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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 &#8212 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?”

The question marketers should ask to create a sustainably successful brand is, “what is my customer’s objective?” And “how can I help them meet it with every customer touch point?” That includes not only the actual product experience, but every experience with the customer, from customer service to return policy to, yes, advertising.

And this is why marketing should subsume advertising. Because the marketer is really the Chief Customer Experience Officer of the company. If it impacts the customer, it impacts the brand. And if it impacts the brand, it impacts purchase decisions.

How to improve marketing strategy (along with advertising)

Here are a few tips to help marketing directors and managers lead teams with a marketing-centric (not advertising-centric) approach to marketing strategy:

Learn what the customer wants &#8212 Not just what they think about a specific product. Or competitor’s product. Or brand.

Why are they even considering products in a specific category? What dreams are they trying to achieve? What pain points are they trying to overcome?

This should be answered for each type of customer, and this helps a company discover its customer segments.

Create a customer experience map &#8212How does your customer experience the brand? And competing brands? What ways can a company add touchpoints to create new experiences that help deliver what the customer wants?

Also, for most companies, there is likely more than one customer experience map. There is one for each customer segment.

Serve the customer at each one of these touchpoints &#8212 This is a key way that marketing is so much bigger than just advertising. For example, you might discover that customers look to third-party websites and publications to do research before even considering your product. By engaging in content marketing, you could influence more customer decisions without buying any more ads.

Or you might discover that customers need to tangibly experience your product, but you sell it online. In that case, your marketing strategy might call for investing more budget in customer service and free return shipping and less budget on advertising. This is what Zappos did, and these tactics became the most effective marketing (by generating word of mouth and repeat customers) for the brand.

Serving customers is impossible if you don’t first learn what customers want, though. Take free shipping for example.

When we asked marketers how they improve the customers’ shopping experience through MarketingSherpa (MarketingExperiments’ sister publication), providing free shipping was tied for the ninth most popular option (18%).

However, when we asked consumers the same question, providing free shipping was by far the most popular response overall (74%).

This is just one example of the many disconnects between what customers value and what marketers value.

Produce customer-focused advertising &#8212 What makes one ad better than another? Sure, there are a few basics of a good ad. It grabs the customer’s attention. It is placed in the right media so the ideal customer actually sees it.

But the most important quality of a good ad is that it uses a story to help the customer meet his or her objective. Some ads use creativity to do that. Others use facts and information. But they all directly tie customer desire to beneficial customer action in a quick and compelling way.

You might also like

Social Media Marketing: 9 tactics for B2B social channel advertising [From MarketingSherpa Case Study]

Inbound Marketing: 450% average ROI from Facebook advertising and organic content effort [From MarketingSherpa Case Study]

How to Improve Conversion of Your Online Ads

Content Marketing: Testing the lifetime value of a blog post

May 12th, 2016

When evaluating the effectiveness of our content marketing efforts, one of the most difficult metrics to pin down can be lifetime value. When you’re talking about a blog post in particular, which can lack the “stickiness” of infographics, charts or webinars, estimating life cycle gets even trickier.

For years, the industry rule of thumb has been that most blog posts have a life cycle of approximately 30 days. What methodology led to this 30-day theory? Was it just a random guess based on some marketer’s gut feeling or anecdotal observations? Who knows.

Our Florida neighbors to the south, IZEA, recently commissioned a study to scientifically measure just what the lifetime value of a blog post really is. With the help of the Halverson Group, 62,863 blog posts were gathered, of which 500 were randomly sampled.

When tracking the performance of these posts over time, the Halverson Group made three very interesting discoveries.

 

Discovery #1. The lifetime value of a blog is much longer than originally believed


Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director of MarketingExperiment’s parent company, MECLABS Institute, has a saying that he is particularly fond of: “Best practices are often nothing more than pooled ignorance.”

Read more…

The Charm of Three: How people process positive claims in persuasion messages

April 7th, 2016

How many positive claims should firms use to produce the most favorable impression of a product or service? Despite the logic that more positive claims about an object should lead to better impressions, a recent study found that when people are faced with messages they know are made to persuade (like most marketing communications), they have limited patience for positive claims.

Let’s look closer at the study comparing the effects of different numbers of positive claims in messages with persuasive intent, and the consequences in terms of consumer attitudes toward the object when messages include more than three such claims.

 

The Study

In January 2014, professors Suzanne B. Shu, UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of California, and Kurt A. Carlson, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, published the results of a series of experiments analyzing consumer perceptions of positive claims in advertising contexts.

It’s not a new idea that three is an important number for perceived completion. People generally perceive that three claims are sufficient to draw a conclusion about an object. The average consumer and average industrial buyer typically believe that a set of three options constitute a complete consideration set.  As the above vintage Philips ad illustrates, advertisers have been using the power of the three claim model for decades, at least.

Read more…

Website Spring Cleaning: A 5 Web Clinic crash-course to help you tidy up your webpages

April 4th, 2016

With winter firmly in our rearview mirrors, spring is officially here. Daylight savings time is upon us. March Madness is in full swing. And baseball’s opening day will have taken place by the time you’ve read this (Go Cubs!).

What better time then than to do a little spring cleaning of our webpages?

Don’t worry, at MarketingExperiments, we’ve got you covered. For more than a decade, we’ve been hosting Web clinics to help you — the marketer — maximize the effectiveness of your collateral. And, as we’ve seen again and again throughout the years, it’s often the smallest tweaks and cleanups that lead to the biggest results.

Read on to learn how you can harness your inner-Danny Tanner, grab your HTML mop and bottle of marketer’s 409, and turn that cluttered mess of a legacy page into a squeaky-clean, highly effective conversion machine.

 

Five key elements

To help get you started, I’ve identified five common elements of most webpages:

  • banner
  • headline
  • copy
  • call-to-action
  • form

Your page may not have, or need, all five of these elements, but chances are it will have most.

Read more…

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.

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Copywriting: 3 tips for optimizing your next direct mail campaign

March 17th, 2016

It might come as a surprise, but according to research conducted by our sister site MarketingSherpa, 54% of U.S. consumers would prefer to receive regular updates and promotions in the mail. That’s the highest percentage of any other method.

While we know stated preferences and actual behavior can differ, it’s still extremely interesting that physical mail ranked higher than email.

This means consumers are open to receiving your direct mail pieces. It’s just now up to you to send them engaging and effective content.

To help you in this effort, we’ve compiled three ways you can optimize your next direct mail campaign.

 

Tip #1. Direct customers toward the logical next step, not necessarily a purchase

If you’re a regular reader of MarketingExperiments, you have likely heard something along the lines of, “The goal of an email is to get a click, not a sale. The goal of the landing page is to get the sale.”

The same could be said of a direct mail piece.

Think about your buyer journey. What steps do they take up the funnel? There are multiple micro-yes(s) that lead up to the macro-yes or conversion.

For some buyer journeys, a jump from postcard to purchase might be asking for too much too soon — especially for longer sales cycles.

Try using the direct mail piece as a chance to message your value proposition and encourage customers to learn more through a next action.

That leads us into the next tip.

Read more…