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I Hate to Break The News: Effective Marketing is Hard. And Costs Money.

I am honored to present today’s guest post from Tom Snyder.  Tom Snyder, is founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a seventeen year old strategic marketing and communications firm that has embraced the web from the very beginning. Tom oversees the day to day operations of the firm, and lives in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife Marjie and their two dogs. When Tom isn’t busy making his clients look like marketing rock stars, he’s also a wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, political wonk, hopeless romantic and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Mini Guide to Realtime Marketing with Foursquare,” from Penguin Books.

smdeadend 139x150 I Hate to Break The News: Effective Marketing is Hard. And Costs Money.Broadcast advertising: DEAD!  Print advertising: DEAD! Direct Marketing: DEAD! Trade Shows: DEAD! Web sites: DEAD! Email Marketing: DEAD!  Long Live Social Media!!!!!

A lot of folks have been regarding me as a go-to source for Social Media marketing for several years. My marketing firm, Trivera, produced Social Media University, the first major Social Media conference in Milwaukee in 2009 (we picked Phil Gerbyshak as one of our professors).

So what I’m about to say may surprise you.

If I see one more expert blog about the demise of any traditional marketing vehicle at the hands of the next new shiny Social Media object, I just may vomit.

News Flash: NONE of them are dead, or even going away any time soon. And as much as some would like to believe that Social Media is the low cost silver bullet that will allow you to ignore other marketing vehicles, those people are kidding themselves.

Old time Marketers who have been around for awhile (i.e. since before SXSW), will tell you: New platforms don’t make it easier or cheaper to market your business. They never have and they never will.

Decades ago, there were marketers who hoped that this new fangled TV thing would be their savior, and they’d no longer need to use radio to reach their audience. The smart ones (and even the not-so-smart ones) soon realized that they needed to figure out how to strategically use BOTH to reach different market segments.

More recently came the promise that the web was going to eliminate both print and broadcast media. While some forged that path, others stubbornly refused to even pursue web-based marketing. But again, the most successful marketers figured out how to use all of them together. It cost more, but generated an even greater return.

Then came the marketers who rejoiced that email marketing would deliver them from the “high” cost of print and direct mail.  The wise ones found that successful digital campaigns, if done properly, could actually be even more expensive than the printed predecessors. But ironically, while even more expensive, those campaigns could still be more effective…and produce a greater ROI…when combined with direct marketing efforts using personalized URLs.

And now, most recently, businesses who resisted the high investment required for a strategically and professionally architected, effectively-developed, search engine optimized, well marketed web presence are celebrating the coming of “free” Social Media. With messianic fervor, they proclaim “the website is dead” only to be disappointed  as they bounce from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Foursquare to Pinterest with Wac-a-Mole-like effort, only to become serial Social Media failures. Now Instagram Video and Vine are the new shiny objects that will help them achieve their elusive, unfulfilled dreams of amazing success with little investment.

“When this 6 second video I shot for free with my iPad goes viral, my brand will finally take off!”

Gag.

Here’s the deal.  Effective marketing is hard. It requires expertise. Chances are you don’t have that expertise. So you’ll need to find help from someone who does.  And I don’t mean a friend’s son who “knows computers,” a Social Media “guru” whose only credentials are that they’ve been on Twitter since 2009 or even a 30 year old ad agency whose “digital division” is a WordPress theme hack.

An effective marketing campaign is one that will start first with an understanding of your brand (not your logo, but the promise of an experience). It’s only by knowing why your ideal customers love, trust and do business with you, that you can then know where, when, why and how to find more just like them. Once you’ve done that, then you need to understand what will generate awareness, interest, desire, and action for that group, and then be able to effectively (and measurably) execute the plan to make it happen, regardless of the media necessary to get it done. That may mean Social Media, but it might not. That may not mean radio or TV, but it might. It might require email, Direct Mail or both.  PR, content marketing, video, outdoor, and even the back cover of the phone book could each be the  ideal ways to reach them.  One thing for certain: it WILL require a web presence. Whether it’s a micro-site, an informational website, a fully functional eCommerce site, an intranet, the data source for a mobile app or all of the above, there will be a web component. Part of that web component will be the tools to measure the success of every marketing channel being used and monitoring what’s working (so you do more of that) and what isn’t (so you stop doing that).

Obviously a single individual will never have the knowledge and experience to do all of that. So what you really need is a team. A team with a combined knowledge of every one of those media, and how to use them all correctly, either independently or in concert with any of the others. A team that can measure your key performance indicators, and continually improve them.  It requires a team that understands your brand, and can use the right mix of tools to reinforce that brand and increase sales. A team that understands…and can deliver…meaningful Return on Investment. Find that team and let them help you succeed.

Competition for reaching a market share and turning it into meaningful conversions will never be easy. Neither will the choices of marketing and transactional tools. There are no short cuts.  It will require an investment. But the one thing that will never change is that strategic marketing done right will come back in spades.

And that is the only real silver bullet.

Connecting the 5-Year Journey to Discovering You

MG 2325 280x186 Connecting the 5 Year Journey to Discovering You

Photo credit Lyssa Vang

[Today's guest post is by my good friend and co-host of The Shut Up Show, Berni Xiong. As The Shin Kicking Life Spark, Berni helps solopreneurs spark people and spark movements.]

It’s hard to believe I almost let myself whittle away to nothing nearly five years ago. Literally. Two weeks after I kicked my corporate sales job to the curb and started my first entrepreneurial venture in coaching, I got sick with a mystery diagnosis. I was hospitalized for seven days. Unable to work on building the new business. Uninsured. Unemployed. On top of that, I was forced into involuntary anorexia by four doctors who prodded and probed me every day conducting a multitude of tests to find out what the hell was going on inside me.

On day seven, I was discharged with no known cause for my illness, a new parasite in my colon I contracted from my hospital bed, and a $40,000 bill. I seriously just wanted to die.

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about my 2008 hospitalization. The kind of inner chatter that was happening could have easily moved me to take my own life back then. There were many moments I wished I could die so my son could cash out my insurance policy and not have to see his good-for-nothing mother rotting in her bed with no job and no strength to build a new business.

How different would things be today had I surrendered to the beast?

Phil and I recently had an amazing conversation with Srini Rao of BlogcastFM on our new web show where we got to talking about connecting the dots of our past decisions. Srini said, “If I could push the reset button on my life, I would have done things differently. But if I did push the reset button, we might not be having this conversation right now.”

What Srini says is so profound for many reasons. If you could go back and take away all your mistakes and you only kept the good, you would miss out on a lot of invaluable experiences you’ve learned along the way. The connections you’ve made would no longer be there. Your story would not resonate with a lot of people as a result. And in the very literal sense, you would not be where you are right here, right now.

As I write this, last week I gave a kick ass workshop on selling. It was like magic. I achieved my objectives as the presenter. They got what they wanted as attendees. It was a win-win. It almost didn’t happen that way. I had originally built the curriculum to teach cold-calling and selling techniques the way I was taught over the last decade. After doing my first run-through with my material, I was extremely unexcited. I even gave myself the stink eye. There was no way I would subject anyone to that horror.

So the night before my workshop, I scrapped it all, cleaned my canvas and went to bed. The next day, I delivered my best workshop ever.

1002238 10151700498915132 2049401625 n 250x250 Connecting the 5 Year Journey to Discovering YouPhil texted me after I finished my workshop asking me to meet him for lunch before I head back home two hours away. I said “Hell yeah!” with no hesitation. Two margaritas and one vine later, I realized why I got up from that hospital bed in 2008. Why I kept moving forward even in the darkest times. Days like last week delivering my best workshop ever and getting to hang out with Phil to conspire under the sun while making a difference in the world made every excruciating moment worth the journey to get here.

The shin kick here I’d like to impart on you?

As Phil says:

No regrets. But no repeats.

Berni Xiong (shUNG) is The Shin Kicking Life Spark for solopreneurs and Phil’s co-host on The Shut Up Show. When she’s not kicking shins, she writes about her journey from corporate to coaching at bernixiong.com.

Connected You – How You Can Get Ahead in the Connected World

Recently I spoke at DeVry University and shared my suggestions on how IT professionals and other professionals can leverage social media to grow their knowledge and connect that knowledge to the people and ideas they need to take their career forward.

The speech is a little over 15 minutes in length, and the audience enjoyed it – and learned something from it as well. I think you will too.

A connected you – keynote address DeVry University – Phil Gerbyshak from Phil Gerbyshak on Vimeo.

Your turn: What was your biggest takeaway from this video? How will you use it in your career?