Business 12 August 2018
When people tell me they're doing something for marketing purposes, I often ask what that means; the funny thing is that they often can't answer that question clearly. This is through no fault of their own. During my time as a CMO for global companies and now as the founder and CEO of B2B marketing agency, The Ricciardi Group, I've discovered that marketing is more or less a generic term applied to a huge sector of business.
Generally speaking, marketing is about reaching a particular audience with a compelling message that will drive them to take some sort of action. The tactics vary from email marketing and social media engagement to large-scale events and publicity campaigns. In other words, there is no one way to go about it. However, what I can definitively say is that there are a few common mistakes that companies often make when it comes to marketing, particularly early stage companies that are looking for rapid growth.
1. Targeting the wrong audience
Finding your target audience is the most critical part of any marketing initiative. This can go sideways in many ways. For example, if your customer base is purely local, using a national pay-per-click campaign would waste countless dollars from your marketing budget. If your customer base is young adults from Generation Z, running a marketing campaign on a social media platform that skews older (such as Facebook) would miss them completely. The trick here is to drill down your target into specific demographic groups, then identify the best way to communicate with them.
-Whose need am I fulfilling with my product or service? Age, gender, education, location, income level, job, and other factors come into play.
-Who do I want to be using my product or service?
-Who is my competition targeting? And should I compete with them or go after an untapped market?
"If your customer base is young adults from Generation Z, running a marketing campaign on a social media platform that skews older (such as Facebook) would miss them completely"
Those answers should be able to get you rough groups of customers. Once you have those, you can begin to drill down even more specifically through customer data, which can be gathered in many ways: in-person observations of competitors, examining social media followers, use of website analytics, and more. All of this effort funnels into the goal of having every marketing message connect with a potential customer, so make sure you discover your right audience.
"Generally speaking, marketing is about reaching a particular audience with a compelling message that will drive them to take some sort of action."
2. Using the wrong tone
Identifying your target audience is a significant first step, but after that, the message you use will make or break your marketing campaign. While you’ll need to tweak things based on the specifics of the demographic, one thing that is consistent across nearly all channels and groups is the need for a tone to be “empathetic” and relevant. By that, I mean you want potential customers to feel like you understand their needs and concerns rather than you’re just trying to sell them a product.
In 2016, Adobe launched its Make a Masterpiece campaign in which four world-renowned digital artists recreated lost paintings by Frida Kahlo, Friedrich Schinkel, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Caravaggio using nothing but Adobe Stock photos. The campaign was a creative way to celebrate history and culture, as well as an attempt to change the negative perception of stock imagery in art. Adobe also made it interactive by providing online tutorials.
Marisa Ricciardi, Founder and CEO of the Ricciardi Group
By showcasing the power of its product with stunning recreations of iconic art, Adobe appealed to its audience, many of which are designers and creatives, on multiple levels. It drew them in with a story about paying homage to the world’s great artists while inviting them to make their own masterpieces. This is how marketing should be done—not just by promoting a product, but by being attuned to your customers.
"Finding your target audience is the most critical part of any marketing initiative...the trick here is to drill down your target into specific demographic groups, then identify the best way to communicate with them."
3. Being robotic instead of human
In today’s world of automated everything (thank you AI), what we gain in efficiency we often lose in effectiveness. The marketer who understands when to apply technology and when to engage creative ingenuity will always win—because in the end, we are marketing to humans not robots. People now want to feel connected and understood, not sold to based on one person’s opinion.
A good example of how to infuse “humanness” is what’s happening on the visual side of marketing and advertising. Businesses that have historically used original production or stock photography (through companies like Adobe), are mixing in images with high-quality authentic photos to provide a sense of realism. Catch&Release, a company that curates and licenses authentic images from across the entire Internet, works with some of the world’s largest brands to serve up real life visuals, from video to photos. Their recent Herbal Essences campaign for Mother’s Day featured pregnant women from around the world overcoming “challenges” often associated with pregnancy.
In essence, effective marketing in today’s environment will mean leading with human connection while technology enables the tasks to happen more efficiently behind the scenes.
4. Information bombing
We all suffer from information overload these days. Much of this is due to the proliferation of marketing channels as a result of the internet and mobile age. Furthermore, basically anyone with a smartphone can voice their opinion about everything from the best restaurant to the most worthy political candidate.
Marketing at its best is about precise messaging to specific audiences. However, some companies go with the kitchen-sink approach, throwing every possible bit of information out there. The result can create an overwhelmed customer that lacks focus. Instead, less is more. A clear, concise message and a clean presentation ensure that nothing is lost and the viewer isn't scared off.
The master of this is Apple, whose simple philosophy towards marketing has powered them since the early 1980s. By now, their campaigns are iconic—a perfect example of that is how the iPod silhouette campaign became synonymous with the early 2000s. Now, years later, they have done it again with their “Behind the Mac” campaign. The core message is simple and clean: using a Mac, people from all over the world are making wonderful things, and you can too. Not everyone can be Apple, but every company, whether B2B or B2C, can learn from the strategy of utilizing streamlined and striking imagery combined with simple value proposition-based messaging.
"People now want to feel connected and understood, not sold to based on one person’s opinion"
There's a common thread through the advice above, and it's something that I often say to clients: treat your customers as you’d want to be treated...like a human. Beyond that, keep it real. In a sense, the terms B2B and B2C may soon be a thing of the past. Instead we may be best served to think of it as Human to Human (H2H) marketing.
3 Min Read
Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.
It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.
At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.
So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.
Before You Dial The Ex...
First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.
What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?
You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.
Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.
If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.
Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.
Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.
If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.
As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:
- Do: exercise — taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
- Don't: be a couch potato.
- Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
- Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?