The myth of the “full service” advertising agency

Finding the right advertising agency requires being honest with yourself

Finding the right advertising agency requires being honest with yourself

The advertising/marketing ecosystem is too large and complex to offer all services in-house

It’s an old illusion in the advertising business that agencies wanted to look larger then they actually were. The thinking behind this was that the more services you claimed to offer, the better chance you had of reeling in new accounts. It was this mindset that coined the phrase “full service” agency.

Enter reality

Today’s advertising/marketing ecosystem is far too complex for any one agency to possess all of the needed skill sets in-house. In fact, the major advertising holding companies have been on a buying spree acquiring specialized agencies and then trying to integrate them into their multinational brand name agencies.

What clients are ending up with is a convoluted mix with a lead agency that directs different specialized groups under the holding company umbrella. Of course, what goes along with this are turf battles, divergent strategies, off-brand messaging and a revolving door of well-intentioned agency people operating with a minimum amount of knowledge, trying to keep the client happy.

The small agencies specialize and the big agencies get bigger

Advertising Age recently published an article about how the forces of technology are ushering in and shaping new business models that will affect advertising agency service offerings, size, and profitability.

What we are seeing now is the rise of small boutique agencies that specialize in category, market, or technology expertise. These agencies have no illusions as to their service offering and are very transparent with their clients about what they bring to the table. They also offer their clients the greatest amount of flexibility, because they can contract with best of breed suppliers when a specialized service is required.

The multinational holding company agencies will continue to gorge, fueled by large brands that use advertising as a blunt force weapon. For all the prediction that consumers want to engage with brands and have a relationship, the majority of consumers just want to watch TV and tune out of their socially hectic worlds for a few hours entertained by mediocre television programming, supported by advertising that makes it hard to remember the name of the brand or what it is actually supposed to accomplish with daily use.

The forecast for the future does not bode well for mid-sized agencies

Mid-sized agencies suffer in two areas. First, they try to staff for too many specialized skill sets in the belief that their clients care about this. There is too much technology and infrastructure at play for any small department to be competent in the nuances of code and the required updates of operating systems to keep this humming along.

Secondly, mid-sized agencies suffer from non-billing personnel “creep,” ranging from administration to human resources to accounting. This starts to take a bite out of agency profitability at a time when clients are demanding more services for less cost.

Finding the right agency requires being honest with yourself

Do you want a long-term or a project-by-project business relationship? Do you need strategic planning and research or more of a tactical execution of internal strategy? Are you looking for an agency of record or interested in working with several agencies based on the need at hand? Each relationship has its pros and cons based on resources and expectations. I believe the agency of the future is small and nimble, creatively driven and staffed by a small team of experienced managers that can bring forth the forces and talent needed to complete the task at hand in an efficient manner.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

When to rethink

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Mobile marketing: Shiny object or game changer?

The mobile environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising.

The mobile environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising.

There is considerable content being generated on the topic of mobile marketing. Data suggests that by 2016 there will be over 196 million smart phone users (60% of the population) in North America. eMarketer is predicting $67 billion in digital ad spending, of which $40 billion will go towards mobile internet ad spending. Obviously these are sizable numbers but we should not lose sight of the total ad spend which is close to $200 billion, with traditional (broadcast and print) representing $132 billion.

As with any projection, the numbers serve the needs of the presenter. Therefore, one must consider the source and take a rational viewpoint concerning the size of the mobile marketing environment.

People-to-People marketing and the mobile marketing environment

The mobile marketing environment represents a further blurring of the lines between consumer and business marketing and advertising. Because the emphasis is on connecting with individuals, a strong case can be made that this is a transformational shift to People-to-People marketing.

People-to-People marketing shifts the conversation from companies to individuals as the workplace is deconstructed and mobile devices become the primary business platform. Mobile technologies such as Apps and mobile web are becoming part of the marketing mix as smart phone and tablet users adopt direct brand interaction, from ordering a pizza, to tracking health trends, to mobile banking.

Preparing B-to-B brands for mobile marketing

B-to-B brands would be wise to adopt a People-to-People marketing strategy and tactical implementation as they enter into the mobile marketing fray.

First, make sure your website is ”fully responsive” for viewing on different mobile devices. One way to check this is through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test site. This test site will analyze the URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design. Google is also in the process of optimizing their search engine results to favor mobile-friendly sites.

Advertising is also an option for reaching mobile users. As individuals uncouple from the traditional office environment, mobile devices become their primary business platform. Mobile programmatic advertising placement is becoming prevalent, with a host of real time bidding scenarios for placing advertising on mobile networks.

Marketers should also consider developing Apps if the cost is justified by the contribution the App makes to the revenue stream.

App development can cost between $50 and $150 thousand depending on the complexity of the App and the number of operation system platforms it is designed to run on. Think desktop, tablet, smartphone, running on IOS, Android, Unix, Windows, etc.

Once the App is built, the challenge of getting users to download and place it on their device comes into play. This can be accomplished via App stores or by direct download.

Then there’s the maintenance side of the App equation. Once it has been introduced, it must be maintained with updates as the operating system environments are upgraded and new releases become available.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

People-to-People Marketing and “Small Data”

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace People-to-People Marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel

 

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

If the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage

Social media content can influence business-to-business purchasing decisions

Up to 70% of prospects entering the sales funnel have already conducted online research and have formed a perception of the brand based on social media content. Because of this, if the brand is not participating in social media, it’s at a disadvantage.

Prospects entering the sales funnel are in search of information that will lead them to a purchasing decision. Whether the sale is transactional for a component or material needed immediately to make their product, or a considered purchase that has many influencers and a long sales time, prospects are relying more and more on peer reviews and social media engagement to finalize their purchasing decision.

People-to-people marketing – honing the brand’s key messages

Before launching into a social media marketing effort, it’s vitally important to establish the brand’s value proposition and be able to articulate it in terms that are meaningful to the prospect. Content that is purely a laundry list of service offerings fails to differentiate from the competition and leads to abandonment by the prospect or strictly a purchase based on lowest price.

Gaining the prospect’s attention requires identifying the prospect’s problems and creating empathy with the prospect. Once this emotional connection is established, then a solution can be offered that is relevant and distinct to the brand.

The social media platform ecosphere

Connecting with and influencing prospects on social media platforms requires a sustained effort spearheaded by content that supports the brand’s key messaging.

Each of the big four channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – has a particular strength. Business-to-business marketers are more inclined to use LinkedIn because of numerous industry groups in which to participate. LinkedIn also offers the ability to network with industry peers and establish connections with decision makers that have purchasing authority.

Twitter can be very useful but requires a content library to constantly feed updates. One of the advantages to using Twitter is that posts can be automated through third party platforms allowing for control of posting frequency. Twitter also provides immediacy when posting for events and is an easy way to connect the industry influencers.

Influencing prospects before they enter the sales funnel requires a concerted effort to develop and post authoritative content consistently. Abandoning social media channels sends a signal to the prospect that the brand either has underestimated the resources needed or was not serious about social engagement from the get-go.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

How to build a connected brand

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

Remember studying “Mass Communications” in college? Mass communications was born out of the industrial revolution when manufacturers learned to make lots of the same thing via the assembly line. Henry Ford’s Rouge Factory was the model of efficiency, producing at times more than 1000 cars a day for a growing country. The assembly line concept also caught on with marketers.

This was due to the fact that the few media networks — broadcast and print — were large and expensive to staff and maintain. Networks could deliver the demographics that marketers were after and make it relatively efficient. All marketers had to do was to place advertisements with the assurance that their intended target audience would eventually be exposed to their brand messaging.

Under this model, the company controlled the time and place for customer communications. In addition, there were limited channels in which customers could express their opinion of the company’s products and services.

Enter People-to-People Marketing

Technology has ushered in the era of People-to-People Marketing. Mass communications has transformed into one-to-one communications. This is due to smaller, lighter and more powerful computing technology. With thousands of channels available and low entry cost, anyone can post their opinion about what they like and dislike. The same is true for brands. No longer are they confined to “mass communication” channels. The shift in technology has ushered in a cultural change, disrupting big media networks and requiring marketers to re-evaluate their strategies and tactics.

Now, connecting to customers calls for integrating both push and pull communications strategies to create brand preference.

People-to People Marketing is a strategic execution that combines relevant content with selected media channels to create a personalized experience for the customer. When orchestrated correctly, the content becomes the fiber of the brand story, reaching the customer on different emotional levels. Astute brands recognize this and are implementing People-to-People marketing to gain the customer’s trust and increase the likelihood of an emotional connection with the brand.

To learn more about the transformation of Business-to-Business marketing to People-to-People Marketing, click here to view and download our free guide.

People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Human insight combined with “Small Data” provides a better customer experience

Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces recently spoke with McKinsey & Company about how digital technology was transforming the retail marketplace. One of his insights that can apply to companies serving the aviation industry was his take on the importance of “small data” vs. “big data”.

For definition purposes, let’s identify “big data” as data sets that represent large groups of people and certain types of behavior associated with their purchasing habits. This data is gathered from transactional data, website analytics and social insights, and usually requires the service of a data scientist to interpret trends and connections.

“Small Data,” on the other hand, is about putting the customer first. Engaging the customer with information and tools organized and packaged to be easily accessible, understandable, and actionable to accomplish the task at hand (think apps). Companies that understand small data can use it to their advantage by creating relationships leading to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Small Data” leads to actionable strategies

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight, resulting in knowing your customer base as individuals – their likes, dislikes, purchasing history – and providing an easy to use, relevant online user experience.

Long tail data – a complete customer picture

A search engine can sort through millions of bits of data from a keyword query and provide an exact match, but it cannot provide additional queries for items that may be related. For example, say your website has a search feature and the customer has entered a part number. The part number query will take them to the requested part configuration but is incapable of identifying additional parts that may be needed for installation in a specific airframe or for a retrofit of a new digital component. Using the “small data” approach, the search query could also display a complete view of additional components associated with the original query, assuring that the customer gets all they need the first time around.

Relevant online experiences lead to loyal customers

People-to-people marketing requires engaging with customers by providing useful information. Thinking beyond a single data set and applying insight such as including installation tips and additional component selections creates customer loyalty. Thinking of “small data” as the “right data” will help marketers build better customer profiles, leading to a better online experience for all involved.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Using social media to gain customer insight.

B-to-B social media strategy: Quality not Quantity

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Inbound Marketing and the Prospect Pipeline

Inbound marketing can provide a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

Inbound marketing can provide a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

Inbound marketing can help identify your best prospects

I’m reading a lot these days about the disconnect between marketing and sales. The story goes something like this: Marketing generates leads and hands them over to sales. Sales says the leads are worthless because the prospect has not been qualified as to purchasing intent and does not have an immediate need.

This leads me to believe that marketing and sales have not collaborated on the following:

  • What does the best prospect look like?
  • What are the critical business issues the prospect is facing?
  • How does the product or service offering provide the best solution?
  • How do you determine the prospect’s interest in the solution offering?
  • What milestones should marketing achieve before turning the information over to sales?

Gaining productivity forms inbound marketing.

The primus of inbound marketing is to identify interested prospects and educate them about the brand’s product or service offering.  Consistency of engagement and messaging helps to build trust for the brand leading to preference for the brand’s solution when the critical business issue arises.

Inbound marketing was never intended to carry the entire marketing load, or substitute for sales-building personal relationships. Used correctly, inbound marketing can gain an inside advantage, change the parameters of an RFP, and substantially shorten the decision making process.

Where inbound marketing shines is in creating an environment where prospects are familiar with your brand and the story behind your product or service offering.

Digital analytics – structured and semi-structured data – can provide a representative visual picture of prospects that have interacted with your inbound marketing. By assigning values to data points, a lead scoring system can be developed furthering defining the prospects interest.

For example, if the prospect opens an email newsletter three out of five times, you could assign a high value due to the frequency of opens. Conversely, if the prospect only opened the email newsletter one time in five mailings, a low value would be assigned.

Creating this picture over an extended time frame provides a detailed image of the prospect, their interest in the offering, and the groups that they interact with.

All of this information provides a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

The inbound marketing activity is the first step in people-to-people marketing – engagement. This step helps in qualifying the prospect’s interest and allows sales to determine if the prospect meets the criteria for additional follow up.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Social media content strategy

People-to-People Marketing: Engage, Connect, Influence

How inbound marketing can help drive lead generation

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Differentiating your brand from the competition

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

Brand differentiation comes from the user’s perception

There is not a huge amount of difference between leading brands. Depending on the category, almost all brands offer the same feature, function, and benefit to the user.

What makes a differentiated brand?

First, let’s explore the idea of a brand.

 Brand: noun

1 a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name: a new brand of detergent.

• a brand name: the company will market computer software under its own brand.

• a particular identity or image regarded as an asset: you can still invent your own career, be your own brand | the Michael Jordan brand certainly hasn’t hurt them.

• a particular type or kind of something: his incisive brand of intelligence.

The emphasis is to stand apart and stand for something.

A brand also allows companies to manufacture different models under the same brand name.

For example, Gulfstream Aerospace manufactures the following aircraft: Gulfstream G150, Gulfstream G280, Gulfstream G450, etc.

The intent is for the brand to offer more features and better performance as you move up the price chain.

Which leads us to brand differentiation

The simplest explanation is one of branding cattle. Each cattle ranch burned a unique mark into the hide of the cow or steer it owned. This was done to separate specific animals from the herd in the early days of open range grazing. This basic concept is the foundation for trademarks, which leads to brand differentiation.

Brand differentiation in the digital age

Branding strategy has expanded to include digital platforms and social media networks. The primus of the expansion was for brands to interact with individual users who in turn would become brand advocates, spreading the gospel about how wonderful the product performed and why all their digital friends should try it.

And for a while, this was the thinking behind investing in social media networks and spreading tweets and likes.

The reality

Brand differentiation comes from the user. It is the user’s value system that determines brand preference.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences. Their value system can change based on aspirational goals, financial conditions, or maturing of values that come with age.

Marketers that strive for brand differentiation must appeal to the user’s emotional needs and fulfill these needs by brand association that serves a higher calling than feature, function, and benefit.

This is not an easy task. It is the job of marketing to uncover what is unique to the brand and communicate in such a way as to create an emotional connection with the user.

It can’t be automated, digitized, or replicated. It has to be unique, authentic, and reach the user on a personal level that melds into a lasting connection. It must be “lived” by those in care of the brand and treated as an ember that will be extinguished if left unattended.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Investing in your brand perception

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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