Tag Archives: marketing

Are You Marketing to Single Men Properly?

Written by Jason Francis

You Leave A Lot of Money on the Floor By Not Marketing to Single Young Men

For years we’ve been told that the focus of marketing needs to solely geared towards women. They are viewed as the decision makers when it comes to the family shopping and, generally speaking, the average woman spends more on their personal items then men do. Those facts notwithstanding, you’re still doing yourself a disservice ignoring the male demographic. Guys do more than BBQ burgers, hot dogs and chicken to watch sports. Now don’t get me wrong, we greatly enjoy those things but the modern man is far more diverse than that. Marketers need to step back and take a closer look at how we live our lives so they can better connect with our daily experience.

The key to effectively engaging the single young man of today is to let go of the outdated beliefs that have for centuries been attributed to being a man. You’re not selling to Al Bundy here. Today’s single man is fashion-forward. He is technologically aware and indulges in pleasures in a manner very similar  to women. By this, I mean his personal upkeep is an area to focus on. Hair care, which includes shaving, is very important. Along with that, skin care is a major area of attention for single men as well. If he is out and enjoying a social life, it’s a safe bet the ladies he interacts with take notice of the condition of his skin. You can also include men fragrances into that mix. When given the opportunity, we actually prefer smelling good and again, those that interact with us, enjoy it as well.

Besides the personal upkeep items for men, you also have to understand that we are very mobile, quick-moving, task-orientated creatures. We don’t enter stores without any idea of what we want. We get in and get out with very little browsing. To that extent, mobile technology is a major tool for us. Apps that streamline activities and simplify everyday duties are a major marketing opportunity. It’s all about multitasking. Travel is an ideal example of this. Much of the wearable tech coming out speaks to the traveling, off-road adventurer. Digital eyewear and fitted cap cams are ideal for capturing the activities of an enjoyable active vacation. The audio market of designer headphones or the fitness field that is allowing for greater vital stat measuring via sports bands is big on the active man’s want list.

From a business standpoint, it will always be a bigger gain to target women. I wouldn’t even attempt to argue that. However, to ignore the male market is to leave money on the table that is ready to be spent. All people like nice things. There is no monopoly on enjoyment and pleasure. Men are not the monolithic cave men of times passed. Their engagement is something that marketers should value highly. Single men are viewed as leaders within their social circles and their influence does lead others to act as well. Market towards men and see the return on your investment.

About The Writer: Jason Francis is a Writer, Blogger and Social Media consultant. He specializes in connecting the rapidly growing world of digital media and entrepreneurship via social media. His site www.TheSocialMediaSamurai.com speaks on a number of social, technical and professional issues that affect the lives of young business people. In addition to this, he helps manage the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an international collective with over 7000 members worldwide.

 

Dads are Getting Schooled

There were more than 2 million stay-at-home dads in the US in 2012. With more dads participating in more school activities, the traditional, “mom exclusive,” messaging for back-to-school advertising just doesn’t cut it anymore. Brands need to craft a message that influences the entire family, in a “We’re in this together” style. But how?

Holly Pavilka’s interview with Tim Sullivan, President of School Family Mobile introduces the changing demographic and getting connected with the person holding the family’s purse strings.  Tim says, ” Dad is typically a dolt or never home.  Just like moms making lunches and driving mini vans.  We need to identify dad in more realistic ways.”  Here are five ways on how to do this:

  • use humor: show dad joking and having fun with his family
  • portray dad as confident
  • use messaging that is pointed and quick
  • showcase dad as problem solver–emotional and thoughtful
  • present dad as connected and not reliant on mom to save him

To see more ways on how brands should approach this new messaging and portray dads, read Holly’s article, Dads are Getting Schooled, on MediaPost.

Where to Focus Your Marketing Efforts When Targeting Hispanics

Written by Natalia Carter

I still remember my first marketing class when I had to organize a business strategy. The most important page was where we have to define the target, as it is the key to designing all the sales tactics. This has not changed. But considering that my classes were taken in Colombia, there were many points that now, as resident of the United States, we did not consider. The American market is characterized as multicultural. We are talking about a country of immigrants. And where once a minority, Hispanic immigrants now make up a large part of the population. Most brands have been working to connect with and sell to this demographic, with mixed results.  So this begs the question where should you focus your target efforts when your audience is Hispanic?

To answer this question we must first recognize that over 60% of Hispanics in this country have Mexican heritage. As a result, there is a general preference for a certain kind of language. In the case of those Hispanics with Mexican heritage, it is the Spanish spoken in Mexico. As a rule, when a brand is specifically targeting a group of people it is preferable to keep the language spoken in that country. Once this is understood, we must then consider the next useful classification: age.

Usually Hispanics over 45 years old reported feeling more comfortable buying when the message is transmitted in their first language. They are also more likely to watch TV and be influenced by commercials. Also, word of mouth is still popular. On the other hand, the younger audience is not only bilingual, but they speak English more often. And though commercials are effective with younger audiences, those with the involvement of a celebrity are more seen as more trustworthy. Recently, social networks have also gained space in this younger sector. Facebook and Twitter are the most noteworthy.  From surfing the net to looking for reviews about products and services, use has increased significantly. And this is where the importance of blogging has seen tremendous gains.

Given the above information, and the rapid changes in communications technology, brands must now focus on meeting their customers where they are and not where they want them to be. In the past, companies were the ones who decided that where, when, and how customers would be reached.  They dictated the communication.  Today, the story is quite different. Brands must be alert and constantly analyze the platforms their audiences prefer.

Natalia Carter is a social media professional with more than 5 years experience creating social media campaigns and blog content on her site, Comiendo en LA.  Born and raised in Colombia, she and her family moved to Spain when she was young. It was there that she learned the wonders of travel, meeting new people, and Spanish food. Natalia has a degree in Business from CESA in Bogotá, Colombia. After living in different countries, she finally settled in Los Angeles. The city’s beauty, people, and rich cultures sparked her decision to create her blog which is now a hub for Hispanic foodies.  You can tweet her at @ComiendoEnLA

The 10 Commandments of Marketing to Moms

The power of today’s social media-connected moms is never going to go away. If anything it will continue to grow. According to a study by comScore and BabyCenter, more than 90% of moms use social media regularly and of course, those are moms with children under the age of 18. Last Year, eMarketer estimated this group to be an astounding 35.7 million women. Many of today’s Millennial mothers have grown up digital and followed many professional bloggers. Together, they represent an estimated $2.4 trillion dollar market. But despite the focus on mom as a demographic and her spending power, most brands are still not getting it right when it comes to connecting with her. Insights in Marketing i-on-women conducted research that showed only about 9% of women think advertisers are marketing to them effectively.

1. Work with moms to get it right.

You’re never going to get it right unless you talk to and ideate with moms. You need to solicit their ideas. The beauty of social media is it’s easy to find them and to connect with them. Research and studies will give you clues, but not the rich real conversation moms will bring, bring them into your headquarters and ask for their contribution and collaboration.

2. Keep it real.

Sure you’ve heard this before but look around at some of the marketing to moms. Real, is real inspirational stories. Relatable content. Relevant content. Useful content. Not manufactured, retouched or artificial.

3. Answer her when she’s reaching out.

Engage with your audience. A study by Acuity Group showed 73% of customer tweets go unanswered. What a missed opportunity. RedBull, a brand more associated with Millennials and daredevils, is terrific at listening and responding. My daughter was mugged for her latte and it blew up Twitter for a few minutes with 100+ tweets but not a word from Starbucks. Two other brands, on the other hand, responded with $5 gift cards because they wanted my daughter to know there were still good people in the world. If you take a look at the brands moms love, they typically are ones who are listening and responding.

4. Follow the moms that follow you back.

Ratios, schmatios! When it comes to connecting to moms, brands need to follow the moms back. Stop thinking you are a celebrity or is part of the cache and get real with your advocates. It’s the first step in the relationship particularly if you want to grow an audience of moms.

5. Always layer in authentic conversation around your traditional campaigns.

The days where brands can just rely on traditional advertising messages are gone. Today, a blog post or tweet a mom writes mentioning your brand is an ad. These organic, authentic real stories and conversation need to be layered in along with your traditional media. These are the messages she trusts.

6. Never market to them as a niche.

There’s no one-size-fits-all mom. You can’t say, “Here’s something all of you will like.” There are Millennial moms, Boomer moms, second-life moms, Latina moms … moms of every imaginable kind. Don’t stereotype and lump us into a singular “mom” bucket or you’ll miss the mark every time.

7. Remember she’s intelligent.

Many stay-at-home moms are educated and have chosen family over career in many cases. With the economy being what it is, many moms are the primary breadwinners in their families. We like to talk about more than diapers, potty training or children. We have interests beyond gardening, cooking and reading books. Look at the types of blogs that are out there–everything from politics, business, women’s health issues and more.

8. Keep it beautifully simple.

When you’re busy, you need simplicity, and moms are hyper-taskers. Make it complicated, and you’ll lose them every time. One of the reasons Pinterest is popular with women is its simple design and the curation of relevant content, but it’s also because it’s pleasing to the eye. We appreciate good esthetics.

9. Balance emotional messaging with pragmatic information.

She still wants to be inspired, but she’s also pragmatic. She does her homework before making a purchase. It’s part of the job of being a mom – making informed choices. Over and over, the Dove campaign comes up because it does such a beautiful job of combining the emotional with the rational.

10. Remember it’s about story-selling.

Place the information within reach, and let her make a decision. Marketing to moms is about telling stories, not selling. Tell how it fits in her life, layer in people’s stories, give the back story on the product – she likes details, showcase testimonials and reviews. Sprinkle in lifestyle photos of the product in use, not just beautifully lit photos of the product. All of these tell a story.

Originally seen on Media Post.

Grab a Hand and Jump into The Era of Blog Marketing

Written by Mary Tarczynski

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune of participating in the first annual Hub Brand Experience Symposium in New York City.  I was amazed at how many great brands now incorporate customer-generated content and blog marketing into their marketing plans, all in ways very unique to their brand.

In her Sept 16 blog post, Holly Pavlika shared examples from Mark –Hans Richer, Harley Davidson’s CMO, on how brand inconsistency can actually help build brands among very diverse target groups.  In contrast, Mary Beech shared very consistent marketing examples from Kate Spade New York, a strong “live colorfully” brand voice that permeates everything from internal culture to handbags to “staff picks” to playlists.  What was common among the two?  Real conversation, real time, every day.

Paul Kramer of Catapult reminded us of the age-old balance between the “art and science” of advertising. While functional benefits have a role in brand definition and communication it’s the emotional connection that creates lasting brand value.  The campaign of feeding the shelter dogs far surpassed the results of their earlier more “scientific” approach to Pedigree dog food creative that focused on dietary needs and functional benefits of the ingredients.  Shopper connection and social sharing of these stories further strengthened the emotional bond.

Marc Speichert from L’Oreal (3rd biggest advertiser in the US) presented several examples from the beauty category which is perfect for customer “how to” video sharing. In fact one of their highly followed YouTube influencers, a 25-year-old named Michelle Phan, now has her own line of products.   L’Oreal also created an innovative Facebook toolkit to assist small salon partners in connecting with their customers.  The toolkit includes a salon finder and appointment-booking tool along with L’Oreal company product info.

Mark Addicks of General Mills said their mantra is for brands to be remarkable, as in “worthy of remark.”  Does the brand make you want to tell someone else about it? While some brand attributes, like Betty Crocker who has always helped make a house a home, are timeless, others like pursuits and activities should be timely – connecting and adding value in today’s rapidly changing multicultural world.

Stephanie Gallo of E&J Gallo showed us how Barefoot Wine rocketed to number one in the US via local community brand ambassadors who simply started talking about and sampling the brand among their friends and interest groups, making wine less elitist and more approachable for all.

Of course no marketing conference in this era would be complete without a discussion on big data and how we are still not taking full advantage of listening and targeting opportunities.  One team doing this well is NASCAR.  CMO Steve Phelps talked about their Charlotte Based Social Command Center.  The Center is staffed with 3 employees 10 hours a day so they can immediately analyze and respond to all fan conversations.  This is centered on their unifying NASCAR marketing theme of  “driver star power,” showcasing these homegrown heroes and connecting them with their fans.

You don’t need a high tech destination to get started.   Simply start listening to the conversation and jump in.  Customers want real relationships with brands, they will reward your brand’s authenticity and transparency with their loyalty.

 

 

 

 

 

Influencers versus Inserts: Is Blog Marketing the Future?

Written by Ted Rubin

The co-founder of Collective Bias, John Andrews, recently told Marketing Daily that there are changes in the wind regarding shopper and blog marketing and the last bastion of print media advertising to still be alive and kicking, the Free-Standing Insert (FSI) .

It’s amazing to me the amount of money that’s still dumped into coupons and inserts in the retail space. According to the global market research company Kantar Media, more than $419 billion in consumer incentives were delivered via FSI coupons, with retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreens taking top position. However, with print newspapers shutting down circulation and the shift in consumer focus from print and television to internet and social channels, I think the writing’s on the wall. It’s just that brands don’t know where to put those dollars yet, and it’s comfortable to hold onto whatever print vehicle is still giving somewhat of a return—especially during tough economic times.

Marketing folks predicted a faster shift to digital mediums, but circulars are still a stubborn holdout. John thinks the “Print Cliff” is coming, and he predicts 2013 will be the year everything starts to change.  So where will brands shift their current FSI marketing dollars?

With people spending more time online, sharing on social platforms and accessing information using mobile devices, the smart money will be in attracting influencers in the digital media space to recommend products and services. However, that requires a different mindset than the traditional “interruption advertising” mentality. Today’s consumers like interesting, contextual content, recommendations, reviews and information when they’re seeking to buy something—and they can find pages and pages of it by searching online. That’s where brands need to be. While their customers still use coupons and incentives, they’re looking for them in the digital space—not in print circulars.

That’s why Collective Bias was formed— to create New Media options that position brands in the space that’s gaining the most traction with today’s shoppers. Taking advantage of the power of the social graph (and integrating it with what we call the “Family graph”) for generating, at scale, targeted, contextual influencer content in a story telling narrative. Done in a way shoppers like to receive it… such as blog posts, how-to videos, attractive photo montages. We’re seeing brands increasingly grow returns on their marketing dollars in this format as they make a gradual shift away from print.

I don’t think it will be too long before the FSI will go the way of the dinosaur. In a few years most of them will not even be available, but digital influencer content can serve as a viable alternative. Established bloggers and other influencers concentrate on giving value, and their audiences trust them to keep providing that value. That’s where today’s consumers are going. By developing relationships with micro-media publishers, who as a group create content strategically, and shifting to “advertorial” content rather than advertising pitches, you can avoid throwing marketing dollars off the fast-approaching print cliff, and begin using those dollars more efficiently and effectively.

Inserts still have some life left, so I don’t think this is going to take place overnight. But trust me—it’s only a matter of time. Smart brands are already moving in the direction of emotionally connected content, social sharing and relationship building… and seeing dramatic results. Feel free to reach out and let us show you at Collective Bias… or read about some of them in my new book, Return on Relationship.

A Secret to Innovation: Childlike Imagination

Written by Ted Rubin

Need inspiration to do a better job of marketing, collaborating and growing a better future for your business? Then observe your kids (or somebody else’s kids if yours are grown). The kind of imagination we had as children tends to get put away as we grow older—but as a father who cherishes every moment I can get with my kids, I see the need for it more and more. And I’ve learned TONS of things from just watching my children interact that can (and should) be applied to growing a business.

For instance, kids are natural explorers—they’re open to ideas—they’re spontaneous. They play constantly. And it’s when they’re in a state of play that they’re the most focused and creative. We need to play MORE in order to get out of our adult box, build stronger relationships and let those creative juices flow.

At a talk recently I asked the question, “Do you think you’re a great artist?” Not many adults raised their hands, but I made the point that if you ask a room full of kids the same question, just about EVERY hand goes up! They don’t just think, they know that they’re great drawers. They don’t have self-imposed limitations, and they can’t wait to share their creations. Plus, they bond instantly with each other. Just think about the possibilities for your business if you could “let go” and tap into that childlike enthusiasm! Some companies are already doing it—and getting great results.

You’ve probably seen the astonishing pictures of Google’s workspaces. They need their employees to be on top of their game—always innovating—so their work environment is more like an elementary school kid’s dream than an office space. Bright primary colors, lots of open space, slides to get you from one floor to another, video game rooms, pool tables… seems to be counterintuitive to “getting things done at work” right? Well, they’ve got exactly the right idea for turning on their employees’ creative mojo, and it works! Look at all the innovation that comes out of them! A bunch of their initiatives might end up on the cutting room floor, but they’re always moving and shaking because the company has created the perfect environment for the creative brain.

You don’t have to have Google’s budget to do this, either. Start with yourself. If you get a chance, sit in on a young child’s birthday party or in an elementary school classroom and just watch them. Really watch them. What happens when new kids come into the room? They immediately run to the group and start interacting. If somebody’s building with blocks, suddenly you’ve got a whole table full building right along with him, with comments like: “What if we did it this way?” “Wow, that looks cool—let’s put some cars in here.” “What would happen if we put that umbrella on top?” Sounds like a think tank, doesn’t it?

By just observing how kids interact, imagine and play, you can come away with some ideas on creating a fun, collaborative environment in your business—things that really bear fruit. Unleashing a childlike imagination in a playful environment is where new products get invented, ideas germinate, and collaborative bonds become established. Is it any wonder that lots of profitable business partnerships are formed in social environments? When you can tap into the inner child, feed the source of creativity/imagination, and build relationships, anything is possible.

Now We’re Cooking Social Media…With Gas!

BradLawless, CollectiveBias, social media, marketing, shopper marketing

Last week I had the privilege of speaking about social media to a group of marketing and communications professionals at the Southern Gas Association Marketing and Customer Experience Conference.

I’ve given similar presentations a number of times in the past and led a discussion not dissimilar from those we have with clients. Social media and content marketing are not the tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest that get all the attention from mainstream media. Effective social strategies create real relationships between your brand and your customers or clients. Companies who understand this leverage those headline-generating tools to add value to their customers’ lives.

At the SGA event, I found myself in a room of 30 or so folks all wondering how to use social to talk about more than utility rates and service outages in a heavily regulated industry. We discussed the role that Twitter can play in crisis communications; in times of true emergencies, companies and citizens alike publish news via this microblogging platform at lightening speeds compared to the broadcast news. Pinterest also came up as a highly engaging way to add value for gas customers. Imagine a company that posted photos of innovative kitchen designs (that featured gas appliances) or that showcased new homes with the latest energy efficient technologies (many of which may have nothing to do with natural gas.)

Companies that move in this direction will win as they transform in customer’s eyes from a standard provider of a commodity product into a trusted resource for inspiration and information. As our session ended, the attendees left the room with more questions than when they arrived, and that was a good thing. Instead of seeking the next new widget to put on their website, they left thinking about how to engage their customers in a conversation…one that leads to real relationships and adds value for everyone.

Suggestions for Crowdsourcing Content

Written by Ted Rubin

Every business needs content in order to be found in search, and to differentiate them from the competition. Without quality, helpful content (and lots of it), you’re lost in a school of fish that are all the same color. Who’s going to find you? Who’s going to pick you?

The trouble with content development is that it can be expensive. Website copy, blog articles, e-books, reports—they all take time and effort (and dollars) to produce. However without them, you really can’t do an effective job of marketing your business—especially in the social age. It’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg syndrome. The more social our businesses become, the more we need that variety of content that speaks to our listeners and helps them solve their problems so we can A: get their attention, and B: develop relationships with them.

The bad news is that most companies still don’t understand the relationship between content marketing and relationship building. Investing in content is absolutely essential—whether you’re writing it in-house or outsourcing it, and I personally believe bloggers create some of the most engaging, relevant, and worthwhile content for brands when managed strategically. The good news is that if you know who your customers are and where they look for and share content, you can use crowdsourcing to have others help you write the kind of truly helpful stuff that your market is looking for. Developing a steady stream of user-generated content isn’t free, but the BEST news is that this type of content is trusted by more people and produces better return than most advertising that uses “marketing speak.”

Here are a few suggestions for crowdsourcing content:

Blogger Outreach: There are two ways to approach this. I’ve seen some companies (like manufacturers or retailers) have their marketing directors research influential bloggers in their niche and pitch them on doing reviews of their products—offering to send a sample to use. However, this can be hit-or-miss, not very efficient and it does not incorporate story telling, or insert the product in the lives of the users. Another way to approach it (and the one I prefer) is to develop relationships with a set of bloggers, and pay them to create the content around a strategic set of goals and incorporated into lifestyle. Bloggers are micro publishers and deserve to get paid for their work. I think this approach to blogger outreach produces the best results if you want a constant stream of relevant, user-generated, authentic content. It requires a great deal of management, relationship building and strategy, but can be outsourced and managed with the right partner.

Blog Interaction: On your own blog, floating a concept or question about your brand and asking for responses can be a good way to encourage subscriber interaction. You never know when a really good response will trigger a connection and deeper conversation. I often find that asking and answering these kinds of questions (both on my blog and others) leads to more relationships, which results in more content-building opportunities. Always be thinking of ways to encourage response…. and make the questions, and the process, EASY!

Video/Visual Contests: Using Contests on social platforms such as YouTube or Pinterest can encourage user-generated videos or photo boards that portray your brand in positive light. I wouldn’t put all my eggs into this basket, but it can be a fun way to garner graphic and video content you can use in other places to build the kind of “social proof” that helps you win hearts and minds.

Co-authoring thought leadership pieces: This is where your relationship rubber meets the road, so to speak. Co-authoring books and e-books with a peer (or set of peers) requires that you have a solid relationship with your co-author(s), which will stand the stress of time-management issues and headaches that go along with getting published. However, the result of a successful collaboration here can garner wonderful results that would be difficult to achieve if you had to do it all yourself. We’re all stressed for time, so think of ways you can reach out to your peers and colleagues to crowdsource all kinds of thought-leadership pieces, such as case studies, white papers, e-books, books, webinars and videos.

You can see that all of these examples rely on collaboration—which is the cornerstone to getting the best Return on Relationship. In my opinion, planning a good content strategy should always include finding ways to crowdsource, whether it’s tapping your customers to find out what their needs are or how they view your industry, to building on your relationships with your peers to produce thought-leadership pieces. At the end of the day, your content should make everyone you deal with (your prospects AND your peers) comfortable with your brand—and using input from others to create value-oriented content can be a good way to make your brand more approachable (for more on this, check out the video (ROR: Return on Relationship™–Will They Buy from Me?).

There are lots of ways you can use crowdsourcing to build value in your organization, your personal brand, and enhance both. Don’t wait for a comprehensive strategy… start now

 

 

Technology is Changing, but Don’t Panic—People are Still People!

Written by Ted Rubin

Technology is always on the move—and we’ve made more technological advances in the last decade than any of us alive today have experienced in a generation. For instance, did you know that every 60 seconds, over 700 computers, 80 iPads, and 925 iPhones are sold today? Not to mention the monstrous amount of data we’re creating now. Over 1,800 Terabytes of data are created every minute, which is enough data to fill more than 2.6 million CDs!

We’re also consuming information differently than we did a decade ago. Brick-and-mortar book stores are going under in favor of online shopping and tablet e-readers… movie rental stores are disappearing in favor of subscription services… everything’s “going digital,” including our social lives. Tablets, apps, and smarter-than-ever smartphones now rule the day.

Some marketers are reacting to these rapid changes by telling us that the sky is falling. Email is dead…storytelling is dead… social media is taking over… nobody has time to read anymore… panic in the streets!

Yes, technology has forever changed the way we communicate, and there’s no going back. However, the same marketing principles apply to humans now that applied to them decades ago. The sky isn’t falling. People still love stories; they still respond to testimonials/reviews (maybe now more than ever); they still buy for the same reasons. They just look for and find information on different channels now. Also, they are pickier about how much information they consume and where they spend their time.

So what does that mean for marketers today? Well, this is where paying attention to social trends is important, because, people are driving these trends. Your customers share conversation about brands, make recommendations to each other based on experience, and seek out information that helps them make buying decisions. They’re just using new media/social tools to do it… and those tools make all this not only more valuable for brands, but absolutely imperative they foster, encourage AND participate. For instance, people still love to be visually entertained—only now, the power of YouTube takes us beyond TV and even viral videos, and into the realm of consumer (and brand) education and relationship building.

Social media tools don’t change what motivates people to buy. The marketing funnel still exists; we still have to attract an audience to our message and nurture them toward conversion. We just don’t have to wait for people to hop into our funnel based on reaction to display ads, TV commercials or direct mail. Social gives us a way to be proactive about building relationships through active listening and informed information-sharing. So now we can converse with prospects—build a rapport—find out what they want and deliver it. We’re still adding them to our marketing funnels, but essentially they’re already primed. They’ve had a chance to explore us, talk to us, take a deeper look at our content, and share their experiences with others—in many instances, before a single marketing message goes out.

Yes, there are still ads, and PPC is still a powerful tool. However, thanks to the data explosion provided by the social graph and technology advancements, even ad performance can be improved. We now have a faster, more efficient way of gathering data, creating ads, getting them in front of our niche markets, testing them and tweaking them to respond to trends almost in real time. That’s the power (and the beauty) of the digital revolution.

So don’t panic; your customers haven’t changed… they’re essentially the same consumers of information that they always were. They still respond to perceived value and relevancy, and they still love to be entertained and share stories. Social media doesn’t change them as much as it changes where (and how) conversation about our brands takes place.

The use of social media, and the “Return on Relationship™” it affords, is a two-way street. By listening more and broadcasting less, by engaging in conversation, we can learn more about our prospects and what they really want. And by changing how, where and when we communicate, we can make their experience with us much more rewarding and satisfying.

I would call that a win-win, wouldn’t you?