Pioneer Today – Leader Tomorrow

pioneer

I read an interesting study, titled Digital pioneers now, CPG market leaders tomorrow: GMA. It went on to discuss how proactive CPG companies that use digital marketing today are ahead of the game and positioned to be leaders in the future, apparently leaving those not currently investing in digital marketing in the dust.

The urgency of getting on the digital train is backed up with statistics showing exponential growth in e-commerce for CPG goods. I’m not exactly sure I would use that particular statistic to back up the fact that forward thinking CPG brands should be using digital marketing.

First off, until we find the secret sauce for selling fresh grocery items on the web, e-commerce for CPG goods is unlikely to take off. That said, once again a new round of entrepreneurs are tinkering with the same ideas that WebGrocer and other online grocery start-ups failed miserably at 15 years ago. Technology has come a long way since then, though so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this latest bunch will find success.

The more important reason that CPG companies should pursue a digital marketing plan is because of the change in the traditional purchase decision making model. Consumers are much more likely to research brands than in the past and look for thought leaders online for validation. The decision-making process clearly involved the consumer spending a substantial amount of time online prior to purchase. That should be as good enough of a reason as any for CPG companies to step up their digital marketing programs.

Photo Credit Rick Bolin on Flickr

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is an CPG trained marketer and an award-winning digital expert. She specializes in helping growing brands develop strategic digital marketing plans and execute them effectively.

Does Your Company Get Digital Marketing?

facebook

With 3 simple steps, most companies can move their digital marketing to a new level.

I’ve met with many CEO’s of mid-size companies who tell me, “We have somebody handling digital” and then go on to say, “You know, they update Facebook and stuff like that”. With recent studies showing a solid digital strategy can increase brand loyalty and drive sales, “handling digital” needs to be more than that.

If your company’s digital strategy needs a re-boot, consider 3 simple steps.

  1. Be Everywhere – While we complain about information overload, it is key for brands to be in those places on the web where their consumers go. For most brands, this isn’t exactly “everywhere”, but it’s everywhere important. Take a few minutes to figure out exactly the sites your target market frequents and be there with your message (and a link to your website).
  1. Sell Everywhere – Even if you don’t have “National Distribution”, you probably do if you sell on Amazon or in any of the large chains with e-commerce sites. We’re an impulsive nation. Consumers expect 24/7 product availability – so link those messages you post “everywhere”, not to your home page but to your “Where to Buy” page and feature your 24/7 retailers prominently.
  1. Engage in Dialogue Marketing – The holy grail of social is sometimes seen as consumer engagement, measured by comments, follows and likes. For a social program that actually sells product though, it takes a bit more than engagement; it takes dialogue. Try measuring your social program by how many thought leaders have your digital manager’s email and how often you involve them in your marketing program development. A small group of Brand Advocates working with your marketing team becomes a virtual advisory group that can both develop and promote your marketing programs.

Digital marketing is easier to implement and simpler to measure than most managers think…if you “get” digital marketing.

 

professional content creation Maryanne Conlin, CEO of RedRopes Digital  draws on her years of blogging, posting, tweeting, shooting and editing experience to create great content for her clients and sometimes for herself.

Executing Content Marketing

If you want to know “How Effective is Content Marketing”, you could do worse than reading this article in Forbes. Beyond discussing data based on surveys, the author manages to insert one line that should resonate with anyone who has tried content marketing:

 

As with social media it’s not the theory that’s controversial, it’s the execution.

 

 

Somewhere between concept and measurement, effective execution seems to get lost. Mostly this is the case when brands jump from theory right into execution without the planning step in-between.

But, making content marketing work means taking the time to develop a strategy, starting with:

  1. Selecting vehicles by measuring impressions –Should you put your efforts into publishing on your own site or focus more on placing content on complementary sites?

 

  1. Following Best Practices regarding keywords –Are you using a keyword tool to ensure your posts are found by consumers who might purchase your product or service?

 

  1. Keeping it short and sweet – the more information available, the less we want to read. Short yet powerful posts rock.

 

‘Nuff said.

 

- Maryanne

 

People Don’t Care About Your Brand

Sometimes I find something when trolling around the internet that strikes me as really, really true. In essence:  People Don’t Care About Your Brand – It’s all about “What have you done for me lately?”.

Check out the slide show below – great stats that highlight that point!

-Maryanne

American Apparel and The Art of the Editorial Calendar

After a seemingly silly mistake, American Apparel posting a shot of the Challenger exploding with the heading #smoke, #clouds on Tumblr, national media decried the stupidity of brands who don’t supervise their social media staff.

 

challenger

The bigger question is…why would any brand be posting something so trivial and unrelated to the brand in the first place? Yes, social media is a conversation with the brand’s consumers, constantly selling is not a good plan. But the brand DOES need to stay on message all the time.

 

That’s why building an editorial calendar is such a great idea. Rather than having a bored intern posting random thoughts just to keep to the schedule of posting on Facebook 3 times per week, what if he or she had a specific goal for the week that related to the brand message?

 

An editorial calendar lays out social media goals and topics week by week, considering holidays, new product launches and category events. It outlines the topics to be covered each week and focuses the conversation by platform. For example, last week during the Independence Day holiday, American Apparel’s calendar might have said:

 

Week Of: June 29- July 5

Theme: 4th of July

Pinterest: Posts pics of picnic/ holiday themed wear from our stock photos

Tumblr: Blog posts on: Made in USA, wearing basics for summer and pics from Pinterest ( linked)

Twitter: Post picnic pics, join in conversations on Made in USA

Facebook: Happy Independence Day graphic, BBQ photos

Note the broad nature of the theme, yet specific message about American Apparel that plays nicely into Independence Day. This keeps the posts on message while allowing for the individual creativity of the social media staff and the opportunity to have conversations with consumers around these themes. Ideally, the annual editorial calendar is included in the marketing plan and updated as needed.

 

Obviously, I did the above example rather quickly, but even this type of rough direction would have prevented the silly #smoke #clouds posts. As for American Apparel’s other problems….I don’t even want to go there!

Stories That Caught My Eye. 6.30.14

I’m a news junkie, marketing geek and sometimes normal person who likes to share. Here’s what I found interesting last week. Share your stories in the comments!

For Econ Majors and Those of us who only really enjoyed “Money and Banking”

But the real story is here in a 1990 paper she work with DH – Waiting for Work – that discusses exactly why the labor force participation rate could be so low

This week’s marketing trend’s to watch

Just fun stuff if  a little geeky

John Green’s World History Part II preview

 

 - Maryanne

 

3 Brand Best Practices In a Natural Disaster

 

As hurricane season starts in Florida and wildfire season continues in the California drought and tornadoes barrel through the Mid West, it is tempting to capitalize on the news event in social media. This is of course what trips up brands on a regular basis.

Social media managers around the world wake up each morning trying to figure out the best way to make their brand relevant that day, putting brands squarely in the middle of the challenge traditional media has struggled with for years- if you’re not a hard news site, what do you talk about when everyone is focused on a natural disaster.

In the food industry, it’s tempting to post, bone warming recipes and tips explaining why your product is just the perfect one to stock up on in the case of an emergency.

Try to restrain yourself.

Instead follow these three tips for posting about your product when everyone is thinking of something else.

  1. Be subtle . Yes, it is correct to let consumers know you are aware of the situation, but not by tying your product into the emergency. Offer your thoughts and/or prayers, but don’t sell.

 

  1. Be Relevant without being pushy. If your product IS one that is typically, emphasis on typically, included in an emergency situation ( canned soup, bottled water, dry foods) offer your audience tips. …but focus on the bigger picture and include your product in an entire list of  emergency products.

 

  1. Enter into the conversation only when invited. It’s tempting to jump into a conversation with the hashtag du jour, but when lives and livelihood are a stake, even a simple, ”be safe” can be misinterpreted. Stay on the safe side and acknowledge rather than drive the conversation.

Does this post capitalize on the current situation? Possibly. It was on my mind this morning as I made my morning posts. Hopefully I’ve shared appropriately. You can let me know.

Maryanne Conlin, CEO of RedRopesDigital likes maintaining relationships especially when they lead to good conversation    and good food.

Content That Connects – Building a Content Creation Strategy

CONTENTI think a lot about content creation. All marketers do. All marketers have always thought about words and images that connect with consumers- whether on a package or on TV or on the side of a horse drawn buggy.

 

But the absolutely ferocious, voracious need for content that brands have in the 21st century is mind- blowing!

Great content drives engagement and ultimately sales.  We need it. We need a lot of it. and in the typical manner, when a need hits the spotlight, brands are rushing willy-nilly to fill that void, sometimes at the expense of strategy and organization.

Let me give an example. Brand A embarks on a website redesign with a need for blog posts, video and some How-To’s or recipes. Brand A reaches out to everyone with a keyboard or camera and some skill in their network – bloggers, interns, employees, etc… and request content. Content of varying quality starts pouring in.

 

The streams of content, much of it time sensitive, gets uploaded to the website, blog, and social media channels haphazardly tagged and barely indexed. Some have typos. Content is written in a variety of different voices…only some of them the brand’s. Those closest to the brand struggle to take off their “sales person hat” in their writing. Very little of the content is repurposed.

 

Let me suggest a smarter way. Content development, like any marketing initiative should have a strategic focus. Take the time to develop a plan and execute it slowly. Great content written by professional content writers with the knowledge of keywords and some HTML goes a long way. With an understanding of the value of backlinks, search, how to edit a video for YouTube, what photos work best on Intsagram and how to use consumer networks to promote a post, great content creators develop end product that can be used in a multitude of ways- on blog posts and Facebook, as pins and tweets and discussed and promoted through brand advocates. Higher quality content, executed flawlessly goes further…less is more.

 

Building a content program that includes all of the various types working together under one theme goes even further. I’ve found the greatest success for my clients working from an editorial calendar to develop video, photo and written content around a theme, then repurposing it in creative and interesting ways across social media network while integrating it into marketing plans.

 

The framework is the key, but not the end all, because speed and timeliness makes a difference too. Editorial calendars in the digital world need to be flexible and strategic opportunities need to be exploited, so while I advocate a framework, I encourage flexibility. A professional content creation program requires a bit of art and a bit of science and a long term goal. Doesn’t everything?

 

professional content creationMaryanne Conlin draws on her years of blogging, posting, tweeting, shooting and editing experience to create great content for her clients and sometimes for herself.

 

Storytelling -Write Like a Fifth Grader

writingThe very best storytellers draw you with evocative language and immediate imagery. But it starts with a simple road map, an outline, a trail…

Intro – say what you are going to say

Body – say it!

Ending – say what you said.

Without this basic framework, as we all know, everything from blog posts to e-books begins to resemble a trail of breadcrumbs already half eaten by a flock of pesky sparrows.  As homework helper in chief though, I have to say, a dose of middle school English has made me a better writer by not only focusing me on those key points, but also by providing a way to take my writing to the next level.

It’s amazing what a rubric can do to improve your storytelling! While I think, as professionals in the business of writing, we all know how to break down a piece into main idea and supporting points. What we, at least I, don’t always do in any systematic way is review for what makes an essay a story – language!

Excerpted directly from a fifth grade rubric:

Sentence variation:  Does the story include a variety of compound sentences, independent clauses, appositive phrases and introductory adverbial and prepositional clauses?

Figurative language: Is there extensive use of similes, metaphors and personifications?

Word choice: Does the story include vivid and lively verbs? Imaginative and unusual adjectives? Too many vague or overused words?

The first time I used this rubric, I must admit, I had to review what exactly some of those words mean . I always get similes and metaphors mixed up; what exactly IS an adverbial clause?  But, the process, of course gets easier and admittedly more fun. And an essay becomes a story.

These days, rather than channeling my inner Irish, I draw on my inner English teacher. Though we prefer to believe otherwise…all the best storytellers do.

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital. Though she prefers to believes she has an the Irish gift of gab, she finds finding and following the rules of effective writing probably has something to do with her writing ability.

The Changing Economics of Produce

PMA High Performence Mgt Conference

Slide from my recent session at The Produce Marketing Association High Performance Management Conference.  I’m still working out the challenges and opportunities from this trend, but digital communication with consumers will play a big role. What do you think?

 

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is an award-winning digital marketing expert and CEO of RedRopes Digital, a consulting firm focused on building strong digital brands. Check back in a few days to access her December 5th presentation at the PMA High Performance Management Conference . Meanwhile, connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin.