Friday, September 28, 2012

Market to Boomers Without Making Blunders

Marketing to baby boomers is not exactly the same as marketing to other generations. They are the wealthiest, most educated and most sophisticated of consumers. Reports indicate that they are outspending younger generations on technology products and about 83% say they regularly access the internet. Not surprisingly, boomers are much more loyal to traditional and new media. And these differences require a different approach especially when using mobile marketing to reach boomers. Let's explore some specific strategies that can help gain advantage with this population segment.
1. Avoid mass marketing. The desire to keep up with the Joneses is not as strong in this generation as it is in the younger generation. They will acquire possessions to achieve life's experiences and individual preferences, but not necessarily to be in sync. However, from a marketing perspective, endorsement of your product or service with a young celebrity may not work well when marketing to boomers.
2. Make unique individual offers. Unlike the Y generation, boomers prefer to talk on phone than to text. They also use social media to catch on what's happening. In addition, they watch more TV than the younger generation who like getting connected. This means that your campaign should take cognizant of these facts. Make campaigns that appeal to an individual and not a group.
3. Never refer them as old. Boomers are turn off when you refer to them as old. Make them feel young sexy or sophisticated. Avoid talking about the past. Instead talk about the future, their goals and aspirations in your campaigns. Speak of their passions and values and make it a justification for spending on luxury items.
4. Make use of referrals. The generation like the rest of society puts more value on word-of-mouth recommendations in their buying decisions than on advertising. Naturally, to scoop more dollars from the pockets of this generation, referrals should take centre stage. A daughter's word about a product or service is far more trusted than ads in national TV, Radio and Newspapers. Take the step of asking current customers to bring along their friends, relatives or neighbors. You can give an incentive or a payout for anyone who helps you reach more people.
5. Integrate your campaigns with social media. A link from a friend on Facebook or a mention of a product will have a bigger impact than advertising. In addition to disseminating news, a marketer should use social media to bring more seniors to the loop. Once in the loop and a long as the experience is pleasant, boomers are more consistent and loyal than the average population.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Survey Results by Google

(Internet, USA) -- Can you answer this question definitively - Do you know what SEO is? Turns out - 1 in 5 Americans - have heard of Search Engine Optimization, according to Matt Cutts, Google's head of web spam. In other words, that means 4 in 5 people do not know what SEO means. Cutts' surveyed 1576 people, using Google's Consumer Surveys, a new paid research service. The survey indicates there are gender differences, too. Interestingly, Cutts found that nearly 25% of men heard of SEO, with 16% of women aware of the same. Still, just because people have heard of SEO, does not indicate they know what it means to a business. In fact, it's doubtful that those surveyed can actually define SEO. The research did not delve deep into that topic.
Definition. SEO is the professional process of achieving 1st page Google, Bing & Yahoo ranking for your website.
What does that tell us internet marketers? We need to inform the businesses we represent about the absolute necessity of having a regular SEO plan of action in place to build and maintain top search engine placement rank. That is, where your website or online directory listing appears on Google, Bing & Yahoo.
Companies seem to be in the dark about SEO. You can't just have a website coded correctly to appear on the 1st page of Google. You have to constantly refresh the website content writing, the graphics (coupons), keywords, and take extra measures like write industry articles on your business blog, add website coupons or a news feed and have your SEO professional promote your online video commercial in mass monthly. On the latter note, Forbes Insight published in December 2010 did a study and found that 59% of senior executives prefer to watch video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page.
The fact that only 1 in 5 people, an estimated 20.4% of Americans have heard of SEO based on the Google study is astonishing. 'Cause it's something that every business needs to achieve website search engine success.
Additional Statistics. Website business owners must understand that SEO is a high stakes game that you must win. After all, if your company website sits in the top tier of search results, you may experience a big traffic and sales increase.
Another study was released in September 2011 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that found that 58% of those surveyed search the internet for information before buying products and services, with most users only viewing the first page: Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines.
How do search engines determine which websites go where? A site's position on Google, Bing & Yahoo is based on a mathematical formula, an algorithm, which give high rankings to sites coded correctly, packed with viable keywords and more. In terms of outsourcing your SEO, here are suggestions.
The SEO professional you hire needs to regularly make updates:
**Write Industry-related journalism/PR articles on Business Blog
**Swap out & re-design online website coupons
**Write Social Media updates: Twitter and/or Facebook
**Website Keyword analysis, competition analysis, keyword implementation & reports
With 4 out of 5 people unaware of what SEO is, that is a tell-tale sign that website business owners need to get educated on SEO, at least learn the basics, before you outsource these tasks to an internet marketing expert. When all is said and done, in today's internet-driven technology age, regular, i.e. monthly search engine optimization is as essential as having a company website.

Friday, September 14, 2012

5 Reasons To Start Your Career Search Early

Employers are looking for college talent earlier than ever.
Each year Dr. Phil Gardner at Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute surveys thousands of companies to scope the employment landscape for college grads.
In this year's results, it's a mixed bag, but mostly favorable: college hiring is up overall by 4%.
The interesting thing that jumped out at me about this year's report, is the need for college students to begin their career prep experience from the first day on campus.
Here's what the survey said, and what you can do to get ready from your first days on campus.
1. Survey said: Many schools have "partner companies" who recruit for talent from the school.
What you need to do: Identify your school's employer partnerships, and who's at the table when they talk.
The primary reasons for these partnerships are to:
  • get access to talent early in a student's career
  • create visibility for their brand
  • gain access to diverse talent
Hmmm, gain access to talent early in a student's career? That means the timeline is moving up. Companies may be looking for specific skill sets, academic attributes or areas of expertise earlier in the academic cycle. They may talk to your professors, deans, or career center to scout future top talent.
  • 60% of these relationships involve career centers so ensure the career center is part of your strategy.
  • Nearly 40% of companies want to see faculty or college deans involved in the relationships. That means your faculty team can be a critical component of your career search process.
Watch this news video for a textbook example of how TechSmith is leveraging their partnership - and hiring grads - at Michigan State.
2. Survey said: Campus oriented internships and career fairs are the top two recruiting strategies for companies.
What you need to do: Plug in to the career services your school offers.
Know what's available to you in terms of resources, education, internship opportunities. Get to know the staff, attend events. Be proactive to let them know who you are, what you offer, and what you are interested in.
One student told me, "The career center is a great resource, but only if you go to them. They won't come looking for you!"
3. Survey said: Faculty and alumni referrals are two other top recruiting strategies.
What you need to do: Build your network: on campus and off.
Build relationships with your college faculty, other students, other students' parents. Alumni groups, fraternity/sorority organizations, college clubs, college business partners, and your internship or work connections also count in your relationship map.
Create and nurture your online presence. I'm always surprised when I meet college students without a LinkedIn profile. Make this a priority immediately, and build on it throughout your academic career. (And yes, it's OK to link your parents in.)
4. Survey said: internships are now the hiring source of choice.
What you need to do: Get an internship. Or two. Or three.
The MSU study shows that 71% of employers indicated they would be seeking interns and co-ops during the school year. Up to half of these internships convert into full-time offers of employment.
In fact, an internship each summer isn't a bad idea if you can make that happen. Start looking in your freshman year for the work experiences that will position you to compete.
5. Survey said: 41% of employers want to wrap up their hiring during the first term of your senior year.
What you need to do: Don't wait until your senior year to get started.
A recent survey said the number 1 thing recent grads would have done differently, was "start earlier."
It sounds to me that the career preparation process is as much a part of being a college student as going to class and writing papers. In a way, we always knew that. But these are competitive times, and today's college student needs to be much more savvy about preparing for that transition from academics to career.
Start early, capitalize on the opportunities your campus offers, build relationships, and network. It's much easier to do that than to play "catch up" when you are three or four years into college.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Identify Your Target Audience

What's your mark?
Your business - and every business - has a singular driving goal: capturing more customers and, ultimately, owning your market.
Today, owning your market doesn't require you to spend more on marketing and promoting your business than your competitors. However, it does require you to have a more efficient marketing and promotion engine in place that yields maximum return for every dollar and every hour you invest.
The process of building this engine doesn't begin with tactics; rather, it begins with identifying your target.
No business - yours included - can afford to market to everyone. Of course, it's tempting to try to reach as broad an audience as possible in the hopes that no potential customer will slip through your fingers.
However, in actuality, this approach will cost you much more money and deliver far less satisfactory results because you'll have greatly diluted your chances of reaching those whose needs you truly serve.
It's important to understand that your target audience does not encompass anyone who might possibly ever buy your products or services. Rather, your target audience is comprised of those who are most likely to buy and, therefore, become the primary focus of your marketing efforts.
Identifying the right niche provides the foundation for success in all aspects of marketing and promoting your business:
It allows you to focus your efforts on those tactics and mediums that are most effective in reaching this particular group.
It allows you to tailor your sales message to focus on the needs and concerns that are of greatest relevancy and urgency.
Most importantly in today's marketplace, it allows you to build a strong community around your brand comprised of people who love what you do and happily serve as your fans and evangelists.
And in real dollars and cents, it's the difference between sending thousands and hundreds of thousands of postcards to achieve the same end result.
Here are the steps you should take to ensure that you're targeting the right audience:
Segment your customer base.
Who are your customers? Of course, there are many different ways to answer this question.
Often it's easiest to begin by examining your sales data and segmenting your customers into groups based on demographic factors, including age, gender, income level, education level, marital and family status, industry and geographic location.
In working though this process, you'll likely find that a particular group or groups emerge as those who buy from you most often.
This simple step can also help you identify how best to market the same product or service to different groups. Some market segments may be better reached at trade shows while others can be reached at home with a direct mail campaign.
Dig deeper.
Breaking your customer base down into groups based on basic common characteristics like gender and income is only step one. To reach and engage with these groups effectively, you'll need to develop a deeper understanding of both their lifestyle and their motivations.
Start with one of your products or services and evaluate it through the eyes of the customers that exist within each group you've identified. Make a list that includes every possible reason this type of customer might want this particular product or service. Maybe they are trying to solve a problem, maybe they just want to feel good about themselves or to satisfy a basic need. Going through this process will help you drill down to the specific benefits and outcomes that should be the core focus of all your future communication with this group.
Secondly, think about the routines of their day-to-day lives and how this communication will be best received. Do they frequently read the paper? Do they spend a lot of time in the car listening to the radio? When searching for news and entertainment, do they turn on the television or pick up their iPad? Are they likely to be active on social media platforms and, if so, which ones? This type of analysis is essential to ensuring that you choose the right vehicles and mediums to capture their attention.
Keep digging.
At this point, you've established a solid foundation of knowledge about your target audience. But if you dig a little deeper, you might uncover additional information that will allow you to sharpen your approach even more.
Now that you've segmented your market and gained an understanding of what drives your customers, see if you can identify which group or groups offer the most marketing bang for your buck.
For example, of all those who are most likely to buy your products or services, which groups represent the most profitable? In the B2B world, these are usually the clients with the greatest longevity or those who utilize services with the greatest profit margin.
Also, who are the customers or clients that send you the most referrals? These are your very best customers because they do the work of selling for you, so make sure you are not only reaching your existing customers who fall into this category but also others like them because they represent a group whose needs you are particularly good at serving.
Finally, it would be a mistake not to examine who your competitors are targeting. This is not so that you can just copy their strategy and run with it. To the contrary, what you're really looking for is any gaps in the market that they might be overlooking so you can swoop in and grab these underserved segments.
Put your target to the test.
Now that you've identified your audience, it's time for the rubber of your marketing plan to hit the road of execution, right? Not so fast.
You need to put your construct of your target audience to the test to ensure that it's one that can sustain and grow your business. This process is often called a SWOTT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity, threats and trends) analysis.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Are there enough people within the audience you've identified to support your business?
Can they afford your product?
Will they see a legitimate need for it?
Where do your prices fall in regard to their expectations? Too low? Too high?
Are there opportunities to upsell other related products or services to this group?
How much competition already exists in the marketplace for this group?
Are there any trends you can identify of which you should be taking advantage?
While the process of identifying your target audience may seem complex, these steps hold the keys to competing effectively in today's marketplace. When you clearly understand who buys from you and why, only then can you find the channels they frequent and become one with your tribe.
And wouldn't you rather own your target market than merely shoot arrows into the dark, hoping one will land?