In this column I have staked my marketing reputation on the theme and theory that marketing is (almost) all about creating, owning and building Power Niches. Last week, I outlined what a Power Niche is – and that definition is found at the end of this article so everyone remembers it, without having to go back to my first article.
In order to move forward and establish the intellectual basis for Power Niches, I start with Peter Drucker. Indeed, he is always a great place to start in the business world. He is one of my intellectual heroes. He was not only incredibly smart; he was also someone who took the time to figure things out and put workable and usable theories together. Drucker, if you don’t know, actually invented the science of “management.” He died a few years ago. He was a professor at Stanford at the end of his career. If you want to be a real thinker in the business world – or the marketing world – I urge you to read his work.
Anyway, Drucker says that there are two things which every business must do to be successful. If the business doesn’t do those things, the odds of success are not good, and the converse. Can you figure out what they are? Don’t worry, I couldn’t either, but as soon as Drucker told me it was so obvious I was kicking myself. The two things are as follows:
Of course! If you don’t “innovate,” you have nothing to sell, and if you don’t “market,” then no one will realize why they should want your product in the first place. But if you put them together, then you have something powerful.
Consider Apple. What would Jobs have done without Wozniak? What would he have had to sell? And what would what Wozniak have done without Jobs? He would have tinkered around until someone stole his ideas or maybe he would just have gotten a job somewhere. If you put the two together; however, you have Apple, which is arguably the most successful company in world history.
So, although I would like to “just” talk about marketing in this column, it is hard to extricate marketing from innovating. If your law firm just does widget-like legal work that is indistinguishable from the legal work of other law firms, you have a serious problem. I will talk about how to solve problems like this in later columns; however, the first step in a successful marketing plan, and in building a Power Niche, has to be some level of innovation.
Let’s look at another very powerful, and indeed in my view the most powerful, thing Drucker ever said, which is when he identified a key and basic question; namely, what is the purpose of a business?
Don’t worry if you can’t get this one either. I couldn’t get it, and I suspect it took Drucker many years himself to figure it out. I was thinking it was probably to serve your customers, to serve your employees, to make the world a better place, to just make money; however, none of that is right. The purpose of a business, according to Drucker, is:
“To create a customer”
Wow! Makes you tingle a bit, doesn’t it? It is the use of the word “create.” He doesn’t say your purpose is to “get” customers or to “sell” to them or to “market” to them. It is to “create” them.
This goes back to the basic idea that you have to do some innovating if you want to market and sell effectively. Synthesizing Drucker, the ultimate plan as I see it is as follows:
“Innovate and market to create customers”
Steve Jobs said this beautifully when he said “don’t ask the customer what it wants; instead, show the customer what it should want.”
Or in another way, “it is not the customer’s job to know what they should want.”
The point here – as both Drucker and Jobs are saying to us – is to
“Innovate and market to create customers”
Please consider this for a few minutes and take a moment to think how it applies to your law practice. Are you just “practicing law,” or are you innovating and marketing to “create” customers?
I used to just be a plain old lawyer, and my career went absolutely nowhere. Now I spend every single day thinking about how to “create” customers – just like Steve Jobs said above – and my career is quite successful. And to be clear, I “really” do this. The purpose of these columns is to teach you exactly how I do it.
This is the first lesson. You have two weeks until my next column. Your homework is to read what I wrote (above). Reread it a couple of times. And think!!! How can you “innovate and market to ‘create’ customers”? You might just be flailing around now and maybe even have no clue what I am talking about. But if you read what the Power Niche is (below) and just turn on your brain, I assure you that your time will not be wasted.
Here is the definition of Power Niche again:
In brief, a Power Niche is a small-sized niche within a bigger industry that no one else yet dominates or owns. The niche isn’t obvious so you have to figure it out and “create” it. You step in and learn everything about it and everyone in it. You tell everyone about what you are doing – incessantly – and become the real “owner” of the niche merely by staking out your homestead in virgin territory. This then becomes a virtuous cycle as the more you know, the more you do, and the more you do, the more you know. Before long you are the world’s unquestioned expert in this (smaller) niche. All of this enhances your bargaining power within that niche. Instead of begging for business in the bigger industry, you now have eager clients paying you top dollar within this smaller Power Niche.
One particularly damaging myth that is hurting businesses everywhere, is how inbound marketing is strictly for the realm of large businesses with an established consumer base. In reality, small business inbound marketing is vital for creating a strong user base for your product or service.
What is Inbound Marketing?If you could have a frank discussion with your consumers, exchanging information about their needs for advice and advocacy, would you jump at the opportunity?
Inbound marketing makes this a reality. By starting conversations with consumers, you can win their loyalty and advocacy, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. This strategy builds and engages your fan base more efficiently than traditional advertising.
Common inbound marketing techniques include SEO, social media conversations and content marketing. All of these techniques have their place as long as you understand your marketing objectives.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing focuses on talking to your consumers. Common outbound marketing strategies include television, radio and print ads, as well as tradeshow visits and cold calls. In outbound marketing, you are seeking out consumers and delivering them your message.
On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on starting conversations with your consumers.
Inbound marketing is not a one-way street. Whether you are conversing with consumers on social media, communicating helpful information through a blog or teaching users through an infographic, inbound marketing creates incentive for consumers to talk back and share.
Recommended for YouWebcast, February 21st: Supercharge Your 2017 Recurring Revenue with Channel Partners
How Inbound Marketing Helps Small BusinessesDon’t fall into the trap of thinking that your business isn’t big enough to need inbound marketing.
Even if you are just starting out, small business inbound marketing can help you in a number of ways.
Saving on Marketing CostsInbound marketing is one of the most inexpensive ways to promote your business. Starting a conversation on Twitter or writing a blog post costs only the time it takes to type out your thoughts.
Techniques like these are important because they open up new marketing strategies for companies that may not have the budget for traditional advertising. For a small business, inbound marketing can be the best way to build an audience from nothing.
Of course there are platforms such as Hootsuite and Moz which help with social analytics and SEO, respectively, and those platforms do cost money. Luckily, the benefits of strong inbound marketing far outweigh the costs of intelligence platforms, and these services are in no way necessary to start inbound marketing.
Engaging with ConsumersAt its core, inbound marketing is personal. That’s the reason it connects with consumers, and that’s the reason it can be so powerful.
When you ask questions on Twitter or provide helpful advice on your blog, you are prompting users to engage directly with your business. This strategy eliminates the cold, impersonal feeling of paid advertisements, and lets you focus on individual consumers and their needs.
Creating Brand Advocates
Having productive online conversations is a great way to create brand advocates. If consumers feel like you offer content that directly benefits them in some way, they will be more likely to share that content with friends and coworkers.
Inbound Marketing StrategiesThe internet provides many simple ways for a small business to do inbound marketing. Keep in mind that consistency is key with all strategies of marketing. Consumers like to see that your business is actively participating in the larger online conversation.
Create Share-Worthy Content
Content marketing is the top of the conversion funnel when it comes to inbound strategies. Whether you are writing blogs, creating infographics or uploading videos, your content should provide unique value to the consumers who engage with it.
With inbound marketing, your strategy is not just to draw users to your page. Instead, you want to engage those users once they arrive, and provide helpful advice that they won’t find anywhere else.
Increase Your Social Media PresenceCreating unique content is a great way to incentivize consumers to share your ideas on social media. If your blog or video channel provides unique insights in your field, social users will already have reason to pass your content around.
From there, it’s simply a matter of engaging with your users.
Did consumers enjoy your content? Why or why not?
Maybe another agency has shared your advice? Thank them and give a shout-out in your own feed.
Tighten Up Your On-Page SEO
Going over your existing content to optimize it for better search engine performance is a good way to start your inbound marketing efforts. Consumers who find your content through organic search will be more likely to engage with it, because they are already seeking out content just like yours.
Have you tried any inbound marketing strategies for your small business? Let us know in the comments!Marketing myths are everywhere, and chances are they’ve had at least some impact on your industry. Some myths are new, while others are aged ‘best practices’ that simply haven’t been updated for modern times. Every week, we’ll take a look at a new marketing myth to see how it stands up in the hectic era of online marketing.
By Angela Hausman, PhD
Influencer marketing, the newest shiny thing in digital marketing, took a serious hit this week, despite a slew of articles touting the tactic. For instance,
Influencer marketing is well past its experimental phase. It is now firmly established as an important type of online marketing, and it is for more than just small businesses and startups, who can’t afford traditional advertising fees. Quite a few A-list businesses realize that influencer marketing helps them reach their target audience. It is digital marketing’s next best thing, that is making a huge impact already.
The article goes on the give 10 examples of Fortune 100 companies, like Motorola and Dunkin’ Donuts, using influencer marketing to drive awareness, build brand image, and, ultimately, sell product.
But, is influencer marketing the next big thing in digital marketing, as suggested by several thought leaders in digital?
Let’s explore the hidden danger of using this new tactic.
What is influencer marketing?Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.
In many ways, hiring influencers as spokespeople for your brand isn’t much different than hiring a celebrity for your commercial or giving clothing to celebrities so they’re photographed wearing your clothes.
From a marketing perspective, influence marketing provides two benefits:
Using microcelebrities has it’s benefits over using celebrities to endorse your brand.
Sometimes, influencer marketing is relatively subtle. While it’s not exactly traditional word of mouth advertising, which focuses on crafting content likely to go viral, and it’s not as in your face as advocate marketing, where a brand incentivizes loyal customers to advocate for the brand, influencer marketing shares many of the same marketing benefits.
First, you find influencers who have a large following among your target market. Next, you market heavily to the influencer in hopes he/she will share your content with their massive following.
As brands got more aggressive about influencer marketing, brands went beyond just marketing to influencers, they began supporting them with traditional sponsorships or by buying advertising on their platforms, such as buying ads on their YouTube channel or paying them for mentioning/ reviewing the brand.
The dangers of influencer marketing
ust as with celebrities, your influencers might totally embarrass your brand with their behavior. For instance, many brands stopped using Tiger Woods to endorse their brands after reports of his massive infidelities hit the press. In other cases, like with Taylor Swift, you get access to her fans and your brand takes on some of her wholesome personality.
It’s the same when you hire an influencer. And, Ad Week contends that these microcelebrities are less likely to do something totally embarrassing than celebrities, who tend to slip up with some regularity.
But, recent events suggest brands need more due diligence before they decide to throw in their lot with an influencer. Case in point, PewDiePie.
Here’s what an article in this week’s Ad Week said right after Disney and YouTube dropped support for PewDiePie, a controversial and outlandish YouTube sensation with over 53 million followers, for anti-semitic videos.
“Influencers become inextricably tied to brands that advertise with them,”Wijesinghe said. “Whether or not you work with them for paid marketing or happen to advertise on their videos, the standard of vetting should only be getting higher.”
And, you have more worries about using influencers than just them becoming a loose cannon. For instance. you can’t control how an influencer talks about your brand, which may undo a lot of brand equity with your existing market or damage efforts to generate a cohesive brand image.
And, despite the ROI of influencer marketing, it’s nowhere near as good as word of mouth.
Influencer marketing certainly does pay off. For every dollar spent, you have a return of $6.50 in additional earned media on top of it. However, it still only generates half the sales of true word-of-mouth. So it boils down to what your company is looking for.
Some experts believe that influencer marketing is about to come crashing down on the brands out there thinking they’ve found the magic bullet for selling to their target market. Their efforts to work with influencers is creating a system which reduces their ability to influence sales. Brands have no relationship with the influencers, in most cases, and no control over messages shared by them, in all cases. Messages shared by the influencer run the gambit from off brand to negative, and that’s without consideration of how the actions of the influencer might impact brand image, as with PewDiePie.
This is a recipe for disaster, according the WSJ. The platforms themselves, including Snapchat and Instagram, have serious reservations about influencer marketing, especially as practiced by the new automated platforms for generating influencer marketing, including TapInfluence. They’re afraid that, when influencer marketing fails, as they predict it will, the brands will abandon advertising on the platform all together.
Handling the dangers of influencer marketingSo, unlike the WSJ, I don’t advocate throwing out the baby with the bath water. I feel influencer marketing is a valuable tool with a high ROI potential. But, brands need to do a better job before swallowing this new shiny thing.
Vet influencersUsing automated software to choose your influencers based on the size of their network or other objective facts is a mistake, as Disney found with PewDiePie. And, despite efforts to distance themselves from the video sensation, he’ll likely retain most of his millions of followers, providing the perfect vehicle for revenge against the brands he formerly represented (although he has said nothing to suggest this future course of action).
Instead, brands need to spend time and expend effort to thoroughly vet influencers. Read/ view their content, check their public affiliations, etc to ensure their values match those of your brand and your target audience. Make sure influencers clearly understand your brand’s personality and what is (or isn’t) acceptable.
Build relationshipsTreat influencers as a member of your team, don’t just pay them for doing your messaging. This is a major difference between using celebrities and influencers. Building relationships with influencers helps ensure their messaging stays on point and positive.
Every day I get offers from companies seeking mention in this blog. Because I don’t have millions of followers, none of them are offering me $1 million for the favor, but they do offer access to information and executives within the company, infographics, and the like. But none of them have tried to build a relationship that would both increase my desire to include their content or ensure I cover their brand appropriately. More disturbing, several attempt to curry favor by implying that such a relationship does exist. Almost all of these end up in the trash, even ones offering money for a mention of their brand.
Just as a brand needs to be careful of its influencers, and influencer needs to be careful of the brands it endorses. Hence, building a relationship with the influencer means attracting a higher quality influencer who likely has built trust with their followers, which likely translates into sales.
By Taylor Anderson
Most of us know what marketing is, but we aren’t all aware of the strategies that companies use. Marketing is the promotion of businesses and there are endless marketing strategies to do so. Companies use different marketing strategies depending on what type of business they are and what message they are trying to send out. Many businesses use social media to market, depending on who their target market is. For example, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter may be used differently, depending on target personas. Here at Mariposa, we use inbound marketing, and like I was, you may be wondering what exactly this is.
I’m an intern at Mariposa Interactive, learning the fascinating ropes of an inbound marketing agency. If you’re like me, then you aren’t quite sure what the definition of inbound marketing is, even though it’s thrown around a lot in the business. To get the hang of inbound marketing, I (and you) must first learn how it works. One of the main tools that we use here at Mariposa is Hubspot. Here is a look at things from their perspective. “Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world”. When I first used Hubspot, I was so amazed at the things that it could do. It was unbelievable to me that I could analyze posts, learn about Search Engine Optimization, and observe how the other side of social media and blog posts works.
In order to achieve inbound marketing, we must know a company’s goal, the target market (or persona) of their business, and the needs of their customers. Before we are able to start work for a client, we need to find a way to tailor to their needs. This is done by determining strategy, personas, and a voice for them. A strategy for a company is how a client wants to market their product/service to a customer. Many factors are taken into consideration for this. One factor is the different potential personas that a company could have. For example, for a fencing company, you may have one persona of a group of people aged 35-45 with homes or farms. Another persona may be a group of adults from ages 25-35 that need a fence around a smaller area or certain section of land. Each company has more than one persona, because there will be more than one kind of potential customer engaging in business with them. In order for the fencing company to be successful, they need a strategy to market to their personas. When developing a strategy, this company needs to consider their voice, how they will be perceived by potential clients, their tone. They may want to be seen as an organized professional company looking for their clients best interests or an authority on the business. Marketing in this way does just that, makes sure that they are attracting the customers they need.
One way we use this information at Mariposa is through social media. We develop creative posts for companies that catch the reader’s eye and draw them in, like funny Facebook posts and informative blog articles. These posts help bring in customers that will engage in a certain company and they don’t have to pertain solely to that company. Anyone interested in this company and its products can be exposed to a variety of different fields that eventually lead them back to the service they need, provided by that one original company. This keeps things exciting and interesting while still catering to the needs and interests of the company’s customer base.
Now you may find yourself more aware of companies marketing strategies when you see ads or social media posts. Knowing how the marketing system works and why your agency is doing what they do is a big part of having a successful marketing strategy.
Trust the professionals and discuss the possibility of inbound marketing today.
The evolution of video in content marketing is creating new platforms for small businesses to showcase their products and services. An increasingly mobile audience with a hunger for fresh video content makes these platforms valuable tools in any branded marketing strategy as long as you know how to make each one work for your business.
YouTubeEstablished in 2005, YouTube has grown from a place where friends share amusing videos to a powerful way for brands to engage with their audiences. Content is recorded and edited before being posted to your account with keyword-rich descriptions and links to your website. You can share videos on any topic, including:
• Product demonstrations
• Weekly updates
• “Behind the scenes” footage
• Industry information
• “How-to” guides
Remember to include a strong call-to-action in both the content of the video and the description. Add links encouraging viewers to subscribe at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the video to gather as many followers as possible.
Facebook LiveNo matter what industry your business is in, a good chunk of your target audience is likely to use Facebook on a regular basis. In 2016, the popular social platform started offering users, including businesses, the opportunity to “go live” with streaming video.
Hosting a live stream on Facebook is a great way to connect with your audience in real time and answer questions or share exciting news. Viewers can comment on your broadcast as it takes place, and all comments are visible to you so that you can respond immediately. Finished broadcasts stay in your Facebook feed and can be shared, replayed or deleted as desired. Be sure to include a compelling description to give viewers an idea of what to expect whether they watch the stream live or come back to it later.
PeriscopeAs an extension of Twitter, Periscope shares many features of Facebook Live. The platform was launched in the spring of 2015 and allows users to broadcast from smart phones, GoPro cameras or professional cameras, creating a unique opportunity for brands to connect with consumers. Over 10 million users currently have Periscope accounts, and 2 million of them are active every day.
This video platform integrates back and forth with Twitter to allow real-time commenting and a high level of engagement. Invite your followers to share a one-time video experience with you live, or save the video so that it can be replayed in the future for an even wider reach.
Instagram LiveInstagram Live enhances the platform’s “Stories” feature with the ability to broadcast video any time you wish. Unlike on other platforms, these videos disappear the moment you stop streaming. Harness the power of this urgency to give Instagram followers an “in” to special events they can’t be at in person, make announcements about limited-time deals and make special followers-only announcements about new products. Remember to stay engaged with comments to let your audience know you’re listening to their feedback.
With 89 percent of marketers planning to adopt streaming video strategies, video is set to become an indispensable fixture in the world of content marketing. Focus your efforts on the platforms your customers engage with the most, monitor the performance of each video and refine your approach as you go along to keep customers focused on your brand.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles