Growth Hacking for customer attraction, advocacy and attribution
digital, seo, social media, strategy

3 Focus Areas for Growth Marketing: Attraction, Advocate & Attribution

Philip Kotler, the “The Father of Modern Day Marketing,” coined the phrase Marketing 4.0 in his book Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital (co-authored with Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan). The premise purports that modern consumers are confronted by by alternatives at every turn and have increasingly less time and attention to devote to a brand. As such, the consumer of tomorrow is being shaped by an increasing sub-culture splintering, a shift in marketplace power dynamics, and the paradoxes wrought by connectivity.

Essentially, Kotler makes the argument that marketers need to “stand up, get their attention, and deliver the message [consumers] want to hear.”

If we break that down, we have certain fundamentals of Marketing 4.0:

  • The consumer as the center of everything
  • Data at the center of all strategy
  • Transparency in strategies is more critical than ever
  • Consumer communication being genuine, relevant and constant
  • To gain trust, marketers must focus on social, economic and environmental commitment
  • Marketers need to listen and have a proactive attitude

With Marketing 4.0, marketers must finesse the power of technology while presenting a “human” face to their brand or service.

Marketing 4.0 acknowledges that consumers will continue to have offline interactions with brands and companies, even as we move towards a more digitally-centric world. Therefore, marketers need to be positioned to engage prospects and established customers alike with multi or omni-channel initiatives across a variety of mediums—and they must do this while being genuine, relevant and human. This is the art of Attraction Marketing, which I will go into more detail below.

Another assumption within Marketing 4.0 is the understanding that a multi-channel marketing strategy means consumers will continue to have engagements with a brand after making a purchase. Marketers therefore need to not only perfect their upper funnel touchpoints, but should understand the impact that a negative interaction can have post-sale. In other words, customer loyalty is precarious in a world where transparency and relevancy can have a significant impact on a brand’s perception.

With Marketing 4.0, consumers want to have a say in a brand’s direction and success.

Marketing 4.0 also introduces the concept of the consumer (customer) community. Gone are the days when you saw an ad on television for laundry soap, then at the store you selected that brand without giving another thought to the purchase. Consumers, especially millennials and those of Generation Z, who are not only the most tech-saavy but skeptical group of shoppers in history, desire to be more involved with the brands with which they choose to engage. They seek to have a direct influence on a brand’s social, environmental and development direction while connecting and sharing their experiences with other consumers. To facilitate these interactions and holistically grow a brand in Marketing 4.0, marketers need to embrace models that support Advocate Marketing, which I will cover later in this post.

With Marketing 4.0, marketers need to understand the impact each dollar has for acquisition, activation and retention in order to profitably scale.

As marketers ramp up their commitments to include more multi and omni-channel initiatives in an attempt to broaden appeal to a very woke consumer, the ability to scale and grow is contingent upon a deep understanding of ROI (return on investment) for each strategic outlay. This is where Marketing Attribution comes into play—the art of evaluating each and every marketing touchpoint a consumer may have on their path to purchase. That is also covered in more detail below.

Attraction Marketing

Attraction marketing is all about getting consumers to purchase something without being told to do so. It’s showing consumers the desirability of the product through valuable information focused on features, usability and unique differentiation, so that the buyer makes the purchasing decision without any prompts to do so from the brand or company. Since attraction marketing sets your brand apart from competitors by focusing marketing efforts on what makes your product or service a more attractive option, it can be a powerful strategy to create awareness, activation and brand loyalty.

The key to success with attraction marketing is having a thorough understanding of your targeted audience, where they can be found and their pain points. Once those are defined, the draw to the brand or service comes in the form of educational content that creates credibility and authenticity while dispensing with the “salesy” messaging.

It’s also vital to put a human connection to your brand. People want to connect with people, not faceless brands. Think of ways that you can incorporate your product developers or other internal users into your messaging, or for an even stronger attraction strategy, utilize user-generated content such as reviews and stories to engage your audience.

Inbound marketing is the perfect vehicle for attraction marketing and is something that can keep traffic coming long after the initial investment in the content and delivery. That being said, I suggest that you focus your primary efforts on search engine optimization, making sure your content is laden with relevant keywords that will compete and perform well for contextual searches. Once you’re optimized, you can share the content in social, email and native ads.

Some of the common ways to employ attraction marketing are:

  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Ebooks
  • Videos/Livestreams
  • Newsletters
  • Surveys
  • Online classes
  • In-person classes

And, you don’t always have to start from scratch with content. One of the easiest strategies is to repurpose content that you have already created by either converting it to another format or updating it with new content, imagery or linking. Once you do so, you will want to make sure you have resubmitted the renewed content to Google and the other search engines for fresh indexing.

Pactimo, an online retailer of cycling clothing, created a page addressing why someone would choose bib shorts as opposed to those without the straps (Why Cycling Bib Shorts? Padded Bib Bike Shorts Explained). The page falls into into the number one position on Google for searches for “cycling bib shorts,” organically introducing the brand to hundreds of potential new customers per week. Because the page not only has relevant information to the topic, but engages with links to more information, premium products and a $250 prize drawing, it has become a source for new customers.

Use relevant blog content to attract new customers organically. This builds credibility and leads to a higher activation rate.
Answering a question like why wear bib shorts has proven to be a source for many new customers for Pactimo.


Advocate Marketing

We have all experienced word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. Let’s say you’re at a party or get-together with friends and a recent purchase comes up. Someone might tell a story of a great buying experience or the incredible efficacy of the product, which leads you to imagine making a similar purchase. My wife and I bought a robotic vacuum cleaner. Every time someone came over to our house we raved how incredible it was—even going as far as using the app to launch it around the room so they could see it in action. Two of our friends have since bought the same brand.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the key contributors to advocacy marketing.
Word-of-mouth recommendations prove to be one of the best sources for new customers.


Statistics show 92% of consumers trust WOM marketing recommendations over all other types of marketing, and future customers who were referred by other existing customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Advocacy marketing is act of exciting and equipping your customers to generate buzz around your brand through social mentions, reviews, and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s the art of making the product or buying experience so good that customers feel compelled to share. When that occurs, a brand advocate has become one of your most high-value brand assets for growing awareness and loyalty. They will not only spend more than the average customer, but they’re also passionately-versed on your brand and products, making them a fantastic source and reference for new customer leads. On average, brands with a strong loyalty, rewards or ambassador program see a 650% ROI for every dollar invested in advocacy marketing.

Since advocacy marketing is extremely cost-effective with the potential for high-yields through customer acquisition, retention and reengagement, it is a growth hacking must.

Here are a few of the key components of successful advocate marketing:

  • Provide an excellent product or service
  • Deliver unforgettable brand experiences
  • Operate with a consumer-first mentality
  • Make it easy for consumers to advocate for your brand or service
  • Actively seek new advocates

Attribution Marketing

As discussed, multi and omni-channel marketing is a highly effective way to attract, engage and activate customers. But, it also means the funnel is anything but linear. A typical customer may encounter your brand or service across a multitude of touchpoints before actually making a purchase. For example, was it the blog post you shared on Facebook that brought the new customer to your ecommerce site? Or was it a cool photo of a customer using your product that you posted to Instagram? Maybe it was all the work you’ve done to SEO your product features infographic page. These are important questions you’ll need to answer if you want to determine ROI and scale or when determining CAC (customer acquisition cost).

With attribution, marketers can determine which channels and messages had the greatest impact on the decision to convert. It’s a reporting strategy that allows marketers and sales teams to see the impact that a specific marketing strategy had toward a goal, usually a purchase or sale. For example, if marketers want to see how a blog post or social media strategy impacted sales, they might use marketing attribution techniques.

Heap.io, one of the leaders in marketing attribution describes it like this:

Unlike legacy attribution (like Adobe or Google) which focus on just channels, Heap’s behavioral attribution ties in every user action, like opening emails, reading blog posts, or watching videos. As customers switch from web to phone to email, Heap ties together all that behavior into a single, accurate identity. Finally, marketers can accurately see how behavior influences conversion.

With something like Heap, marketers have access to multi-touch attribution reports allowing marketers to pinpoint the exact channel or initiative that led to a funnel goal or sale. This information can help to make better-informed decisions about future channel decisions, strategy initiatives or investments.

Conclusion

With the full advent of Marketing 4.0 and the move towards a more digitally-centric world, marketers need to be positioned to engage, acquire and retain customers through multi or omni-channel initiatives across a variety of mediums. Attraction Marketing is the perfect method to reach these new prospects in an authentic, credible manner, where sales come holistically as customers become drawn to the brand and product features. Advocacy Marketing is the strategy that activates these customers as brand loyalists who will spread the word about the products and services. Not only will the more intimate relationship drive up LTV (lifetime value) with the advocates, but it supercharges the referred customers buying power as well. Measuring results and knowing when to scale or abandon initiatives should be measured with a multi-touch Attribution Marketing tool. This allows for an accurate study of ROI and campaign analysis where anticipated CAC can be used for predictive scaling.

I hope you found this helpful, and wish you luck in your growth hacking!

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Rebranding Made Easy - Laptop on desk with coffee and phone
branding, strategy

Rebranding Made Easy!

Of course the title of this post is ridiculous.

Rebranding is never easy. It involves a great deal of planning and strategy, a whole lot of hard work and some fantastic collaboration on a million different levels..

But, having gone through a major brand refresh and several small rebrandings, I have come up with these tips for, at the very least, making it just a little easier.

Define Objectives

The first step is defining drivers and key objectives. That means answering questions like, is this a brand refresh or a brand transformation?

Once you understand your drivers, you can focus more clearly on the objectives and deliverables.

For example, a transformation may included a new company name, logo, positioning, messaging and brand identity, whereas a refresh builds on earlier brand progress. That’s not to say that a refresh is easier. In nearly every case, a refresh is going to have a whole series of challenges built in that cannot simply be ignored and likely includes the creation of an entire brand system and architecture. Many times a refresh is needed because a company has not previously established a systematic approach to brand identity, architecture, or brand management. In that case, a color palette, graphic style,  naming convention and brand personality will need to be either created or changed.

Knowing what you need to accomplish, and clearly establishing that as a focus, will save you a lot of headaches during the next steps and the final implementation.

Determine Approach and Scope

The second key principle is agreeing on how to approach your objectives. What is the scope?  Over what time and at what cost?  Who will make decisions besides the CMO, Vice President or Marketing Director (depending on company organization)?

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Branding experts developing a buyer persona
branding, strategy

Developing a Brand Story

It’s a crazy, cluttered world out there, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. There’s more brand pollution now than ever before. With the average consumer being hit by a constant barrage of branding, advertising, messaging and hype, how does a company stand a chance at standing out and connecting with potential consumers?

Theoretically, it’s easy. Just be compelling.

When a company becomes something other than ordinary it suddenly stands out as meaningfully differentiated from others in the same market or industry. And, it’s at that point where an emotional connection is made between the company and their customers. It all happens through a relevant and compelling Brand Story.

Here’s six steps that are extremely useful in developing a compelling brand story.

1) Develop Your Back Story

Back story in fiction writing is a set of events or history invented to lend depth or believability to the main story. In branding it is the background necessary to explain the problem that must be solved for the brand. It includes an thorough assessment of the brand’s past and existing culture as well as problems and opportunities it faces in the marketplace.

“Backstories influence expectations, perceptions and, ultimately, how consumers value a product,” says Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and the author of New York Times bestselling books, “Predictably Irrational” and “The Upside of Irrationality.”

“Think about the experience of drinking coffee,” Ariely says. “Part of it is the actual smell and the sensation on your tongue, but the other part is what you expect it feels like to drink regular coffee versus . . . coffee that was picked in the mountains of Indonesia.”

2) Create a Brand Persona

Developing a brand persona simply means humanizing it, with a voice and values that come across as genuine and can connect with the consumer.

It’s a highly important step in the process, as brands that successfully take on human like traits are the most revered. People seek them out, become attached to them and assign human personalities to them. After all, brands are like friends, hanging out with them says something about us to the people we know and encounter.

A good example of a company who has successfully created a likable brand persona is Target. Not only has Target clearly distinguished themselves from competitors like Walmart and Kmart by skipping the whole ‘low price’ thing, but they’ve done a great job of incorporating style, design and lifestyle into content. Plus they’ve employed hip, trendy language in everything they do, which has become their friendly, fun brand voice.

3) Develop a Story Brief

A story brief serves the purpose of outlining the entire brand story in ways that promote an empathetic understanding of the brand. It should include story or narrative arc charts, which serve to establish a chronology of the plot or action. This is also the time when you’ll want to develop a strategy around the creative supporting the story and the methods for telling it.  Imagine the story brief as a detailed game plan or internal mission brief.

Here’s a few considerations to keep in mind when developing a story brief:

Tell a real story. Craft your brand story around people and their dreams, not around your products and business challenges or successes. “The best brand stories are irresistible, compelling and provocative,” says Mary van de Wiel, founder, CEO and global brand therapist at ZingYourBrand.com. “The most memorable brand stories tell the unexpected, speak directly to the heart or dare you to live life to the fullest.”

Keep creative simple. The look of your story should reflect the mood and tone of it, and nothing more. A polished story cluttered by elaborate effects or overwrought imagery will only present a disjointed message.

Serialize your story. Find ways and places to tell the story in glimpses. Keep people coming back to discover more.

Give your story momentum. Make it exciting. Build revelations and twists into what occurs over time. Brand stories come alive for people when they feel they are participating in it.

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Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” ― Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

Photo courtesy of peoplecreations.

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Laptop with SEO strategy
seo, strategy

SEO Strategy Development – Determining the Target Audience

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In general, the higher a webpage is ranked on the search engine results page (SERP), and more frequently a site appears, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image, local, video, academic, news and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website will most likely entail editing content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Optimizing also involves incorporating elements from the overall digital marketing strategy to take advantage of social awareness, develop inbound linking strategy, and/or to create topic relevance and authority.

In order to develop a comprehensive SEO strategy, one needs to do a lot of homework, and it isn’t all just keyword research. It’s also extremely important to take time to know and understand a site’s target audience.

TARGET AUDIENCE ANALYSIS

Many times SEO consultants or agencies will jump right into Google Analytics or Google Adwords and start throwing together list of keywords without taking the time to either reconfirm or develop a target audience profile. I personally think this is a flawed approach. Understanding a site’s audience is probably one of the most important things that can be done to develop a targeted and successful SEO strategy.

Knowing the audience means not only being able to predict their search patterns, but capitalizing on all of the ways they can be reached through digital marketing. And many of those mediums will need to be optimized for effectiveness as well (i.e., social media, affiliate marketing, online advertising).

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People meeting in conference room
PR, strategy

5 Tips to Successfully Using a PR Firm

There’s no real question, a concentrated public relations (PR) effort can benefit any company.  PR not only builds recognition but can increase sales, strengthen customer loyalty and set companies apart from their competitor in crowded and oversaturated markets.

A successfully deployed PR business-building strategy can yield significant and lasting results. “Two of our clients measured [return on investment] from PR and calculated it at $4 in new business to every $1 spent,” says Amy Bermar, president of Corporate Ink in Newton, Mass.

It all sounds great, but a good deal of success lie on the management of the PR agency. Otherwise you can find the focus of the effort shifting to their vision and your company suddenly redefined by their goals and expectations.

Here are a few guidelines that I recommend you consider when hiring a PR firm:

Make Sure There’s a Good Fit

Don’t get sucked in by fancy pitches and exquisitely furnished offices. If they don’t get the essence of your company or understand your market and its challenges, you are in for a wild ride. At the end of the contract you may feel like someone tried to force you into a tutu and turned you into a ballerina. Everything you’ve come to love and believe in your company will be redefined into something you can’t recognize and your budget will be blown.

There are a zillion agencies out there specializing in as many industries. Take the time to find the right one for you. Do your homework and interview carefully. It doesn’t hurt to visit their offices to get a feel for who they are and how they view themselves. And, don’t hesitate asking them to detail specific successes, then ask if you can call those companies for a reference.

It’s probably a good idea to make sure they have accreditation from the industry’s largest association, the Public Relations Society of America. Plus, you’ll want to make sure they have specific and comprehensive journalistic experience. PR is, after all, primarily about dealing with writers, editors and publications.

Finally, ask who in the agency you will be working with. It’s not uncommon to sign a contract with a big, well-known firm only to find you’re working entirely with junior staffers.

Phase in the Fees

Just about every agency is going to want to set up a retainer, and in most cases they’ll want a one-year contract at a minimum.

It will be to your advantage to start on project with a fixed price tag. That’ll allow you to, as the saying goes, date them before marrying them. It provides you with the opportunity to evaluate both the relationship and results.

You can always try the paying for customized services option. This allows you to use the cafeteria approach and only buy what you need/want. For example, you could hire a publicist to write as-needed press releases on an hourly basis.

Here are red flags to watch out for that usually indicate you’re in for trouble and won’t get what you pay for:

  1. A firm promises guaranteed results. Seriously, who can really guarantee anything?
  2. A firm spends too much time doing research. This is an easy way to build up the charges while staying away from the actual doing (where the real results can be measured).
  3. They don’t go into specifics. You should know exactly what is planned and how they intend to make things happen.
  4. You continuously get status reports, but they never seem to show ongoing results.
  5. You find a typo in anything they present to you.

Define and Measure Results

In many cases, agencies will promise a specific number of media placements over a given period of time. Normally it’s over a month. If they don’t, you’ll want to either hammer that into the contract or look for a different firm.

Tell them what you expect, such as:

  • A certain number of column inches, air-time, sound bites or web hits.
  • A feature in an influential journal.
  • An measurable increase in customer awareness of your brand.
  • A specific number of sales leads within a designated timeframe.
  • Invitations for your executives or thought leaders to speak at events or seminars.
  • Specific industry awards.

“Develop a survey before the publicist starts to set a milestone,” says Vince McMorrow at RMD Pubic Relations in Albany, Ohio. “After their work has had a chance to be absorbed by your market, re-survey to find if the needle has moved.” This will allow you to gauge and measure results.

Manage the Process

Managing the firm will be a big part of the overall success. Ask for regular reports, status memos and update presentations. All of them will be happy to send over progress reports but getting them back into your office, or scheduling meet-ups at theirs, forces a deeper back and forth, and allows for a more comprehensive discussion of tactics and results. It’s also smart because it gives you and the firm an opportunity to consider adjustments as you move through your initial strategy.

Be Realistic

And, finally, it is incredibly important to have a realistic outlook for your intended goals. Lea Conner, at Conner Dudley Communications in Spokane, Wash., has the perfect example of a client who lost touch with reality, a self-published author who wanted to appear on TV talk shows to publicize her book. The two agreed to build up to major media over several months by creating marketing materials and having the author gain local media experience. A month later, the author grew impatient, wondering why she hadn’t yet been booked on The View or Oprah. “It’s easy for clients to get so caught up in their own dreams,” Connor says. “They fail to realize the amount of work it takes to achieve major results.”

I hope these guidelines will help you charter the sometimes murky waters of public relations and build a great relationship with the perfect agency.

Happy hunting!

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