The Whole Package

pieces of the puzzle

I had an interesting discussion with a “digital marketing expert” at an event recently.  He related to me that he had gotten an over twenty percent engagement rate for a Facebook page for one of his clients – a pretty nifty trick given that Facebook themselves will tell you that two percent is more common. However, there was no mention of the action taken from that engagement.

This was followed by a show of utter disdain for my assertions that the purpose of any engagement in social media was to drive traffic to your website, and that email is the glue a business needs to make their marketing framework more effective.  This was at the beginning of the event. As we separated to take our seats he promised we would talk more later. We didn’t, for which I was thankful.

Rather than take offense, I sat down and thought what lessons there were to be learned here. The first is that the desire for that silver bullet: “all I need is tons of likes on Facebook,” is very strong. I think a lot of us, and I will include myself in that group, have, at some point, chased after the newest shiny object, the newest method to “bring in thousands of leads effortlessly,” thinking maybe this is the one. That lesson leads directly into the second: there is no one way to make things happen, rather it is doing a combination of things (but not too many!) well that leads to success.

I’m not known for my love of social media, but I don’t dismiss it as being totally useless, as this “digital marketing expert” seemed to dismiss email or lead capture at the website. Social media or only having a sign up form on your web site isn’t going to be sufficient. People need to know about your page and your website. This awareness can come from speaking, networking, and yes the good old telephone, just to name a few.

It isn’t the one piece that closes the deal, it is the whole package.

 

Another Cart, Another Horse Before it

Confused businessman sitting on a solid rock with so many question.“Watson, what do you think the best marketing tactic for a business is?” The Effective Detective asked, as he turned away from his frost encrusted window.

“Sir? I think I am missing some data here,” I replied, feeling like I was being led into a trap.

“Excellent Watson! There is hope for you after all! Pray tell, what is the missing data?” The Detective exclaimed.

Well…” I started out slowly, watching The Detective’s face for indications that I was going in the wrong direction, “what kind of business are we talking about, sir?”

“A good start Watson! How can you possibly know what tactics to use if you don’t even know the business? Every Door Direct Mail would be a horrible choice for an online business, no? There is another piece of missing data though, is there not?” The Detective responded, almost gleefully.

” Even if you know the business, the market could easily vary, even within a certain business type,” I ventured.

“You’ve hit the nail on the head, Watson! Who the market is, where you can meet them, and how you can reach them, these are the true drivers of your marketing tactics. It sounds obvious and yet, how often have we seen people creating Facebook pages when their market doesn’t use Facebook, networking at events where neither their market, nor good referral sources are in attendance, and of course, sending out emails with content that has no appeal to the people they are sending to. It pains me to admit I’ve done the same occasionally,” The Detective ended with a sigh.

“I think this is a landmark day then sir, you, admitting a mistake?” I pushed gently.

“Careful Watson, of course I admit to my mistakes, since they are so few and far between, it does no harm, but back to the point at hand. We could end the discussion here since the point is so simple, but there is a bit of nuance to using mis-directed tactics,” The Detective responded, then gave me my usual lead to ask him to continue.

“OK sir, I’ll bite. How could you possibly make using the wrong tactic work to your advantage?” I asked.

“Ah Watson, the trick is in knowing what you don’t know,” The Detective began, “if you are certain of your market, then using the wrong tactic, simply because it is popular or cheap is simply bad business. But what if you aren’t sure of your market, or at least you aren’t sure where they are or how to reach them? Then, running small controlled tests with some of these tactics may actually help you identify where your marketing should be focused, and certainly where it should not.”

“Taking baby steps before you start running sir?”

“That is one metaphor Watson. Another one, although I despise sports metaphors, would be how a football team starts out a game with a few running plays, and a few passes to see where the defense might have a weakness, before committing their game to runs or passes, or risking the big play that could backfire on them.”

“An interesting concept, sir,” I said, not sure I was supposed to come up with a new metaphor or to just put the game to rest.

“The important thing is that you must analyze the results. As usual Watson, the clues are there, but you need to get and look at the data to find them. Now let’s get back to work shall we?” The Detective finished.

“As you wish, sir.”

Squirrels

too_much_data“Watson, do you remember our discussion regarding too much segmentation?” The Effective Detective started today’s discussion.

“Of course, sir. It is hard to forget any of our discussions,” I replied.

The Detective cast a sidelong glance my way, briefly trying to decide if I was being sarcastic, then deciding  he didn’t care, and continued.

“I have realized there is a similar issue that requires some examination,” The Detective began.

“Which would be?” I asked, encouraging him to continue.

“We all know we are all deluged with data on a daily basis, Watson. What we often don’t realize is that even when we narrow down the data points, we may not be, how shall I say this? narrowing it down correctly.”

“You mean we are looking at the wrong data, sir?” I asked, concerned.

“Not actually wrong as in incorrect, Watson, I would describe it more as data points that are distractions versus ones that take us closer to our destination,” The Detective assured me.

“I am afraid you have lost me, sir. Distractions? If the data is correct how could it be a distraction?” Now feeling a tad confused by the direction the conversation was taking.

“Elementary my dear Watson, even the simplest data analysis – is this good, is this bad? requires time. If you are looking at data that, while quite correct and accurate does not advance you toward your goal, it is a distraction. For example, obsessing over the number of hits your website gets, and ignoring if any of those hits sign up for your list  or buy products that you had for sale. Wondering how you can increase your Social Media Klout without checking to see if all of that Klout is resulting in sales,” The Detective took his characteristic pause, and I, seeing a chance, jumped in.

“Weapons of Mass Distraction, sir?”

The Detective rolled his eyes, but couldn’t hide the smile from turning up the corners of his mouth. “A bit of a cliché, but still accurate, Watson. There is actually nothing wrong with looking for hits, likes, or whatever, the issue becomes when you become distracted by them and lose sight of what the real goal is. You must look at any data in concert with your goals, for example,’ my hit rate is up but my sign ups are flat’, then you can consider issues with the copy, or perhaps you are simply getting hits from sources that are not in your market. The data only informs you when looked at together. By itself, some of this data truly is just a distraction,” The Detective finished and gave me that look that told me it was time to move on.

“Something we should all consider, sir.”

“Quite so, Watson, Quite so.”

Lions or Tigers or Both? Oh My!

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

“May we start off with a discussion of tactics today sir?” I began, hoping to get some specific questions answered.

The Effective Detective raised one eyebrow – a sure sign I had caught him just a little off guard, before responding.

“If you desire Watson, and what specific tactic would you care to discuss?”

“Should a business advertise on Facebook™ or Google™?” I shot out the question quickly before The Detective changed his mind.

“A nice direct question Watson, and the answer is also quite direct,” started The Detective with that half-smile that made my stomach drop; it would seem I had walked into a trap. “The answer of course is one, the other, both, or neither,” The Detective finished with a smile.

“That is hardly a direct answer sir!” I loudly objected, knowing that I had already lost and the conversation would move along the direction The Detective wanted.

“It is as direct an answer as your question allows, Watson. You provide absolutely no context as to the nature of the product or service this hypothetical business that is placing the advertisement provides. No context as to their market. Indeed, I would assume from the very question, this company has given no thought at all to their market, and certainly not to their marketing,” The Detective said in response.

“Yet, it is a common question that deserves an answer,” I tried again gamely.

“Rubbish I say!” exclaimed The Detective, “Besides the rather sarcastic reply I gave there are only two other appropriate responses to that question.”

“Sir?”

“The first: ‘Well that depends, what is your product or service, and how do you know that anyone on either of these platforms will be interested?’  The second: ‘If you are looking to do a test to determine whether there is a possible market for your product or service on at least one of these platforms, than do both, but be sure to limit your investment to fit your research budget.’

“There really are no other effective answers,” The Detective quietly finished.

“That is it?” I asked, for some reason expecting more.

“Wait, yes, there is one other reply. ‘If you haven’t done the research, or aren’t doing research, then advertise on neither.'”

“Another sarcastic one,” I noted.

“I’m sorry Watson, but those are the only responses I could possibly give. After all, I am not The Social Media Detective, I am The Effective Detective. Blindly plunging into the latest marketing trend like Social Media is a terrible mistake. You need to give it some thought, acquire and analyze the data before you spend a lot of time, and possibly money.”

“Always back to the data eh sir?” I responded.

“Quite so, Watson, quite so.”

Removing a Screw with a Hammer

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Image courtesy of thanunkorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I have been giving some thought to our discussion of tools the other day Watson,” said The Effective Detective.

“Oh? What other insights have you found?” I replied, hoping he would realize I was being serious.

If The Detective had felt there was sarcasm in my tone, he didn’t show it, but rather launched into his explanation, “I believe the problem goes beyond merely using an overly complicated tool, and extends far beyond the use of software, or at least what we think of as software.

“The problem is recognizing the correct tool to perform a job.  So often there is no thought given to the process, just a decision to use a tool, often because of popular opinion, “peer” pressure to some degree, and of course convenience and cost,” The Detective paused, gathering his thoughts.

“Cost, sir? Are you going to be attacking open source, and freeware now?” I asked, truly concerned at the alarming direction I felt the discussion was going.

“No Watson, I am talking more about the blind faith in Social Media and other purported sources of free traffic and leads.”

“Oh sir, not another Facebook rant! Please?” I begged, with true urgency in my voice.

The Detective cast a baleful eye, but responded. “Watson, you miss the point. A tool by itself is neither good nor bad. I am sure if you queried a multitude of consumer companies, they have had enormous success with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any number of other sites like them.

“My complaint is not with the tool but how people are being told to use the tool, no matter what the application. ‘Want to build a big list? Start a Facebook page and start inviting people to come and like it!’ ‘Need to get everyone to recognize you are an expert? Blog, or tweet, or both’. These type of suggestions are made without any regard for the target audience, whether the people who are attracted are buyers, the time frame the business person is dealing with to develop business, nothing!” The Detective stopped, obviously agitated. While he was  taking a deep relaxing breath, I jumped in.

“But sir, aren’t there any number of fairly successful people who are participating in Social Media and related vehicles?” I quickly got out.

“Thank you Watson, the evidence you just offered proves my point. Who are some of these successful people and what are they offering?” The Detective was smiling now, and I felt like I had just stepped into a bear trap.

“Any number of Internet marketers offering… uh… consumer products, or advice to other Internet marketers,” I started, understanding starting to dawn. “Successful consultants offering coaching and other advice to, well, to other consultants and coaches.”

“Exactly Watson! They target the exact kind of people who peruse the Internet looking for those kind of things. Success with the tool requires your tribe to be looking for you in the environment of the tool – Facebook, Twitter, whatever, versus you finding them elsewhere and drawing them to the environment so you can continue the conversation.” The Detective finished calmly, knowing he had made his point.

“So how do you know what tool to use, sir?” I asked, my curiosity aroused.

“Another time, Watson. I prefer you cogitate on this concept for a bit.”

“As you wish, sir.”