5 Steps to Applying Stimulus/Response Thinking to Social Marketing*

Written by: Paul on Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

How many of our Twitter followers are real buyers? What percentage of our tweets do followers actually see? Are those new Facebook likes really valuable over time? Certainly you’ve posed similar questions to your marketing team or agency.

Getting answers to questions like these is challenging work—and well worth the effort. But even with access to so much data, we can still tell very little about customers and prospects by observing their relatively passive social network participation. To really understand behavior, we must rely on a concept that is both so simple yet so poorly applied in social marketing that it borders on stupidity: stimulus and response.

Most classically-trained marketers understand the concept of introducing an offer (stimulus) and waiting for a response. And over the years we’ve learned to not just measure uptake, but also to understand more about why and when a prospect actually becomes a real marketing-qualified lead. Significant investment is made in refining this process, but I hear too many stories about this discipline not finding its way into social engagement.

Before I go into five discipline-building tips, I must offer one strong caveat: I’m not saying that you should simply treat social networks like any other channel – these are venues for strategic brand storytelling, not lead gen repurposing. So, with that said, I offer five steps for bringing stimulus/response into your social marketing strategy:

We love data at Greenough. We pore over it daily, but we also understand that social marketing isn’t driven by data alone. Yes, stimulus and response works well with highly-structured data analysis, and you should have a plan for that too, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and use it like a conversation instead of simply a scientific probe.

Scott Bauman is executive vice president at Greenough.

Greenough’s Evolution Continues*

Written by: Phil Greenough on Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

Today, as we enter our “teens” as a company, we formally announced a new organization structure and the leaders to guide the agency. The changes – detailed on our recently relaunched web site www.greenough.biz – are really an evolution, another milestone on a journey started in 1999.

To be sure, Brand Storytelling, our unique approach to helping clients break through the clutter to engage key constituents, remains the core of our marketing services. Yet as the marketing landscape changes, we continue to evolve how Brand Storytelling manifests in client programs. And that is where our new team structure makes all the difference.

Today we bring a laser focus to research, planning, strategy, messaging, social media, media relations, content development, social CRM and measurement. The focus comes from leaders who are experts in their domains: media, content, social marketing and client service. We’re not asking our team members to be all things to everyone. An inch deep and mile wide won’t get it done, so we flipped that one on its head. Our media is singularly focused on media. 24/7. Ditto for content. Social media. Research. Social CRM. And so on.

At the same time, as the only agency to formally and systematically measure client satisfaction from the day it opened its doors, Greenough continues to put the most emphasis on client service, planning and results. Our measurement system is second to none. And our goal to keep our clients for a lifetime is further strengthened by the leadership and experience of the Client Services team and their counterparts and partners on the Creative Services team.

The combination of focus, skills, experience and leadership is unprecedented for us—and may be in the marketing services business as well. Our structure demands accountability from one another so we can deliver on our commitments. Maybe not much has changed after all. For more detail on our reorganization, click here.

Phil Greenough is president of Greenough. He can be reached via email at pgreenough@greenough.biz or follow him on twitter @philgreenough.

Bad Analogies, Good PR*

Written by: Paul on Thursday, January 5, 2012 | Leave a Comment 

If you know anyone who teaches English for a living, you’ve probably seen this list. My sister, a seventh and eighth grade English teacher, was the one who forwarded me the series of terrible analogies that has been circulating in various forms around the Internet recently. I have no idea if the analogies were used in actual high school essays as the list claims, but they are hilarious nonetheless. These metaphors and similes can also (you guessed it!) offer some pretty solid wisdom for us PR folks as we craft our clients’ stories. Here’s what I took away from it:

Get creative
Half of the examples in the list are so funny because they defeat the purpose of using an analogy at all: Instead of comparing the subject to something unusual to illustrate a point, these ones just describe it in a way that makes it sound like an analogy:

Photo: Sam, Flickr

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.  

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

Trade secret time: Every so often PR pros have to work with a client doesn’t have the most interesting story in the world. The key is not to keep rephrasing and polishing the same old storylines, but to wade through technical stuff to find the nuggets of goodness that exist in every company if you dig deep enough. Take these interesting stories and run with them.

But not TOO creative
The other half of the list draws its humor from analogies that go way over the top:

Photo: Battle Creek CVB, Flickr

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and “Jeopardy” comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Even though we like to take full advantage of creative license in PR, it’s important not to go too far as we strive to make client stories more interesting. Get too cute and your creativity can distract from your clients’ messages, rather than enhancing them.

The ideal scenario in telling business stories is to find the right mix between creativity and explanation. Balance these two forces and you just might end up with a story that people will take notice of, unlike (as one of the high school analogies says) the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper Can.

Jake Navarro is a senior consultant for Greenough. Send him an email at jnavarro@greenoughcom.com

The Power of Knowing Your Audience*

Written by: Zach Pearson on Monday, December 19, 2011 | Leave a Comment 

(Don’t read this post if you don’t want to feel old)

As if I didn’t feel old enough, three years out of college with 2012 just around the corner, yesterday I received an email from a high school friend: “40 Things That Will Make You Feel Old.” I was hooked by the very first item on the list: A screen shot of Microsoft Word with an arrow pointing to the floppy disc; the caption read, “Most students click this to save their papers and they have no idea what it is.” Incredible.  And the list went on and on. Did you know that all three mmmboppin’ Hanson brothers are married with multiple kids? That if they aged, Bart Simpson would be 31 this year and all of the Rugrats would legally be able to drink?

As I scrolled through the list, I had many jaw-dropping moments, followed by a lot searching on the Internet to confirm these outrageous statements (they all turned out to be true).  When it was all said and done I came to an interesting conclusion; this list was written for me. It had to have been. Every single item on the list evoked some sort of emotion, and many evoked one of the strongest emotions there is: Nostalgia. As I began to see this list shared throughout the day on Facebook and other digital channels, it became clear who else this list was written for: my best friend, my brother, my high school classmates and my college friends. It was written for anyone currently in their 20s.

The list is a prime example of identifying a very specific group of people, knowing what makes them tick and creating content that evokes raw emotion. As I began to share the list with my peers, an overwhelming sense of community came over me; a weird sense of pride emerged and I loved the idea of being able to share something that anyone my age could relate to, laugh about, remember.

Not surprisingly, the list was put together by my peer: A 24-year-old blogger. If I’ve learned anything in my career so far it’s that in marketing, PR and advertising you can’t be successful at communicating without knowing your target audience to a T. Furthermore, you must know what makes them happy, stressed, productive, satisfied and so on, what will stir up passion, emotions or sentiment. Although this list is a much lighter, less serious journalistic example, the concept carries over to any marketing campaign. This 24-year-old blogger knew who he was writing for and knew his target audience because he is the target audience.

The question is, as a marketer, how do get to you know your target audience when you yourself are not a part of it? How do you evoke raw emotion—or connect with your audience’s pain, desire, dreams or hopes—and get them to listen to your message and buy your product when you don’t have any first-hand experience in their world? It may be hard, but by no means is it impossible. Today we have a variety of tools at our disposal to help, from traditional focus groups to cutting-edge social media monitoring platforms. In fact, in today’s world, there really is no excuse not to know your target audience. I believe the most important way to understand your audience is to engage:  Ask questions, then listen and listen closely. Never assume anything. Take advantage of the powerful tools and resources available. Know your target audience better than you know yourself and you’re on your way to both truly connecting with them and convincing them you have the answers.

By the way, did you know the Macarena dance is 16 years old? Now I bet you feel really old.

Jessica Boardman is a content consultant for Greenough. Send her an email at jboardman@greenoughcom.com or follow her on Twitter @J_Boardman