When Pepsi Abandons Traditional Marketing, It’s Time To Take Notice

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Pepsi is not only abandoning traditional marketing, it is abandoning a 23 year old tradition of Super Bowl advertising and replacing it with social media marketing. The tens of millions of dollars spent on Super Bowl advertising will certainly buy a lot of social media marketing – the question is, will it be a smart move? I think it will and here’s why.

The Super Bowl is a one dimensional market when it comes to geographic location and that dimension is the US market. Pepsi has a strong presence in the US, so the time is probably right to look at other markets where their presence is not so strong. It is also worth pointing out that they will get plenty of mileage in the US by simply making this announcement.

Geographical regions such as Europe and Asia (particularly China) are huge and Pepsi doesn’t have a large following in these regions. China, in particular, is interesting given the huge penetration made by Coke; this may provide a clue to Pepsi’s thinking. China is also one of the largest users of social media. So if asked how Pepsi could make an impact in China – the answer may be through social media marketing.

There are many other advantages, of course. Television advertising is very much a one shot wonder – even the Super Bowl. It needs to be followed up with newspaper, billboard and in-store marketing. Social media marketing is a long term strategy that will continue to produce results down the road. They will still need the follow-up marketing, however the total cost will be far lower. This means they can repeat the exercise across several geographical regions and still spend less than their current Super Bowl outlay.

Pepsi is not the first to realize the power of social media marketing. Pepsi is probably one of the biggest in terms of dollars spent on TV advertising. What will be interesting to follow is whether or not Coke will respond in a similar way and what sort of influence this will have on other businesses that have been considering social media marketing. When the big boys decide to change the rules of the game, you know it’s time to take notice.

Online Brand Management And Domain Names

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twittir_logoDoes online brand management include domain names? It has been an interesting argument for a long time with many domains proving to be successful despite not including their brand in their domain name. The argument becomes lost when it can be pointed out that the domain name itself has become a brand. There are dangers lurking when you do have a highly successful business built around your domain name.

Take as an example, Twitter.com. Mention the word Twitter and almost everyone who is online will know who you are talking about. Or do they? Yes, Twitter is a highly recognized name. But so too is twitter.co.uk; yet they are not connected.

The UK branded Twitter has possibly brought more grief to Twitter.com than good. There was a period where the British twitter.co.uk was in dispute with twitter.com. The dispute even made it to the British press. Free publicity for both but since twitter.com appeared to be in the wrong, everyone sided with twitter.co.uk.

Ask someone in the UK about Twitter and the response may well be — “which one?”  You now have brand confusion. Twitter has developed their name and their domain name as a brand that many are familiar with. A similar domain name in the UK has now lead to brand confusion. There is similar domain name in Australia too: twitter.com.au. This could mean even more brand confusion in Australia.

It’s a difficult situation to be in. All three Twitter’s will no doubt survive and twitter.com has not suffered unduly”¦ yet. There is always the potential down the track.

Including your brand in your domain name, or branding your domain name is a good idea. However, if you intend to build a global business, consider buying regional domains as well. It may set you back several hundred dollars to buy these domain names, but in the long run they may also prevent any situations where brand confusion creeps. This is why online brand management looks beyond today and tries to position a business for all outcomes.

Is Online Brand Management Viable For Small Businesses?

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Having a strong brand awareness is essential to the success of any business.  As a small business owner you may wonder how viable it is to employ an online brand management specialist. One of the upsides of the online world is that it’s a great equalizer. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation makes no difference to the opportunities available. What may be different is the way each individual business allocates their marketing dollars.

Return on investment (R.O.I.) is the only thing that an finance person is interested in. For the business owner, growth and profitability is the bottom line. For marketers, looking at the short,  medium and long term gain is equally important. This then becomes the clash between the finance department and the marketing department at some businesses. For Marketing managers, the R.O.I. is there and if undertaken successfully, the return can be much higher than other forms of online promotion.

There is a perception that online brand management is expensive. This may or may not be true depending on your strategy. For example, if you as a business owner shoot video footage, a brand management team can promote that video in all the right places. If you are part of a large business, you may use a professional team to create a video as well. However, and this is the great equalizer, the two videos are more often than not promoted in the same multimedia websites.

The opportunities for both are almost equal. What is different is how the video is promoted and whether or not the video has the content that others will recommend. Create a video that is different, a video that is funny  or in some way memorable and you’re well on the way. Video is just one example.

Small business not only can, but are, competing against larger business with a lot of success. Is online brand management a viable way to spend your budget? For most businesses it has to be. If you are considering spending any money on advertising or some form of promotion, speak to an online brand management specialist first. Your advertising budget stretches a lot further than you realize if a little time is spent promoting your brand online.

Are You Optimizing Your Brand For Social Search

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One area of the online world that is slowly becoming popular is the use of social media as a search option. The traditional search engines still have a major hold on general search and will do for quite a long time. However, users are starting to conduct searches from inside their favorite social media sites.

Twitter is an obvious example and so is Facebook. Other sites will also become popular as users realize the potential for returning accurate results. As a webmaster, are you optimizing your social media marketing for search from within those sites?

Blogging has been a popular communication tool for several years now. It’s becoming more powerful as more social media sites take direct feeds from blogs. Including your brand, product line or even business name in the occasional post title means that those posts will be returned in search results for any of those search terms.  Optimizing important search terms in this manner has a number of benefits for your business.

  • Search – your business is likely to appear in search results for relevant search terms
  • Exposure – online users don’t like the ‘push’ style of marketing. Having your brand, product or business in the occasional blog post for example looks natural and not ‘pushy’. At the same time, you are exposing that information to other users, users who will begin to associate those terms with you;
  • SEO – what the level of SEO benefits from social media marketing is disputable. What is not in dispute is that search engines do use social media to help find new sources of information and to help provide some authority to web pages. With that in mind, optimizing your brand, product or business will bring with it some SEO benefits.

Social media marketing is more about engagement rather than a full frontal assault. That doesn’t mean you can’t include information about your brand, your products or your business. Deliver this information using the right format and the right channels and it will actually be welcomed by many.

Are You A Twitter Marketing Master?

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Twitter has to be one of the fastest growing online entities seen in years. For many, it’s a waste of time. For others, an effective way to communicate. There are those who are learning how to use it as an effective marketing tool whilst others are struggling to understand what a Follow Friday, or a mention is. It is common for some companies to hire an in-house Twitterer to get the ball rolling. Others are still waiting on the sidelines to see if this social media thing will take off.  What, then, does Twitter mean to your business?

Online marketing has taken some interesting turns over the years. It is clear that ‘Joe Public’ wants to take part in communicating with brands and wants that communication to be clear and two-way. Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, has been able to provide that two-way communication. Twitter has been used quite successfully by some businesses to engage in not just two-way, but multi-way communications as well.

Other businesses have utilized Twitter as purely an announcement tool. There is no two-way communication – it’s all one way and that one way is coming from the business to the public, much like old school marketing works (newspaper ads, tv commercials, billboards, etc.)  For many businesses this has been very effective. But these one-way types of communication are missing an opportunity to engage their customers.

The one thing that has been missing for many businesses is the personal touch. They have several people involved with the business Tweeting under the one business name. That could be about to change and hopefully for the better. Twitter has just announced a beta trial of what is effectively multi-users for the one account. This means that each individual could log in and send a Tweet – the difference being that their Twitter name will appear as a byline alongside the company or brand Twitter name. It’s a positive move which hopefully will move beyond beta to a more permanent feature.

In the meantime, Twitter continues to grow. Some users are growing with it while others are being still waiting on the sidelines. Which are you? Are you struggling to understand how to command Twitter and use it to market your business? Or are you a Twitter master of the universe?

Are Moms The Perfect Target For Brand Engagement?

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It has long been known that if you can get your timing right, then brand engagement can produce long term brand loyalty. Mothers appear to be a perfect candidate for brand engagement if you can gain their attention in all the right places. Gaining their attention could be a difficult hurdle to cross; do it well and you may gain loyal customers. The question is how to gain their attention.

The art of reating engaging content for moms is no small feat. Knowing how to get that content in front of them can be a science in itself. There have been numerous reports over the last 18-24 months reporting on demographic trends and their use of online services. The fastest growth in internet use is in the female demographic and a recent report suggests that moms are more likely to use search than non-moms. The report suggests that moms will use search twice as much as non-mums and that they are quite savvy in they way they use search.

Search is the number one activity for moms (85%) followed by email (83%). Shopping was down the list at number 4 (72%) and social 5th (67%). Those numbers are important if you want to catch their attention particularly if you want to catch their attention early.

When it comes to search, there are three other factors to be considered. The first is that mom’s place a lot of trust in Google. This then leads to them selecting results from above the fold and rarely going below the fold, let alone to page two. The third factor involves the use of long tail searches. Moms are most likely to use sentences, often in the form of questions, when conducting a search.

Based on that information, the logical places to target are the search engines using long tail keywords. If you can gain a listing above the fold on page one, then your halfway there. If getting to page one is too competitive, then PPC advertising may be an option that can achieve similar results.

What is often forgotten is that 67% of moms engage in social networking. That’s where brand engagement can create initial ties. Search engine results (paid or organic)  will then reinforce those ties creating a strong brand image in the mind. If you can put it all together in a successful campaign and then follow up with quality products and/or service, you may just win the hearts of moms as they become loyal long term customers.

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Is It Time To Rethink Online Marketing Strategies?

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The introduction of Bing to the search engine field has brought with it a flurry of new search engine features. Google, Yahoo! and Bing are all trying to out-do each other with the ultimate prize being an increase in search share. The question is, are they fighting the right fight? While they are busy trying to outdo each other, other online sites are quietly moving into the search field. YouTube is the second biggest search vehicle for users and Twitter and Facebook are not that far behind. The outcome of this increase in activity by search engines and social media sites may have serious ramifications for future online marketing strategies, particularly search engine marketing.

The recent introduction of ‘real time’ indexing of content will bring about a renewed interest in social media marketing. Search engines love to index fresh content and it has been noticeable that content that gains rapid prominence on bookmarking sites like Digg or StumbleUpon, has been indexed by Google quite quickly.  Twitterers and bloggers have already acted by putting their posts on ‘auto-Tweet’, thus being open to fresh content indexing. Twitter has become the most prominent instant communication tool around and while bloggers have been quick to utilize it, it has has opened up possibilities for many other areas of marketing.

What effect will this have when it comes to  online marketing? This is the gray area at present. Tweets that carry links to content may lead to that content being indexed quite quickly. This may help under-utilized strategies like press releases increase in popularity. It may also lead to content being accessed directly rather than through search engines. If that’s the case, will search engines become redundant when it comes to real time information?

Article marketing is another area that may gain in popularity. It has been the realm of spammers for a long time. However, if high quality articles can be indexed quickly using tools such as Twitter, spam may finally get the boot. Popular article sites like Ezine Articles are already undertaking tough anti-spam campaigns. This is even leading to paid members being removed.

Is it time to rethink online marketing strategies? Perhaps. The online marketing tools that have been successful in the past are still useful. Blogs, traditional social media marketing, article marketing, press releases, SEM, SEO are just some of these tools. What may change in the future is the mix. Up until now,  SEO has been the tool of choice by most web site owners. Many have dabbled with article marketing, even fewer have ventured into press releases – the time may right to revisit these and many of the other online marketing tools that may have been scorned in the past.

While it is hard to envision a time when the main focus wont be on search engines, I think we may in for a period where it’s dominance could be threatened by social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. What do think – are times changing when it comes to online marketing? Will the focus move from search engines to other media outlets?