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5 Completely Surprising Marketing Tips Learned from Fifth Graders

January 21, 2014

fifth grade classroom

Photo source: User Michael 1952 on flickr.

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

Recently, I served as “teacher for the day” in my daughter’s fifth grade classroom. My guest appearance was coordinated by a great organization, Junior Achievement, who “teaches young people about money management and how business works.”

With a lesson plan provided by Junior Achievement, I taught five, 45-minute lessons on topics related to business and entrepreneurship. I know about raising fifth graders from the one I have at home, but spending a day with a class full of them gave me further insights on their attitudes and inclinations.

Before long, these fifth grade students will grow up and become part of the target audience for your marketing. Here are five surprising marketing tips based on my observations.

1) Forget about social media marketing.

I asked students to name examples of businesses. Here’s the list compiled by this Silicon Valley-based class:

social media top of mind with fifth graders

Perhaps they were too young to name Snapchat? The point is, fifth graders are on the bleeding edge of technology. They used iPods as toddlers, then graduated to iPads. They may not be using Facebook, but their siblings and parents are. So they’re aware of what it is and what it does.

That being said, forget about the social media marketing you’re doing today to reach their parents. Once these kids enter the workforce, social marketing will no longer be relevant, because another form of advertising will have emerged.

2) Invest in billboard advertising.

T-rex billboard ad

Photo source: Eric Fischer on flickr.

We did a lesson on advertising. The fifth graders were given a business scenario and asked to work in teams to devise a business, then create an advertisement for that business. Before they started designing, they were asked to name examples of advertising.

Many of the students mentioned billboard ads that they see on Highway 101 in the Bay Area. They were able to recall the messaging contained on those billboards in impressive detail. Out-of-home advertising works! It’s effective because of the captivated audience it commands. So as these fifth graders grow into adults, think of ways your own marketing content can be delivered to a captivated audience.

3) Decrease your online marketing budget.

If you think about standing up in front of a fifth grade classroom for an entire day, it can be worrisome: will the students have any interest in what I’m saying? To be honest, I noticed that some of them “tuned out” during segments of the lessons.

But what got them to pay attention, engage and interact? Activities. The Junior Achievement lesson plans pair verbal instruction with a fun activity that reinforces that instruction.

Online marketing is great. It’s cost effective and it’s measurable. But to make a deeper connection with your  marketing, consider programs that include face-to-face interactions. The fifth graders are kind of expecting it.

4) Tomorrow’s workers won’t be motivated by gamification.

Many of the day’s activities came in the form of games. The fifth graders would high-five each other when they rolled a six, but what got them most excited were forms of peer-to-peer connections and recognition.

WHITE PAPER: How Community Managers Can Use Gamification to Create Sustainable Engagement

We did an exercise in which two students were named partners in a popcorn and ice cream business. The two partners stood at the front of the classroom. Next, they called up classmates (one by one), assigning them to assorted roles within the business (delivery people, business analysts, attorneys and ultimately, a CEO).

Students were most excited when they were called up to the front of the room. The selection and “job assignment” (in front of the entire class) gave meaning to the activity. It made them feel rewarded. How do you “gamify” experiences for tomorrow’s workers? Make it less about points and badges and more about peer-to-peer relationships and recognition.

5) Make them wait for it.

child using tablet

Photo source: User nooccar on flickr.

Today’s generation of kids live in a world of instant gratification. With timeshifting and on-demand consumption, they get what they want, when they want it. Remember how Thursday nights on NBC were called “Must See TV?” Today’s generation calls it “I See TV” (“When I Want It”).

So first, make your product, content and experiences great. Then, act differently with it. Don’t give it to them right away. Make them wait. Make them go through hoops to get it. Why? Because when they do, they’ll cherish it. They’re so used to getting everything right away, that making them wait adds to the enjoyment.

Conclusion

Today’s fifth graders are tomorrow’s customers. While I enjoyed my time in the classroom, I also considered it a form of market research, in better understanding tomorrow’s buyers. Hopefully, I learned from them as much as they learned from me. And, I hope this post served to spur forward-looking thoughts on how to do marketing in the future.

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Online Marketing Wisdom, Sales Funnel Sagacity and Lead Generation Genius from The @Funnelholic

April 16, 2013

The Funnelholic urges you to mind the funnel

Introduction

Craig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic, has been publishing a series of “madlibs” with marketing thought leaders. Here’s a set of the madlibs published to date (there are more to come):

  1. Steve Gershik
  2. Ardath Albee
  3. Michael Brenner
  4. Gary Hart
  5. Dave Brock
  6. Carlos Hidalgo
  7. Jill Konrath
  8. Your’s truly, Dennis Shiao

I love reading these madlibs. The only problem? We don’t get to hear from Craig himself. So I decided to come up with a set of questions and asked Craig to answer them. Here’s the Q&A.

Lead Generation

Q: Aside from folks like Marketo and HubSpot, what B2B marketer is doing lead gen really well?

A: Tough question. Kissmetrics is a model for online marketing but I’ll give you a surprise one: Sales Benchmark Index. They are a services company and these types of companies typically struggle with demand generation — they have built a content marketing, lead generation machine.  They post every day, create an ebook/month and do a webinar. Their content is specific and comprehensive. They offer templates for download.  They are an impressive use-case for content marketing.

Q: For lead gen, what’s one social network no one is talking about?

A: YOUTUBE. It’s the second most popular search engine and no one in b2b has it figured out.  There are about to be some amazing stories of b2b success on youtube.

Q: If you could select just one metric, what should B2B demand gen folks be measured by?

A: Influence on pipeline. In b2b, 9-25 touches take place before a buyer buys. Why aren’t we tracking every touch and attributing that to marketing success?

Q: Peanut butter is to jelly like marketing automation is to?

A: Demand generation success. Strategy, process, people, and then marketing automation/software. You don’t sell without CRM anymore, you shouldn’t digitally market without a platform. (Craig note: I added “/software” to marketing automation in order to include Hubspot who does not like the term marketing automation).

Q: Retargeted display ads to drive anonymous web site visitors back to your lead capture pages. Yes, no, maybe so?

A: Yes. I recommend retargeting. I don’t just worry about lead capture, I feel like retargeting is highly effective from just a pure branding perspective. I personally don’t click on display but when I get retargeted, I notice and remember the company. It’s like “everywhere I turn, I see you.” I know we are all metrics focused, but there is something to be said about the overall branding aspect to retargeting. You may even consider it another from of nurturing to go with a company’s frequent emails.

Selling and The Sales Funnel

Photo source: Carla Gates on flickr. Follow here here on Twitter: @CarlaGates247

“Cold calling doesn’t have to be cold any more.”

Q: What’s the number one thing to keep in mind when cold calling?

A: That cold calling does not have to be “cold” any more. There is so much information on social networks and the internet about your prospect that you can turn what was formerly known as a cold call into a warm call.

Q: Sales development reps are often disconnected from prospects’ activities in social. How can marketers fix that?  

A: The problem with social and sales isn’t the ability to get information, it’s teaching them to know what to do with it. There are a number of tools: LinkedIN Sales Navigator, Hootsuite, InsideView, for enterprise. Radius Intelligence for SMB that can give a rep social visibility. It doesn’t matter what you provide them if they don’t know what to do with the information. You have to coach reps on how to weave that information into your communications.

Event marketers: create video, white papers and webinars from your event content.

Q: With regard to the sales funnel, what’s the biggest opportunity that event marketers are NOT doing?

A: Here is my view on event marketing: they need to take a step back and try to understand what the buyer journey is today and how live events can fit in. Then they need to look at the vendors and understand how they are selling, and try to tie that back to live events.

What is going to add the most value to the buyers and sellers at my event? That may be too general, but I have a long list of things that I’d like event marketers to do besides re-think the overall structure. Content still has to improve to meet the standard set on the overall internet, one-to-many content (they are SO focused on the live event but they should be creating video, whitepapers, webinars, etc. from the event content), more digital interactivity during the event and after.

Miscellaneous

Q: It’s been said that Google tested 40 shades of blue to determine the right color for links. Email marketers talk a lot about A/B testing. What about A/B/C…N testing. Your thoughts on testing numerous flavors?

A: Let’s discuss pros and cons.

Pro: My belief is that is the consumer internet guys are typically the best at on-site conversion, etc. so copy them. If Google A-N tested to find the best conversion, b2b marketers should learn from that. Today’s agile marketer views the world as “stand it up, then test, test, test.” B2B marketers tend to focus on really big problems which is fine, but to really online market,  you want to optimize every conversion point.

Con: You need to have a big enough sample to even A/B test. When do you have enough data to make a good decision?

Q: I just graduated from college and started a career in B2B marketing. Besides subscribing to the Funnelholic RSS feed, what’s the first thing I should focus on?

A: Well you completed step one. When young people ask me about getting into marketing, I tell them: get a job in marketing anywhere, anyhow.

The problem with b2b marketing is there isn’t enough education on the discipline. You will not learn it in school. So get a job, then soak it in. Then educate yourself: build your feedly with 15-20 b2b marketing sites — but my favorite starter sites are Neil Patel’s QuickSprout and Kissmetrics blogs. My brother wanted to get up-to-speed on internet marketing: he started reading Neil’s stuff and is now pretty much up-to-speed.

“Set aside 1 hour to learn every day.”

The marketing software vendors have GREAT blogs like Marketo, Hubspot, Act-On. Set aside 1 hour to learn every day. The other thing is to find mentors and ask them everything you can. Also, network, network, network — I tell young people, network with peers and ask them everything. I still do that every day. I learn a little here and there from my friends.

Finding The Funnelholic

The Funnelholic is here to help

Q: You’re now providing consulting services for organizations’ sales and marketing teams. Tell us about your services and where can folks contact you for more information?

A: I am a consultant again! And I am having the time of my life. I forgot what it is like to work with amazing people on the complex challenges they face in today’s rapidly changing sales and marketing environment.

The supply chain of business has repeatable, metrics driven processes that deliver/over-deliver products. We help organizations design, build, and/or optimize their Revenue Chain to predictably deliver/over-deliver revenue. We create actionable, specific playbooks in the following areas: content strategy, social strategy, demand generation, lead management, marketing technology, lead qualification, inside sales, sales technology, and sales process.

People can find me on www.funnelholic.com.


7 Similarities Between Online Marketing and Downhill Skiing

April 8, 2013

Downhill skiing has similarities to online marketing

Image source: Squaw.com.

Introduction

I recently spent a week skiing at Squaw Valley in Northern California. While riding the ski lift one day, it occurred to me that skiing has similarities with online marketing. Let’s consider seven similarities.

1) Start with the bunny slope, then work your way up.

As a beginner skier, you’d never do your first run on a double black diamond. Instead, you might go for a private lesson on the bunny slope and learn how to do “pizza formation” with your skis.

With online marketing, you could also go for private instruction. Or, read a lot of blogs, attend webinars and watch other online marketers in action. When you’re ready for your first “slope,” start small. Build upon your initial success and learn from your early mistakes. Pretty soon, you’ll be skiing blues, on the way to online marketing black diamonds.

2) Take advantage of downtime.

With skiing, a large percentage of your day does not involve skiing. You spend over an hour driving to the mountain and putting on ski gear. You wait for other members of your group. You stand on the lift line, then sit on a chair up the mountain.

What’s left is the time you actually ski. It’s similar with online marketing. The posting, publishing, tweeting, pinning and email blasting occur around periods of inactivity. While skiing, I use downtime to catch up with friends, take in the view and breathe in fresh air. With online marketing, use downtime to read content, curate content, build plans and review data. Your resulting marketing will be the better for it.

3) Check weather and trail conditions.

Squaw Valley conditions report

Before heading down the online marketing trail, check the relevant data: performance from past campaigns, open rates, click rates, unsubscribe rates and such. The last thing you want to do is find yourself on a double diamond (with moguls) when you’re not ready for it.

4) It’s all about the data.

Stats from the Squaw app

Pictured: the Squaw app. My statistics may be slightly skewed.

As online marketers, we have the benefit of more data than we’ve ever seen. And that’s true for skiiers, too. Online marketers have suites of analytics tools. Skiiers have smartphone apps to track descents, average speed, maximum speed and distance traveled. Both can use the data to inform their future plans.

5) Use a trail map to plan your journey.

The trail map at Squaw, as seen on their smartphone app

Pictured: Squaw’s trail map, as seen in their smartphone app.

Skiers use trail maps to identify terrain that matches their ability. They’ll also figure out how to get from the top of the mountain down to the base lodge. As online marketers, we need to build our own trail map before doing any marketing.

6) It’s good to help others.

When I see someone ahead of me fall and lose their skis, I always stop and offer to hand the skis down to them. Why? Because it’s easy for me to do that, while it’s more difficult for a skier to climb up the mountain. When I receive an email blast that has a prominent typo, I’ll reply to the sender to let them know. If a company lists a broken link in their Twitter profile, I’ll give them a heads up via a direct message. Helping others is a good thing.

7) It’s OK to bask in your success.

After a full day of carving up the mountain (mixed in with a little waiting), nothing beats the thirty minutes soaking in the hot tub. It helps sooth over-worked muscles and is quite relaxing. With online marketing, it’s fine to take pause and bask in your hot tub of success: sales leads, unaided awareness, lift in page views from organic search, etc.

Conclusion

Online marketing can be quite enjoyable. But remember that navigating the terrain won’t always be an easy descent. Make sure you have a trail map, check the conditions and always ski to your ability. Learn (and apply) your mistakes and you’ll be sitting pretty in that hot tub at the end of the day (campaign).


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