A fresh batch of ideas
Ten years is a lifetime in marketing. So we asked our local experts, what's the biggest change you've seen. The overwhelming answer? Technology.
Friday, November 30, 2012 7:00 AM
One of the key ingredients to the cookie-maker’s marketing recipe is its delivery box.
The new small business didn’t have a lot of money to spend on traditional mass media advertising. So Saturday MFG Inc.’s strategy in marketing Thelma’s Treats was to make sure all elements of the brand fit together.
“We sat down and figured out what (Thelma’s) brand would be, everything from the identity, which is the name and the logo, to what they were really trying to get across,” said Scott Lewellen, a co-founder of Saturday MFG.
Thelma’s is a good example of how businesses now are viewing things such as their product and delivery system as marketing tools. The delivery box is designed to look like an oven – giving customers the idea that the cookies, which are often delivered warm, are “fresh out of the oven,” said Brian Sauer, another co-founder of Saturday MFG.
When the company delivers cookies, its employees often photograph the customers with them and post the pictures on Thelma’s Facebook page. That increases the company’s visibility in the community as well as its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
People notice the box right away, said Thelma’s owner Dereck Lewis, who uses the recipe of his still-living 108-year-old great-grandmother. And sometimes customers just want the box, said his mother, Lana, who also works for the company.
It all adds up to a campaign heavily reliant on street marketing and social media interaction.
Ten years ago, “I don’t think we could have relied solely on street marketing efforts and social media to build the brand the way it has,” Sauer said.
Adds Lewellen, “It’s just been so much easier to spread the word. When they make a delivery, or somebody gets a delivery, and instantly it’s up on Facebook, that’s a huge advantage you wouldn’t have had 10 years ago.”
Ag Leader Technology Inc.
Precision farming company Ag Leader Technology Inc. is an example of the transition from paid and earned media to owned media.
Ag Leader, which had heavily relied on advertising and marketing itself in trade publications, now relies more on its own publishing, be it on a blog, social media or its own Insights magazine.
“The tools that are used to communicate have become so much more unsophisticated, so much less challenging to use, to implement,” said Josh Fleming, digital strategy director for Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co., which handles marketing for Ag Leader. “Anybody can have their own platform to reach a niche audience through a digital medium.”
InSight spread advertisement
This advertisement was used for trade publications. Interesting to note, said Fleming, is that it is difficult to find any mention of the company’s website. He also points out that the content of advertising and marketing was more focused on showing customers what precision farming is, as opposed to why Ag Leader is a better choice than competitors.
Black and white advertisement:
This ad would appear in regional farm papers, an example of which would be Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman or AgriNews. Fleming notes that most print companies were seeing Web advertising as something that was an add-on to a print advertisement.
The site, in addition to looking dated, was much more product-driven.
The quarterly magazine is a prime example of owned media. Ag Leader now can manage its own content and its own message, without having to rely on other editors or share space with other advertisements. And it’s cost-effective, Fleming said. “Really it’s taking that whole social media story of having your own platforms and applying that to traditional (platforms),” Fleming said. “And it would make sense that it would work, because people are used to that, and certainly it cuts through the clutter.”
Precision Point blog:
Housed within the Ag Leader website, “their blog has become kind of the stuff of legend,” Fleming said. Having relevant educational content makes Ag Leader a source of information about precision farming. The same strategy is often used on the company’s other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. And when trade publication editors need a source, they tend to go to Ag Leader first, Fleming said.
No matter how you slice it, technology has changed the world of marketing in the past 10 years.
Businesses have more opportunities to own their media, but they also must overcome more obstacles to make an impact on customers. They also have more ways to measure the responses of their messages.
Take a marketing tactic that’s not technology-based: the oven-style boxes that Thelma’s Treats uses to deliver its cookies. Pictures of the box appear prominently on Thelma’s website and its Facebook page.
And strategies used with the advent of new technology are also finding their way into traditional marketing platforms.
“Marketers are taking what they’ve learned through social media practice and applying it to traditional media,” points out Josh Fleming, digital strategy director at Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co. “In a sense, social media lessons learned by marketers have given traditional media like print and broadcast a shot in the arm.”
The Business Record asked a number of local marketing agencies, “What has been the biggest change in marketing in the last 10 years?” Here’s what they said.
digital strategy director, Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co. and president-elect, American Marketing Association Iowa chapter:
The evolution of “owned media” as a viable place to spend marketing time and money. Owned media allows brands to create their own platforms, which allows them to control the message and, in some cases, the conversation. This extends beyond just digital and social media opportunities. In some cases, instead of a brand buying print advertising to reach an audience, brands are printing their own magazine. Instead of advertising on television or radio, brands are creating videos on their own platforms and offering podcasts and audio clips. Prior to this, marketing options were limited to “paid media” – renting eyeballs for a limited time with no conversation between consumers – and/or “earned media” – earning eyeballs through public relations efforts and hard work with limited control over the message or the conversation.
executive vice president, Flynn/Wright Inc.:
Ten years is an eternity in this business. While many factors have evolved during the last decade, what will remain a constant is the fundamental framework of how to create an effective message. Persuasive, engaging messages always need to balance relevant content with emotional connection. The ingredients for creating a powerful message haven’t changed. What has changed is the options for message delivery. The sheer number of available media outlets continues to be a major factor in how marketing evolves. Marketers have more choices, often with greater targeting, but usually with a smaller cumulative audience. Now more than ever, marketers have to be ultra-informed and strategic about their message delivery selections. Simply put, if you don’t have the tools and resources to thoroughly evaluate and monitor your delivery approach, you’re at risk of putting your investment in the wrong places without knowing it.
owner, McLellan Marketing Group Ltd.:
In the last 10 years, marketing channels have become even more fragmented and consumers have become better at deflecting sales pitches. We used to shout at consumers in monologues we controlled. But today, the consumer is in control of the marketing conversation and is demanding a dialogue. But only when they want one. If marketers don’t change their ways, they’re at risk of becoming completely irrelevant. Marketers need to learn how to be helpful and findable, so that when the consumer is ready to buy, they’ve already built a relationship that feels valuable to their potential buyer.
Lore McManus Solo
principal/vice president for public relations, Strategic America Inc.:
In a word: technology. Society’s transformational change has been called the “digitization of human culture.” We continue to experience unprecedented volume and speed in new marketing forms, including broadband, search, social, video and mobile. Marketing is increasingly data- and analysis-driven for lead generation and sales while also requiring an empathetic dialogue, collaboration and engagement with consumers. The benefit is that companies better understand what consumers want. Customers are de facto marketers today, demanding that we talk with them regarding the creation and design of products and services, sales and delivery, and ongoing company support. Many specific marketing disciplines are blurring while everyone focuses on content to communicate and/or to create commerce.
digital marketing group lead, Two Rivers Marketing:
The biggest changes are technology-driven. In the last 10 years, technology has offered marketers more ways to communicate across multiple platforms while at the same time being more targeted, customized and relevant to the audience than ever before. That is good for the consumer. A key benefit to the marketer is that technology is making results, performance and return-on-investment analysis much easier to quantify than 10 years ago. We’ve also seen migration of increased spending to content-focused communications such as public relations. Our adoption of technology has redefined what “public relations” means. It’s no longer just writing releases and stories, but includes social media strategy, video case studies for Web, digital releases, Web-only placements, e-newsletters and other digital outlets that are available to our clients in the business-to-business media space.
co-founder, Saturday MFG Inc.:
Marketers are recognizing that almost everything they do is part of their marketing – from product design to charitable giving. For instance, for our client Thelma’s Treats, the world of mouth they get from their delivery box makes it one of their most important marketing pieces. There are a lot more opportunities to engage with customers instantly and a lot more marketing tactics available than just a few years ago. The challenge is to treat them as what they are – just tactics. Marketers have to decide what tactics fit their brand and not just do something because it’s trendy.