The Sweet Sound of Success

8 04 2014

It was the fall of 1993 when an acquaintance approached me about the possibility of joining him in a start-up.  His plan was to create sales campaigns for businesses, complete with text and images.  He uploaded them onto CD’s that the companies could then send to sales prospects.  It was only a short time later that we became aware of the World Wide Web, that portion of the Internet where graphics could be used to enhance text, where images could be included, and where addresses were given names instead of a series of numerals separated by dots.

 Websites had to be built to 640 x 480 resolution in order to fit the tiny monitors of the time.  A balance between appearance and speed was necessary because 9600 baud phone modems were the standard.  Access to the World Wide Web could only be gained through providers like Prodigy and CompuServe and America OnLine.

 Twenty years later, a close friend and business customer called to announce that he had just landed the largest service contract in the history of his company.  The company had researched potential suppliers on the Internet, read the reviews, and studied their websites.  Upon completion of the research, the company called and offered a contract.

 “Walter, I never would have done this if it wasn’t for you,” he said.  “I’ve always believed that the success stories were all smoke and mirrors.  I trust you.  That’s the only reason why I moved forward with ‘the plan.’  Now, I see for myself what can happen.”

 “The plan” is a sophisticated digital marketing campaign that presents the business’ impeccable reputation to the public through a variety of channels with emphasis upon the quality products provided, the experience of service personnel, the geographic area the business covers, and the level of customer satisfaction the business has earned.

 Buyers have become very sophisticated over the past 20 years as they have grown more comfortable with online shopping.  There was a time when the largest Yellow Pages ad garnered the most business.  Most of the population eventually saw through that ruse.  Flashy, animated, hi-tech websites with bold colors and striking images are slowly being passed by for websites with meaningful, relevant (not boiler plate) content.





Advancement

24 07 2013
Google AdWords Certification for Walter R. Franklin

Awarded July 23, 2013





Dilution. Dilution. Dilution.

20 01 2012

Those are the three biggest problems with Social Media.  Initially, a client had one website.  Now, he must have three:  1) Primary site 2) Smartphone (Mobile) site 3) Tablet (Mobile2) site.

Advertising was limited to paid directories.  Now, there are directories, banner advertising, ppc advertising (on multiple search engines), affiliate marketing, etc.

Social Media was limited to forums.  Now, there is Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest, Posterous, Yelp, Klout, etc.

The first challenge comes in determining which platform will be most effective.  That can only be done through a time-consuming trial and error process.  How long does it take to collect 5,000 friends on Facebook or 1,000 connections on Linkedin?  How many blog posts are required to achieve “critical mass?”  What about potential setbacks?  A disgruntled customer, a misspoken comment, an erroneous statement can place an impenetrable roadblock in the path to success.  Solicit too many connections on Linkedin, and you will be required to provide a correct email address for each new connection to be accepted.

The second challenge comes in identifying the true cost of your Social Media labors and the subsequent return on investment.  Is time spent hammering on a keyboard equal in value to time spent at networking events, in existing client offices, on the telephone seeking referrals from existing clients, designing new strategies or creating better product presentations?

This brilliant video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU has generated more than 12 million views since it was posted on February 23, 2010.  If .001% of the views turned into clients, then Purplefeather would be an industry standout.  That is easy to measure using the same tools we apply to weigh the success of our own marketing efforts.  The odds of creating a video, a blog post, a Facebook/Twitter entry with an equivalent impact fall somewhere between zero and none.

Until such time as Social Media becomes more streamlined with fewer platforms, or when existing platforms target specific channels, there will be too much wasted effort.





PIPA / SOPA: RIP? NOT YET!

19 01 2012

4 million people signed the Google petition by 3:00PM yesterday.  ¼ million people sent digital messages to their Congressmen through one site alone.  Numerous members of Congress had their sites crash under the volume of protests.

By 10PM last night (1/18/12), 9 of the original 39 Senate sponsors of the PIPA bill had withdrawn their sponsorship.  At last count, there are 35 supporters, 18 opponents, and 12 leaning toward opposition.  35 Senators remain uncommitted.

Senator Leahy is attempting to rewrite the legislation.  Congressman Smith has stated that he stands squarely behind the bill he wrote and will continue to push it forward.





Case Study: Digital Marketing overcomes challenges of a narrow yet geographically diverse target market.

18 11 2011
SEM - Search Engine or Digital Marketing to reach tightly defined markets

Digital Marketing Challenges: When SEO is not enough.

The client recently took ownership of a mid-rise condominium in Little Tokyo, a Los Angeles, CA neighborhood.  The condos were to be sold to a very narrow target market consisting of 1st and 2nd generation families of Japanese or Korean descent in the 55+ age group.  It was immediately clear that a large pool of viable prospects would be required since closing ratios were expected to be below industry averages.

Determining where to find the target market required identification of Japanese communities or Japantowns around the world.  While there are three in California – San Francisco, San Jose, and Little Toyo in Los Angeles; there are others throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Asia.  Scattered around the globe, the shotgun approach of typical SEO would have only limited value.  A more focused approach would provide a more satisfactory return on investment.  Pay-per-click advertising was chosen as the most desirable solution.  The ability to geographically control the placement of ads assured penetration of the target market on a limited budget.

Selection of the search terms that would trigger ad presentation was the next challenge.  “Condo” is simply too broad a term.  Modifying it with a geographic descriptor like “Little Tokyo” would help, but there are “Little Tokyo’s” in numerous communities.  Furthermore, potential buyers might begin their search before settling on a specific community.  We needed to determine the types of searches that would lead people specifically to the Japanese community in Los Angeles.

An in-depth study of the community and the area surrounding the property revealed a wealth of information.  Little Tokyo is steeped in Japanese culture.  There are museums, centers, churches, parks, and artistic displays throughout the area.  Many are named for historically significant or high profile people of Japanese descent.  These names would be familiar to and searched for by our prospects and were thus included in the campaign.

Ad content proved to be equally challenging.  The focus had to be on something other than the actual property.  Placing oneself in the position of a prospective buyer, it was necessary to identify the benefits of a purchase.  What are the quality of life aspects of living in the heart of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA?

Culture – Little Tokyo is an extremely social community with a large number of social groups that meet as often as every day to play games, to worship, to continue societal influences.  Instead of the individual, the family is the social center.  Thus, “Old word traditions in a modern community,” and “Share the new world with old friends and family,” provides an instant comfort level.

Digital marketing through Google AdWords

Digital Marketing Challenges – A case study

Amenities – Restaurants, museums, social clubs, parks to enjoy with friends and family.  A community within a community.  While thriving within a familiar society, residents will enjoy the benefits of the Los Angeles megalopolis and all it has to offer.  That provides assurance that they will “fit in” with a familiar and comfortable lifestyle.

Since the target communities are located around the world, separate campaigns had to be created for each time zone to maximize effectiveness.  This campaign includes only text ads.  By replacing underperforming search terms and ads, the success of the project has grown.  The client is receiving the steady flow of bona fide prospects.  Sales are exceeding established goals.





Is Social Media a trap?

8 03 2010

OK. I get it. Social Media tools enable you to update content easily and frequently. You can Tweet every five minutes. Facebook provides a casual forum to deliver your message in a hip, friendly manner that often succeeds in penetrating the various barriers we tend to hide behind. Casual repartee is now the norm.

Is there a cost that we might be overlooking in our efforts to be chic and timely? We go to great expense to create a website that is an accurate reflection of the most important characteristics of our business. In the process, we spend hours researching the market, the consumer, the competition. We spend a fortune on SEO to make sure the right words are in the right place. Once the website goes live, we monitor SERPS on a daily basis. We begin PPC and banner advertising, investing in software that will manage cross-platform campaigns and deliver reports with fancy charts. We become pros at CPC, and CPM.

What next? What about a blog? How about Facebook? RSS? Twitter? Linkedin? Pick your poison. Now that we’re into the Social Media whirl, let’s make sure everybody knows. Let’s put appropriate links across our home page to our favorite Social Media outlets. After all, that’s what everyone else is doing, right?

The question that remains unanswered is, “How much traffic does a Facebook link on your website siphon off?” When you put so much time and effort into getting people to your website, is it really a good idea to boldly place multiple exit signs at your entrance? Do those exit signs suggest that your website content is dated and irrelevant?

No one can allege that the presence of the cute little Twitter bird or a colorful and stylized “f” on your home page will increase the number of visitors to your website. That would be incongruous. By the same token, every time someone takes advantage of one of those convenient links, that person is leaving your website. His or her return is contingent upon a future decision over which you have no control.

We conduct extensive research and engage in lengthy discussions to select home page content. Until such time as there is irrefutable evidence supporting the value of Social Media icons on a home page, it might be a good idea to limit their usage. An alternative would be to add a navigation tab between the “About Us” and “Contact Us” tabs entitled, “Connections.”





PPC vs. Banner Advertising

28 10 2009

Google has expanded their pay-per-click advertising services to include ad placements on “partner” sites.  While this may be old news to some, a few wrinkles make the opportunity particularly appealing.  Whereas in the past, you had no choice where the ads would appear, you may now choose from thousands of websites, or you can enter demographic criteria and then select from a list of sites that match your criteria.

Perhaps even more significant is the fact that Google will also deliver static and animated image ads including FLASH ads to those same partner websites in your choice of up to six different sizes.

Previously, the performance reports for the “Content Delivery Network” were grossly inadequate.  Now, you can measure the performance of each website and each ad.

Let’s put a dollar value on these enhancements.  Using a hypothetical example unrelated to any existing or previous campaign, in a recent 4 week period, Google delivered 240,000+ text and image ads on one partner website at a cost of $509.  Had banner ads been placed directly on that same website at a CPM of $14.95 to $29.95, based upon ad size, the cost would have been somewhere between $3,600 and $7,200.  By using a Google PPC ad campaign to deliver the image ads, a $3,000+ savings was obtained.

Maintaining a Google PPC campaign is no small task.  It requires vigilance, attention to detail, experience, and patience.  Costly mistakes can easily be made, but it can be a powerful, cost-effective tool in the hands of an expert.  An industry report of one PPC campaign revealed a 220% increase in average daily traffic and a 228% increase in average daily conversions.