Category: Social Media Strategy

Big, huge, massive, surprising social media trends

surprising social media trends

Each year I enjoy digging into the Infinite Dial report, the longest-running social media study that is conducted by Edison Research. I always find a few surprising social media trends that raise an eyebrow and this year was no different.

It’s a Marketing Companion tradition to explore some of the big ideas from this research report and on the newest show, Brooke Sellas and I explore questions like:surprising social media trends 2

  • Why Facebook is seeing a rise in teen usage.
  • Why podcast listening us up, but the average number of shows consumed is down.
  • Why Pinterest is in an apparent nose-dive.
  • How the idea that older folks are taking over TikTok is a myth.
  • Why the war on smart speakers will have long-ranging eCommerce consequences.

Oh my gosh, this is a juicy episode. If you’re a social media geek like me, this will be your best content of the week. Enjoy!

PS Could this be the best Marketing Companion intro ever?

Click on this link to listen to Episode 186

Other ways to enjoy our podcast

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com.

Tim Washer is contributing creative direction to the show and he’s has worked for Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, among others. He helps corporations build more creative cultures.

It’s hard to ignore — millions of business professionals are active on LinkedIn. They have twice the buying power of a normal web user. If you’re in business, you need to be exploring advertising on LinkedIn. Brooke and I have both had tremendous success with this marketing platform and to help you get started, LinkedIn is offering Marketing Companion listeners $100 in free ad credit. That can go a LONG WAY! Take advantage of this opportunity today by visiting linkedin.com/companion

RSM Marketing provides an indispensable outsourced marketing department! Why struggle with turnover and staffing when RSM clients receive a marketing director and all the resources they need under a flat fee monthly subscription?

RSM employs dozens of specialists and experienced marketing directors who assist companies ranging from startups to market leaders with thousands of employees. Companies across the country from all categories are choosing this model to overcome marketing complexity and outpace their competition. The typical outsourcing client uses 11 RSM subject matter specialists but pays less than the cost of one of their own employees. RSM provides breakthrough marketing for clients and has been named twice to the INC 5000 list. Visit RSM for special Marketing Companion offers including $5,000 in free services.

The post Big, huge, massive, surprising social media trends appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

The core idea for your business strategy now, in this time of crisis.

business strategy now

I’ve been hosting a series of Facebook Live videos talking about personal and business priorities as we try to embrace the chaos and make sense of this world. Here is the full 30-minute video of my latest, where I discuss the core idea that should be driving every business strategy now.

Below the video is an edited transcript of the discussion (transcription help from the awesome otter.ai) Would love to hear your thoughts, as always my friends.

Edited transcript

I think it’s important to briefly review what I covered on the first episode of this series. We talked about embracing the chaos and how the history of business has been a series of chaotic events. The businesses that survive are the ones that transcend these chaotic times.

We talked about the importance of first embracing the chaos within yourself. You should not feel guilty or ashamed that you’re feeling fearful right now. We’re in a period of grieving. These are legitimate feelings. And that’s the filter we need to use in our businesses right now, too.

We need to connect with people as though they’re grieving, like they are at a funeral. How would you connect with somebody … how would you sell to somebody … if they were at a funeral? You wouldn’t offer them a coupon or a discount.

You would say …

  • “How can I help you right now?”
  • “How can my business serve you at this time?”
  • “How can we help get you through this loss?”

… because there is a lot of tragedy going on and it’s almost overwhelming to hear the stories of my friends and their struggles.

Re-framing and relevance

Another main point I made in the first episode that is key to business strategy now was this idea of reimagining your business offering — In this moment.

I provided examples that showed that whatever was our core competency, our skills, however we served our customers … may not be relevant today.

I gave an example in my own life of how I was doing consulting for a business in Miami.

We had a call scheduled to review a social media strategy. And we never got it scheduled and I asked them what happened. And they said well you know our, our supply chain is up in the air now, we’ve lost 50 percent of our business, and we’re in crisis mode.

So I was relevant to them a week ago. I’m not relevant to this company today.

I have to rethink what I do, and rethink what are my core competencies and be relevant to people in this moment of crisis. We all need to consider these realities.

The priority now

Now let’s talk about this new idea of the number one vision for business strategy now.

Some businesses are going to be doing great in this crisis. Amazon’s going to do fine (they’re hiring 100,000 people!). Walmart’s going to do fine. Almost anybody that’s in the medical business, or if you’re delivering food, you’re probably going to be okay.

But if you’re struggling like most of us, what is the business strategy now?

I want to tell you a story from my past that illustrates this concept very well.

Early in my career, I was a sales leader for a big company called Alcoa. At that time, Alcoa was a Fortune 100 company, a Dow Jones Industrial blue-chip company, and a very well-run company. I had a great experience with my career there and learned from great leaders.

One time when I was a sales manager, we were having terrible quality problems with one of our customers. In fact, it was so bad that we were shutting them down. They were missing their delivery shipments.

And so I had lunch with the president of the company. And I said to him, “We are doing such a bad job for you right now. We’re struggling to keep you supplied. We appreciate that we have 100 percent of your business, but at this point, why aren’t you going to a competitor?

And he said, “Well let me tell you about our history with Alcoa. My company was started by my father. And during World War II, we almost went out of business because the products we made were not relevant anymore during that crisis. We had to retool and reinvent ourselves for the war effort.

“We were running out of cash, we were running out of time. And Alcoa, our aluminum supplier at the time, came to our rescue, and they helped us in this moment of crisis. They helped us retool our plant. They gave us the technical support to pivot in this time. They even helped finance some of the equipment that we needed to survive.

“My father, the person who founded this company, as he was dying in the hospital, said to me, ‘Never leave Alcoa. They brought us to the dance. They made us who we are today.’

“And that’s why we stuck with you, even when we were having hard times.”

That was a very powerful lesson to me. Through generosity in hard times, Alcoa had built loyalty that spanned decades and generations.

The business strategy now

I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. I’m not that kind of person. There’s a lot of “rah-rah” stuff out there about, “don’t be afraid and don’t be frightened and if you’re afraid you’re just playing into the victim mentality.” The fact is, there are people who aren’t going to make it to the other side.

But here’s the opportunity, and here is the vision of this time we’re in for any business. We have to put ourselves in this mindset of fighting to the other side but doing it in a way like Alcoa did.

Fight to the other side, but fight with grace.

We have a choice.

We can be greedy and opportunistic, or we can fight to the other side and do it in a way that’s caring and human-centered, full of compassion and grace to our customers.

That’s what people are going to remember on the other side.

If you want to survive and be stronger and be a leader when things turn around, you’ve got to demonstrate that now. We’re in a crisis and we might be in the fight of our lives. That includes cutting our costs, reserving our cash, reassessing our products. We’re making gut-wrenching personnel decisions.

And we need to think very carefully about our marketing. The research shows in a very compelling way that the companies that thrive and survive in this type of crisis, spend more on marketing. This has been seen across different recessions.

Obviously we’ve never seen anything like what we’re in right now. But if you have a business model that is truly relevant right now, it might be time to double down on your marketing, as we fight hard to make it to the other side.

Not in a way that’s greedy, in a way that is sensitive and appropriate and compassionate.

Fight with grace

I have a friend who has to cancel an event with a big hotel in Chicago. The hotel is holding him to tens of thousands of dollars in cancellation fees and they’re not budging.

Let me tell you something. I’m going to be around after this crisis, and my friend will be around, and that hotel will be around after this crisis, and people like us will never do business with a hotel like that again, right?

So part of the survival strategy is, we’ve got to treat people in a way that will help enable loyalty in the long term, help each other fight to get to the other side, fight to enable undying loyalty right now.

Do the right thing, even if it hurts.

Should we offer discounts as a business strategy now?

This was the main message of my session and then I took some questions.

A friend of mine offered a 95% discount on our Instagram course in Spain and man she has had some nasty comments which I can understand. It just doesn’t seem appropriate right now.

We have to be careful about promoting products and services right now in a way that seems tone-deaf.

I need to emphasize that every single person we are working with is grieving. They are in crisis. I mean it’s unimaginable.

This week I’ve been on the phone almost nonstop, coaching people and lifting them up. There has been a time or two where both of us have been emotional because of the profound suffering and loss that’s going on right now.

Our businesses have to know this reality and can’t be tone-deaf in our marketing or advertising when people are grieving. They may not need a discount or a coupon. They don’t need leadership classes if they are trying to find food for their families in the moment. You must be aligned with the context of this day.

We need to be a real human, and connect where people are right now.

I would also say, let’s show some grace even to the people who are making mistakes. Everybody’s just trying to figure it out and stumble through.

The boilerplate emails

Businesses need to be more human than ever right now. From a communication standpoint, we’ve all had enough to have the boilerplate emails, communicate with empathy kindness, which means telling the truth.

That’s a beautiful sentiment and certainly very true.

One of the things that’s been so interesting for me to observe is how long it is taking for these businesses to adjust. Believe it or not, this morning. I saw an ad for a company that will like help you create your fantasy baseball team. I mean dude … Baseball was canceled a week ago.

That doesn’t help.

You know, and the thing is puzzling to me. It doesn’t take much effort to turn off ads. I mean really, I just can’t think of a scenario where you would somehow be encumbered, or committed in a way that you can’t turn off ads.

I think it’s more important to be sensitive than to commit these dollars when your advertising is tone-deaf.

The test of culture

We are fighting hard in Scotland UK getting our people to change pace and it is challenging. Why won’t these people change when they see what is going on?

I see this in every kind of business  — they are locked into the old way of doing business … even in the good times, right?

Sell, sell, sell, even at the expense of relationships or common sense. Always be closing. Abuse the customer with spam and robo-calls.

Marketing and advertising and doing public relations in ways that aren’t relevant to the way our customers connect to the world today was the norm even before this crisis.

I think this time will be a true test of the corporate culture. You know, every company says “customers are the heart of our business.”

Really? Let’s see what happens when times are this hard.

If you’re opportunistic and greedy and tone-deaf, people are going to remember that we are not going to be doing business with those companies when we get to the other side.

Is it appropriate to use humor now?

What do you think about companies using humor with their staff to get through this period?

I think that’s an important part of being a leader right now.

The number one thing we need to keep in our minds is that great leaders dispense hope.

When I was in the corporate world, the president of our company had only thing on his desk — a little sign that said “leaders dispense hope.”

When you get right down to it, in terms of transparency, in terms of effective communication, in terms of you know how you’re connecting to people — even in a virtual world right now — it really gets down to dispensing hope.

And I think one of the important things we can do right now is to use humor.

There are a lot of positive physical and psychological benefits to humor that we, we need right now. We need to make humor a part of our lives every single day and I think it’s not just a part of lifting people up psychologically. I think that’s an important part of leadership.

Should I offer my services for free?

I see many people offering free services and some say you should actually not start discounting your services. Hurts you in the long term. What’s the best course of action?

I received an email request yesterday from someone doing a roundup blog post and the question was something like this, “should businesses continue their Facebook advertising?”

This is an impossible question. The answer to every marketing question is, “It depends.”

There’s never a cookie-cutter answer that fits everybody when it comes to marketing. Everything depends on your business, position in your industry, customers, strategy, etc.

I want you to run your businesses in the world that IS, not the world that we wish it to be. And the world is crappy right now.

But the research shows that the companies that make it to the other end do spend more on marketing right now. Maybe that means advertising, maybe that means discounts.

As a small business owner, I’m cutting to the bone. I have to reserve cash to make it to the other side. I’ve had some of my key business partners offer to change contracts or ignore them. They’ve been very understanding and helpful.

And you know what, they will be the first companies I come back to when things return to normal. They are the companies I will be talking about for years.

The last thing I can say about business strategy now is, just be incredibly emotionally intelligent and think about your customers in the context of this moment.

Let’s embrace the chaos together as we plot our business strategy now!

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post The core idea for your business strategy now, in this time of crisis. appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Everything is out of date because the world is new

world is new

It has been interesting to observe how SLOOOOOOW the corporate world has been to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

Most of this is understandable. It take months to plan, create, and schedule advertising for these big brands. But a lot of what is being published right now is so out of sync with the needs of the world right now.

How will the biggest brands pivot and when?

This is a preamble to sheepishly explain this week’s podcast episode.

This edition of The Marketing Companion was recorded on March 9, 2020. It is a SUPER FUN episode but one of the things Brooke Sellas and I discussed was an experiential promotion based on the NCAA March Madness tournament, one of the most popular sporting events in America (maybe my favorite!)

The episode went live exactly one week later — and by then the NCAA tournament had been canceled — as had the baseball season, the Kentucky Derby, and every other sporting event and concert in America.

One week.

Between us, Brooke and I have more than 50 years of business experience. We have seen a lot, we have done a lot. And yet we blew it. We couldn’t see one week in front of us.

But who can right now? An interesting lesson in unprecedented times.

So … this week’s episode is a little on the weird side. But it is still AWESOME.

First, I talk about the recent Social Media Marketing World conference and something really weird that happened to me out there.

Hey. You’re locked in and working from home. Put on the headphones. Tune to a movie for the kids and enjoy the show:

Click on this link to listen to Episode 184

Other ways to enjoy our podcast

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

It’s hard to ignore — millions of business professionals are active on LinkedIn. They have twice the buying power of a normal web user. If you’re in business, you need to be exploring advertising on LinkedIn. Brooke and I have both had tremendous success with this marketing platform and to help you get started, LinkedIn is offering Marketing Companion listeners $100 in free ad credit. That can go a LONG WAY! Take advantage of this opportunity today by visiting linkedin.com/companion

RSM Marketing provides an indispensable outsourced marketing department! Why struggle with turnover and staffing when RSM clients receive a marketing director and all the resources they need under a flat fee monthly subscription?

RSM employs dozens of specialists and experienced marketing directors who assist companies ranging from startups to market leaders with thousands of employees. Companies across the country from all categories are choosing this model to overcome marketing complexity and outpace their competition. The typical outsourcing client uses 11 RSM subject matter specialists but pays less than the cost of one of their own employees. RSM provides breakthrough marketing for clients and has been named twice to the INC 5000 list. Visit RSM for special Marketing Companion offers including $5,000 in free services.

The post Everything is out of date because the world is new appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Why context marketing will rule the next decade

context marketing

By Mathew Sweezey, {grow} Community Member

Wearing a t-shirt, slub jeans, and a new pair of sneakers, he said it first: “If content is king, context is god.” While I’d love to have been the first to utter those words, Gary Vaynerchuck beat me to it. But what is “context?” And why will context marketing revolutionize business in the next decade?

Context is the reason why a person takes action.

Let’s be honest, no consumer ever said, “I want more branded content!”

No, people engage with our content because it helps them achieve a goal in a moment. The goal could have been to answer a question, escape reality, learn, laugh, etc. It is the context of the experience, not the content, that drove the engagement.

Context marketing is a new method of marketing where brands breakthrough by crafting experiences to meet a person in that specific moment of need, and help them accomplish the task at hand. The trust built from that interaction guides the individual to the next stop on their journey, creating motivation and driving demand.

Context and Lego Land

Lego knows that along their customer journey, many parents have a hard time determining which set of toys is the best fit for their child. This leads many parents to visit the online Lego store and leave without a purchase. In this specific moment of the journey, Lego needed to create a contextual experience to break through the parental confusion and motivate action.

Enter Ralph, Lego’s gift-buying bot.

context marketing lego

Ralph was deployed on Facebook to all Lego website visitors who had visited the site but had not bought anything in the past 14 days. The ad invited them to have a conversation with Ralph, who would help them pick the perfect gift.

The experience was a hit. The average conversation with the bot was three minutes, and the sales from the bot accounted for 25 percent of online holiday sales that year. They broke through by focusing in on a key moment of the customer journey, helping them accomplish the task at hand — finding the perfect gift — and guiding them to the next step, buying it.

It wasn’t the copy of the ad or the creative campaign surrounding it that drove the action. It was the brand’s ability to identify the goal of one consumer moment and craft a relevant and helpful experience in context.

Context Marketing — Why now?

Context marketing is happening now because of a seismic shift in the media environment.

Not long ago, content creation was limited to big publishing houses and television stations with broadcast licenses. This was the era of limited media.

But today, consumers and their devices are the largest creators of content noise on the planet, displacing the media monopoly. This is an infinite media landscape that follows a new set of rules.

The first new rule you must understand is that this new source of content isn’t just overwhelming, it’s radically different.

Noise created by brands is typically “messaging” and forced onto the market place. Just think of broadcast ads, unwanted emails, product packaging, etc.

Now think about the content created by consumers. It’s between friends in trusted networks, permissioned, highly authentic, and engaging.

On top of that, there is an entirely new source of content created for us by our devices. Think about the power of a Fitbit to alter the course of a person’s daily and life with a simple notification – “You need to take 500 more steps to reach your goal.” This device-driven content can have a profound effect on the consumer.

Context marketing and consumer behavior

The infinite media environment has changed consumer behavior.

In the limited media environment when access to information was relatively scarce, we relied on our memory to make decisions. Marketing designed to keep us “top of mind” is effective.

In the infinite environment, consumers offload memory to devices. When they need information they seek it out in the moment.

This has turned all decisions into considered purchases. Even the mundane search term “best toothbrush” is growing at a rate of 100 percent year over year. Why? Because consumers trust the information they find over the information we project.

Meeting consumers in those key moments along the journey, and helping them accomplish that task at hand, builds the trust we need to drive them forward.

AI enables the new era of context marketing

Context is now the marketing king because of artificial intelligence. The volume of noise is so high (Content Shock) that without AI, humans would simply be overwhelmed.

This is why every digital asset from Netflix to Facebook is managed by AI. The algorithms are only showing you the content that is contextual to you in the moment, the content that drives the highest engagement.

Context enabled by AI is now the crux of marketing, but how do you create it? That can be summed up in three words; with, not on.

Marketers need to shift how they think about creating content to creating context through co-created experiences. Context is a collaborative effort.

New cookies

context marketing oreoFor example, Oreo wanted to launch new flavors of their iconic cookie. Rather than spending months doing internal market research, product testing, and finally releasing a cookie to the world with a grand marketing campaign, they did the opposite. They asked their customers to come up with the flavors they wanted to see. They gamified it, and the #myoreocreation was born.

Hundreds of thousands of suggestions flooded social media. To keep the excitement going, Oreo engaged with a majority of those suggestions by responding to consumer posts, or in some cases actually creating a one-off cookie for the lucky fan. This created such a stir that when the new cookies were released they were an instant hit.

Context is part of the omnichannel

Working with content in your market is a broad stroke that can include influencer marketing, employee advocacy, and user-generated content. Each of these can be a collaboration between the brand and an individual but you can go further.

At Salesforce, we’ve found a powerful way to work with our market to create a highly contextual experience. We created the Trailblazer community, a place where anyone can upskill around our product, and other relevant soft-skills. We had an idea, then worked with our market to build the community. Now they keep it thriving.

The co-created community helps people continually improve their business, build a larger network, and improve their personal brand. Each day there are thousands of questions asked and answered by customers. More than 14 million badges (certificate of course completion) have been earned. People love Trailblazer so much many have changed their LinkedIn job title to reflect their status in the community.

The benefits we receive are so much greater than just social media exposure and goodwill. Customers who are Trailblazers spend twice as much, and remain a customer three times as long as those not engaged in the community.

The days of marketing being about pure creative genius are long gone. Now marketers must find ways to work with their audience in the context of the moment.

Mathew Sweezey is Principal of Marketing Insights for Salesforce.com,  podcast host, multiple award-winning marketers, pioneer of the marketing automation space, and author of The Context Marketing Revolution.

 

 

 

 

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Winning the War for Attention: My talk at #SMMW20

winning the war for attention

Winning the War for Attention

I’ve been a speaker at all eight Social Media Marketing World events and it is always an annual highlight for me. It’s like coming home to family — so many wonderful friends to see! If you’ve never attended, you should give it a try and discover the fun.

winning the war for attention andy crestodina, rich brooks, brooke sellas mark schaefer, jay baer, dana malstaff, ian cleary, mike alton, mike kim

In the early days of SMMW, I spoke on Twitter and blogging, then I evolved into content and strategy. In 2016 I was asked to be the closing keynote speaker and I did it again in 2019. What a thrill to speak in front of 5,000 frenzied social media friends!

I think a key to my success at this event is that I always push boundaries with fresh, exciting content. My philosophy is that a great speech delivers insights, not just information. Information … you can get that in a blog post. But you’ll have a unique experience coming to one of my talks!

I pushed the boundaries again this year by doing something different. I spoke from my heart about the biggest problem facing social media marketers today — winning the war for attention.

I see that social media marketers simply try to keep up by copying others or following directions from their favorite gurus. This simply cannot work. Winning a war for attention means we can’t be conformists.

So let’s dig into the heart of the speech …

Winning the War for Attention

I started my speech with a funny story from the early days of television to illustrate a pattern that happens in every content channel.

When TV started in the 1950s, the programs were filled with local talent — singers, cooks, and anybody who could fill some time on the air. Almost anybody could get on the air and almost any business could buy advertising time.

Over the years, the channel “filled up,” and the content became more expensive and sophisticated. Local advertisers dropped out and network (and then cable) TV took over.

Today, what does it take to get your attention on TV? Game of Thrones. At $10 million per episode for a show like that, the content has never been better but if you’re trying to compete on the basis of content, bring your checkbook!

As I told this story, I asked my audience to think of the similarity of what is happening in their own favorite social media space. The same pattern will happen over time. The space fills up with content and it becomes more expensive and difficult to compete, an idea I first introduced in 2014 with an idea called Content Shock.

Now, what do we do about it?

I proposed that answering five questions can lead you to a strategy that helps you win the war for attention. Here they are.

1. Only we …

I asked the audience a simple question. Can you finish this sentence: “Only we …”?

This is a very important question because if you can’t finish that sentence, you don’t have a marketing strategy and if you don’t have a marketing strategy, you can’t have a social media strategy. You’re being set up to fail.

It may take you weeks or even months to figure this out. But you simply must find these special points of differentiation. If you’re stuck, go out and ask your customers what they think. You’ll almost always find the answer there.

2. Company culture

In my Marketing Rebellion book, I go deep into this idea of how company culture really determines how successful you’ll be with your social media marketing.

The company culture both enables your narrative and constrains your ability to win the war for attention. If you have a culture that is open, nurturing and fun … that will be your social media presence. If you’re uptight and controlling, you probably won’t get very far in winning the war for attention.

This can be frustrating because no amount of energy and talent can overcome a dismal company culture. Sometimes, an effective social media strategy has to start with executive education.

I made the point that sometimes social media success must start with executive education.

3. Are you a conversational brand?

I said that the business case for all social media is this: “Come Waste Time With Me.”

Nobody has to be on social media. So to succeed, you have to earn a place that makes people want to waste time with you. Why would they want to do that?

Not all products and industries have an equal chance to win the war for attention.

If you work for a university, a sports team, a pop star, or a professional athlete, you will naturally have a high level of attention and organic reach.

If you work for a bank, the electric company, or a company that makes appliances … well, these just are not going to make it to dinnertime conversations. You’re not that conversational and it will be much, much harder for you to win the war for attention.

You have to make yourself conversational. This does not necessarily have to be difficult or expensive, but you do have to stand out in some unique way.

I provided an example of a hand tool company in Lithuania that went viral over its videos that explored how the tools were hand-crafted.

4. How can you maneuver?

I explained to the audience that this was the most important part of the talk. My concern is that everybody leaves a conference like Social Media Marketing World and follows whatever the gurus tell them to do. I see this year after year.

If it is the year of Snapchat, everybody piles on to Snapchat.

If it is the year of video on LinkedIn, then that is what everybody does.

Marketers flock to whatever is popular until they ruin it.

And that’s no strategy. Winning the war for attention depends on non-conformity, not conformity.

I used an example of TikTok, which was a big piece of the conversation at SMMW20. There seems to be a frenzy to get every business on to TikTok. Research shows that indeed, there is a growing older audience there. But let’s take a closer look:

winning the war for attention tiktok

Did you know that about 94 percent of the content created on TikTok is by teenagers? This implies we have a lot of older people stalking TikTok (as they first did with Snapchat before dropping out). So do you really need to be building an audience of 12-year-olds for your business? Maybe.

I’m not against TikTok, I’m just saying, “THINK” and don’t spend budget on activities because some guru told you to do it (This part of my talk received applause!)

To be effective today, you cannot be guru-led and fall in line with a crowd. You have to zig when everybody else is zagging.

To illustrate this, I provided examples from three very saturated industries — real estate, food, and entrepreneurial content — and showed that a little simple creativity helped businesses stand out and create great success.

5. Human-centered content

In this part of my speech, I noted that every great social media success story has a human anchor providing some unique value. (I cover this in detail here: A simple theory of social media success).

I showed how many companies are missing out on opportunities to show real human smiles, personalities, and passion because they act like grape lollipops, which say they are grape but are not really grape at all!

This was the funniest part of my speech and I got the biggest laugh I think I have ever received as I covered a few big social media fails!

winning the war for attention

The point is, the most human company wins — it just does. I believe that with every fiber in my body. And you won’t be winning the war for attention with some fake and inauthentic presence.

Putting it into action

These are the types of guidelines I use with my clients, and they work. They’re not that hard. But they do take a bold willingness to not follow the crowd.

I ended my talk encouraging the crowd to:

  • Be a non-conformist.
  • Maneuver.
  • Be more human.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? How are you being a non-conformist in your industry?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post Winning the War for Attention: My talk at #SMMW20 appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Monetizing through Twitter, Spotify and Instagram

monetizing through Twitter

Brooke Sellas and I have a new Marketing Companion show out and I’d like to tell you about it, but first a celebration! The Marketing Companion has hit one million downloads!

A million of anything big, but imagining that our show has been listened to a million times is pretty overwhelming. Thanks to all of you for your support and a special tip of the hat to my dear friend Tom Webster who helped me shepherd the show through the first six years.

To mark this incredible milestone, we’re having a fun little contest. You can learn more about mid-way through the new show. We also released a new Marketing Companions video: “Relationship Quiz.” Find out Mark’s celebrity crush and Brooke’s hidden talent:

In this episode, Brooke and I also cover:

  • Spotify recently announced its release of new metric tools for podcast advertisers, which will provide insightful data on impressions, frequency, and reach concerning audience insights and listening behaviors. Spotify’s latest technology, called Streaming Ad Insertion (SIA), unveils data that makes it easier for advertisers to understand the ROI of their advertising spend.
  • Instagram allows for direct messaging from your desktop. For marketers who manage client accounts on social media, one of the most time-consuming tasks involves community management, so this is a big deal. There are also implications for a Facebook “interconnected framework.”
  • Tipping in tweets: On-platform monetization is another big trend for social media platforms. Twitter is keeping up with it by testing out the option for users to send each other money from their tweets. As reported by The Information, the company is partnering with Square to enable tipping on the platform. Will Tip Tweets make it?

Click on this link to listen to Episode 183

Other ways to enjoy our podcast

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com.

Tim Washer is contributing creative direction to the show and he’s has worked for Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, among others. He helps corporations build more creative cultures.

RSM Marketing provides an indispensable outsourced marketing department! Why struggle with turnover and staffing when RSM clients receive a marketing director and all the resources they need under a flat fee monthly subscription?

RSM employs dozens of specialists and experienced marketing directors who assist companies ranging from startups to market leaders with thousands of employees. Companies across the country from all categories are choosing this model to overcome marketing complexity and outpace their competition. The typical outsourcing client uses 11 RSM subject matter specialists but pays less than the cost of one of their own employees. RSM provides breakthrough marketing for clients and has been named twice to the INC 5000 list. Visit RSM for special Marketing Companion offers including $5,000 in free services.

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A simple theory of social media sales success

social media sales success

I’ve been immersed in the world of digital marketing since the earliest days and one of the biggest challenge has always been connecting the dots to create social media sales success.

Of course there are many paths to get there depending on the channel, the audience and whether you have an advertising budget or not, but when it comes to truly building an organic presence that leads to sales success, I do think there is a formula — and it might even be a little surprising to you.

Let’s get into that today.

A social media audience is different

In my classes, I explain that a social media audience represents “weak relational links.” What I mean by this is that a “like” or even a “follow” correlates to almost zero actual emotional connection to a brand or a business.

When somebody “likes” you on social media, it’s like they’re waving at you. By liking or following you, consumers are acknowledging you or saying “hello,” but that doesn’t mean they would ever open a wallet and give you their money.

I have nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter. If I sent out a tweet that said, “Hey everybody, buy my new book!” I would expect to sell zero books. Weak relational links.

The social media audience of weak links is still important because it represents potential. These are contacts you never would have had any other way.

To activate that potential, you have to go far beyond awareness and “likes” to deliver unique and extraordinary human connection and value that makes somebody want to buy something. You have to build an actionable audience.

Two components for social media sales success

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I have a theory I would like to test out on you. The social media accounts that drive relationships beyond weak relational links into an actionable audience have two things in common:

  • A consistent human component
  • Unique value, insight, access, or entertainment value

Now, there is an exception — Brands that have become beloved over years of advertising and promotion like Disney, Apple, or Coca-Cola.

But if you’re a small business building a marketing presence from scratch, it seems you need those two components — human and unique value. So if you’re out there just checking a box by publishing photos of your pizza slices or floor tiles, listen up.

Human + Value = Actionable Audience

What do I mean by the human component?

Great branding occurs when you build an emotional connection between what you do and your audience.

It’s hard for people to fall in love with a picture of a car or a house, but over time, it’s certainly possible to build a meaningful human connection between people.

That’s why all the greatest small business social media accounts feature a real human being. Let’s look at a real example.

On the surface, Walmart is sort of a boring brand. They sell lots of everyday items at low prices. Not too sexy. But look at what happens when you add a human component. A store in Maryland features photos of employees with their products but one in particular, a slight, grumpy woman named Charlene, became a hit:

social media sales success

social media sales success 2

social media sales success 3

These photos have attracted thousands of fans and a massive amount of engagement. But everything went a little nuts when Charlene finally smiled. Did you notice what she’s holding?

social media sales success

Did it increase sales? Yes. People are actually driving to the store from all over the region, and even all over the country, hoping to meet Charlene. I can’t imagine anything else a Walmart store could have done on a Facebook account to get that sort of lift in attention.

Social media sales success depends on unique value

Now, just having somebody pose in photos is not enough to create interest and demand for your products. In the case of Charlene, there is a distinct entertainment value seeing her dressed up in crazy outfits or curled up in a baby’s bed. You sort of want to see what happens next.

Another favorite example is my friend John Phillips, an artisan in my home town of Knoxville, TN. John handcrafts knives from recovered steel in old plows, bridges, and other structures and forges them into unique and beautiful products.

Just posting photos of his work is pretty interesting but what has helped his business explode in popularity is the videos and images he posts describing the process of how he gets there.

social media sales success

social media sales success

The “value” that you share through your human presence can take several forms:

Knowledge — I create content that freely shares my ideas and observations about the world of marketing.

Access — Kim Kardashian provides a peek into her glamorous life in the hopes that you will buy her beauty products.

Insight — John Phillips opens the doors to show you the materials and processes that go into these extraordinary knives.

Entertainment — A Maryland Walmart store caught fire by offering funny photos of a charming employee.

Now, there is one other idea that runs through any social media effort — consistency. I could never build a business based on one blog post. I’ve blogged every week for 12 years to make my little dent in the world. Charlene, John, and the Kardashian clan would be invisible if they only posted occasionally.

So I believe that is the formula for social media sales success. A human presence delivering unique value, consistently over time.

What do you think?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

The post A simple theory of social media sales success appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Why “resonance” is the future of SEO

future of seo

One of the problems in the digital marketing world today is that leaders are using an outdated playbook — especially when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I think the future of SEO is taking some pretty wild and unexpected turns right now so let’s explore that today.

Content as SEO fuel

The major innovation with SEO over the past few years is that it has largely become a content strategy. Beginning with the “inbound marketing” concept introduced by Hubspot in 2005 and growing into very sophisticated AI-driven techniques today, creating content that can auto-magically bring qualified leads to your site has been a reliable strategy.

But there are a few trends that are changing that and content certainly does not work for SEO like it used to. The future of SEO is moving in a dramatic new direction.

The changing search landscape

Let’s look at the future of SEO and content as it is unveiling itself through three significant trends.

First — voice search. When you search Alexa or Google home by verbalizing a question, you don’t get a list of content sugestions like blog posts or videos. You get an answer. So content has a much-diminished impact in the world of voice search.

It’s impossible to tell exactly how much of the total search pie is going to voice queries, but let’s be ultra-conservative and say 20 percent.

future of seo

When you ask Alexa or Siri to do something for you, you normally don’t get a list of blog posts or podcast episodes in the results. So the implication is that your content is potentially impacting much less of the search market than it did in the pre-voice days five years ago. But wait, it gets worse.

Trend number two — Last month, something very significant happened in the search world. For the first time, more than half (51 percent) of the search inquiries on Google were kept by Google. This means, Google kept the SEO “answers” away from businesses and content creators and directed them to their own knowledge panels, internal properties, and paid partnerships.

Will this continue to grow in the Google direction? The government will have some say over this. Google’s increasing dominance in this space is a subject of a Department of Justice probe. The company owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers, giving it unique power over the monetization of digital content.

So now we have a truer picture of the emerging search world. In the past five years, the majority of organic search traffic that was available to be attracted by your content has been in steady decline.

future of seo content in decline

The main idea here is, the available search inquiries that can be served by your SEO-oriented content has been evaporating over the past five years.

And when we look at the future of SEO … it gets even worse.

Trend three — While the piece of the pie available to organic search inquiries has been in rapid decline, the amount of content competing for that shrinking pie has literally exploded.

When you have more and more content competing for the same search traffic, eventually content marketing is not a sustainable strategy for some businesses. This is an idea I proposed some years ago called Content Shock.

future of seo content shock

This graph from WordPress shows the number of blog posts published each month since the beginning of the content marketing era. You don’t have to be a statistician to realize it’s harder to compete for attention in a world of 80 million blog posts every month compared to one million a month 10 years ago. In fact, your competition has increased by 8,000 percent in a few years. A tough world for an inbound marketer!

Of course, the same thing is happening on podcasts, visual content, and video (there are 300 hours of new video uploaded to YouTube every minute of the day!).

To break through in this environment, you need to either spend more money on quality to win the content arms race or spend more to promote your content. Either way, traditional content marketing becomes more expensive and less accessible for many businesses in this environment.

So is this the end of content marketing?

No.

We just need to think about content and its benefits in an entirely different way.

SEO and the junkyard dogs

I was recently hired by a company in Seattle to conduct a personal branding workshop based on my book KNOWN.

When you think about it, this was an extremely unlikely pairing. If you search for “personal branding consultant,” there are 40 million results. Even if you search for “personal branding consultant Seattle” there are 2.1 million results.

I am not in those top search results. Not even close.

This is not an unusual situation for a small business. I am NEVER going to be in the top search results. Really, the only thing that matters is the top three slots. The top three slots will be won by the biggest, meanest, richest SEO junkyard dogs.

It’s an expensive and never-ending battle that I will never win for terms like “digital marketing consultant,” “marketing strategy, “keynote speaker,” or any of the other jobs that I do.

Chances are, unless you’re the junkyard dog in your industry, you won’t win your SEO battle either. And yet, every company I know is pouring money into content trying to win the SEO battle!

This just makes no sense.

But here I was in Seattle, conducting an awesome workshop. How did my client find me in all this hopeless SEO mess? Through my content. But not through search.

The business case for resonance

The night before my workshop, I had a wonderful seafood dinner with my client. I asked my friend … “Why did you hire me?”

“Your content resonates with me,” he said without hesitation.

Isn’t that an interesting word … resonates.

My content was not at the top of an SEO stack for personal branding. I’m certainly not going to make the Alexa hit parade.

But a person who hired me for this important work chose me because there was an emotional connection that resonated with him on a personal and professional level.

This reveals a more practical and realistic value of content in this competitive environment, and a value that is almost entirely overlooked by marketers today.

At this point, I would like to interrupt myself. Whenever I write a mega-trend blog post like this, I am pointing out an idea that is very broad … and it may not apply to everybody. There certainly is still room today for SEO-driven content, and there always will be as far out into the future as I can see. The numbers I’ve presented here are high level. The true search volume for your industry could result in mostly organic results, especially in smaller niche markets.

The answer to every marketing question is, “it depends,” and that is certainly true here.

But overall, SEO-driven content is probably working less well for most businesses and content that attracts customers due to its authority is becoming more important.

Content and authority

So there are really two basic content strategies you can use to win new business: Content meant to win SEO and content meant to earn authority (content that resonates with readers). And of course, you can have overlap between these strategies:

future of seo

I won the business in Seattle — against all SEO odds — because I ignored SEO. I write for my readers. If I do that well and consistently, I’ll earn subscribers. Eventually, these subscribers will grow to know me, trust me and hire me. I think that is the future of SEO, which is really not SEO at all!

It’s a different way to look at content strategy but for 90 percent of the businesses out there who will never win the SEO battle, content built on authority might be the best and only strategic option.

I’m not creating content to trick you into clicking a link. I am creating content that consistently connects with your hopes and dreams and business needs. I’m building a long-term connection that resonates.

Make sense?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com. 

The post Why “resonance” is the future of SEO appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

How to Create a Kickass Editorial Calendar

How to Create a Kickass Editorial Calendar

Managing your content can seem like a daunting task. 

If you’re new to editorial management management, or just looking for a way to keep all your content well organized, you might be asking a few questions. How do you organize your content? How do you know what content to post? Is there an easy and efficient way to stay on top of your content-posting goals?

That’s where an editorial calendar can save the day. 

In this post, we will define what an editorial calendar actually is (and isn’t) and explain how to create one that works for your team.

What is an editorial calendar?

An editorial calendar, borrowed from the traditional publishing world, is an actual calendar outlining high-level, thematic frameworks to show when your overarching content should be scheduled throughout the year. 

It is a useful resource to build the foundation for your content in that it establishes the starting point for your content planning by looking at the big picture, and then delves into the details of what to post. A strong editorial calendar will categorize content and show the corresponding timelines to ensure transparency on upcoming material. Think of the editorial calendar as the blueprints for your content responsibilities—it shows where you need to go and how to get there. 

Why create an editorial calendar?

Picture Jane, a marketing manager for a medium-sized company. Jane manages a team who is responsible for social media, traditional marketing, events, and (importantly) content. But they are struggling to stay organized. The company’s social media pages haven’t had a post for a week, and before then they were inconsistent at best. 

Jane is trying to stay organized, but the hustle-and-bustle of the workday is dragging her down. She needs resources that plan out her team’s content responsibilities. Insert the editorial calendar. Not only would an editorial calendar make Jane’s life easier, it would also add value to her team by acting as a tool for communication and planning. At any given time, anyone would be able to refer to the calendar and see what’s going on from a 30,000-foot view. 

If you’re like Jane, you have a team who needs help planning and organizing relevant content throughout the year. As a snapshot of your year’s overarching content, an editorial calendar would solve that problem by allowing the team to see content gaps ahead of time and prepare the right content at the right time. 

What is the difference between an editorial calendar and a content calendar?

It’s important to note: an editorial calendar is not the same as a content calendar, though the terms are often used interchangeably. While they may sound like the same thing, they serve different purposes. 

At Convince & Convert, we define a content calendar as “a tactical, executable calendar for planning all content activity. It takes existing content and repurposes it through atomization and determines how certain content should be used.” Content calendars instruct the day-to-day management of content–tactical, granular, and detailed. They often include the exact messaging and content to be posted, such as article links, videos, or blog posts for each of your channels and the exact dates for when to publish. This content corresponds with the overarching editorial theme for a certain point in time.  

Conversely, an editorial calendar directs the content by setting high-level themes over a long period of time. It is used to plan ahead for upcoming material, allowing teams time to create, repurpose, or curate relevant content as it fits into the publishing schedule. 

Think of the editorial calendar as the strategy and the content calendar as the execution. The editorial calendar guides the content that will be published. And the content calendar defines and publishes the specific content. 

Create your editorial calendar by answering 4 basic questions:

What does an editorial calendar look like?

Similar to a content calendar, an editorial calendar looks like an actual calendar. There are several different ways to design your calendar, and various templates available online. But each calendar should have key elements, including month/day, content theme, platform, etc. 

Your editorial calendar can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or as complex as a paid tool (more on tools shortly). But it’s probably best to avoid PDFs. It’s often helpful to organize your calendar by color-coding themes, posting platforms, and months as well as key dates. 

There is not one right way to create an editorial calendar. You have to decide what your team needs and will best be able to follow and use on a regular basis. Below are some examples of editorial calendars, all different, yet effective. 

The first calendar is one that we use at Convince & Convert. Seasonality is important to our content, so we plan our editorial calendar around holidays and large events. Having a simple calendar showing the holidays allows us to reference it and immediately know what’s coming up and what can wait. 

Editorial Calendar Example

Example of a content calendar from Convince & Convert

The second is from HubSpot. It shows an individual month’s snapshot of what and where content will be posted. Notice how it doesn’t actually include any content topics, allowing the user to fill in the details but still have a sense of what they need to create to follow the plan. 

Editorial Calendar Example from HubSpot

Editorial Calendar Example from HubSpot

The third example is from CoSchedule. They call their editorial calendar the “Broad and General Calendar” because it shows multiple months and associated topics and sub-topics. It does not list the channels but still gives a clear picture of what’s to come.

Editorial Calendar Example

Editorial Calendar Example from CoSchedule

Remember, this is a visual representation of your content. You should be able to look at your editorial calendar and clearly see the topics or themes to be covered throughout the year. 

What should be (or shouldn’t be) included in an editorial calendar?

When creating your editorial calendar, certain pieces of information will be important to include in order to be of value to you and your team. Consider including some of the following elements, keeping in mind what is right for your team:

  • Important dates (events, seasonality, etc.)
  • Themes/Topics (subtopics may be relevant, too)
  • Posting cadence (weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • Key distribution channels (website, social media, etc.)

The calendar can also include content owners, assigning tasks to each team member responsible for producing the content. Stages of production (in progress, editing, approved, etc.), with the timelines associated for each, will further ensure transparency on upcoming material and provide clearer communication if delays are anticipated. 

At the end of the day, the information contained in the editorial calendar should be those elements that help you and your team manage content in a more streamlined fashion. If an element begins to drag you down, and isn’t making your content life easier, then ditch it. 

How often should you update and use an editorial calendar?

There’s no right or wrong time to start planning your editorial calendar for the year. But the earlier you tackle it, the more you give your team enough time to plan upcoming content. A strong editorial calendar at the start of the year will guide your content strategy, making sure everyone is aligned toward content goals. But it’s important to also allow flexibility. This shouldn’t be carved in stone–go ahead and make necessary changes along the way. Again, the editorial calendar is to be used as a guide, not a mandate. 

We also recommend you refer to the calendar early and often. In practice, this means using the calendar to keep your content organized and on schedule. If your marketing team has a weekly touch-base, it can be a great idea to pull up the editorial calendar at each meeting to do a quick review. This ensures the calendar stays fresh in the minds of users.  

Finally, it’s critical to measure your content’s performance along the way. If future content is planned, but hasn’t shown to resonate with your audience, change the plan. This helps you better serve your audience by focusing on topics that are important to them.

Do you need an editorial calendar tool, and, if so, how do you select one?

Depending on the size of your team and budget, you may not need a robust tool to manage your editorial calendar. It usually depends on the amount of content you publish. If you aren’t publishing multiple pieces of content each week across a large number of platforms, you may be able to get away with just a spreadsheet. Just be sure it is accessible to your entire team. 

But while a living, breathing, shared document is manageable for most teams to use, a formal tool is often easier, cleaner, and automated for this exact purpose. For those reasons, several tools exist in the marketplace. Some of those have free versions, like Trello, Airtable, and Meistertask, while others are paid subscriptions. Our Convince & Convert team uses CoSchedule’s paid tool, which we like a lot. 

Whichever option you choose, make sure it fits the needs of your team.

If you are trying to figure out where to start, begin by keeping it simple. Create one single editorial calendar via spreadsheet to work from. It’s hard to keep track of everything when it’s in different places. And it makes it even more difficult for your team to know what they should be doing when. By keeping everything in one place, communication is streamlined, expectations are set, and efforts are not duplicated. And, the more organized it is, the easier it will be to get buy-in from your team to use the calendar. 

Conclusion

Let’s return, for a moment, to Jane our marketing manager. In recent months, Jane has put together an editorial calendar for her and her team. She started simply, with a color-coded Excel template stored on a shared drive. And her team has begun reviewing the calendar at their weekly meetings. 

The results have shown. Not only does Jane feel more comfortable managing her content requirements, but her team’s content have become very consistent. Even better, her teammates have begun engaging with the calendar. Some of them have even sent her emails with content ideas, including the exact date where the idea would fit into the calendar!

Hopefully, Jane’s example highlights for you the power and simplicity of the editorial calendar. With this tool in your arsenal, you are fully capable of managing high-quality, relevant content and delivering it on a consistent schedule. 

This post was originally written by Nathan Ellering in 2015, and updated extensively by Donna Mostrom in 2019. 

The post How to Create a Kickass Editorial Calendar appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

The cookies must die.

cookies

There are about 615 million devices in the world using ad blockers. This easily represents the biggest civil rebellion in the history of the world. In a loud, clear chorus, our customers are saying “stop interrupting me with these ads.”

The ad industry’s response has been to try to get around these ad blockers and show people more ads. Which, is the dumbest possible response.

As I was doing research for my book Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, it dawned on me that consumers have been in rebellion against marketers for more than 100 years.

I thought it was poignant that the first TV remote was invented in 1950.  As soon as there were TV ads, there was a device invented to get around them!

Here’s the lesson we can learn from the history of marketing. The consumers always win. Always.

And the latest battleground is cookies.

Cookies must die

In the digital world, cookies are small pieces of data sent by a website and stored on the user’s computer by their web browser to perform many essential functions. They can be used to verify the account a user is logged in with, record the webpages a user has visited, compile long-term records of a user’s browsing history, and build up a profile of our customer’s interests, preferences, and habits.

Cookies have become the backbone of the digital marketing and advertising industry, enabling tactics like targeting, retargeting, behavioral marketing, programmatic advertising, and much more.

Studies show that ad targeting has been worth more than $25 billion by allowing advertising to more effectively reach relevant (usually) consumers. Many of my customers and personal friends have built their entire companies through the benefit of cookies.

Undeniably, ads that follow you around the web have created a powerful economic engine.

But they also creep people out.

And these spooked consumers have said “no.”

The U.S. Congress, the European Union, the California attorney general and dozens of state governments have said that the cookie-based digital economy cannot stand as-is. This is a violent disruption to our world of eCommerce, much like the rebellion we saw with the ad blockers.

Resistance is futile.

Recovering from the cookies

Last week Google sent shock waves across the industry when it faced reality and announced it would phase out third-party cookies for Chrome over the next two years. This, of course, followed announcements by Apple, Firefox and others.

A post-cookie economy will cause a lot of heartache to retailers and perhaps destroy some business models. As panic sets in, there will be efforts to fight against the changes, or at least find ways to get around them.

Predictably, the advertising trade organizations went ballistic.

“Google’s decision to block third-party cookies in Chrome could have major competitive impacts for digital businesses, consumer services, and technological innovation,” Dan Jaffe, group EVP of government relations at the Association of National Advertiser, and Dick O’Brien, who has the same title at the 4A’s, said in a joint statement shared with Marketing Dive.

“It would threaten to substantially disrupt much of the infrastructure of today’s internet without providing any viable alternative, and it may choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive,” they wrote.

Once again, fighting to keep something in place that consumers hate is an understandable but short-sighted response. It delays the inevitable. The consumers will eventually win.

One possible alternative to cookies is contextual targeting. But if this becomes another way to abuse consumer privacy, we’re just going down another hole that will eventually be legislated away.

We have to get ahead of the curve and learn to go to market in a way that not only respects privacy but helps guarantee it.

We will figure it out.

We’ve all been down this road of disruption before.

I was in a marketing leadership position with a Fortune 100 company the first time the internet dramatically rocked my business world.

I was responsible for selling huge volumes of packaging products to beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, and Coors. These contracts ran into the billions of dollars and the high-stake negotiations could run for 12 months or more.

All that went away in a single day.

In the early days of the internet, our customers started using reverse auctions (also called Dutch auctions).

All of the packaging suppliers would log into the same computer account and place their bids for the annual contract. There was complete transparency. Everyone could see every other company’s bids. And then we watched the price drop like a rock as competitors lowered their bids, minute-by-minute.

Competitive and panicked sales managers countered with desperately low prices as the clock ticked down — an emotional reaction as their high-volume business evaporated in the closing seconds. In a span of 20 minutes — not months of negotiations — an entire annual contract was completed before our disbelieving eyes.

A century-old business model had been disrupted. Sales and marketing in our industry had been re-invented. I literally didn’t know how we could stay in business under those conditions. Maybe that’s how you’re feeling now with the Google announcement.

But we did stay in business. Eventually, we transcended the chaos and adjusted to a new reality. And that’s the way it’s been with every business disruption in the history of the world.

The consumers always win

The lesson is, the best marketers need to get ahead of the consumer curve. The consumer rebellions always win, so stop doing what people hate.

Seriously.

Robo-calls? Stop it.

Piles of unwanted direct mail litter? Stop it.

Lead nurturing (a friendly way to say you’re spamming people until they block you). Stop it.

And cookies? Well, our customers generally don’t want to be creeped out and tracked anymore.

So we’re going to have to stop that too. It may seem impossible, but we will find alternatives.

The new mindset

I recently wrote that the new marketing mindset must move from “change our customers” to “come alongside our customers.”

Today’s customer possesses the accumulated knowledge of the human race in the palm of their hand. We should trust that they can make their own decisions.

So let’s find a way to come alongside them and help them have a life that is meaningful, healthier, more profitable, less stressful, more fun, awe-filled, adventurous, delicious, loving, joyful, and beautiful.

There are lots of ways to do that without violating the privacy of our customers and angering them. Just watch.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy of Unsplash.com

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