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The difference between marketing and advertising (and why it matters)

May 23rd, 2016

Marketing and advertising are distinct majors in college. Most agencies are advertising agencies, and most departments inside companies that promote the sale of product are marketing departments.

Why the distinction? Are these two words synonyms, or is there a real difference?

A high-level, ephemeral topic like this isn’t something marketers spend most of their time thinking about. They’re too heads down, focused on budgets and marketing automation and copywriting. I know I am.

But I recently started taking MMC 5435: Messaging Strategy and the Centrality of the Value Proposition, part of the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate created by MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingExperiments) in partnership with the University of Florida.

And so lately I’ve been pondering the bigger, more existential copies of marketing, such as this one. Marketing philosophy, if you will.

More than just nomenclature

To me, marketing is strategy and advertising is (but one) execution of that strategy. Marketing is the strategy of educating customers about a company’s choices in the marketplace, who their product or service will be a good fit for, and who it won’t. Advertising is then used to take that strategy and communicate it to an audience. This is part of the reason that many universities, UF included, place marketing programs in the College of Business and advertising in the College of Journalism and Communications.

So both advertising and marketing have the same goal. They both are, essentially, helping enable a choice. Usually in the company’s favor to enable reaching a conversion objective, but hopefully to enable the best decision for the customer — even if that best choice is not to purchase the company’s products.

But there is a key difference. Advertising is not holistic of the customer experience with a product. Even intelligent, multi-channel campaigns are impacting just a fraction of customer touchpoints with a brand.

And this is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make today. At least traditional marketers. They are too focused on getting in front of the customer with a conversion objective. But the real question should not be, “what is my objective as a marketer?”

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Value Proposition: Avoiding the curse of the ‘Why Bother Brand’

May 5th, 2016

Tidal. Yahoo Screen. “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Your brand?

Some brands are so undifferentiated from other options, so derivative of competitors, the reaction they get from consumers is a shrug of the shoulders and an “Eh, why bother?”

Let me give you an example.

 

The “Why Bother Brand”

A burrito/Tex-Mex/Southwestern place recently opened in my neighborhood called Barberitos. I’d seen a few ads for it while flipping through local publications, and every time I did, I had the brief “Eh, why bother?” thought. After all, there were already enough perfectly fine burrito places, and this one didn’t seem any different. I always secretly thought about it as the perfect example of a “Why Bother Brand.” But just today, I got some data to back up my assertion …

Walker Ragland, Marketing Operations Specialist, MECLABS Institute (you may remember Walker from his social media test we wrote about in April), posted a Barberitos printout in our office and was boasting about just how good the food was there. That prompted Marketing Events Specialist Susan Warren to look it up on Yelp.

Out of 24 reviews, 15 compared Barberitos to a similar quick-serve restaurant, Moe’s Southwest Grill:

“It’s just like Moe’s Southwest Grill down to the T. The price is the same as Moe’s and so are all the food options (including the salsa bar).”

“Pretty much just seems like a dupe of Moe’s.”

“It’s very similar to Moe’s.”

“I thought it was an off brand Moe’s.”

Ah … so I wasn’t the only one who thought of Barberitos as a Why Bother Brand!

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Transparent Marketing: Research into social media marketing reveals surprising consumer discovery

April 25th, 2016

If you’ve read MarketingExperiments for any amount of time, you’ve seen how clarity trumps persuasion. Instead of trying to sell in marketing emails or on landing pages, help your customers clearly understand the value they will get from your conversion objective.

That’s why I was so surprised by some research I recently came across about sharing promotions on social media, a medium where selling is particularly frowned upon.

You can watch the interview with Dr. Lauri Baker, Assistant Professor in Agricultural Communications at Kansas State University and co-creator of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement, where we discuss this specific research along with other social media marketing tips. Below the video, I’ll give you my take on the subject.

 

Social media is a great channel for transparent marketing.

“There has been a lot of research done on transparency,” Dr. Baker told me. “Everybody wants to see that product from start to finish. They want to see that farmer aspect; they want to see that created in an authentic environment. A lot of that happens from just stories. Highlighting the people that are producing this food or this product, and show the places that it’s coming from. Those are the things that customers are really connecting with and wanting to see.”

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Value Force: How to win on value proposition and not just price

April 11th, 2016

A recent question we received is a fairly common concern we hear from readers  customers only care about price — what do I do? So we’ve decided to answer it here on the MarketingExperiments Blog, since the answer might help you as well. And if you have a question you’d like answered on the blog, let us know.

Thanks for the outstanding workshop on value proposition. I agree that value propositions are the core to growth for any brand but the challenge I have is marketing products in a highly commoditized and fragmented category (olive oil).  Price is such a dominant element of the value proposition that it’s difficult to compete unless you’re competitive on price, which is a no-win strategy. How have you seen other brands effectively create and market a value proposition that did not rely strongly on price? ”

– Brian

 

First, let me start by defining terms, which might help. Price is not an element of the value proposition. Price is part of the cost force of the buying decision.

For every purchase customers make, they weigh the cost against the value. If the cost is too high, they will not purchase. So, essentially, a company that does not have a strong enough value force (Vf) must reduce the cost force (Cf) to get the sale.

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Value Focus: Which aspect(s) of your product should your marketing emphasize?

March 31st, 2016

As a MarketingExperiments blog reader, I can already assume a few things about you. You’re an evidence-based marketer. You are an effective communicator. You have an exceptional understanding of marketing. You are skilled at analyzing campaign effectiveness. And you have experience in a wide range of marketing disciplines.

But if you were pitching yourself at a job fair, and could emphasize only one of these elements about yourself, which would it be?

Savvy marketer that you are, I’m guessing you would first size up the company you’re applying to — ask questions of the recruiter, take a look at the booth and read some of the literature — before deciding what value to highlight when presenting yourself.

The way you approach marketing your products and services should be no different.

 

Don’t bury the lead

Almost every product or service has several ways it benefits customers. Your challenge is to determine the value focus — which element of value will you lead with in your marketing.

You may highlight more than one element of value as secondary benefits on your website, in your print ads and in your email marketing. However, there likely is a place within your marketing where you have to choose what the primary value focus should be — the headline of your print ad, the hero space on your homepage or, perhaps, the entirety of an email.

Let me give you an example from my own customer journey.

  Read more…

Consumer Reports Value Proposition Test: What you can learn from a 29% drop in clickthrough

March 21st, 2016

The results are in. Last month, we asked you, the readers of the MarketingExperiments blog, to write the most effective copy for a Consumer Reports email in a way that could test which value factors were most appealing to Consumer Reports donors.

To expand the amount of test ideas, we also asked the readers of the Convince & Convert blog.

We’ll get to the results, and the big winner of the MarketingSherpa Summit package, in just a moment. But first, a little more background and a few lessons.

 

A little background

Every year, prior to MarketingSherpa Summit, with the help of the MarketingExperiments blog audience and the audience of another marketing blog, we run a nonprofit organization test with a nonprofit organization.

Partnering with a nonprofit gives us a real audience to test with. More importantly, it allows us to use our collective ability as a community of marketers to create effective messaging for a greater good.

Prior to the test, we work with the nonprofit for a few months, diving into the data, getting an understanding of previous tests and coming up with hypotheses.

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