Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Marketers Should Act Like 3-Year Olds

Granted, some people think we already do.

But, here's the thing—if you've ever had a three-year old try to carry on a conversation with you, you know it often goes something like this (and if you haven't, you can apparently buy a 3-year old on eBay; another example of why web marketers need to be careful with variable text insertion):

3-year old: Why is grass green?
You: Because it has chlorophyll in it.

3-year old: Why?

You: Because that's what helps it turn sunlight into food.

3-year old: Why?

You: So it can live.

3-year old: Why?

You: Because grass WANTS to live.

3-year old: Really?

This conversation often continues until either the three-year old loses interest or you decide it's time for an early cocktail.

Still, marketers could benefit from being more like this. No, not annoying, but tenaciously inquisitive.

For example, your online lead generation goes up this month (or down). Why? Well, because more (or fewer) people clicked on your ads. Why?

Sometimes the answer is obvious. If you've just launched a campaign for a new product and increased your search advertising budget, then one would expect leads to go up. On the other hand, if you sell primarily to the construction or real estate industries, your leads have probably been down for several months now—and you don't need a great deal of research or reflection to figure out why.

Sometimes the answer is a complete mystery; your CTR increased 50% this month even though you're running the same ads with the same keywords. Random variation? Phases of the moon? Change in the national mood? Or, most likely, something you did that was totally unrelated to SEM that nevertheless had an effect?

The trickiest situations are when there seems to be an obvious answer—but that answer isn't necessarily right. Those are the situations when tenacious inquisitiveness is really critical.

For example, keep in mind that, all other things being equal:

  • People are more likely to click on search ads for brands they are familiar with and trust than for unfamiliar names. Brand advertising—yes, even print ads—support SEM success.
  • Search-optimized press releases improve the search results position of your website. So do comments on blogs (provided they are do-follow blogs). These effects can be difficult to measure, but are nonetheless very real.
  • Social media participation helps drive business. Part of this effect is easy to measure (e.g. referral visits to your site from Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon etc.); but another part, the branding and credibility value that social media participation provides, is every bit as real but much tougher to quantify.

It's also critical to stay in touch with "cold" leads. It costs less to convert someone who is already familiar with your company and has already expressed an interest in your product(s) but just wasn't ready to buy immediately than it is to generate an entirely new prospect. Be creative, and mix it up between phone, snail mail and email. The effort is likely to pay off, even if its difficult to determine which call, message or collateral piece actually tipped the scales.

So be like a three-yar old. Use your imagination, be curious, and remember to share your toys.


Contact Mike Bannan :


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