Seventh “M”


What are the results of the marketing campaign, in terms of effectiveness and sales.

Effectiveness: “do people like it, do they remember it, understand it?”1

Sales: are more people calling, coming in, buying?

Below are some ideas that can be used to track effectiveness and/or sales. Try them out and see what works best for your business.


Internet billboardOne of the advantages of using digital marketing is that it’s fairly easy to track. With online ad metrics, Google analytics, trackable emails, immediate feedback from text marketing, etc. you can see how many clicks ads are getting, how many people are responding, traffic generated to websites, how many new ‘likes’ are acquired on Facebook, etc.

Options for digital marketing vary widely, and include everything from website landing pages, to Google and Facebook ads, to geo-fencing. The last of these examples, geo-fencing, uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to trigger a response when someone with a smart phone enters the “fenced” area. For example, if you want to market a sports bar, you may choose to geo-fence local stadiums or sporting goods stores. Or, other sports bars. When people with smart phones go to these venues, they’ll be sent a coupon, or will be served ads online in their browsers (the response will depend on what you choose) about the sports bar. Obviously there are benefits to being able to track how many people see your ad or coupon—and take action.

Family watching television/tv and using laptop and tabletDigital marketing is fairly inexpensive but highly competitive, and research shows that more traditional forms of media are still out-performing most digital in earning customers’ trust and action.2

Although branded websites and online consumer opinions come up highest on the list of types of advertising that people trust, Television is a strong contender in the trust category, and is third—behind recommendations and online consumer opinions—when it comes to taking action on an ad. So, how do you measure the effectiveness of traditional media?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Set up a phone number (800#) that’s unique to each media that you’re using. Then count the calls coming into that number, and document the results of the calls.
  • Use a unique landing page url for each media, and track how many people go to that page A landing page is a page that’s part of the company website but that most often is not part of the main navigation. The person coming to the site would type in the page’s website address, which is listed in the ad, whether it’s TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, etc.
  • Every time someone new calls or comes in, ask them how they heard about you. Train employees to ask and have a tracking system set up that they can easily use, even something as simple as a notebook and a pen. Or, set up an excel sheet on a computer.
  • Use coupons that people can bring in for a special offer.
  • Use a code on TV and Radio that people can mention for a special offer.

There are many ways to track offline media advertising. Remember McDonald’s campaign for the Big Mac? “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.”3 Why not develop your own slogan or jingle that customers can recite or sing to get a deal, or something free? Be creative, make it fun, and you’ll build excitement with your new tracking tool! [check out an original version of the Big Mac slogan from the ’70s, and a more current from 2013]

Hotline red telephone

And, measure sales. Track phone calls, contacts, inquiries and purchases before a campaign, during, and after. Many times, people don’t take action until late in a campaign or after it’s done. They need to hear or see it several times to become familiar with it, trust it, and remember it. These numbers will give you a good picture of whether it’s working.

One more thing: Advertising and marketing take resources. It can take money, time, know-how, or a combination of all three. Look at what your budget will allow. It can be a tough decision to make, and you may wonder, can we afford it? Put down the numbers. Compare what’s happening now in sales to where you want to be. Then ask, can we afford not to advertise?





The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Sixth “M”, Media Strategy

Sixth “M”

Money: How Much Money Should You Spend On Marketing, And Can You Track the Return On Investment?

Piggy Bank with CoinsIndustry writers suggest spending an average of 5-10% on your marketing efforts. This includes advertising—TV, radio, social media ads, etc. —but isn’t limited to that. Other types marketing include networking, customer service, publicity, market research, video for your website, etc. It comes down to the details, for example, how the phone is answered, and can be as broad as an overall campaign that covers a year or more of marketing strategy.1

Another option to calculate how much to spend on advertising (the print, online ads that you do along with commercials) is to take 10% and 12% of your annual gross sales and multiply each calculation by the markup made on your average transaction. To calculate markup, divide gross profits by hard costs. Deduct your annual rent (or mortgage) from the 10% and 12% numbers, and that will give you the range to spend on your ads.2

Here are some questions to ask yourself while making a decision about how much to spend:

  • How much do we want to make this year?
  • How much improvement does our bottom line need over last year?
  • Will we lose money, customers, clients if we don’t do anything? If so, how much will that cost us?
  • Are there areas of our marketing that are working?
  • Are there areas that need a boost?
  • What areas don’t we do at all?

John Wanamaker once said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”3 This can be disconcerting, especially when asked to spend 5-10% of revenues on marketing. However, remember:

  1. Advertising—print, social media, outdoor, commercials, etc.— is only one part of marketing. Others include:
    • NetworkingColorful financial graphs and sales charts
    • Customer service
    • Market research
    • Sales
    • Public relations
    • Pricing
    • Packaging
    • Distribution
    • Relationship building
    • … and more of course
  2. There are a variety of ways to measure the return on advertising:
    • Set up a unique phone number to call in a print ad, or create a unique URL for an online landing page. Then you’ll know which media is being seen and used to contact your company.
    • In addition, make sure that everyone who has contact with clients and customers asks them how they heard about your company. A simple form, printed or digital, can be used to track this information.

As you track the sales generated by your marketing campaign, you can use the numbers to do a revenue to cost ratio, which is incremental revenue driven by a marketing campaign divided by the cost.4 For example, if it costs $1200 to run a pay-per-click ad campaign, and the campaign reaches 45,000 people, and 5 of those people become customers, spending an average of $1500 each on what your business offers, the revenue to cost ratio is 6.25x. 5x is considered a good return, 10x is excellent.

When considering the marketing for your company, and how much to spend, it’s important to have a plan. I often hear things like: “We spent $XX on newspaper ads and didn’t get any business from it”. Remember that it takes repeated messages to see results. With a plan, you can decide which media to use and how much to spend in each area.

Writing your own plan can be an option if you’re a small business on a tight budget and have some industry know-how, or you can hire someone to write it for you and work through the details. Having someone who’s experienced and knowledgeable to guide you can make all the difference in your efforts.

Marketing SuccessOnce the plan is put together, the budget committed, and the marketing started, the fun begins. And that’s learning about what’s working, what isn’t and why. And, experiencing the rewards through what IS working. That’s exciting!





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The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Fifth “M”, Media Strategy

Fifth “M”

Media Strategy: What Tools Will We Use?

Today’s media strategy is more complex and changes more quickly than that of the not-so-distant past. Traditionally, marketers worked with:
Television Signal Satellite

  • Television
  • Outdoor
  • Radio
  • Print

Today, we need to consider these channels along with online marketing, which includes (among others):

  • Social media
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Pay-per-click
  • Search engine optimization
  • Tablets
  • Mobile marketing

And of course, there are a myriad of miscellaneous areas that can be considered. For example, closed-circuit TV at health clubs, word-of-mouth, events and seminars, bus wraps, Power point presentations, demonstrations, etc.

So you’re probably wondering, “how do I choose?”  Consider your target market, and what types of media they may be using.  Consider your budget—how much do you have allocated to spend on marketing? Be realistic. To make something happen, it takes time and/or money.

Social media is considered “free” or low-cost, but does take time to keep up-to-date. Some companies have an employee or group of employees who can dedicate a block of time on a daily or weekly basis to updating social media sites, blogs, and other digital media. This can indirectly save money, but needs to be weighed against actual availability of these employees.

Pay-per-click ads can be priced according to your budget—creating and placing the ads and measuring the success will cost more in time or dollars to make this part of the strategy a success.

Traditional media can seem expensive, if compared to the seemingly “free” aspect of online, yet when adding up all the costs of time and expense, you may find that it’s quite comparable. And, research shows that consumers still use traditional media1 and trust traditional media more than online ads2.

Perhaps surprising, direct mail is still an effective way to communicate, with a response rate that is competitive with, and can out-perform, digital media.3

In most cases, it’s important to combine traditional and social media, to communicate with target markets on several levels. People respond to each type of media differently, remember them differently, engaging with them differently. As Tom Doctoroff says in his article Why Traditional Media Isn’t Dying, and 4 Other Myths of the Digital Era Dispelled: “Top-down shapes preference. Bottom-up deepens engagement—or time spent with an idea—that leads to loyalty.”

Woman using tablet onlineThe ability to engage interactively with digital media makes it an essential tool in your media strategy. And digital is not just for the young. There’s a high percentage of 45+ year-olds who are active on social media sites like Facebook. Yet the numbers who see and trust media like television and newspaper over online show how important it is to retain traditional forms of advertising. The adage “it takes seven ‘touches’ to make a sale” may not hold up in today’s fast-paced environment, but repeated connection with a customer, using a consistent and identifiable brand strategy, is important in building trust and creating a relationship with each customer.

When deciding on a media strategy, research will help to guide the way. Hiring a company that specializes in audience research, through a marketing company or stand-alone, will help tremendously. You can also use the internet to handle preliminary research, and/or the research to guide a small marketing plan. Whatever route you take, it will be an interesting and exciting experience as you discover how your target audience responds.




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The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Fourth “M”, Message Design

Fourth “M”

Message Design: What is the Creative Solution?

Creative StrategyYour creative strategy will encompass all of the ways that your message will be sent out to your audience, from print advertising, to outdoor, to television, to radio, to internet. The last, internet, encompasses social media, website, blog and online advertising. What’s important is to use a unified “voice”, with visual and audio resonating in the same tone and feel.

The tone of the creative will first depend on whether the message needs to be emotional or logical. The color palette can be chosen based on the ‘latest’ colors or on psychological cues. The copy writing can be warm and friendly or cool and factual. Photo and graphic choices also carry the feel, and standards need to be set to drive the choices of art: looking at camera, looking away from camera; close-up; clean; busy; puppies and babies; inanimate objects. Will you use an illustrative style or natural?

Color psychology is a fascinating topic by itself. Here are a few color meanings:Color Wheel-Psychological meanings of color

As you can imagine, a financial institution would use different colors than a restaurant or toy company in their visual design. What colors do you think each of these entities might use?

An example of a creative campaign that keeps the same “voice” and visual image throughout is the one that Progressive uses, with Flo as the spokesperson. Take a look at the website here:

Notice the blue that’s used in the logo, and how it’s used in other key spots in the website. As seen in the color wheel, blue denotes stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom … all positives for an insurance company’s look and feel. The website graphics are simple, colorful, clean, and keep the same friendly feel to the site that’s used in Flo’s conversational tone in the TV ads and her overall appearance.

As a secondary accent color, orange denotes enthusiasm and success, is the contrasting color to blue, and easily stands out in both the friendly “Welcome!” headline and in buttons that request the user to take action. The verbiage on the website keeps it friendly, is conversational and talks about what “you get”. It’s all about the reader’s “what’s in it for me” thought process. The tone, again, is similar to the audio tone on the television commercials and the video on the website:

The marketing creative for Progressive was built around the idea of “oh no, I don’t want to meet with an insurance agent, they just want to sell me something I don’t need.” Progressive turns that around with Flo into “my insurance agent is friendly, helps me, and cares about protecting me.”

Basic creative elements to consider:

  1. What consumer question is being answered
  2. Will the creative solution be based on:
    • Emotion
    • Logic
  3. Who is the target market?
  4. What do we want our customers to feel?
  5. What colors will work best to bring out those emotions?
  6. What type of art will work best:
    • Photos
    • Drawings
    • Combination
  7. What overall tone will the content take:
    • Serious
    • Fun
    • Caring
    • Scary
    • Personal, etc.
  8. What media will be used:
    • Social media
    • Website
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Newspaper
    • Email
    • Outdoor
    • Other

The creative encompasses everything about the company, beyond the marketing materials into the experience people have when they visit the your business, what colors, sounds, smells greet them as they walk in the door—whether yours is an office space or a retail business.

Once established, it’s important to keep the experience consistent, so that customers recognize it across experiences and over time. Yet, it must remain relevant, and the overall look, feel, voice will need to be refreshed periodically. Think of the creative strategy as living, growing, changing entity that encompasses your business and keeps your best foot moving forward.

The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Third “M”, Mission

Marketing Mission

Third “M”

Mission: What are you trying to achieve?

What you’re trying to achieve with your marketing can vary based on the business type and the end results you want. For example, a company selling widgets may want to increase sales by 25% over the next year. Or, they may want to create more awareness about their product to “spread the news” about the widgets. Thus creating a base of consumers who are familiar with the product and ultimately purchases the product and become “ambassadors” for the widgets, spreading the news to their friends. The goal of a service business may be to build relationships with potential clients, so that when a decision needs to be made, the clients will not only choose that company, but will stay with them for a long time. Or, they may want to educate clients about the services they offer and why those services are useful, or how they compare to competitors’ service offerings.

According to Nigel Hollis, marketing’s mission is to “make it meaningfully different.” How does your product or service compare to others on the market? What is your differentiator? How can you raise awareness (and sales) by a) enhancing the differences in what you offer and b) sharing that news with potential buyers? The other part of this equation is keeping your product or service salient in the minds of consumers—making sure that they remember what you offer, that your business, your product comes to mind first when they’re making a decision.

Dominos Pizza recently came out with a new campaign to raise awareness about their full line of products. They changed their name to Dominos and started running ads showing a wider array of menu items, and explaining that they changed their name because they serve more than just pizza. The Dominos mission: to let people know about the variety of foods on their menu.

Clarifying what the marketing mission is opens the door to choosing the marketing channels that will be used, and in crafting the message that will allow the mission to be carried out. Simple and important. What’s your mission?

The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Second “M”, Message

Second “M”

Message: What do you want to say to your market?

The message is more than telling your market that you and your product or service exist. It’s answering the question of why they should care, what’s in it for them? How does this particular product or service fit into their lives and benefit them? And, how can you use content to answer these questions for your customers? There are two approaches outlined by David Bell, one is rational and one is emotional. Tugging at the logical or tugging at the heart strings.

Rational Appeal

  • Spokesperson—a spokesperson can outline the benefits of a product or service to viewers, thus encouraging them to purchase. Famous people, well-known cartoons, even famous animals can represent a product. Check out this video for an example employing Mr. Ed, the talking horse:
  • Testimonial—customer testimonials, whether anonymous or indicating the name of the customer, can go a long way in building trust in a brand. Trying a new product or service can be a challenge and financial commitment and it’s helpful to hear from others who had success with it. This moves the “unknown” closer to the sphere of the “known”.
  • Comparative advertising—comparing a product or service to those of the competitors, outlining the benefits of yours and the weaknesses of theirs, can be an effective communication. But be prepared, the competitor may respond publicly.
  • Demonstration—showing how to use a product increases knowledge of how to use it and hopefully interest in using it. Check out the iFetch video here
    — it certainly looks like fun!

Emotional Appeal

  • Negative emotions—think cigarette ads, safety belt ads, and political ads. While not pleasant to watch or listen to, these messages are powerful and can be effective in getting people to take action in the way they suggest. There is a ‘science’ to using negative ads though, and frequency and intensity play a part in how well they work, or if they don’t work at all.
  • Positive emotions—delivering messages that call to positive emotions is another way to bring the heart into a product or service brand. It’s easy to see when watching ads like this one from the 2015 Super Bowl depicting images of “dads” for Dove’s Men + Care products why positive emotions are powerful in delivering a marketing message:

When crafting your message, know your market well so you can pay attention to what you want to say about your product, be clear and simplify the language that you use, make it call out to the customers’ needs and/or desires, and help it resonate with them on a logical or emotional level.

The 7 M’s of Marketing. The First “M”, Market

According to Professor David Bell*, the 7 M’s of Marketing are:

  1. Market
  2. Message
  3. Mission
  4. Message Design
  5. Media Strategy
  6. Money
  7. Measurement

In this series of articles, I’ll define what each of these M’s refers to.

The First “M”

Market: Defining your target market

Target MarketYour target market, or audience, is the customer who will purchase your services or products. In order to write a marketing strategy that does the heavy lifting for you, you’ll need to be specific about who your audience is. While it’s tempting to say everyone, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to market to such a broad group. Most businesses have a marketing budget they’d like to use effectively, and narrowing the audience will allow you to use that budget to bring in the people most likely to purchase from you.

Let’s start with what your business offers. Who uses it, and who would likely use it? Consider these demographics** of customers and potential customers:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Geographic Location
  • Education
  • Family Circumstances
  • Education
  • Occupation

Write out a few profiles of who your target market is. For example, if your company is an assisted living facility that accepts rehab patients, your customer may be:

Independent living senior adult femaleMargo—Margo has been living independently in her home and up until a week ago was driving herself to church, the grocery store, managing her finances, and taking care of her house on her own. However, she fell and injured her hip while walking her small dog. Her recovery will take time and she needs a place to live while recuperating. She’d like to be close to her neighborhood and friends.

Mother/daughter assisted livingStephanie—Stephanie’s mother has been living on her own in a senior independent living apartment. Stephanie has been able to help her when needed, for example to carry in groceries or drive her to doctors’ appointments. Lately, Stephanie’s mother has been forgetting to take her medication, and has lost weight. Stephanie asked her mother’s doctor to evaluate her, and the evaluation came back showing early stages dementia. Stephanie needs help with her mother, and would like her mother to be around more people in order to have a social network. Stephanie would like her mother’s new home to be close to where she lives so it’s easy to get there to spend time with her.

You can see from the profiles above how helpful this exercise can be in determining who might purchase. These descriptions can help you narrow down your customer demographics:

  • Age: 45-80+
  • Gender: Primarily female but also male
  • Geographic location: Living within 5 miles of the assisted living facility
  • Family Circumstances: Adult children of customers

The more information you can gather about your target market, the easier it will be to put together the message and media you need to reach them. In the next blog, I’ll discuss the second “M”: Message.