Marketing Trends and Opportunities in 2011

We are now a full year into the second decade of the 21st century, and most would agree that the marketing industry—and consumer behavior—is vastly different than 10 years ago. But many of the evolutions of the last decade are now maturing, and becoming structures of the “new normal”.

Just as nobody could imagine social networking, search, and on-line media dominating the conversation, it’s hard to predict what we will be writing about 10 years from now. However, there are some things we see coming in 2011 that will affect our business and create new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the significant trends we predict will have an impact on marketing:

1. Email Marketing Goes Social

In espionage the M.O. is to always “follow the money”, but in marketing we need to “follow the audience”. According to Marketing Sherpa 90% of consumers now turn to social networks, user review sites, and on-line forums to learn more about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That’s not a threat to marketing—it’s an implicit invitation to become a part of the conversation.

We’ve found great success in the integration of email marketing and social network sharing because it mimics the natural human behavior of word of mouth. And nothing is a better endorsement these days than Facebook’s “like” icon next to someone’s posting of an email offer they received.

2. Search, Expanded and Re-Defined

Yahoo, Google, and Bing in the US, as well as China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex, rule the world when it comes to search engines. And Search Engine Marketing is an essential part of any modern, comprehensive marketing strategy. But now Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer their own unique forms of search based on how someone uses them.

Consumers search their social networks for answers because they are viewed as trustworthy and local. More than 30% of consumers poll their Facebook friends for information on everything from clothes to cars to contractors, and typically compare this information to what they find on a search engine. You can enter a product category in the YouTube search bar and find instructional videos, commercials, and testimonials in the form of user-generated content for virtually everything. This signals that marketers need to make sure they continue promoting themselves consistently on multiple platforms. It’s not enough to make sure that your web site is optimized to rise to the first page of a Google search anymore. It’s also vital to rise to the top of peoples’ minds, and that can best be achieved with media integration.

For more traditional media like direct mail, print, TV and out-of-home, we view on-line media as reliable and effective partners in extending our clients’ presence to portals where this kind of “personal search” activity exists.

3. Personalization—The Un-Mass Marketing

One-to-one marketing has come of age, and consumers are responding. What was once the domain of Direct Mail and Email, personalization is now everywhere, and it is much more than just a matter of addressing your audience by name. Websites, social networks, and smart phones are configured to serve targeted ads based on a user’s behavior. Using information such as referring URLs, search terms, click-thrus, and geo-location marketers can offer advertising messages that are tailored to the individual.

And while this does fan the flames of privacy issues and fears that big-brother is watching, consumers by and large don’t consider relevant marketing messages to be “spam”. The key to success in personalization is in differentiating your customer as well as the product or service you are offering. Nobody wants to be thought of as part of a mass audience, so we’re using techniques that are more like the conversations between salespeople and customers in a store.

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The Marketing Industry is going through a revolution comparable to the “Creative Revolution” of the 1960s. With a plethora of new technology that opens the door to new ways of communicating, this is a very exciting time. We can only imagine what this newsletter will report on in 2021, but until then there’s lot’s of innovating to do.


Happy Social Media Day!

(originally posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2010)

Today we celebrate one of the biggest advancements in inter-personal communications. And if you are reading this on our Facbook page, or someone shared this blog post with you, then you already know who the honor goes to: social media.

Social media blog Mashable has declared June 30th “Social Media Day”, and is marking this occasion by promoting meet-ups in various locations around the world. Not surprisingly, we found out about today’s global holiday via Twitter.

At The Weinstein Organization we think social media is worth celebrating. At a time when global population is growing faster than any other in human history, social media makes the world smaller while expanding our personal peer influence. The ability to directly connect with others cannot be underrated; it helps raise money during a crisis (the Haitian earthquake), it changes politics (Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign in 2008), and it even finds people work (Betty White on SNL).

Social media can also be credited with changing fundamental human behavior. People are now publishers, and our ability to move ideas around the world is only limited by the strength, viability, and appeal of our ideas. And that is a fundamental shift for marketing too.

Many marketers worry about losing control of their message because of social media. But customers and prospects have always controlled the marketing message with the oldest form of marketing: word-of-mouth. But now our word-of-mouth is more amplified and more precisely targeted within our own individual spheres of influence.

This is good for marketing. When marketers take the time to listen to what people are saying about them, and adjust their messages to work more effectively within the social climate surrounding their product or service, they have a better chance of success. People react positively when they feel like someone is listening to them. And best of all, we can see it happening in real time—if we take the time to pay attention.

Direct response marketing can easily adopt social media strategies, because they are natural extensions of what we already do. It is pull-marketing with a twist: instead of acquiring one customer at a time, we can now pull in that one customer and all of their friends. And all their friends’ friends. It largely depends on how well we craft the key offer and message, which are some of the basic best practices of direct response marketing in the first place.

So on this happy Social Media Day, we gather ‘round our browsers and give thanks to the great connector of us all. Statuses are updated, You are uploaded, Tweets are tweeted, and anything worth digging is on Digg.


“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” But Saturdays are a different story.

(originally posted on Friday, April 2, 2010)

For some time now, the United States Postal Service has seen their revenues decline. With the rise of email, and internet downloads of documents, their simple business model of paid postal delivery is dwindling, and the idea of the relentless and determined mailman has been reduced to a quaint notion from another era.

Even social and mobile media has affected their business, by changing the way we correspond. Think about it: nobody has pen pals anymore, they have social networks. Nobody needs to mail family photos to Grandma; now they can just upload digital pics to her Facebook wall, or electronically send them straight to a digital frame display on her coffee table. And when was the last time you mailed a postcard from vacation? There’s an iPhone app for that too.

The USPS cannot continue to raise postage rates anymore to decrease their operating deficit, because that will only exacerbate the problem. Nobody spends more money on old technology if they have other options. You can pay your bills on line, and even receive a coupon directly from a retailer right on your mobile phone, so even the most routine utilities of postal delivery are becoming obsolete.

The only thing the USPS has deemed a viable option is to enact a 16% reduction in service by eliminating Saturdays.

So if the USPS ends their Saturday street delivery service in 2011 as they are attempting to do (pending approval by Congress), how will it affect you? How will it affect your business.


Social Media: Annoying Buzzword or Business Essential?

(originally posted on Friday, March 12, 2010)

"Marketing Trends Report 2010” from Anderson Analytics and the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) uncovered some interesting, if not confusing, trends amongst marketing executives.

The report found that 72% of respondents were planning a social media strategy this year, and that “Social Media ROI” was an “important buzzword” to 36% of respondents. This seems about right, considering how much of a marketing impact is being made with vehicles like Facebook and Twitter.

But the counterpoint to these numbers is very telling: 30% of the respondents also said that the term “social media” was “annoying”, with 15% being particularly tired of hearing the word “Twitter”. Even more confounding is that 41.9% of these same respondents claim to be increasing their spending on social media and “viral word of mouth”.

We think this all means that Social Media Marketing has evolved to the next stage of maturity. It’s no longer the new, hot technique. It is now accepted as being an essential consideration for any marketing program. Marketers have arrived at the “don’t tell me, show me” state of mind, and no longer need to be oversold on it. They expect it, and they expect it to work.

At The Weinstein Organization, we see Social Media as just one component to work with in a successful marketing campaign. It’s not a destination or a goal, but a channel of communications to reach your goal. No different than a BRE or an email or a PURL in theory. Social Media is where many prospects and customers are spending a lot of time, but it is not the only place to find them.

So when measuring your Social Media ROI, it needs to be in the context of your overall campaign ROI. What is the value of having fans or followers if they aren’t following you to the bottom line.


What Would Richard Sears Have Thought Of The Internet?

(originally posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010)

Last night CNBC ran a terrific biography on Sears, Roebuck and Co. This all-American company began as the farmer’s alternative to the high prices at their local general store, by offering lower prices on everything they’d ever need from Sears’ 500-page mail order catalog.

The first Sears catalog was published in 1888 and by 1906 it was considered “the consumers bible”, selling everything from clothes, refrigerators, stoves and groceries, to sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods, automobiles, and even houses.

Virtually everything a consumer needed could be found in the Sears catalog, and the mail-order business thrived for decades. Most people don’t realize that Sears, Roebuck and Company didn’t open up their first brick-and-mortar store until 1925, by which time they were already the largest retailer in the world.

What is fascinating to think about is that Sears’ business started out as sort of the “dot-com” of its era. No storefront, no salespeople, just a catalog that showed up in the mail that offered everything you could ever want. And the merchandise was shipped right to your door.

There was no internet, Facebook, Twitter, or viral videos—there wasn’t even radio when the first Sears catalog came out. But it was an immediate success because Richard Sears built his business on some very basic principals: offer the customer anything they could want, at a price they can afford, and make it easy for them to get their merchandise. Add to that a money back guarantee and the best possible customer service (via postal correspondence!), and Sears was able to retain customers and boost their loyalty for generations.

Sears didn’t start out with a brand concept or a media plan or a Twitter strategy. He started out with a great idea, and the business spread “virally” by word of mouth. From farmer to farmer, the catalog was borrowed, browsed, and ordered from. And every new order added a new family’s name and address to the Sears “database” (they called it a customer list back then—how quaint!).

The point we are making is this: e-commerce, social media, email, mobile apps, and viral videos are great, modern marketing vehicles. But they are not ideas. Everything Richard Sears did in the 1880s is exactly the same thing marketers should be doing today. The only difference is how the marketing message gets delivered.