Writing well is an essential business skill

Knowledge is useless unless you know how to communicate it – in writing.

We live in a world where most communication happens in 140 character messages, 7 second videos and short text messages. It’s easy to forget how important is good writing as an essential and personal skill.

I have been inspired by David Ogilvy, the father of advertising. His story is really interesting. His teachings fundamental. His books are some of the first every marketer should read. In the Unpublished David Ogilvy, I found great advice by the master.

The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy and Mather. People who think well, write well.Continue reading “Writing well is an essential business skill”

9 Marketing Un-Predictions for 2015

marketing predictions for 2015

By now we have all read a handful of posts on marketing predictions for the New Year. While some predictions reflect trends and areas where marketers definitely need to look into, some are potentially more distracting than useful.

The marketing job never ends: there is always something else we could be doing to grow the business. Marketing is getting more and more complex. These two factors drive, today more than ever, the importance of focus.

The essence of focus are the things you will not do. Focus is about understanding the distractions, the buzzwords, the nice-to-haves and even the good opportunities that we must pass on to allow us to work on those activities that will have the best results.

This is why I wanted to share my Marketing Un-Predictions for the year:

  1. Mobile first is wrong. I am not saying to ignore mobile. I am suggesting we should kill mobile projects in lieu of thinking cross-device always. Today, there is no “mobile”: the line between smartphones, tablets and portable computers is blurred. Marketers must think cross-device (responsive design, device-neutral, cross-browser) from the beginning for all important channels: Websites to marketing campaigns should be designed for mobile and tablet and desktop and everything in-between.

Continue reading “9 Marketing Un-Predictions for 2015”

What is Growth Hacking and What Can Good Marketers Learn from It?

Growth Hacking is Good Marketing

The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valuation. But what is growth Hacking? What does it mean for marketers and for businesses? Is it Marketing 2.0 (or 3.0 or whatever version we are on +1)?

I have found the definitions by those who created the term to be inaccurate or of little value.  At first glance, it could appear that growth hacking is a marketing buzzword about marketing created by non-marketers.

After taking a closer look and reading all I could about it, I found that in trying to learn from it, a pure definition would not be as valuable as an observation of Gowth Hacking characteristics are:

  • Typically found in early stage startups – with no formal marketing teams or budget
  • Where marketing is performed by engineers or non-career marketers
  • That uses smart, cheap and unconventional methods to grow the business
  • With a strong focus on analytics, metrics, virality and scalability

Advocates of the term call out DropBox, Twitter and even Hotmail as success stories that prove the value of growth hacking. This view is somewhat misleading as there are a hundred startups following growth hacking techniques that won’t survive to their next round of financing. Which only proves there is no secret formula or buzzword that guarantees success.

The only guarantee of success is to have a great strategy, a great product, a great team, and great execution.  But let’s focus on what marketers can learn from growth hackers:

Continue reading “What is Growth Hacking and What Can Good Marketers Learn from It?”

Marketing Leader Interview: David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott Intervie

No one knows more about using the new tools and strategies to spread ideas, influence minds and build business than David Meerman Scott. His books and blog are must-reads for professionals seeking to generate attention in ways that grow their business. He is the best-selling author of titles that include The New Rules of Marketing and PR to World Wide Rave which are changing the world of public relations and influence marketing.

I am truly honored to have David share his insights with us in this interview.

1. What company is an example of good marketing today? Who do you admire?

I admire HubSpot very much. They started the company in 2006 and today, less than ten years later, they have 650 employees. There growth is all attributable to the content they create online, a strategy the teach others in the HubSpot Marketing Blog.  http://blog.hubspot.com  I admire them so much that I joined their advisory board. Continue reading “Marketing Leader Interview: David Meerman Scott”

Are Super Bowl Ads a Good Investment or a Giant Waste of Money?

SuperBowl Ad ROI

Measuring the effect of advertising has always been a significant challenge for marketers. The Super Bowl presents a particularly interesting opportunity to study individual ads that reach millions of consumers and represent a major investment for brands at $4 million plus production costs.

I will use two sources of data to look at this problem: Un-aided recall by a random sample of consumers and sales results achieved by Go Daddy after their investment in Super Bowl ads.

Continue reading “Are Super Bowl Ads a Good Investment or a Giant Waste of Money?”

10 Marketing Observations from the 2014 Super Bowl Ads

Surprisingly, the Super Bowl is not the most-viewed sports event in the world. At some 150 million viewers, it represents a fraction of the estimated 720 million viewers for the FIFA World Cup final.  Despite this fact, it remains the largest advertising event in the world.

According to an informal survey we ran last week, over 60% of Super Bowl viewers claimed to watch the game just as much, or more for the ads.  Welcome to the Ad Bowl.

Why do people watch the SuperBowl

By now there are probably a couple dozen lists of top Super Bowl ads, and everyone has begun expressing their own opinions. In this post, I will share my observations on the marketing strategies of the brands and the effectiveness of their ads, as well as general advertising trends. Please add your observations in the comments section.

Continue reading “10 Marketing Observations from the 2014 Super Bowl Ads”

Social Listening, Customer Service and Social Blackmail

Social Listening has empowered organizations to listen to customers and respond in real time, primarily on Twitter. Here is an example where Southwest Airlines (from back in 2008) responded to a customer who had a bad experience. The mere act of listening to customers and showing some empathy can turn a very unhappy customer around.

A few weeks ago an industry expert shared his experience with a bank. He was having some trouble, called customer service and after becoming frustrated with the nonsense policies for the bank, suggested to tell his thousands of followers on Twitter about the experience with the bank. This story, and further discussion via twitter, led to a couple of thoughts:

  • Maybe, the people who demand better service via extortion, threatening to tell their followers about the bad experience, are using a form of blackmail. I know it is the new world of social. Just think about this before you do it.


  • In most cases, this influence is overstated. As I stated in a previous post, popularity is not influence. Further, If a user with 5,000 followers tweets a bad experience with a brand, only a fraction of those 5,000 people will read the tweet.  Even if 50 people read the tweet it is bad, I am only stating that not all 5,000 will be exposed to the tweet.


  • In any case, it would be unfair if people with more followers received better customer service. If this is the inevitable future, we should all create dummy Twitter accounts and use unorthodox (but common) methods to get a large number of followers so that we can get decent service.


  • Brands should realize twitter is simply a form of customer service. The teams monitoring twitter (or Facebook) for customer service issues and responding to those issues are not that different to the teams with a headset responding to the same type of problems for the same customers via phone or email.


  • Brands should therefore have consistent customer service policies that apply equally to situations independently of what channels you choose to connect with the company or how popular you are. Imagine if I called an 800 number to complain and told them I have 2,000 people in my Rolodex threatening to call all of them if they don’t help me.


  • Brands should be smart enough so that it does not take a social media crisis (á la United Breaks Guitars or a Comcast Technician Sleeping on My Couch) to fix basic customer service policies and pay attention to what their customers want. Delivering great products and great service is the way to become a great company. Solving customer issues won’t get you there.


  • Brands should encourage customers to address their concerns, problems and feedback via a private support channels such as email, online chat or phone. Using your Facebook wall as your customer service center does not help anyone but your competition. Other channels are much more efficient at providing customer service, for example, with clear connection to your customer transaction record, no 140 character limit. Just today Fortune published an excellent piece titled “Can I help you? On Twitter, the answer is no” that compares actual experiences on twitter vs. phone vs web for top retailers.

If you think about it, your team that is helping customers via twitter should not be part of the social media team in marketing, maybe this function lives in customer service, in the cal center, where customers can get a consistent experience across interaction points.

If you are a social media marketer, I am not suggesting you move to the customer service department. Instead I am suggesting you consider your career path. As Jeremiah points out, Social Media Strategists are at a critical point where they can either become the ‘social media help desk’ or customer engagement marketers.

7 Steps to a Successful Trade Show

It seems every good marketing plan needs to include industry event participation to be complete. Sometimes we go to trade shows to leads, sometimes because “you have to be visible” and sometimes because we went last year so we signed up for this year as well. Yet , in my humble opinion most marketers do a poor job at events.

Here are my 7 suggestions to make your trade show participation a success.

1. Define a Strategy – Why are you going to the event in the first place? Are you there for awareness? to drive leads? to engage with press and analysts? defining a very specific and clear goal is the first step to a successful event. Think about the number of leads you will get in relation to the total costs for exhibiting (booth, travel, opportunity cost, etc.), the right conclusion may be not to be at an event.

2. Refine your Value Proposition – Have you ever walked a show floor? think about how you scan booths as you walk by. Most people probably spend two or three seconds reading the signage on a booth before deciding if it is something they are interested in – otherwise they will continue walking and scanning. Next time you go to a trade show study how people walk by the aisles.

This means you have about 8 words to tell people why should they stop and talk to you. You have one chance to get their attention. I find it amusing how bad we marketers are at this: most booths have meaningless slogans like “High Performance Digital Solutions” – what does it mean? what exactly do you sell?  why should I care? You could play bulls##t bingo walking a trade show.

3. Focus – Attract the right people. Surely you have studies the event prospectus and you know what kind of people will be attending. From here, based on your strategy, you need to decide what titles/roles and company profiles you want to talk to. We are too quick to think in terms of booth visitors, coming up with ever more creative giveaways. Handing out t-shirts will surely keep your booth busy, but will it attract the type of people you want? Would the qualified buyer you wanted to talk to walk by because your team was too busy handing out t-shirts to everyone?

4. Time Management For most companies, the goal of trade show participation is to generate leads. This means three things: first, qualify every visitor to your booth. Second, spend as little time as possible with non-qualified leads: be courteous, hand out a datasheet or a giveaway if they request one and move on. Third, spend quality time with qualified leads but not too long: once you know the lead is a viable prospect, you have provided valuable information to increase their interest and captured their contact information, it is probably smart to move on to the next customer. There will be more time later to continue the conversation with this customer, do an in-depth demo or needs assessment. Of course, you need to use your judgement based on your product and buying process, customer interest and how busy your booth is.

5. Ask, don’t tellGood sales people listen 70% of the time. Do the math: you only need to speak 30% of the time. Most booth staff are too quick to jump into a sales pitch and a demo as soon as someone walks by. After qualifying a person ask them why they stopped, what problems they are trying to solve, what solutions they have considered, how much they know about your company and your product and what specific questions they have. This will accomplish a couple things: first, you will come across as more genuinely interested in helping the customer; second, you will know enough to tailor your presentation or demo to the specific needs of the customer; and third, it will save them from spending 5 minutes listening to a pitch that makes no sense at all.

6. Follow Up. Marketers do a terrible job at following up on trade show leads. Often, what happens after a trade show is that a spreadsheet with names and contact info is sent to the sales team or to the telemarketing team where they go to a black hole. If you involve sales from step 1 when you are defining your strategy, you should have a follow-up strategy and plan weeks before the event. At the very least send each prospect an email thanking them for attending, providing useful resources and contact information. Tink about creative ways to engage customers in the form of a poll, a free analysis, a white paper, or some other high-value material.

7. Learn.  Trade shows are great opportunities to learn about the market, trends, your competition, and above all  to learn about customers. Often times, the most valuable conversations I have had at an event have been during lunch or dinner when I go to the main meal room and seat at a table with 9 customers or industry peers that I had not met before. Yet, most booth people miss this opportunity: as soon as booth duty is over they have lunch together as a pack. Make the most of every opportunity to meet customers. Some times, I seat at more than one table during lunch to maximize my opportunities to learn – and to have an extra dessert :-)

Have fun at your next event!


Tradeshow Marketing 101

This is one of my pet peeves as a marketer. Last week I was at CTIA in San Francisco, a key event in the wireless industry. As usual I walked around the show floor to see what’s new. Like many trade shows, there were well over a hundred booths. Like me, I imagine most customers don’t spend more than a few seconds glancing at each booth before deciding if they will stop by for more information.

Here is the problem: the information that marketers are using as “headlines” in their booth look more like slogans than actual descriptions of what the company does or how it helps customers. I walked down one aisle and wrote down what I could read in the booths as I walked along:

  • The First Total Solution for the Mobile Channel.
  • How Everybody Knows – Right Here. Right Now.
  • Powering Mobile Business.
  • Mobile Services 24x7x365
  • Freedom. Security. Choice.
  • Any text. Anywhere.

Nice slogans. These companies must have paid quite some money to an agency to get their top creative talent to come up with these smart words. But they don’t tell me anything about your company. I consider myself a pretty smart guide, and I have spent over 7 years in the wireless industry. A week later, I can’t recall what product or service was being offered by any of the companies using the slogans above.

What is the solution? make the healdine your value prop. Clear and simple In plain English. No marketing-speak, no slogans. One company stood out from the rest in doing this right. In fact, I glanced over the list of exhibitors and the company stood out immediatelly. Although I don’t need their services I will remember this company and might even refer business to them if a friend asks me for companies that offer these services.

Their booth read “$22/Hr Software Development” – I am impressed. The makreting guy could have hired an agency and come up with something smart like “Solutions for a Wireless World” (which I swear I have seen). “$22/Hr Software Development” is super clear: I understand what they do and the company value proposition. I remember the company clearly. If I needed software development cheap you bet I would have stopped by their booth. It would be simple to find them in the event directory because they opted to get their listing under “$22/Hr software development”.

If a customer walks by your booth at the next tradeshow, what message will he leave with in the 2 seconds he will spend?