Resolutions for 2016


After a busy first half of December and a nice long break for the second half, I came back to work this week excited for the new year!  The break gave me some time away from the daily routine to really evaluate my marketing strategy. It allowed me to find new inspiration and open my eyes to a bigger picture.  Before the work ramps up again, I would like to take some time to put some goals down on paper (so to speak) and start the new year on the right track!

  1. Nail Down Processes
    2015 was a year of adjustments and re-calibration – adjusting to the new position, learning my way around the internal structure of the company, A/B testing, re-calibrating and then more testing.  Jumping from project to project, my goal was just to keep up!  Instead of working more this year, I want to work smarter.  Now that I have a better understanding of the ebb and flow, the key players, and the internal processes, it is about putting processes in place that make my work easier.  It is also about having a stronger and more complete strategy that will guide all marketing activities.
  2. Putting Mobile First
    Mobile has already overtaken desktop in local search – I’ve known that for quite some time.  This past year, my Google Analytics and email dashboards more than proved this to me.  Now it’s time to make sure the mobile-first thinking is applied not just to the website but to emails, search ads, display ads and everything in between.
  3. Simplify the Customer Experience
    Attention spans are getting shorter and consumers are faced with information overload that clutter their ability to make decisions.  It’s a fine balance, deciding on how much information to put.  In 2016, my goal is to simplify the customer experience – by using single call to actions that clearly lead to the next stage of the funnel, by clearly labeling actions and defining the next steps.
  4. Refining Segmentation
    Email marketing plays a significant role in our overall marketing strategy.  Beyond using email to communicate with our customers and staying top of mind, this year I want to take our emails to the next level and use them to build and cultivate relationships with our audience.  Segmentation, customization and personalization will be a top priority for me.  This will definitely mean more work for me but hey, if I get #1 figured out, this shouldn’t be a problem ;)
  5. Reporting
    Tracking, monitoring and reporting are so important – it’s your feedback from your customers. But when the work ramps up, somehow the reporting always end up at the bottom of my to-do list.  This is dangerous and I risk losing touch with what my customers care about and making assumptions that are not based on fact.  I know this and my goal this year is to delve deeper into analytics so that I can have a deeper understanding of what my customers want.

I believe all of these ‘resolutions’ are achievable and I plan on tackling them all in 2016 because ultimately, they will just make me a better marketer!  Have you set any marketing ‘resolutions’ for the new year?  I would be interested in knowing what your goals are for this coming year.

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The 2016 Pirelli Calendar and Staying on Top of Cultural Changes


Earlier this week, the 2016 Pirelli calendar made the news for its radical departure from past years’ editions.  It’s not so much marketing news but I wanted to recognize the impact of the change they made this year to the calendar.

The Pirelli calendar has always been known for its choice of models and overtly sexy photo shoots.  Over the years, the calendar has featured Hollywood stars and “IT” models of the moment in the fashion industry.  Not only that, the women were always dressed and posed provocatively (if not topless altogether).

This year however, photographer Annie Leibovitz took a major departure with her set of photographs for the 2016 caelndar.  Instead of selecting fashion models or actresses, Leibovitz selected a group of accomplished women, all with significant contributions to their name.  The 2016 calendar features Serena Williams, a top ranked tennis player, American author Fran Lebowitz, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, humanitarian Yao Chen amongst others.

As well, gone are the beaches and the exotic locales! The 2016 set were all shot in black and white in a studio. All the models were photographed in their element, looking strong, majestic and authentic.

In fact, I would even say they were sexy!

Pirelli is just one of many companies that have recognized the need to recognize strength in women.  Strength, not just as in physical strength but their intellect, their courage to ‘lean in’ and their willingness to break barriers.  These companies have listened to their consumers, felt the shift in expectations and have risen to meet them.

With one photo shoot, the 140 year-old tire manufacturer showed that they could still be relevant.  After all, women are capable of bringing so much more to the table than being subjects in a photo shoot set of pretend reality!

Companies that have not recognized this monumental shift are faced with harsh consequences.  (See most recently, Bic’s attempt to market to women with their sexist ad).  Today’s consumers are very tough critics afterall!  So, from a marketing perspective, companies must stay in tune with public perception and recognize these shifts in culture. Yes, culture does evolve all the time which means that as organizations, you have to be in tune with what your customers care about and what they are talking about.

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Generation Z


If you are still trying to figure out how to market to Generation Y, now would be a good time for you to move on to Generation Z. Being in the education sector myself, the idea of marketing to this next generation of consumers has been on my mind a lot lately.

Generation Z generally refers to those born in the late 1990’s – which means that the first cohorts have now reached the age of majority.  US Census predicts Gen Z will ultimately reach close to 80 million, which means that by 2020, they will account for 40% of all consumers.

Much like the previous generation (known as Gen Y or ‘Millennials’), this generation will grow up around technology and most likely be even more tech-savvy as a whole.  This will influence the way they communicate, how they interact with one another and with brands and how quickly they process information.

Every year, Beloit College (Wisconsin) produces the Beloit College Mindset List, a list that examines the ‘cultural touchstones that shape the lives of the students entering college’ that Fall.

“The Class of 2019 will enter college with high technology an increasing factor in how and even what they learn. They will encounter difficult discussions about privilege, race, and sexual assault on campus. They may think of the ‘last century’ as the twentieth, not the nineteenth, so they will need ever wider perspectives about the burgeoning mass of information that will be heading their way. And they will need a keen ability to decipher what is the same and what has changed with respect to many of these issues.” – Charles Westerberg, Director of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center and Brannon-Ballard Professor of Sociology at Beloit College

I can imagine how such a list would be helpful to professors, instructors and educators so that they can better connect with their students.  Especially for this generation of shortened attention spans, 24/7 connectivity and instant messaging, educators will have to make sure they remain relatable and relevant.

The list offers a glimpse of what Generation Z is like- here are a few interesting facts:

  • Google was founded in 1998 so Gen Z has never known a world without the tech giant
    This offers a glimpse of the type of access to information that Gen Z has and how integrated Google can be in their lives. After all, Gen Z grew up with YouTube, Gmail, Google Talk / Hangout in their lives
  • Email as a way of communication
    Even more so than Gen Y, this generation grew up using email as a way of communication that is socially accepted (if not encouraged). Where as email was seen as a more informal way of communication, email has become the new ‘formal’. Texting and tweeting are now considered ‘informal’. So – if you are wanting to market to this audience, get ready to text… and be available around the clock!
  • Wi-Fi as an entitlement
    This generation has been the most connected generation to date. Wi-Fi, connectivity and access are to be expected and not seen as a luxury.
  • Access to the Internet
    Instead of parents having to encourage their kids to explore the ‘net’, modern day parents are now finding themselves having to limit access, sometimes even using it as leverage.
  • Cell Phones… in the Classroom
    Cell phones (which is now the same as a smart phone) have become so ubiquitous that teachers are now challenged with how to do deal with them in the classrooms. Lessons here is that it is probably better to incorporate them into the classroom rather than banning them.

Marketing to this generation will require an openness to communicating in different ways. Whether it is over text or on social media, there is an expectation of instantaneous response and interaction. One way marketing will fall on deaf ears.

Growing up in an age of information and sensory overload also means that this generation will be the most adept at filtering out unwanted messages.  To get through all the clutter, a brand will have to be authentic and relevant, taking care not to be too overt in its advertising.

Just like the Millennial generation, it can be easy to make assumptions about this generation – assuming they are socially-inept, entitled, and lazy.  In fact, this generation is turning out to be quite the opposite.  What the challenge will be for brands and employers is distinguishing between their online identities and who they are ‘in real life’ – offline.  Understanding this difference will be key for companies that want to be successful over the next decade.

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Understanding the Power of Habit

The Power of Habit
I started reading a book the other day called “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.  The book is an examination of how routines and habits are created, where they reside and how having this understanding can help us change bad habits or to create new ones.

I’ve only just started but it’s been a very interesting read so far!  If you think about your day, so much of what you do is by habit and not as a result of active decision making.  What do you do first when you wake up in the morning?  Which shoe do you tie first? Which route do you take the work? According to a paper published in 2006 by a Duke University researcher, as much as 40% of actions people take throughout day were as a result of habits, not actual decisions!

A quote that spoke to me from the first few pages is from William James back in 1892: “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”

If so many of our actions are a result of habits and these habits are ingrained over time, how possible is it for us to bring about change?  We often hear the saying “people don’t change” as if people are tied to their habits and prone to repeating themselves.  Even though I’ve only gotten through the first few pages, one fact is clear.  Habits can be changed… and it often starts with a single small change which eventually leads to many and much bigger changes.

This is interesting, especially from a marketing standpoint.  We, as marketers, are always wanting to alter habits.  We want attract new leads and new customers which requires a change in their purchase behaviour (which is often made by habit).  How can we position our products and services in a way that will bring about a change in habit?

I am looking forward to reading more on this topic and understanding more about the mysteries that the human mind holds.  Only an understanding of habits (no matter how basic)  – how they are formed, where they reside, why they resonate – can help us know better how to change our bad habits or create new ones altogether!

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Some Seth Godin Wisdom

Marketing is About the Stories You Tell


I am in love with this quote from Seth Godin! Marketing is no longer about telling and selling, and is certainly not “make it and they will come”.  Marketing today is about storytelling – either your brand’s story or your consumers’ stories.  People can better relate when they can see themselves in the stories that you tell.  That is how you can build strong emotional connections to your brand, and ultimately move your audience to action.

Ah, I can always count on Seth Godin for a few good ideas!  Thanks for making me stop and think.

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The 4P’s of Marketing in 2014

New P's of Marketing

When I was still in university, I remember learning about the Marketing Mix and the 4 P’s of marketing.  We learned that taking into account Product, Place, Promotion and Price is the way to go to creating marketing strategies that worked.

Fast forward a years and with a few more years of experience under my belt, I still find myself referring to the 4 P’s when I am working on marketing strategies for my clients.  Especially with integrated marketing campaigns, the 4 P’s were a great reminder for covering all your bases.  Except now, I use these 4 P’s as a starting point – because I no longer find they create the comprehensive and cohesive approach that is required in today’s business landscape.

Granted, the landscapes today are much more complicated than they were 50 years ago, when McCarthy first came up with this idea.  And like all things in marketing, trends come and go and even the best concepts must evolve to keep up with consumer needs.

So, in addition to the original 4 P’s, here are a few more P’s I think are relevant in today’s world:

Presence – traditional or digital, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest; today’s marketing must span across mediums and go where the consumers are.  Where do your consumers hang out and what is your strategy for each medium?

Parley – marketing today is about conversation.  There is push and their is pull.  Succeeding in today’s markets mean an ongoing exchange of ideas between the consumer and the brand.

Personality – whether it is B2B or B2C, marketing is about human connection and relationships.  Giving your brand personality will make it more likable and relatable – and people buy from brands that they like and can connect to.

Personalization – with the marketing channels that are available to us today, marketing messages can quickly and quite easily become “one to many”.  We talked about making brands more relatable, so speak to your consumers in terms that they can relate to.  Create “one to one” messaging… that be be dispersed to many.

Progression – doing everything, being everywhere and taking part in everything is not always beneficial.  Pick and choose your battles.  Know your brand, know your destination – and make sure you progress and evolve with your consumers.

What other P’s would you add to the list?

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Knowing the Difference Between Brand Coherence & Consistency


In this digital age of information sharing and instantaneous communications, we all know that change can happen pretty quickly. As a brand, it is important to be able to evolve and grow with your customers. This doesn’t just apply to your products or your policies, it should also apply to your brand. (Keeping in mind that your brand is more than just a logo, of course!)

I think that sometimes the idea of a consistent brand is so restrictive. We stop ourselves from doing something that is truly creative, fun and engaging for fear that it is not consistent with the brand.

What’s more important is that there is brand coherence, where the most important elements of the brand stay the same. In this way, we can keep what’s most familiar to our customers and yet still be able to grow and evolve with them and for them. This can open the door to more creative conversations and innovative ideas – and can even bring you closer to your customers.

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