Archive for January 31, 2011

Is It The End of the Marketing Funnel

Marketing has grown more complicated, media choices have exploded, and consumers have asserted themselves more visibly than ever before. So perhaps some of the classical ways to understand and visualize marketing concepts, need to change and evolve too. shared some information from Forrester that found that 53% of U.S. online consumers research products online that they’ll then purchase in the store. This process exposes consumers to brands they might not have previously considered, expanding their consideration set at exactly the point where, according to the traditional funnel, it should narrow.

The author, Forester analyst, Steve Noble proposes to bury the marketing funnel and introduce a new model–the customer life cycle.

Discover: Every customer must discover a brand, product category, or personal need–the initial trigger that leads to a new or repeat purchase.

Explore: In this phase, customers explore the brand–and their options. When visiting an online store or handling products in a well-crafted shop environment, customers are immersing themselves in the explore phase.

Buy: Customer experiences during this phase include product availability, inventory lookup, and satisfaction with the checkout process. It also includes the actual price paid, the perceived value, and the experience with the sales channel if there is a problem.

Engage: After buying a product or service, customers engage with brands in several ways.

We reported on the evolution of the way people make buying decisions based on some data from McKinsey. That study found that “traditional” marketing was still a very important part of the buying process, it just happened earlier. This latest information from Forrester Research also supports the important role that direct mail can play in the buying process, during the discovery and engagement phases.

Proof of Why Large Committees Don’t Work

In decision making groups, 7 people could be the optimal number.

The Harvard Business Review’s Daily Stat shared the findings of Decide & Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization. Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%. Thus, a group of 17 or more rarely makes any decisions.

What about your marketing? Do you have many people participating in the process?

Tips to Create Opportunity

It is still January and many of us are still feeling fresh and optimistic about the New Year. Productivity author and expert David Allen offered some great advice and reasons to clear out your surroundings.

Want more business? Get rid of all the old energy in the business you’ve done. Are there any open loops left with any of your clients? Any agreements or disagreements that have not been completed or resolved? Any agendas and communications that need to be expressed?

Want more clothes? Go through your closets and storage areas and cart to your local donation center everything that you haven’t worn in the last 24 months or does not look or feel just right.

Want to be freer to go where you want to, when you want to, with new transportation? Clean out your glove compartments and trunks of your cars.

Do you want more wealth? Unhook from the investments and resources that have been nagging at you to change.

Do you want to feel more useful? Hand off anything that you are under-utilizing to someone who can employ it better.

Want some new visions for your life and work? Clean up and organize your boxes of old photographs.

Want to know what to do with your life when you grow up? Start by cleaning the center drawer of your desk.

You have to clear and organize your stuff anyway, right? Narrowing what you see, use and interact with down to what is really wanted, useful and desired is better.

What about your marketing messages? Is it time to let go of what is not working so you can focus on what is working to bring new customers?

Practical Titles Pull

We started writing this blog about a year ago. The two articles that have received the most comments are Direct Mail Hot Spots and Tips to Make Direct Mail Work Smarter. Both of these posts offer practical tips and ideas to make the most out of a great medium, direct mail, for communicating with your target audience.

Was it the titles that generated the traffic or was it the content? We think it has more to do with the titles.

Engagement and Motivation, Illustrated

The Harvard Business Review’s Peter Bregman told a story of cooking with farm fresh produce in a blog post titled, The Farm-to-Table Secret to Motivating People.

He told of how having the experience of a few days at a farm with his family connected him in unexpected ways to food and led to him feeling very inspired to create some complex food with the produce they brought home. The conclusion he reached was that the earlier and sooner people get involved in a process, the more they become connected to it.

You want to try a new sales process? Don’t figure it all out yourself and then tell your sales people about it. Let them figure it out with you.

Want customers to buy your service or product? Involve them in the creation of it. They feel something deeper than the success of a project gone well. They feel pride of ownership. They feel satisfied by the journey that brought them to their success.


Because it is still January and many of us are still looking for ways to improve…

Perhaps looking around and asking questions like, “Is this as simple as it can be?” Or even, “Is this necessary at all?” A BNET post titled Do You Make Things Too Complicated? Take the Razor to Them, led us to search for more information about Occam’s Razor. Occam’s writing led to many scientific quotes and thoughts, but our favorite is: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

It’s so easy and so tempting to do too much. You can have a Facebook page, blog, Twitter page, YouTube channel, smartphone app, streaming video content, and cool icons on your Web site. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you have a solid, well-executed online/media plan and a clear vision of how every element serves your business, go for it. But if you doing a lot of stuff just because others are or because it seems like you should. Is it doing anything for your business? Are you doing more than you need to?

Are your customers responding? What about sending a simple piece of mail to reconnect?

Lessons Learned from The Gap’s Attempted Logo Change

BNET recently discussed The Gap’s logo change and the quick abandonment for something that looks much more like the original.

These ideas could share some new insights about brand management.

  1. Consumers own brands. Your brand does not have any value until it is valued by your customers. You might feel your business needs to be rebranded or relaunched, but your opinions are irrelevant: You work for the company. You’re so “inside” you can’t see outside. Proceed with caution!
  2. Consumers are savvy about design in just the same way as they are about media and advertising. The 21st Century has really stripped the mystery from design and advertising. Most consumers have better software on their laptops today than professional designers had on their desktops 20 years ago.
  3. As a result, consumers expect more from professional design. One of the main problems with the Gap’s new logo is that it used a typeface — Helvetica — which everyone has available on their own computers. Similarly, the graduated blue box is also something that virtually everyone can do after just a few minutes fooling around on the most basic graphic design software. This left Gap open to the legit accusation, “My kid could do that!” Redesigns need to be a lot more subtle and complex — even if the aim is to to be simple and clean — than they used to be.
  4. The move saves Gap some money. Changing back its web site is a lot easier than changing back all its store interiors, point-of-purchase material, catalogs, etc.
  5. The change removes uncertainty from the brand. Gap could probably have gotten away with keeping the new logo. Fashion and product trends drive Gap’s business, not typefaces. Most people didn’t even know the logo had changed. With the blue box back on its throne, the risk goes away.

So perhaps your website is a good place to test new design ideas. Can we help you before you go to press with a new idea?

71 Percent of Tweets are Ignored reported on the findings of an analysis of 1.2 billion messages sent in 2009, seven out of every ten Twitter messages get absolutely no reaction.

We just completed a marketing outlook survey for the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council that seemed to leave out many aspects of “traditional” marketing.

So the question is if numbers and results are revealing that email open rates are 22% and click through rates are about 5%, why do these and other marketing methods get so much attention?

Ways to Turn Around a Bad Day

We all have awful days. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shared many ways to deal with a terrible day.

  1. Resist the urge to “treat” yourself. Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day.
  2. Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.
  3. Distract yourself. You may be much better able to cope with the situation after having had a bit of relief. Watching a funny movie or TV show is a great way to take a break, or re-read beloved classics of children’s literature.
  4. Seek inner peace through outer order. Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness can be a comfort. This always works for me – and fortunately, my family is messy enough that I always have plenty of therapeutic clutter at hand.
  5. Tell yourself, “Well, at least I…” Get some things accomplished. Yes, you had a horrible day, but at least you went to the gym, or played with your kids, or walked the dog, or read your children a story, or recycled.
  6. Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster – but be careful of exercise that allows you to ruminate. For example, walking can provide uninterrupted time to dwell obsessively on your troubles.
  7. Stay in contact. When you’re having a lousy day, it’s tempting to retreat into isolation. Studies show, though, that contact with other people boosts mood. So try to see or talk to people, especially people you’re close to.
  8. Things really will look brighter in the morning. Go to bed early and start the next day anew. Also, sleep deprivation puts a drag on mood in the best of circumstances, so a little extra sleep will do you good.
  9. Remind yourself of your other identities. If you feel like a loser at work, send out a blast email to engage with college friends. If you think members of the PTA are mad at you, don’t miss the spinning class where everyone knows and likes you.
  10. Keep perspective. Ask yourself: “Will this matter in a month? In a year?”
  11. Write it down. When something horrible is consuming my mind, I find that if I write up a paragraph or two about the situation, I get immense relief.
  12. Be grateful. Remind yourself that a lousy day isn’t a catastrophic day. Be grateful that you’re still on the “lousy” spectrum. Probably, things could be worse.

Digital Information May Prevent Absorption

Technology may make the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.

The New York Times published an article summarizing the findings from research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco. They concluded that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.

The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn. “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”

At the University of Michigan, a study found that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. “People think they’re refreshing themselves, but they’re fatiguing themselves,” said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist.

Our conclusion is that this is bad for marketing too. If the only way people encounter your name or branding is digitally, they may not be absorbing the communication. We have shared information about how paper can make better emotional connections, and how touching, feeling and engaging in an activity like doodling can help retain information.