Print Media And Web Marketing Strategies

A great deal of debate is occurring online about how to measure ROI for social media marketing.

By Roger Ewing

Those of us who have spent lavishly on print media over the course of our business careers are empathetic towards our digital new-age friends who struggle to justify investing in social media.  This is particularly true now, given our recessionary cost control environment.

If the Tweeters, Bloggers and Diggers could measure the effectiveness of their social media platforms, would the management team finally stop harping about the amount of resources in time and money that are being applied to these strategies by the marketers?  Probably.  Consider this.

Only about 30% of traditional marketing has demonstrable ROI.

Then why did we spend all that money on traditional print media in the past if there is so little measurable result?  I, for one, did it primarily because my competitors were doing it.  And my competitors did it because I did, and so on. In the past, advertising wars involved keeping a body count of pages published in specific publications.  If my competitor was at ten pages, how could I not commit to at least eight pages to remain competitive?  It’s a lot like a legal battle where the lawyers get all the money, and the clients slowly go broke.

The marketing wars have begun anew, but this time the field of battle is digital.  There are several aspects of our battle strategy we will need to consider if we want our enterprises to prosper.  The first is, our old nemesis, print media.  The other is the awesome power of branding.  These two weapons combined with an intelligent social media platform, will conquer the competition in record time.

Sorry techies, print media is critical and necessary.  The marriage of print and digital marketing, when managed correctly, is the formula that produces spontaneous combustion.

There is a tipping point of web visits that is achieved, when targeted print campaigns support developing web based marketing strategies.

Traffic to your site needs to be substantial, if it is going to achieve traction and grow organically.  The quickest way to do that is to market your web site via traditional print vehicles targeted to your particular industry.

Branding has such awesome firepower that smaller entrepreneurs are often swept aside by the sheer magnitude of it.  Brands are the nuclear missile that atomizes the competition.  Look, you don’t have to be a genius to know what a well-known brand represents to the consumer.  Brand identity implies, “It may not be perfect, but at least I know what to expect”. Why else would you drive around a strange town searching for a Subway Restaurant at lunchtime?

The Internet has given entrepreneurs strange powers.  With a lot of SEO work and a very small investment, an enterprising young business can create brand awareness in a short period of time that rivals the larger brand labels.  In fact, there seems to be a group of consumers out there saying, “I like micro brands, they make me look hip and contemporary”.  Of course, a strategy built around the concept of pretentiousness won’t go very far if the product is not rock solid.

In practice, I don’t believe we can expect to know for sure what the actual result of our investment is in marketing.  However, we can directly measure our web traffic and extrapolate a return. Many sources of analytical information exist to measure the effectiveness of our internet marketing strategy.  Google Analytics is probably the most popular source of web traffic information.

Summary:

1.  Lay your hands on a sold brand name, or in the absence of a great brand, work really hard to create online brand awareness for your business.

2.  Spend judiciously on a print media campaign.  Advertise your brand and your web site in direct mail, newspapers, or anywhere else your target audience may see it.  Important rule: don’t do any advertising that is not memorable.  You are better off sending 100 post cards with a great design and a compelling message, than sending 1,000 that will not be read or appreciated.

Once you have achieved a critical mass of visits to your web site, you can begin to wean off the print media, slowly. Do so carefully, and only after Google Analytics demonstrates your number one source of web visits is the result of organic search engines.

Happy hunting!

Original Poetry by Roger Ewing

Migrations

In the meadows

above timberline

little rivers flow

from melting snow

on granite,

looking not unlike

the lights of town.

Only jets fly here

and trains of Canada geese

going home.

Silver wings turned gold

from the days setting sun.

Firing homeward

through low pressure zones,

dancing

with each sweep of wings.

Slipstreaming

in perfect northern flight.

How the nights must linger on

for sleepy honkers and creaking jet liners.

Copyright © 1975 by Roger Patrick Ewing, all rights reserved.

You Googlin’ me?

Nearly everyone is Googling, Tweeting, Facebooking, and Digging.  Just about no one is talking.

By Roger Ewing

In Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic movie Taxi Driver, a deranged Travis Bickle, portrayed by Robert De Niro, asks his own reflection this now famous question, “you talkin’ to me?”.41D64NXAFKL._SL500_AA280_

De Niro’s character is a troubled and conflicted New York City taxi driver who has isolated himself from society.  His aloneness allows Bickles’ demons to get the better of him and he lashes out at the decadence he sees in the city.  Travis Bickle is emblematic of the struggle we face in our modern lives.  Anonymity has become the desired posture.  And like Bickle, we have created cocoons of privacy around ourselves.

Problem:  How do we develop new business relationships in an environment where our customers and clients are demanding more privacy and seclusion?

Nearly 85% of all my business transactions are the direct or indirect result of someone recommending me.  Sound like a large number?  Do some research into the specific sources of your successful business transactions and you will discover, as I have, that developing and maintaining relationships is probably the most important aspect of your business.

At the end of the day, we are all in the business of relationships.

In a rapidly expanding web based world, privacy has become a scarce commodity.  Modern man seeks paparazzi free space.  The development of filtering software, and mechanisms to ensure our separateness, has become big business.  No one wants to hear from anyone they don’t already know and trust.

The irony is that your business enterprise, regardless of the category, is probably dependent upon the continued expansion of your sales base.

Solution: “Micro Community Blogs” that provide meaningful, quality information to people on a neighborhood level.  I have found this to be a simple and effective marketing strategy that gives me permission from individuals in the community to communicate directly.

Information is the drug of choice in our modern civilization.  In an effort to satisfy their desire for information, modern humans Google everything and everyone.  If information is King, then Google is surely Emperor.

65% of all inquiries on the Internet begin with Google.

Lets put that in perspective. According to marketing research company comScore, in the United States alone, some 14.3 billion Internet searches were conducted in May 2009.  comScore estimates there were 9.3 billion searches on Google for that month, representing an astounding 299.83 million Google searches per day!

Micro Community Blogging involves an Internet strategy that provides valuable information to individuals in their cocoon like sanctuaries.  Reaching out to people, community by community, will prove to be the successful approach for enterprising marketers.

Here are the basic rules of engagement.

1.  The information we share with the community must be in the first person.

2.  This information must be relevant and topical on a neighborhood level.

3.  Never sell anything in the Micro Community Blog.

Blogging is the preferred means of communicating in a village-like environment.  Blogging has replaced the chatter we used to share with our neighbors and it has become a replacement for the party-line telephone that served as the internet in our parents ancient analog world.

You Googlin’ me?  Hope so, because I already Googled you.

Sex, Death and Fly Fishing (The B2B Connection)

The Title Of A book by John Gierach

By Roger Ewing

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Part sport and part art, with a little Zen wisdom thrown in, fly- fishing imitates life, and is a good allegory for business.  In his well-read book, Sex Death and Fly Fishing, Gierach shares insights on mayflies, men, fishing, love, and the meaning, or lack thereof, of life.

When I visit Rick’s Sporting Goods in Mammoth Lakes, I am in awe of the quantity and variety of gear that is available to satisfy my fishing addiction.  Everything I crave is here.  I see a staggering array of colorful flys with names that a nail polish marketer would envy.  There are floating lines, sinking and tapered lines, weighted tippet, forceps, waders, float tubes, knot tying tools, and beautifully crafted willowy fly rods.  This, I think to myself, must be heaven.

The businessman in me makes the B2B connection to fly-fishing.  I have determined there are three important similarities between fly-fishing and marketing that the careful fly fisherman and the enterprising marketer should consider.

Choosing The Correct Fly

Fly fishermen never refer to the fly, a small bit of steal, feathers and thread, as bait.  This would be a sacrilege.  Likewise, in business it’s best to avoid the temptation to offer “bait and switch” strategies.  Success in business, as in fishing, requires that we be real, genuine and always truthful.

Marketing efforts are best described as initiatives.  We research our target market and manage our product to ensure that we have created a strategy that will likely succeed.  When fishing, I like to nymph the stream.  Using a small net to collect insects at various levels of the stream, I match the insects I find with a fly from my fly box, dramatically increasing my chances of success.

In business as in fly-fishing, the correct product for the correct audience is a sure fire recipe for success.

Presentation

Fly-fishing appeals to me because it is esoteric and provides a level of intellectual stimulation that I find very satisfying.  Trout on the other hand are much more pragmatic.  They are attracted to my fly because it is mealtime in the stream.  It’s a sort of dance.

The perfect cast will present my fly in such a manner that it will not occur to the trout that this is not a swimming Callibaetis, or a floating Caddis about to dry it’s wings and lift off the surface of the water.

Similarly, marketing pieces must be compelling, memorable and eye-catching.  Will my message be framed in the correct context and arrive at just the right moment to cause the client to react in the desired frame of mind?

For example, my goal is to deliver direct mail that has a valuable and worthy message.  I want my print ads to resonate with the reader and cause them to think about themselves in a way that is in concert with their lives and my product.  I have found that basic human needs and desires are the best means of getting a buyers attention.  The more exciting the better.  Sex, as Madison Avenue reminds us, sells.

Fly Line Management

Once the trout has taken the fly, the way I manage the fly line becomes very important.  All the gear, preparation and careful planning in the world will not result in landing a beautiful trout unless I keep my wits about me.  The line must not have too much slack, but it must not be too taut either.  I literally fish with my hands, feeling the trout’s energy in the rod and the line.

I’m careful not to tire the trout to exhaustion. It is important to me that I keep this trout alive in the stream to help maintain the precious fish population. A barb-less hook, a gentle net and underwater handling will ensure the fish swims away healthy.  For me, releasing the trout is the most exhilarating part of the fly fishing experience.

In the world of business the analogy of fly line management is obvious.  Managing the client relationship is the most critical aspect of ensuring that our clients provide us with quality referrals and then return to us for service in the years to come.

There is a fine line between appearing to be a stalker in a business relationship and actually being available when we are really needed. Staying in touch, and keeping our clients informed will make our clients feel valued and make us look professional. Accurate, quality information is important to our clients, and to us, if we want to make sure the net is filled at the end of the business day.

Summary

Creating a mutually positive end result for both parties is the active goal of any fly fisherman or entrepreneur.  Whether you are finalizing a winning marketing strategy or wading in a trout stream, remember these simple rules.  Choose the right fly, make the best presentation and manage your fly line well.

The Zen part?  We’ll leave that to John Gierach and the trout.

BLOGGING: Lessons from the film Julie & Julia.

Julie & Julia

JULIE & JULIA: “If no one’s in the kitchen, who’s to see?
By Roger Ewing

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I put on my sunglasses and fake moustache, and walked quickly through the parking lot with my head down, thinking no one would recognize me when I went into the theatre. For two weeks my wife had been asking me to see the movie Julie & Julia with her and my 86-year-old mother-in-law. Not that I mind going out with the two of them, but being seen entering a theatre in my home town to see a movie about Julia Child and cooking was, well, somehow not very macho.

The Nora Ephron written and directed movie features Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. The film is actually two stories in one. It flashes back and forth between Julia, as she begins her cooking career in 1949 Paris, contrasting her life to Julie, a woman in 2002 Queens, New York who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook. Stanley Tucci, brilliantly plays Julia Child’s husband Paul Childs, opposite Streep.

Less than ten minutes in, I suddenly realized this film is the first major motion picture based on a blog. Off came the sunglasses and fake moustache; on went the light bulb inside my head, blogging is something I could wrap my brain around.

It turns out, the real life Julie Powell started to blog as a means of getting in touch with her inner desire to someday become a writer. Her life had led her to an unhappy place. She lived in an apartment above a pizza parlor and spent her days in a sad cubicle-job working for the city of New York. She was in desperate need of some self-realization. Blogging became Julie’s passport to a meaningful existence. Her goal was to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes inside one year and to blog about it each day. The project quickly became an obsession for her.

I checked out Julie’s original blog, The Julie/Julia Project. Not that impressive. No exotic links, no theme, other than her first person rambling about life and cooking. Which leads me to an important conclusion for my own blog, http://www.rogerewing.wordpress.com.

There is no need to be fancy in delivery, only a desperate requirement to connect to your readers on a level they understand and identify with.

Compelling content is a constant requirement for successful blogging. Julie’s blog is very conversational. It’s as if I am in her kitchen listening to her while she cooks. Her written words are merely the extrapolation of her thinking onto a computer screen. Why is this so readable and why is everyone so interested in what she is thinking on any given day?

On Friday, August 13, 2004 Julie writes, “Without you here (Julia Child), I would be a different person – a smaller, a sadder, a more frightened person.” There were 238 comments posted to this particular blog. That’s impressive. It is clear she is willing to expose her true feelings to the world and has no fear of transparency. This is an important point.

One must blog from their true heart, without fear. Be willing to commit to treating the world as a welcome friend.

Julie Powell’s blog became a memoir for “Everywoman”. Julie’s writing is simply a revealing expose of a year in the life of someone just like you or me. She writes about herself, a real person, whose life is filled with joy, sadness, fear, pain, exhilaration, passion, and every other emotion that makes the human condition so complicated and entertaining.

This is a wonderfully simple film that is filled with delights, as well as a realistic sampling of the kind of challenges we all face in our everyday lives. It is also a lesson on the strength of social media and the power of the written word. I highly recommend Julie & Julia.

See it, you’ll be better for it.

REAL ESTATE: Congressman Berman Meets with Roger Ewing and Ernie Wish

NOTES FROM OUR MEETING WITH CONGRESSMAN HOWARD BERMAN 28TH DISTRICT, CALIFORNIA

Congressman Howard Berman

Congressman Howard Berman

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By Roger Ewing

This past week, my business partner Ernie Wish and I had the pleasure of meeting with Congressman Howard Berman of the 28th Congressional District in California.  The goal of our meeting was to explain to the Congressman what reality looks like from ground zero in Southern California’s residential real estate industry.  Specifically, what are the challenges and what work needs to be done to move the economy forward?

There are several issues that are preventing the real estate market from making a full recovery that Ernie and I hoped to communicate to the Congressman.

First, the home sales market is a continuum that cannot be segmented when creating policy.  While it may be politically correct to offer financial support to first time and low value homebuyers, one cannot ignore the high-end market.  These two market segments operate in concert with one another.  Without a healthy “move up” market, that includes the upper price points, all market price segments will struggle and grind to a halt.

Second, the real estate market is hypersensitive to negative changes in employment.  Individuals who feel secure in their jobs, and have an expectation of doing better in the near term, will buy homes.  When a home is offered for sale an explosion of spending often follows.  Sellers and buyers invest in their homes both before and after the sale occurs.  This healthy spending results in jobs, which in turn results in economic growth.  As a result of this phenomenon, the residential real estate market is responsible for 10% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Third, the home buying market in Southern California, while enjoying more transactions this year than in 2008, is not as healthy as current press releases may lead us to believe.  Nearly half of all reported sales are either REO or short sale transactions.  Most of these sales are occurring in a low price environment created by the recession, and many of these buyers are investors who are offering cash for homes while freezing out families searching for shelter.    The result is that only about half of the transactions occurring today are the result of individuals and families searching for a home to live in.

Fourth, the federal government needs to do more to help create a secondary market for “jumbo loans”.  Loans over the $729,750 conforming limit are very difficult to obtain.  Would be home buyers in the price segment of $1 million to $2.5 million are struggling to obtain financing, even though interest rates are at or near historic lows.

Jumbo loans in excess of $729,750 are critical to creating and sustaining a healthy move up home market.  Under current restrictive lending standards, the market is held captive beneath a glass ceiling that is preventing discretionary, well-qualified homebuyers from selling their existing home and purchasing another.  We effectively have a “bottle-neck” that is hampering the real estate recovery in all price segments.

Summary:
We found Congressman Berman to be engaging, animated and inquisitive.  He is very concerned about the state of the real estate industry and the unemployment problem facing California.  After 26 years as a United States Congressman, he is keenly aware of the difficulties associated with creating policy change in Washington, and clearly understands how to navigate the political hierarchy.  I believe he was genuinely interested in learning about real estate in his district, as evidenced by the fact that he originally committed 30 minutes to our meeting, but then spent well over an hour with us.

With a vibrant, active home market, all of us are winners.  Business thrives, investment increases, tax bases increase and the federal government will spend less on financial bailouts in all sectors of the economy.

In future blogs I will explore in more detail how the financial system works in conjunction with home sales and why real estate is a critical ingredient in preventing our fledgling economic recovery from stalling.

Social Media Tips

Lessons From the Social Media Battlefield

Social Media Warrior

Social Media Warrior

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By Roger Ewing

I recently posted a blog recounting the true story of my encounter with corporate America in the world of social media.  In that blog I detailed how, as a competitor, I was able create doubt and havoc during the launch of a corporate social media marketing strategy.  Read the entire blog, Corporate Marketing Peeps Misjudge Power of Social Media at rogerewing.wordpress.com.   There are important lessons to be learned from my experience, both from my perspective and from the corporation’s point of view.

First, social media has redesigned the business landscape, allowing even small business owners to compete for attention with corporate giants.  This is a revelation that is so powerful it cannot be overlooked.  We, as individuals, have a platform that gives us the ability to comment to large numbers of people on line at any time.  This is hugely empowering.

Mass marketing vehicles like television, full-run newspaper display ads, and expensive magazines have been out of reach to most small business owners in the past. That has changed forever.  In the realm of social media individuals and small businesses are seriously challenging the ability for corporations to manipulate public tastes and preferences.  A more urgent, creative environment is emerging where the value of unique services and products is celebrated on a global scale.

Second, corporate America is uncomfortable with the open architecture of social media.  Most have not learned that the new frontier of social media can be a wicked place, where carefully thought out initiatives and strategies are submitted for public scrutiny. Transparency it seems is not a quality corporations are particularly fond of.

Nearly everyone remembers the notorious YouTube video from April 2009 showing two Domino’s employees/saboteurs mishandling food.  Rapid response is critical in countering attacks of this nature.  Corporations generally have layers of management and cocoons of policy that must be navigated before responding to collateral damage on social media sites.

Third, interestingly, the corporation I challenged on Facebook and Twitter seemed to think that no one should question the wisdom of their marketing initiative.  In fact, the individuals from the corporation who responded to my comments on their posted “ads” seemed genuinely shocked that someone would actually counter their initiatives with public comments.  By pointing out inherent weaknesses in their new print marketing campaign, I threw a wrench into the corporate machine.  They didn’t know what to do and had no strategy in place to deal with negative feedback.

As individuals, our newfound social media power can be used for positive reinforcement, or it can be a source of negative feedback that corporations are not use to experiencing in the public domain.  The feeling is that we are just a number in the corporate machine, and an expendable number at that.  As individuals we now have a powerful voice, and as more of us become accustomed to our new power, the potential for brand damage increases significantly.

Summary:  It really doesn’t matter if you are the head of a giant corporate conglomerate, or the owner of your own pizza business.  You need a strategy to counter social media attacks from outside, as well as inside your organization.  Create a strategy that will address these fundamental questions.

Q: How will you respond to negative feedback regarding your initiatives from competitors or your own employees?
Q: Who is responsible for conveying the company message?
Q: What social media sites are your best vehicles for communicating your side of the story?

Being prepared for the rigors of the social media marketing will put you in a far better place, should your initiatives come under attack from inside or outside your organization.