Blogparade: MarketinGorilla – Protokoll einer Suchtgeschichte

(See English version here.)

Aus gegebenem Anlass, hier ein Beitrag zur “Blogparade”. Die “Blogparade” ist eine Idee der Österreicherin Alexandra Steiner und ein schönes Beispiel für “Blogger Relations”. Weil ich die Blogparade originell finde, habe ich mitgemacht – als Selbstversuch und ausnahmsweise in Deutsch. Das Thema ist: “Die Geschichte meines Blogs”:

Ganz ehrlich, meine Bloggeschichte “MarketinGorilla” ist eine klassische Geschichte der sukzessiven Abhängigkeit: Ich wollte schon seit ein paar Jahren ein Marketingblog starten. Just for fun, und weil ich nichts anderes kann und will, ausser Leads generieren, ROI’s zu steigern,  Kunden glücklich zu machen und komplexe Projekte umzusetzen. Das ist meine Leidenschaft – beruflich.

Ich poste und twittere übrigens auf Englisch, weil im Marketing, naturally, sowieso alle Englisch sprechen.

1. Phase, Einleitungsphase: “Ich wollte es nur mal probieren!”

Facebook (FB) stand ich anfangs sehr kritisch gegenüber. Konsumentendaten sind natürlich das A&O für uns “alte Verführer des Verkaufs”: Sag mir wer Du bist und was Du magst und ich sage Dir genau, weshalb Du mein Produkt haben mußt.

Schon bald war mir aber klar, daß ich mich als Marketer dem Thema nicht weiter verschließen konnte. Ich mußte mitreden. Also habe ich mein Profil auf FB angelegt. Ich wollte es nur mal probieren… So zu Studienzwecken.

Was für eine überwältigende Erfahrung: Da tauchten plötzlich Christiane auf, Monika und Achim, Micky und Iris. Alte Schul- und Unifreunde oder ehemalige Arbeitskollegen. Ich hatte seit Ewigkeiten keinen Kontakt mehr zu den meisten von ihnen. Mit der steigenden Anzahl meiner FB-Freunde, nahm auch meine Hemmschwelle ab, Informationen zu teilen.

Der erste Schritt hin zur Abhängigkeit hatte sich unmerklich vollzogen.

2. Pase, Kritische Phase: “Bist Du auch auf Facebook?”

Es kam jedenfalls, wie es kommen mußte: Ich war sehr schnell emotional abhängig. FB war ein fester Bestandteil meines Soziallebens geworden. Meine zweite Frage nach einem Kennenlernen lautete üblicherweise: “Bist Du auch auf Facebook?” (Meine erste Frage ist die nach dem Namen.) Warum sich also weiter unterhalten? Auf FB kann ich ja bequem alle weiteren Details über den anderen abrufen. Sozusagen ab der Geburt! Was will ich mehr?

In der Psychologie nennt man das im übrigen “ausweichendes Verhalten gegenüber der Umwelt” oder auch “die kritische Phase”. Ich wies mein natürliches Umfeld ab, ja ich grenzte mich regelrecht ab.

Schnell war mir klar, ich mußte und wollte endlich mehr über Social-Media-Bewegungen lernen. Aus Schulzeiten kannte ich noch Anja Beckmann (Red Mod Communications & Travel on Toast). Also schrieb ich sie an und fragte, ob sie mir via Skype eine Schulung geben würde. Gesagt, getan.

Nun, ich will nicht so weit gehen, Anja als “Dealer” zu bezeichnen. Immerhin hatte sie mich noch vor Twitter gewarnt… Aber ich glitt völlig blind in die nächste Phase ab…

3. Phase, Chronische Phase: Ich machte es jetzt auch an sonnigen Tagen

Danach ging es richtig los. Als mir meine Arbeit im bürgerlichen Leben endlich mal etwas Luft ließ, habe ich mich einen Regentag lang durch WordPress gequält. An weiteren Regentagen schrieb ich meine ersten Posts und fing an zu twittern wie ein Spatz. Schließlich habe ich es auch an sonnigen Tagen gemacht. Man wird ja geradezu in die Abhängigkeit gezogen von Twitter & Co. Das passiert unmerklich und zwangsläufig durch die Follower, Likes und Sharings, durch die Inspirationen, die man gewinnt und mehr. Ich weiß noch – mein erstes 5*-Rating: Da haben mein Mann und ich überlegt, ob wir schon mal die Anzahl der Besucherparkplätze vor dem Haus erweitern lassen sollten. Mein erstes “Like”: Ich war fast drauf und dran Autogrammkarten entwerfen zu lassen. (An dieser Stelle noch ein redaktioneller Hinweis an alle, die mein Blog lesen und mich dann anrufen, E-mails schreiben oder treffen, um mir zu sagen, daß ihnen das Blog echt gut gefällt: Das ist der falsche Kanaahaaaal!!! Zwinker, Zwinker!)

Doch eines war klar: Der totale Kontrollverlust hatte begonnen.

4. Phase: Ausstieg?

Nein, ich denke nicht. Social Media ist die einzige Abhängigkeit, die ich akzeptiere. Das Thema ist nicht nur ein Trend, es hat sich bereits im Verhalten und in den Köpfen seiner vielen Fans gefestigt. Es übt großen Einfluß aus auf die Art und Weise wie wir kommunizieren und was wir entscheiden. Es entwickelt eine ganz eigene Dynamik. Von der Markenbestimmung über ganz neue Industriezweige bis hin zur politischen Revolution. Da bleibe ich – ganz selbstbestimmt – doch lieber am Ball.

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Blog Parade: MarketinGorilla – Report of an Addiction

Austrian  blogger Alexandra Steiner has developed the idea of the “Blogparade”. This is a smart way of blogger relations (See also Brian Solis: 10 Steps to Building a better Blogger Relation Program), where people write about one given subject, shared on Andrea’s page, that links back to the various blogger’s sites. This time, I’ve taken part and contributed with my story about how I started blogging. That was the given subject. Because her page is in German, I’ll also have – as a one-off – a German article in my blog. Sorry for any inconvenience!

MarketinGorilla: Report of an Addiction

Honestly, my blog story “MarketinGorilla” is a classic story of a successive addiction. I wanted to start a marketing blog for some time, but never got round to do it. Just for fun, and because I can’t or want to do anything else but generating leads, increasing ROI’s, making customers happy and implementing complex projects. That’s my passion.

1st phase, initiation phase: “I wanted to try it just once!”

As per Facebook (FB) I was very critical from its start. Consumer data are, of course, everything that counts for us “old seducers of sales”: Tell me who you are and what you like and I’ll tell you exactly why you need to have my product.

But soon it was clear that I, as marketer, had to dig deeper into this topic everyone talked about. Hence, I created my profile on FB. I wanted to try it just once. It was nothing but a field study, of course …

What an overwhelming experience: Suddenly all my past friends popped up again out of nowhere. Be it Christiane, Monika and Achim, Mickey and Iris. Many of my old school and university friends or former work colleagues re-entered my life. I have had no contact with most of them for ages. With the increasing number of my FB friends, I took off my inhibitions to share information. The first step to addiction had taken place imperceptibly.

2nd phase, critical phase: “Are you on Facebook?”

The result was foreseeable: I was very quickly emotionally hooked into this entire FB thing. It had become an integral part of my social life. When I met a new person, my second question usually was: “Are you on Facebook?” (My first question is obviously about their names.) Why talk further? On FB you can get easily all other details about this person anyway. So to speak backwards to birth! What more could you ask for?

In psychology this is called “evasive behaviour towards the environment” or simply “the critical phase”. You shut yourself away from your natural environment.

Quickly, it became clear to me that I had to learn more about social media movements. From school days I still knew Anja Beckmann (Red Mod Communications & Travel on Toast). I wrote to her and asked, if she would give me a training session via Skype.

Well, I will not go as far as to call Anja a “dealer”. After all, she had warned me of Twitter…

Blindfolded, I slipped into the next phase of addiction.

3rd phase, chronic phase: I even did it on sunny days

Then my addiction really took off: During a bit of spare time, I tortured myself for a day with WordPress. It was raining anyway. On another rainy day (and we’ve had many in Switzerland this year), I wrote my first post and began to tweet like a bird. Finally, I did it even on sunny days. I was downright pulled into the dependency of Twitter & Co. It happened easily and quickly by the power of followers, likes and the sharing, or even by the inspiration you get from others. I remember – my first 5*-rating: My husband and I had wondered, if we should quickly expand the number of visitor parking spaces in front of our house. My first “like”: I was almost on it to get autographs designed.

(At this point, a quick editorial note to all of whom read my blog and then give me a call, write e-mails or meet to tell me that they truly like my blog:  This is the wrong channel, folks! Wink! Wink!)

However, the total loss of control had begun.

4th Phase: Exit?!

Actually…. no, I don’t think so. Social Media is the only addiction that I accept and that I can live with. It’s not just a trend, it is established in behaviour and in the minds of its manifold fans. It has great influence on the way we communicate and what we decide. It develops its own dynamics starting from the perception of brands, the birth of new industries through to political changes. Hence, I will –  entirely self-determined – stick to it.

Next time: More marketing secrets again…

Social Media for B2B Companies: An Artificial Marriage?

Do you have an engaging social media strategy?

Do you have an engaging social media strategy?

The beauty of social media lies within its many opportunities: companies can act very local or be totally International in their communication strategy. For B2B companies, social media tools are ideal to broaden their communication strategies, their image and their brand building. Some tools are even for marketing and talent acquisition.

Take The DOW Chemical Company, for example. As a global organization, they cultivate its image globally, but inter-act also locally. In The Netherlands, DOW is praised for its use on Facebook, where they engage locals in easy-to-digest news about what´s going on in their immediate environment and within DOW. This way, the region isn´t only up-to-date as far as the DOW industrial area concerns, but also triggers more positive talk about DOW. (See Marketingfacts: Hoeveel social mediacases in het B2B wil je hebben?)

Overall, at DOW, social media is very much about communication, image and brand building. They’re doing it in a superb way: by detaching from the entire awkward chemistry-subject. Instead they´ve looked along the entire value chain at the “end-consumers” and the benefits they have from solutions coming from DOW. In their communications they concentrate on the impact DOW has on the modern world and on its progress as a “solutions-focussed” company. DOW calls it “solutionism”. This way, the chemical company has many topics to engage with consumers – which aren´t their target group, obviously, but allies in many other ways: DOW´s followers are one big opinion leader, influencing high potentials, shareholders and other stakeholders.

Another positive example for excellent social media engagement is ABB. Personally, I never really knew in how many industries they engage. To me, it was just a big conglomerate. Then I started following them a while ago, read their blog and really enjoyed it. Within a short period, I figured out so many interesting innovations and products that came from ABB I had no idea about before.

Having said this, there are also the “hold-outs”. B2B companies, where employees made some half-hearted attempts in social media and then neglected the sites or tweets. You can find multiple Facebook pages for some of these companies that have questionable content. Even worse: they are liked (I wonder what for?) or followed and therefore shared. This can seriously damage the company´s reputation. They not only lose out in the above opportunities, but are even ridiculed.

All in all, it remembers me a bit of the early days when the Internet started out. I remember employees in an attempt to build their company´s first website. It was all far away from any corporate identity and communication strategy. With animated gimmicks and turning logos. Now, it seems, as if history catches up. At one point, though, these big B2B names won´t be able to withdraw from social media for longer. Right the opposite, the sooner they mark their presence, the bigger the opportunities on declaring their fields of expertise.

Confessions of a Marketer

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

Being a marketer isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a burden.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Dorothe and Sabine in a nice café in Zurich. They are two of the co-authors of our book of short stories. We discussed our book and a couple of others subjects, we could further explore upon. We just bounced some ideas off, and I gave some unwanted lectures on promotions and brands. All in a sudden, Dorothe and Sabine made me realise, how much I live in marketing mode. I can’t help it, I turn everything into a business idea or a future brand. At least, they were amused…

In contrast, I left the café in deep thoughts: Should I go and see a therapist? Are there actually any therapists for addicted marketeers? Is there an “AM community” (Anonymous Marketers) anywhere out there? And then: Probably not. Should I found one? I could make it popular. Okay, where would I find my target group? I could do affiliate marketing with marketing associations, I could…. STOP!

Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!

Another story of my life is my marriage. Getting married wasn’t only about bringing our love to the next level of commitment. To me, it was also a question of “re-branding”. I mean, I was about to change my name!!!

So while my future husband was planning our wedding, I was planning my re-branding. (Sorry, Darling! For the audience: he’s subscribed to my blog.) For the wedding ceremony, he invited friends and family, while I had obviously plenty of industry leaders and influencers written down on the list, disguised as “friends and family”. (Weird and impolite: Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!) Afterwards, I also cut my hair short. Total new style. New name. New brand. Well, sort of.

I don’t buy by a brand’s name

As a marketer, I’m also not brand loyal. Shouldn’t I buy successful brands and – by doing so – show my recognition for other marketers that are doing a fantastic job? I can’t help it, I’m always skeptical. Despite the fact, that I am doing marketing within the scope of ethics and honesty myself, I trust my colleagues out there think the same. Just one brand disappointment, and we are caught out. It spreads within minutes on the web. Yet – I don’t buy by a brand’s name. I buy according to my inner price-value-algorithms or according to product comparisons. Both is very time-consuming and can be exhausting.

I wonder, which brand is going to hook me into its brand story? Will I then miraculously turn into a normal customer and citizen? Identify myself with brands, wanting to be like the people in their ads and not wasting time on my price-value-algorithms and comparisons? Simply trusting its promises?

Oh, life would be so easy!

P.S.: @Mark Zuckerberg: The wedding event was awesome. You really missed out on something special.

The 3 Topics that Work Best with Social Media

Steer your communication  in a way that people develop trust and follow  you

Steer your communication in a way that people develop trust and follow you. Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

In my last post I mentioned how important the analytical part and a strategy is to enter the social media playground.

Once you have done that, you need to create relevant content that is in line with your social media and overall marketing/communication strategy. Everyone, who has done PR knows that you can’t always wait for your company to go through major events. You need to create events that you can turn into stories.

Independent of your strategy and your communication tools, here are the topics that work best in a social media context:

News, news, news. Yes, brand new news. Everyone within the social media world wants to be first to share news. This way, they have a chance to be a leader within their respective communities. They profit from your ability to develop news will create loyal followers.

Humor. Good, intelligent humor is a pretty good warrant for liking and sharing. However, it needs to fit into your overall strategy and tonality. If you manage to deliver your message with humor, you’ll be able to generate likes and fans.

Social or green marketing as a campaign empowers you for brilliant social media content. Social media is about people with visions and values. They are not only customers. They are in the center of your communication and marketing efforts. Hence, create content that is social, emotional and easy to like. Be careful with political topics. They can become a torpedo, but difficult to control.

As for your brand equity, it is important that you embed your brand message into these topics. Finally, don’t forget to measure your results.

Overall, aim to inspire and to make your brand leader of its category!

Is Social Media Useful for Every Company?

Whether you chose to play the game or not - a strategy is key.

Whether you chose to play the game or not – a strategy is key.

Many companies – from small companies to enterprises – have been juggling this question for the past years. Some have become very active, but their messages or aim are somewhat diluted. Others have resigned and some have simply done nothing. So far.

To help you to potentially draw a conclusion for your company, let me take you back a few steps on some major influences on marketing and communication. It should help you understand the advantages or disadvantages social media can actually have for your company.

We all know, marketing is about the four P’s: product, place, price, promotion. Been there, done that, dusted.

What is important, though, is the competition, the trends, the customer insights and maybe legal aspects or governmental developments. So we added this to our analysis and felt ready to develop our strategy and concepts to communicate with our target groups. Well done, if these are the basics you use to support your sales force, top management and R&D department.

Internet & mobile phones made the “place” bigger

Then, some fifteen years ago the world has changed, when the Internet changed our way of communication and knowledge sharing. All in a sudden the place became bigger, and the opportunities for promotions much more direct and measurable. We were able to track our prospects paths and activities. Still, we produced products for and offered services to customers. All at the same, it was very convenient, but also sometimes threatening that our competitors were just one click away. Overall, we felt pretty much in control.

In this environment, the challenge for a marketer had been to define the necessary KPI’s in order to guide customers and prospects to the website, keep them and turn them into leads or loyal customers. Applause to all marketers that linked online activities with their offline activities, and delivered clear messages and the same brand experience across all channels to the mass (or at least weighted customer segments). As the WWW grew, we got smarter and smarter on search engine and algorithms. So we started fighting for being found. Our target groups got more mobile? Never mind, we integrated mobile marketing into our concepts.

Social media means, customer and product roles are being swapped

With social media the world has changed immensely: the brand is not just a promise anymore. It must overcome criticism, shit storms and truly engage on an personal level. Nowadays the consumer really is our centre. Not our product or the services we offer. We have to market, communicate and satisfy on an individual level to be liked and shared.

But what does a marketer know about individuals? They are not predictable. They can go off with a statement and create a crisis that will leave your brand very vulnerable. The difference is, we are not in control anymore. This is the moment, where big corporations must ask themselves, if they want to take back over the driving seat or stay out and leave everything to chance. This is a big risk. And also a waste of opportunities. Because the brand might not become social. They might not attract the best talent. They might also not raise their image in a particular way and might not be seen as a leader in its field. If marketers have claimed that in the past, we will now be judged on that. Uncompromisingly.

Small and midsized companies on the contrary do have an opportunity of raising awareness, which they otherwise don’t have as easily with a small marketing budget. They can claim their niche and become really popular for that. However, they need to have the resources to deal with that. Front-end and back-end.

Is social media useful for your brand?

Now, is social media useful for every company and brand? To B2B companies, to insurance companies or financial companies? I would say, maybe. It depends on several underlying factors, which take me back to the basics of a marketer’s work: on what your competitors do, on the user’s experiences, on subjects and on the vision you have.  You need to do a thorough analysis on your status quo and on the social media environment you want to plunge into. Define your vision and your objectives. Then develop your strategy, followed by a solid concept – ideally with integrated tactics spanning from online to offline. Don’t get started without any strategy!

Even, if the results of your analysis convince you to stay out of the social media environment, you need to have a strategy for this, too.

What to Do When You need Creativity – NOW?

IMG_1285Marketing is a broad field. It’s about research, analysis, statistics, insights, strategies, planing, concepts, budgeting and tactics, tools and measuring the ROI. Still, every single person in a company wants to share their ideas with you about how to market something. This is probably, because marketing is also very much misunderstood. It is often confused with promotions and communications.

I once found myself in a discussion with a colleague about creative writing, syntax and wisdom from his high school teacher. The latter marked the authorization of his opinion. Another time, I had the CFO taking money out of my marketing budget for fishing events he wanted to do. Tricky, isn’t it? Though I think the CFO should be a CMOs best friend, I prefer when everyone sticks to their own centers of competences. It is one challenge of a kind, I admit. (For all German speakers, there is also an interesting article with Wolfgang Frick in the NZZ touching on this phenomenon. He is Head of Marketing at the retail chain Spar in Switzerland.) However, there is one topic, where I’d like to urge you to gather your colleagues in a meeting room: It’s on creativity!

In my opinion, everyone is creative. Maybe not to the same extent, but I think, creativity can be triggered. Here is my top five on how I switch from analytic or strategic thinking to creativity. The colleagues are on top of my list, and hopefully they are happy to have contributed to a marketing tactic after all:

  • Brainstorm with your colleagues. I’m always baffled to see, how creative non-marketers are in such meetings. And they usually really enjoy it.
  • Word clouds. I write words around my first topic and derive meanings from it or other words that pop into my mind randomly. There are no limits. Then circle the one you like best and try to link them.
  • Travel back in time and think of activities you have done in the past. Transfer them onto your current project and onto a different channel. The more different the industry or product was, the better the results.
  • Get inspired by others: scan magazines, blogs and online ads.
  • Go cross country running.

Any more tips anyone?