Tag Archives: marketing goals

failure-to-communicate

Three Marketing Communication Lessons from “Cool Hand Luke”

There are nine words uttered not only about an iconic movie hero but also by many of us engaged in the delivery of marketing communication.

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

It was my daughter who suggested we watch the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” because she had heard many cultural references and wanted to see what it was about. As a movie lover, I’m always up for a classic flick, especially if it features a young Paul Newman (who, with his southern drawl and devil-may-care attitude, continually reminded me of Matthew McConoughy in his day).

In case you haven’t seen it, Newman plays the title role, a man sent to a southern work jail for vandalizing parking meters in a drunken haze one night. Luke is an irrepressible rebel, who first provokes, then gradually earns the respect of his fellow inmates. The quintessential quote from the movie occurs in a scene when Luke smarts off to one of the overseers, “Captain”, played by Strother Martin. Captain roughly shoves him down a hill in an attempt to discipline him and then explains to the men nearby who are looking on as a way of explanation, “What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach.”

You can’t help but feel the corners of your mouth twitch upward. It’s a dark, comedic moment. There was no communication problem, of course. Luke heard everything the warden ever said, including a speech about how he “better get used to those chains clinking” and never try to escape. (Luke also reprises the quote right before…well, I won’t spoil it for you!). The problem was not the communication, but the fact that the communication was ignored. Luke heard, but didn’t obey. (Nor would he ever, which is why he was such a great character to watch!)

But if you’re an entrepreneur, in sales or even on a marketing team in your company, you can understand the frustration of dealing with “one-way” communication. When you send a blog post, social media message or eblast into the world and nobody replies (or only a small number do) you can easily become disheartened. Did you waste all that time, effort and budget for nothing?

The answer, in my opinion, is always “no”. Anytime you communicate, even if it is one-way, you make an impression, which can be the beginning of a meaningful dialogue. But how do we move the needle from our audience “hearing” our message to actually “acting” on it? It’s the $64 million dollar question isn’t it? It’s never in our complete control…but there are a few things we can do to move the needle.

Tell them again and again. I read a statistic once that it takes 5-7 impressions of your brand for people to recognize it. Repetition is key, which is why any communication effort is never wasted. While it may not garner an immediate response, it can indeed make the all important first impression, or it can be the final impression that convinces them to pick up the phone. Either way, it is never a wasted effort.

Telling them “again and again” requires a marketing strategy. The specifics of the what, where, when and how all play into the success of the communication and should be carefully considered. In Luke’s case, he received the message that he better not try to escape from the jail repeatedly, but it fell on deaf ears. This may happen too, but we never want people to call your competitor because they were not aware of your offering. They need to be told…many times.

Tell them in different ways. In the biz, we call these the communication channels. Your website is one channel you are probably already using to give everyone your message, but how else can you reach your audience? Are they on social media? At the trade show? At special events? A new marketing piece? Your message will only be effective if you place it where your audience will see it. For example, choose your social media channels carefully; if your audience is on Twitter, rather than Facebook, that’s where your message should be.

Tell them what to do. This is an incredibly simple yet overlooked principle by many entrepreneurs or marketing newbies. We call it the “call to action.” After you deliver your message, tell your audience what to do next, i.e., click here, call today for a consultation, fill out our quote form. A call to action does more than just reap your reward. By offering a suggestion, you actively engage the reader to make a conscious decision to act or not act, rather than just go on to the next thing. For a split second, they need to consider the validity of your request in regard to their situation. Otherwise they just read or hear your message and think, “that’s nice” and go on to the next thing. It only makes sense that you would be more concerned with their reaction to your message than they would be. Ask for what you want or you may not get it.

All things considered, the Captain wasn’t a bad communicator. He delivered his message repeatedly, and through the use of clubs, tracking hound dogs, armed guards, etc. he subtly told Luke in many different ways that if he tried to escape, there would be consequences. He also was clear about what he wanted: unconditional subordination, which was something Luke couldn’t give.

We too will craft beautiful blogs, amazing marketing campaigns and the most dynamic, interactive website you can imagine and the engagement statistics may fall short of our expectations. But we should remember that while we may not actually see the full effect of our efforts, we will have undeniably accomplished one very substantial goal. Contrary to what the Captain may say, we will have skillfully demonstrated our ability to communicate.

Karen Dix is the owner of Big Ideas Writing, a content development and marketing strategy firm. Visit at www.bigideaswriting.com.

Write Down Your Goals in 2017

So we’re already two months into 2017. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions?

I know that for myself, setting achievable, meaningful goals can give me a real boost. Whether it’s a diet or a marketing strategy, one thing makes a big difference in whether or not I achieve my result….writing it down.

It is proven that writing down your goals can improve your focus, prioritize things, identify where you can enhance your efforts and make realistic improvements. In fact, some studies have shown that you are 47 percent more likely to reach your goal if it is written down. This works the same for personal as well as business goals and the reason why is also explained in the study. Put simply, riting down our goals connects the imaginative and logical side of our brain, thus putting both to work on the job in our consciousness to achieve our goal.

That’s why it’s extra important in business to write out your goals, especially for marketing. Have a written plan for the year that encompasses your social media, advertising, and any promotional projects. Need some tips to get started? Try these!

  1. Plan six months ahead… or more. The idea behind writing down goals is to look at the big picture. That means planning beyond this week or next.
  2. Make your goals achievable and meaningful. These will keep you motivated and organized, to produce better results.
  3. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what…and when. Throwing something onto a plan without assigning a responsible party is like leaving a car running without a driver. You won’t get anywhere!
  4. Don’t overthink it. You don’t need a complicated plan, but make sure you include specific details that can act as milestones. A Microsoft excel spreadsheet, for example, may help to keep you organized and can be easily shared with others in your company so that they know what they are working toward.
  5. Find connections. Writing down your goals can help you see connections between projects, and streamline your plans for marketing. For example, you will be able to plan all your social media, eblasts, etc. in advance of any special events you may be planning.

For my clients who want to initiate multiple programs simultaneously, I always advise they put together a marketing calendar. This is a schedule of when you will release new content, post on social media about business, send out e-blasts, etc. where they can see connections.  I recently helped a client create a marketing calendar and have attached the marketing calendar template for your own use. Take a look and see for yourself how writing down tangible, focused goals for your marketing can be easy and effective.

Even though its February, you can still create a solid plan for 2017. If you need a marketing makeover, or help developing goals, strategies and priorities for your company’s marketing, Big Ideas Writing can help. Contact us at 630.778.6182.

Why Content Writers Create Great Marketing Strategy

 

I was speaking recentlyMagnet with the owner of an agency who helps companies with the creation and implementation of corporate marketing plans. We were discussing the possibilities of using my services to manage some of his marketing projects. As we discussed ideas, he said something I had never heard verbalized before: “You know, content writers make the best program managers,” he said.

I knew exactly what he meant.  Yet I had never put it that way myself. Then after thinking about it, I decided to think it through and it makes perfect sense. Why?

Content writers are all about the message.  Let’s face it, if you are creating a marketing communications piece, you want to send the right marketing messaging to the right audience. You can put out all the blogs, videos, etc. you want but if they don’t speak to your audience, nothing will happen. Content writers understand this, and it is the bread and butter of what we do. We craft the messages that get your audience to do something…and now!

Content is at the root of many a marketing program. When I started my business four years ago, I strictly sought editorial, content writing, editing and proofreading jobs. Now, at the request of my clients, I manage marketing programs that feature content like blogs, Eblast campaigns, social media campaigns and more. Content is at the heart of these efforts so a content writer should be too! This is especially key when a client has a need to broadcast one message across multiple communication  channels, like website content, printed collateral pieces, video content and social media. I personally do this by partnering with exceptional professionals who share my passion for creative communication. Seems like program management is a natural extension of my skills!

Good content writers can also spin a message on a dime. If the first headline isn’t working, we’ve got more waiting in the wings. Again, who decides if you need a change in, say, the headline? Probably your success metrics, as analyzed by the program manager. And if your program manager is also your content writer, well…you eliminate the middle man. How’s that for efficiency? Good content writers are a fount of creativity, flexibility and versatility.

Content Writers think conceptually. We content writers do more than write. We consider the effect our words have on others. We explore options of communication to get our point across, like different media channels, graphic design or sensory experiences. All that big sky thinking is essential for the success of an integrated campaign. And we’ve got it down pat!

I agree that content writers make the best marketers. Maybe that’s why I’ve grown comfortable in my role as the content writer-program manager. If you’re looking for a content writer with a flair for marketing strategy, let’s talk. Contact me today!

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR YOUR CONTENT MARKETING? NOT SO FAST!

content-marketing-resolutionIt’s the start of the new year which leads us all to think about the year ahead and make resolutions, both personally  and professionally. It’s also a time that many of us set goals for our content marketing in the coming year.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of goal-setting deadlines, mainly because they often force us to come up with “a solution” before we’re ready. Sure, we can amend our lackluster attempts later on while we enjoy the feeling of accomplishment for making our deadline. However, as my mother always said, “haste makes waste.” When it comes to setting your marketing goals for 2014, I advocate a slower, more methodical approach. In fact, I’m not unashamed to admit that I don’t quite have my marketing goals solidified for 2014. I will though. Soon.

The best way to achieve anything is to have a process, and I plan to use this “four-parter”.

First, look at the year in review.  This is a no-brainer, right?  Well, maybe not. If you were working without a clear plan in the past, you will probably notice a pattern of knee-jerk responses to possible opportunities throughout the year.  If you had a plan, hopefully you can look at your KPIs (key performance indicators) to reveal your success or failure in each area.  Either way, let the past be your guide as you consider your new content marketing goals for 2014.

Second, look at your target audiences and demographics.  Did you reach them? Are you reaching them adequately? Have they changed over the years or in 2013? If you are now offering a new product or service, you must connect with a new audience by using existing channels of communication, or by putting new ones in place to do the job.  To evaluate whether or not you have succeeded in reaching your audiences, you can check your social media or blog sites for increases in positive actions such as “likes” and “followers” and by checking the health and demographic information of your company’s database.

Third, evaluate your current marketing channels in place.  Did they perform adequately for you? If not, what is missing?  Do you need to try something new (and possibly scary) such as video, mobile marketing, social media or a blog?  Sometimes this is a hard question to answer, and a marketing professional or professional content writer can guide you in the right direction. Making the jump to a new format can be scary but the results can be life-changing for any company.  If the time is right, make it a goal in 2014.

Finally, set your goals!  A company’s marketing goals usually include quantifiable projections for increases in sales, new products, territory, etc. In the case of content marketing, sometimes augmenting existing efforts rather than launching new ones, can make a powerful difference. For example, in the case of a content marketing strategy, you may have a blog but fail to post regularly so it is difficult to determine customer response.  You may have a well-designed website but you are failing to capture visitor information.  Is there an area of interest for your customers that you have not touched upon in your content marketing? It may make a worthwhile content marketing goal for 2014.

There are many considerations for setting goals for your 2014 content marketing. How do you do create yours? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you need help with your content marketing efforts in 2014, I’m here to help!  Contact me.