Marketing Lessons from Home Improvement

December 2nd, 2010 No Comments

More Power! No, that’s not the lesson from the 1990s television show Home Improvement.  Home Improvement was a television show that focused on the Taylor family. The father, Tim Taylor, understood content marketing before the age of social media.

In the show, Tim Taylor, along with his burly assistant, Al Borland, hosted the home improvement show Tool Time. Tool Time was more than just a cable television show about how to fix a toilet or repair a fence, though. It was a marketing tool by its sponsor: Binford Tools. Viewers of the show may have noticed the prominent mentions of Binford tools and the Binford sponsorship. The point of Tool Time wasn’t just to plug a leak, but to use a Binford wrench while doing it.

Binford wasn’t going to sponsor Cooking with Irma, a cooking show on the same network, as the target audience for that show wasn’t the target customer for Binford tools. But neither were they going to try to just advertise and not provide authentic content. Well, they did try.

Towards the end of the show, Binford had a new VP who required that Tool Time push the Binford name in the audience’s face. Instead of authenticity, they were asked to fake it — blow up things intentionally instead of due to Tim’s natural clumsiness. Instead of providing value, they chose to be the world’s first spammers and turn off their audience and host.

The result: Tim Taylor and the Tool Time team rebelled and Tool Time (and Home Improvement) ended its decade-plus run … and Binford’s content was now not in front of their target audience. By trying to push the hard sell, they ended up with no sell.

I’ve seen that all too often with so-called “social media gurus.” Most brands are broadcasting instead of engaging. Advertising instead of helping. Too many brands are just tweeting “Buy me” or promoting their latest events, rather then providing content that is interesting and useful to their prospective customers.  That’s not the formula for success.

Instead, provide useful information to help your customers. If you are a tool company, provide videos on home improvement tips. An office building, how about small business networking. Gerber baby food talks about parenting tips on their blog. An Internet security company can talk about how to keep your server safe. A unit testing software company can blog about code errors and writing code for testing. An educational portal can teach their users. A strategic communications and marketing firm can share marketing tips (like this very site!).  The medium isn’t important, except that it should be clear and legible. Certainly, if your customers can’t find your site or your video, it’s not very help and they won’t benefit you. That’s where SEO and proper coding, tagging, and formatting matter. But providing useful, helpful, and informative content is just as – if not more important. That’s what Binford did on Tool Time and what you need to do to your customers.

It’s not about social media or “traditional media” (was the television tradition media before the 1950s and 1960s?). It’s about creating compelling content that is useful to your potential customers. The medium is NOT the message. Tim Taylor knew that on Tool Time. Are you as smart as the tool man?

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Businesses need to consider global markets to succeed.

November 30th, 2010 No Comments

Yesterday’s Cyber Monday was bigger in China than in the United States. According to a press release from eCoupons.com, 47% of American 18-49 year olds plan on making a purchase online, compared to 60% of Chinese 18-49 year olds.

If you are a retailer, why only sell in the United States when the emerging markets want to buy? As the American economy remains stuck in a tailspin, other countries, like India and China, are eager to buy.

For the past 6.5 years, I have lived in Israel. The domestic market is small – the population is less than New Jersey – so businesses must look abroad to succeed. The flight to China takes the same time as the flight to New York, so  businesses can take whatever market they want. While in the past it was prohibitively expensive, with the low cost of shipping and logistics, e-commerce, and the fact that much commerce takes place digitally and not through the postal service, considering global markets should be an important question in your business strategy.

What markets do you work in?

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Cyber Monday emphasizes importance of online marketing

November 29th, 2010 No Comments

Happy Cyber Monday! Cyber Monday, coined in 2005, is the Monday that immediately follows Black Friday. Just as Black Friday represents the biggest physical store shopping day, Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day, as people continue their Christmas shopping when they return to work.

Cyber Monday is big business. In 2009, comScore reported that consumers spent $887M online on Cyber Monday (excluding travel), the second highest spending day of 2009.

Cyber Monday also emphasizes that it’s about a holistic marketing approach and multiple channels: not just social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. Rather the whole e-commerce toolkit. Other channels that are essential are mobile shopping sites and mobile-friendly websites, mobile marketing, social coupon sites like Groupon.  Most importantly, though is a good website that is user-friendly, makes the purchasing process simple: clear calls to action, compliant and accessible coding. Ideally, marketers should engage in usability testing to test different site versions and see which one is likely to lead to more sales.

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Boomers Embrace Facebook

November 23rd, 2010 No Comments

While Facebook has long been home for Generation Y, now approaching 30 and online since they were still in university or graduate school, with the younger generation, and Generation X also long on the network, the fastest growing group on Facebook is Baby Boomers, now approaching retirement, and grandparents. Social media is not merely a marketing touchpoint to reach those under 45, but it’s also an important channel to reach Boomers. NBC News’s Tom Brokaw explores how Boomers embrace the medium.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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The State of Brands on Facebook

November 17th, 2010 No Comments

From Mashable: The average age of a brand “liker” on Facebook is 31. The average user likes 8.5 brands.

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Marketing Disruption

November 11th, 2010 No Comments

VC Fred Wilson visits Google’s Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss disruption. This event took place on May 13, 2009, as part of the Marketing Talks@Google series.

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4 Strategic Marketing Priorities for 2011

November 10th, 2010 No Comments

Marketing is changing rapidly. It’s not sufficient to have a website, nor even a social media account. A facebook page is no more a marketing strategy than a telephone is communications strategy.

Here are some of the concerns that your organization needs to prioritize this upcoming year.

  • Digital first, print last: Both mediums are important but because of the real-time nature of digital, because of the immediacy of it, your planning should be one of digital first, print last. It’s far easier to repackage digital content for print than vice versa. Beyond that, digital is taking on increased importance. Google Israel CEO Meir Brand frequently says that in the future, we won’t be talking about “digital marketing” but just marketing: because all marketing will be digital. USA Today announced this past summer that they were emphasizing digital and reorganized their newsroom precisely to put digital first. The distinguished magazine, owned by Mort Zuckerman, US News and World report is ending its print edition, only publishing online. Digital content is real-time, requires writing for the screen and not print (The Yahoo! Style Guide provides some important tips for writing for the web and UI concerns).
  • Website and IT integration: Jeremiah Owyang, of the Altimeter Group, writes on his blog web-strategist.com, that “strategists will start to infuse the most trusted conversations of prospects and customers back to the corporate website closer to the point of purchase or during customer support.” This is an essential tactic to increase conversions. Ultimately, one of the major reasons for smaller brands to get on social media is to increase sales. In Owyang’s blog, he writes, “Social Strategists have deployed social media in existing social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.   Yet there’s an inbalance as they’ve joined customer where they are, but have not tied it back to their overall corporate website.  This is due to a few reasons: primarily stemming from the reactionary nature of “we must have a Facebook strategy” and not thinking it through, and also the freedom to not rely on legacy IT and web publication systems.”
  • Dialog – Owyang points out that most companies “lack true dialog, engagement, and enabling the customer to leave their own voice.” Past behaviors don’t lead to future success. “While strategists may be focused on dialog with customers, most are unable to give up legacy behaviors of direct marketing, advertising, and spewing content in all channels.  Brands must follow the 8 Success Criteria of Facebook page marketing –or risk an ineffective investment or worse yet, brand backlash.”
  • Listening – Despite tools that still lack actionable metrics, brands are investing more and more in listening – essential as the volume of chatter increases exponentially. According to Owyand, “companies are already investing in brand monitoring systems, with deal sizes ranging from 50-100k per year per major product set”
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What Makes An Influencer?

November 4th, 2010 No Comments

INFLUENCERS is a short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music, fashion and entertainment.

The film attempts to understand the essence of influence, what makes a person influential without taking a statistical or metric approach.

Written and Directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, the film is a Polaroid snapshot of New York influential creatives (advertising, design, fashion and entertainment) who are shaping today’s pop culture.

INFLUENCERS FULL VERSION from R+I creative on Vimeo.

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Top Reasons People Unsubscribe from Facebook Pages

October 28th, 2010 No Comments

Sometimes, people new to social media don’t understand the difference between Facebook and Twitter. This is a relatively simple thing, but the consequences of misuse can have serious implications for your brand.

Too many people treat Facebook like Twitter — frequent status updates, posting multiple times a day. The consequences not only mean that, because they don’t understand Twitter, they are missing out on conversation, website traffic, and outreach to potential new leads, but it also means that they might be upsetting and annoying their existing Facebook fan base. This will result in losing fans, potential customers, and even potentially cause negative word-of-mouth. This is one of the basic reasons why it’s important to have professional community management and an open organizational structure that takes advantage of the Groundswell.

Here are one person’s comments/summary. We concur:

-Waning interest in the brand
-Complaints about the information offered on fan pages w
-Posting too often or posting uninteresting information

Brands need to focus on content strategy and community management if they want to see healthy, active and engaged communities!!

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Digital first, print last: Reshaping the Newspaper Industry

October 27th, 2010 No Comments

“Digital first, print last” is the mantra of John Paton, Journal Register CEO and co-founder of impreMedia. Paton says as long as a print mentality dominates a newsroom, media outlets will never be able to fully embrace the demands of online.

Watch the full video from the INK & Beyond conference.

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