast familiar brand logos of companies that have invested in your product.

Your prospects want to know how you can help them solve their particular problem. Tell the parallel story of how you’ve done something similar to for someone else they like, know and trust and move on.

4. Be solution-oriented

No one wants to feel like a failure. While you need to start with a pain point to remind everyone why you are there, you don’t need to harp on it.

Highlight your prospect’s successes and tell them why your product will help them experience more of the good stuff. Be specific as you describe the wins they’ll achieve and make it personal. Name-dropping the people in the room in middle of a story about success gives them a confidence boost in themselves and by extension, you.

5. Everyone is counting on the ROI 

A business investment that doesn’t generate sales above and beyond its cost to procure just doesn’t pencil out. Go into your presentation crystal clear on how your potential client will see a return on their investment in the short and long term. ROI is about more than the dollar. Be prepared to talk about how the company  will increase sales, reduce costs, make more money, gain more market share, or improve productivity.

You need to spell out exactly how these results will be achieved. And, you need to be able to do it quickly and clearly.

6. Rehearse

This is obvious and shouldn’t be overlooked. Unfortunately it often is. No matter how well you know your prospect and your product you simply cannot expect to wing-it. The business climate is far too competitive for that type of approach. A complete rehearsal cultivates confidence and lends you the time you’ll need finesse any rough spots. Not only that, a complete rehearsal gives you a much firmer sense of how much time you should request. You never want your prospect shifting in their seat because you’ve taken up more time than they scheduled for you.

Bonus tip: Leave a little time for Q&A.  Even a thorough presentation will call to mind questions. Make sure you finish with sufficient time for additional discussion.

After you’ve nailed the sales presentation, you’re going to need a place to manage all of those leads, contacts and customers. If you haven’t yet, you can try Base CRM for free for 14 days.

 
Mitch Berman, founder and former chief executive officer of the consumer entertainment service ZillionTV Corporation, has over 30 years of experience in consumer and enterprise marketing, operations, and sales. For more details on his work, visit this Facebook page.

Forbes contributor Patrick Spenner believes that digital immigrants, or marketing shops that didn’t grow up digital, will flourish this year.  Do you agree?  Read his 10 predicted marketing trends for 2014 below.


Video Source: youtube.com

It’s that time of year. I’m hopped up on eggnog and ready to go! Last year’s “10 Marketing Trends for 2013 You Haven’t Heard” was a popular one. Let’s do it again. Hoping three or four of these are ones you won’t have thought about or fully appreciated.

1. Business Model Disruption Will Get Spikier: All the changing technology and democratization of advantages typically held only by large companies generates some real doozy business model disruptions in 2014. You might be thinking about that viral video on Amazon drone delivery, right? Nah. Too much regulatory non-sense for delivery drones to take off in 2014 (Hi-yooooh! Pun intended!).

Here’s my bet: doggie biometrics.

Imagine: dog collar with accelerometer and GPS. Chip implant with biometric sensor and gyroscope. BAM! You’ve got yourself a dog spinning out a terabyte of data about barking, peeing, eating, peeing, moving, peeing and sniffing habits. And that enables pet owners to get: custom diet recommendations; pre-warning of pet illness; remote home intruder alert; and so much more! You heard it here first.

2. Squeeze the Marketing Cost Balloon: Spiking costs from all that content, personalization, marketing technology spend and global campaigning is really cramping your style with the CFO. Quick: CMO vs. CFO, who wins?

Sooooo…many CMOs will be taking drastic measures to manage marketing costs in 2014. Insource more agency activity—yes, even the strategic kinds (many will even start there as they insource). Consolidate global agency relationships. Check. Create smaller teams (euphemism alert = layoffs and restructuring). Absolutely. Makes you wonder if it really is all about the customer, doesn’t it? CFOs are such downers.

3. Head or Tail of Content Distribution—Pick One!!! A funny thing happens when content is digitized and anyone can create it and distribute it. Players in the middle get crushed. (Well, that’s not actually funny. It’s kinda sad. Circle of life.) We know this from the past 20 years watching what happened to books, music and movies. 2014 will be a year in which many marketers re-learn this lesson—only for their own brands! Too many marketing shops will have pursued content marketing, trying to be in the head of the distribution—and they’ll spend a lot of money on it. But, because brands are competing with, well, everything else for attention, only a few will actually make it into the head of the distribution. If you want a good marker for what it takes to be there, see Red Bull. 100+ full-time, dedicated content people. A wealthy Austrian billionaire with a long time horizon. Lack of quarterly earnings pressure. If that doesn’t sound like you, you’ll want to re-think your content efforts. (shameless plug: yes, we have case studies and a POV on how to thrive in the content tail)

4. Digital Immigrants Eye the Grand Canyon, Planning for the Leap: Digital immigrants are marketing shops that didn’t grow up digital. If you’re in this group, chances are you’ve done a pretty good job making digital (or its components) individual disciplines sitting beside traditional marketing disciplines. Now, you’re looking ahead to a world where digital is flowing through everything. Sooooo, what’s it gonna take to dismantle those digital silos and re-cast your marketing chassis for that new world? If you’re smart, you’ll start to get your ducks in a row on this in 2014. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive to study it on your behalf. Please let us interview you. (shameless plug to help us help you. Email Corey Mull to participate)

Image Source: weheartit.com

Image Source: weheartit.com

5. Somebody Will Create a Hype Game about Gamification: Oh, the irony. You know how every quarter it feels like you read about some revolutionary way to use gamification to change behavior? Well, if you believe over a hundred marketing technology practitioners who are actually putting dollars behind marketing technology, gamification is all hype. Vanishingly few marketing technologists see gamification in digital marketing as creating any kind of business value compared to alternate investments. To see which marketing technologies aren’t hype, participate in CEB’s Digital Marketing Capability benchmarking (and that completes the shameless plug trifecta).

6. Smart Brands Will Formalize Change Pre-Viz Teams: “Huh?” you say. Pre-viz is short for “pre-visualization”. Think of this as creating immersive prototypes of what the new world will look like once a change happens (or a new product or service hits). We came across one company that has a dedicated team for this. The team includes a set of folks from around the company with eclectic skill sets, a hacker mentality, and an ability to literally create visualizations (think heavy on video and experiential) of what life looks like post-change. Those visualizations help sell ideas, rally support around change (employees, customers and partners), and help provide vision for where to go. Given all the change and all the moving pieces in Marketing (and commerce!) these days, you have to ask yourself why you don’t at least have a pre-viz tiger team. Seriously. Have one.

Read Wikipedia for more on pre-visualization’s origins (comes out of movie making). Good thought starters for who should be on that tiger team.

('We’ve started to see numbers of humans pretending to be bots, a strange development that signals a shift in the power and identity politics of the internet.' Photograph: Blutgruppe/zefa/Corbis) Image Source: theguardian.com

(‘We’ve started to see numbers of humans pretending to be bots, a strange development that signals a shift in the power and identity politics of the internet.’ Photograph: Blutgruppe/zefa/Corbis) Image Source: theguardian.com

7. Bot Traffic Becomes 135% of all Internet Traffic: I jest (it’s actually 62% now). But 2014 will continue to unveil just how much digital traffic isn’t really people traffic, per se. Picking up off my 2013 trend #2 (“Digital Dog Will Discover That It In Fact Caught a Buffalo, Not a Car”), this is all in keeping with more of the shine coming off digital. And just to be clear, I’m not anti-digital. I’m not in the paid employ of the “Keep TV Analog Foundation” or anything like that. I just want us all to evaluate digital/social/mobile with clear eyes. Doing my part to be a cosmic hype counterbalance.

8. Some Brands Will Call a Tech Timeout: Others will wish they had. We’re catching wind of some large enterprise marketing teams calling a timeout on new marketing technology and platforms in 2014. These brands realize their people, process and structure are getting outstripped by the technology change. In short, they aren’t getting all the way up to the productive part of the learning curves before they get sucked into new ones. During their 2014 timeout, they plan to get their you-know-what together on all the technology changes from the last five years, before they introduce any new ones.

9. Some CIO-CMO Tandems Will Get Down to Brass Tacks: Ok, we’ve all read the glossies on CIO-CMO tandems who get along great. And they do. I believe them. It’s down below, amongst the minions, where the friction happens. So, CIO-CMO tandems who want to get stuff done will do the following to help their minions in the day-to-day:

a. Put capabilities ahead of technologies—together, they’ll think not about IT or Martech roadmaps, but about business capability roadmaps and what that means for technology.

b. Create different technology “treatment” lanes—these will formalize where IT gets involved and where it doesn’t, so as to speed marketing tech experimentation in areas where there’s low risk.

c. Identify “shallow IT” transition points—they’ll find the triggers for when IT becomes more involved to scale successful experiments.

We’ll blow these out in early 2014 by sharing highlights and case examples from a study by our pals in CEB’s Technology practice.

10. Google Reveals that Larry Page is Actually a Self-Aware, Driverless Car: I’m going out on a limb on this one…or am I?

If you have a different idea of what Larry Page really is, please share via comment below.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at CEB. We’re wishing you the best in 2014.

Mitch Berman is the CEO of ZEN Digital Fund, a digital marketing and tech firm dedicated to the creation of the innovative “digital” consumer.  Check out this Google page for the latest marketing updates.