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Case Study – Empowerment

Here is a campaign that I am especially proud of. As part of an overall effort to stem a rapid decline in enrollments at Cape Cod Community College, through discovery, we found that that a major obstacle CCCC was facing was a poor reputation among high school graduates. Most community colleges are viewed as a fallback, last resort or “plan B” choice. One of the objectives of our ad campaign was to reposition CCCC as a first choice (plan A) option for those who are seeking a quality education at a great price. In fact, current and prospective students should be proud to choose CCCC as it is was often a very wise choice.

 

Of course, the Cape is shaped like an elbow, and one unique behavior I observed is that people would lift an arm (similar to “making a muscle” action) to represent the Cape and then point to a spot on their arm that would correspond with a location on the Cape when describing where that location was. I had my creative department use that as a visual way to demonstrate a sense of empowerment that students were making a positive and powerful decision to go to CCCC and start their future. I also instructed them to feature a silhouette of the Cape acting as the shadow of the arm in order to help seat the idea that the bent arm was in fact a representation of a map of the Cape. We developed the slogan – “Powerful futures start here” to support the message and serve to prompt the elbow visual with a student pointing to where CCCC would be located on the Cape.

 

What a terrific self-empowerment message and one that was completely unique to residents of the Cape. We carried the campaign through al tactics including radio, web site and online video. We created an “anthemic” video with various students making muscles and pointing as they energetically walk through campus. Even the President of CCCC got into the act and made the gesture.

 

 

Results

The campaign was a great success, helping to galvanize a real sense of pride that was missing from the campus and helped invigorate not only students (boosting retention), but also faculty, administrators, alumni and the local communities. Over the course of the next few years, enrollment did indeed turn around. So all in all, a great experience with CCCC.

Important Martech Tool – Node-RED – Flow-based programming for the Internet of Things

This is interesting, Node-RED looks easy to use and should give us the ability to do a whole lot of interesting data amalgams that can provide next generation results for our clients. What’s it got to do with MarTech? It provides us an easy, fast way to do data mashups and more.  This will be an important tool in your arsenal.

The basics from their about page:

Node-RED is a flow-based programming tool, original developed by IBM’s Emerging Technology Services team and now a part of the JS Foundation.

Flow-based Programming

Invented by J. Paul Morrison in the 1970s, flow-based programming is a way of describing an application’s behavior as a network of black-boxes, or “nodes” as they are called in Node-RED. Each node has a well-defined purpose; it is given some data, it does something with that data and then it passes that data on. The network is responsible for the flow of data between the nodes.

It is a model that lends itself very well to a visual representation and makes it more accessible to a wider range of users. If someone can break down a problem into discrete steps they can look at a flow and get a sense of what it is doing; without having to understand the individual lines of code within each node.

Okay, this is basically for the gear heads in the audience.  For the rest of you, let me sum it up: this is a simple way to connect data nodes, then do “stuff” with them in new and interesting ways, using a graphical interface.  Hence it obscures much of the code.

Here’s a great video in which they import, store, and “do” stuff with a twitter feed.  Keep in mind, this could be any feed…think Google News, or something special for a client.

This reminds me of a more highly functioning version of the old Yahoo Pipes, which I used for several interesting projects to manipulate content and data.  Also, the whole interface is reminiscent of IBM’s BusDev Server for those how remember it.  Personally, I never really got that running, but that is another story.

The down side here is the new rush to privacy in light of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Debacle.  Where we had previously envisioned free flowing information from sites/devices, etc. now there’s a rush to get data sources locked down.  So we may soon find that our toasters won’t be tweeting every time we decide to have a bagel. It also means a whole lot less data for us to work with.

The great news is, it’s open source, so download, set it up on a docker install and see what you can create.  They bill it as “Flow-based programming for the Internet of Things” but I think even that name may be too restrictive.  I can’t wait to hear about the cool things you guys will build with this.

Personas: Who Are You?

One of digital marketing’s latest buzzwords is “personas”.  But what are personas, how do you create them and what do they mean for your business?

Let’s take a step back in time, say to the beginning of the 20th century, and look at Webster’s definition of personaIt was (and, still is) “an individual’s social façade…that reflects the role in life the individual is playing; the personality that a person projects in public; also known as image, via a vivid or graphic representation or description”.  

Then, in 1998, Alan Cooper (father of the visual basic programming language) published his book “The Inmates are Running the Asylum and coined the term  “persona” as it applied towards “Goal Directed” computer software design. Rather than looking at real-word software users, he proposed personas, or “characters”, whose goals, rather than their actual tasks, would help generate the best software usage experiences. But, therein lies the rub.  Cooper did not come up with a detailed way to flesh out those personas…so someone else had to!

Fast-forward to 2005 and Hubspot came onto the scene. As the industry leaders in inbound marketing (they invented the term), Hubspot finally came up with some very specific ways to generate personas.  According to Hubspot, Personas are “fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better.”

But in layman’s terms…what do personas really do?

Well, personas are supposed to allow you to market your product or service, all the way down to the individual level, by conducting research based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and geographic elements.

Does this really differ from target marketing or market segmentation, tactics that have been used in traditional marketing for decades?

Essentially, personas do the same things, but they take “deeper dive” into the individual, by examining search behavior, current job, hobbies, wants and needs.  They also come up with a picture and name for each fictional person created. That used to be called market research!

So, how do you create a Persona?

Start by jotting down what you already know about your customers, existing research that can be gleaned from your sales team, focus groups or surveys. Then monitor their online and social media behavior. What your customers say they want or need may be different that what they really want or need.  Interact with them in real time.  Whether it’s a quick response from your customer service team to a negative Tweet or thanking someone for positive feedback via a Yelp! post, real time interaction is some of the best (and most cost-effective) research you can conduct.

Then create a fictitious version (or versions) of your customer base. Depending on the products or services you sell, you will likely have more than one.  

Start with a name, age, face and body and what they’re wearing. Move on to where they live and what’s in their immediate surroundings.

Do they live in an apartment or house, do they have pets? What kind and how many?

Create their job title, consider their education, figure out if they’re single, if they have kids or if they are trying to have kids; Are they on their second marriage, starting a new career, into fitness or gaming?  

Where do they spend their free time? Is it in the virtual world or the real world? Where do they spend their disposable income? Do they dine out or prefer to cook at home? Do they like to host intimate gatherings or do they prefer going out to bars?

Do they spend money on air travel and hotels or do they prefer local activities and staying with friends? What to they want and what are they willing to do to get what they want?  What are their challenges, problems and concerns? How do they feel about your product or service?

Here’s an example of a persona that could be used for an online dating app or offline Matchmaking service

Persona of Automotive Sales Guru Tara

© Hubspot / Ami B. Cadugan 2018

After you hunt and gather all of this data, you can begin to target your personas when and where they spend most of their time. It could be Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But they could also be watching HGTV or a listening to a local radio station. Do they watch “The Today Show” in the morning while drinking their coffee, or do they read the news (online or a physical newspaper)? Or is it some combination of all of these?

So many things to think about!  By taking the time to engage in Persona creation, you can strategically direct your marketing budget to the proper channels.  The goal at the end of the day is to generate positive ROI – in whatever sense it applies to you and your company!

An Approach to Naming/ Bank Example

Developing a new bank name can be challenging. Sometimes internal stakeholders have biases or emotional attachments to certain names with no research or rationale to justify their preferences. Often, office politics and egos rear their ugly heads in generating and deciding on naming options. To make matters worse, there are agencies out there that have no validated naming process in place and thus they develop names in a vacuum.

At the agency where I work, we take a different approach. We have developed our own naming process that has proved to be effective, robust and successful. It is a process based on market research, taking the time to thoroughly understand all constituents, communities and the competitive landscape. It is a successful process that can be repeated and adapted to suit any individual situation. The real advantage of this approach is that it not only saves money but also saves time. We hit the ground running and develop the new brand vision, promise and positioning based on values. We then immediately incorporate those values into our development of the new brand identity.

As an example of our process in action, we were recently approached by two banks shortly before they were to merge into a larger entity. Our charge was to name and brand the institution. Of particular concern was that one of the banks had recently gone through a name change itself, and so it was reluctant to change its name again so quickly. We needed to determine the efficacy of keeping one bank’s name or developing an entirely new brand altogether.

Our first course of action was to interview stakeholders from both banks, so as to truly understand each one’s heritage, corporate culture and values. We then visited the communities within their collective footprint, and conducted focus groups of both customers and noncustomers who lived within the combined footprint of the new banking entity. We assessed their current feelings about the area and tested their brand awareness of banks within that area. Our process included an evaluation of the features and characteristics that make that area unique, identifying any nuances and specific needs of the communities’ residents.

We also tested various “brand stories” that represented potential brand positions for the new bank, to determine those attributes that resonated most strongly with respondents. Each brand story focused on a different aspect of how a local bank can benefit its customers and make an impact on the communities it serves. Ultimately, it was the highest-ranked brand story that we used to vet the final list of names. All proposed names were evaluated solely on how they related to the brand story.

After that, gaining consensus was relatively easy. Essentially, we had changed the conversation from whether or not we should keep one bank’s name after the merger, to determining an appropriate name that relates directly to a clearly articulated shared vision of the future for the new bank. Thus we were to eliminate any premerger biases and emotional attachments to any particular name(s).

All The Kings Horse’s…

Today, marketing has become so complex and fragmented that clients have shifted from seeking “one-stop- shops” (integrated agencies ) of the past, to now demanding specialized agencies which take responsibility for producing individual marketing tactics. Clients rightly feel that no single integrated agency can be great in all phases of marketing – it is just impossible. You would think that clients must now take on the task of synchronizing the individual contributions of each of their agencies in order to build cohesive messages and indeed a consistent brand – but, you would be wrong. The prospective customer is the one who will find various marketing messages as they travel along their individual purchase journeys. It is the prospective customer who provides the context/story to the equation and who will put the pieces back together again – in a way that makes sense to themselves. Who owns the brand? As always, it is the customer.

A Golden Age Of Marketing

As I assist my agency to migrate from a traditional one-stop-shop over to a viable digital player, I felt it important to commit to paper my take on what is at the heart of digital marketing, what we are trying to achieve with it and how it differs from our “traditional” marketing approach. Traditional marketing was always suppose to start with the target customer, digital appears to start with “data” – however, they are the same thing. Mind you, what follows is by no means new, the ideas have been around for years, but now the technology has developed so far that it is almost getting out of the way of implementation AND most importantly, our clients are finally now asking for this. So, once and for all, I sum up digital marketing like this…

All “digital” is data, and all data is people, so any digital marketing plan should be truly customer centric – which means we must base our marketing strategies, tactics/messaging around understanding our client’s customers as well as around understanding the unique consumer journeys they take when making their purchase decisions. Tactics should affect consumer behavior around certain points along their journeys ad our marketing goals should really be designed to fill gaps along the journey, encourage next steps through it and ultimately make sales (or attain other business goals) by being relevant and engaging. This is accomplished by seeding the purchase path with valuable, personalized content that is enriching, valuable to consumers, and “on-brand”.

Why is this important? Well, for the first time, we have incredible tools at our disposal to truly understand who our client’s customers are. By simply adding a bit of computer code onto our client’s websites, we can identify the actual target segments who are actively interested in learning more or buying their products and services. From this information we can build buyer persona profiles of their customers which we would then use to determine the context of our messages, understand their buyer journeys as well as design appropriate strategies and tactics to reach them. This ability is really a marketer’s dream come true. Once we know who we are trying to reach, we can build lists of actual site visitors, create “look-a-like” lists of potential customers who share their characteristics and even use this information to build custom lists of potential customers. Then we can reach them via targeted emails, ads across Google’s Ad Network of sites and even while they are on Facebook. Best of all, with every interaction these targets have with our client’s web site, landing pages and Facebook pages, we learn more and can modify our messages accordingly – increasing their relevancy and effectiveness.

This is truly a golden age of marketing.

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