All posts by Rob Wojtowicz

Find The Balance In Marketing to Moms

It’s often said that being a Mom is the toughest job in the world. How can you be a “present” caregiver for your children—and still find the time and energy to nurture your own needs and career, so you can provide the best for them?

Research indicates that when Moms try to do both, they often get caught in the middle.  This affects how they feel about brands—and how and where those brands market to them. Mintel* recently released a study about marketing to Moms that sheds light on how they see their role. Many of the feelings Moms expressed seem contradictory on the surface, so a closer look is necessary to reveal the insights for marketers. Here’s the upshot:

 TECHNOLOGY?
PRO-TECH

They know technology is pervasive, and it’s not going away. They know their kids will need to understand technology—and are likely to embrace any tech product that aids in learning and development.

 ANTI-TECH

They read the news—so they know the dangers for kids in the digital world, and they don’t want their kids engrossed in screens all day. Products or activities that get kids outdoors or moving around can help Moms provide that balance for their kids.

SOCIAL MEDIA?
RESOURCE

Moms love it for their sakes. A strong majority (71%) say they visit Facebook every day. Social media is a great way to connect with other Moms, get recommendations for kid-friendly products and services, and solicit advice from their peers. Therefore, it’s also a great way to deliver your marketing message.

THREAT

Moms fear it for their kids’ sakes. They’re worried about social-media addiction, and who their kids might meet on social-media platforms. Their desire to protect their kids may affect household decisions about allowing more technology and social media into the home.

STAY AT HOME?
YES

More than half of working Moms said they’d prefer to be full-time, stay-at-home parents. Many working Moms (43%) said they feel the need to justify their decision to go to work. So any product or service that saves them time, allowing them to spend more with their kids, will likely find enthusiastic acceptance.

NO

Here’s the flip side: nearly a third of stay-at-home Moms said they’d rather work outside the home, and nearly half of those say they feel the need to justify their decision to stay home. Brands that help them meet their own needs and feel engaged in the outside world will resonate with these Moms.

MONEY?
NOT WORRIED

More than three-quarters of Moms surveyed said their finances are “healthy” or “OK.” This is good news for marketers who are fighting for this coveted group’s share of wallet. Digital advertising’s ability to finely target Moms—with just the right message at the right time on the right platform—is key to maximizing marketing success.

 

WORRIED

While most Moms say they’re OK financially, only a third say that they have enough to pay for all the activities their kids want to engage in. They can pay bills and make ends meet, but they’re also making compromises as compared to what they’d like to do for their kids. Marketers of kid-focused activities have to really up their game to make sure that they’re one of the chosen few.

When yes is no and up is down, what’s a marketer to do? Research. Analyze. Discover insights. Plan your strategy. Finely tune your targets. Execute the plan. Measure. Tweak the plan based on your results. Redeploy.

Branding and marketing are no longer “set it and forget it.” It’s a process that’s constantly evolving. Marketers that remain open-minded and agile will find the most success marketing to moms. The reward is the ability to reach this coveted audience of Moms with your message—helping make their lives a little easier, and your campaigns more effective.

 

*Source: Mintel, Marketing to Moms, U.S., October 2018.

How customer personas help you speak your audience’s language

Today, consumers are incessantly bombarded with messages—which has made them incredibly adept at quickly ascertaining whether any particular one is of interest. This means that the penalty for less-than-relevant, poorly targeted marketing messages is swift and severe: the dreaded scroll-past, swipe-left, or click-away. Your product, service, or brand is dead to them.

So it’s more important than ever to know what makes your audience tick—and click. But in the information age, it’s a real challenge to divide your audience into neat, well-defined groups that accurately reflect their many facets and help you communicate with them in relevant ways.

Sub-groups within groups are the norm, not the exception. Why, there isn’t even one Baby Boomer any more—there are three distinct groupings, and the shades of gray (see what we did there?) are significant. So what’s a marketer to do?

Continue reading How customer personas help you speak your audience’s language

Five Common Social Media Grammar Blunders That Should Never Happen

Unless you’ve unplugged, and haven’t been on social media this decade, you’ve probably seen the meme: “Commas save lives.” Underneath this headline are two phrases that read: “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma.” Funny.

What isn’t funny is how many egregious spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors—many much worse than a missing comma—continue to show up on brands’ social media platforms. They make marketers look careless at best, and downright dumb in the worst-case scenario. And if it’s bad enough, your gaffe could go viral.

For example: in a banner ad promoting personalized greeting cards, its copy crowed that the company was “always upholding the highest standards for every detail”—except, apparently, its advertising, because the word “detail” was misspelled.

Fast is good. Accurate is essential.
Of course, social media platforms demand that you get relevant content out there quickly—so with today’s tight deadlines and thin budgets, you may be tempted to leave proofreading out of your process and/or your estimate.

Our advice? Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. To review: don’t do it.

At Martino Flynn, we’re old school: we employ a full-time, dedicated professional proofreader. And based on the sea of red that consistently flows out of his pen onto our work, it’s money well-invested to protect brand identity—and integrity—for our clients.

Marketer, correct thyself.
Hey, we all make mistakes—we transpose two letters while hurriedly typing, or think we hit the space bar and didn’t. Those types of errors are easily found and fixed. We’re talking about thoughtless mistakes that make it look like you just don’t care. And we’re not advocating stiff, formal, by-the-book grammar. In this very post, you’ll likely find participles dangling and sentences that begin with “but.” But …

… even informal, contemporary copy needs to follow some basic rules. And the following are among the ones that are broken most often on social media:

  1. You’re kidding, right? Using the wrong form of “You’re” and “Your” has become so common, we fear that the AP Stylebook folks will just throw up their hands and declare that both are permissible in every usage. And that goes for “they’re” and “their,” “it’s” and “its,” and “to” and “too,” too.
  2. Exclamation points: just say no. It’s your ace in the hole—don’t play it unless you absolutely, positively need it. If you scream at your readers in every other sentence, nothing will stand out and they’ll stop listening. Besides, it makes copy sound like it was written by a 12-year-old. So unless you’re marketing to 12-year-olds, stop it!
  3. Companies are not people. You may well be as passionate about your company as you are about your second cousin Billy—but it’s not a living, breathing thing. So if the Acme Plunger Company announced record earnings, “it” announced them, not “they.”
  4. Apostrophes make things possessive, not plural. If you’re writing about two potatoes, it’s “potatoes,” not “potato’s.” But if you’re writing about the potato’s skin, then … aw, let’s call the whole thing off.
  5. Use “less” less, and “more than” more often. The “10 Items or Less” sign in every supermarket? It’s wrong. “Fewer” should be used with plural nouns—as in “10 Items or Fewer.” “Less” should only be used with singular nouns. Here’s a way to help you remember: if you want to drink less coffee, drink fewer cups of it—simple.

(And on a related note, a company hasn’t been serving its customers for over 20 years—it’s been serving them for more than 20 years.)

The shame of it all is that smart people are making these mistakes, probably because they’re going too quickly. But to meet the almighty deadline, they put themselves one unfortunate slip away from viral disaster. Adding just one hour for a trained proofreader to carefully examine copy and layout can make a world of difference.

But whatever you do—if you take only one thing from this post—remember that whenever you use the word “public,” triple-check that the “L” is, indeed, there.

Thanks in advance.

Getting Consumers to Come and Fetch Your Product: Product Differentiation in the Pet Care Market

You’d think that product differentiation would be a matter of common sense. Find something that’s truly unique about your product, own it, and proclaim it loudly and proudly.

But if it’s that simple, why aren’t more companies doing it?

Walk into most stores, and the shelves are a sea of sameness. A mélange of “me, too.” It seems that many companies are looking at what’s successful for someone else, and emulating it. To stand out, you have to thoroughly research your market, and then look at your product in a different light based on the results.

In its simplest terms, product differentiation requires finding and promoting one thing about your product that no other competitor can say. A good unique selling proposition is never, ever a list of things. Too often, companies try to say everything at once, and wind up communicating nothing.

What’s going on?

To arrive at a strong selling proposition, you have to know the market inside and out, so research is critical. For the pet care category, here are some trends to consider when you’re looking for ways to turn your product into an attention-getter:

Intense competition

Of course, it’s tougher to make your product stand out when there are more products to compete with every year. And the pet market is particularly difficult in which to emerge, with new-product introductions—and rules and regulations that govern them—increasing. Competition is intense, and brands are fighting for every dollar.

Pets are people, too

Pet owners see their animals as family members that deserve the highest quality of care, so today’s consumers are typically more interested in how well the product works than how much it costs. Your package should project that on the shelf, which makes innovative product and packaging development particularly important in this space. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), browsing store shelves is one of the top two ways that pet owners find new products, so your package has to stand out.

Money is no object

Or at least not as much as it used to be. Pet owners have been known to cut spending on their own non-essential items to spend more on pets: in fact, during the recession, sales of pet products actually rose 4.8% in 2009*.

It’s only natural

Pet owners’ increased focus on the health and wellness of their animals has led more brands to introduce healthier and more natural product lines and extensions. In 2014, sales of natural, organic, and eco-friendly pet products exceeded $7 billion**.

Different ways to differentiate

These brand or product elements can present opportunities for you to stand out:

  • Brand positioning (Is there an underserved market segment you can own?)
  • Product story (Is there something interesting or unique about its history?)
  • Product innovation (Can it do something that no other product can?)
  • Packaging (If designs in its segment are loud, maybe a quieter one would
    stand out)
  • Product form (Sometimes it’s enough just to look different)
  • Cause alignments (Is there a cause that’s near and dear to your target?)
  • Messaging (Say something different, or say the same thing in a different way)

Research often equals insights

Differentiating pet care brands in today’s overcrowded environment may require seismic shifts in strategy—or maybe even a total transformation. So where do you start to determine the right path? Research pet owners’ needs, behaviors, drivers, and aspirations. Then take a fresh look at your product through their eyes—that’s what often shines the light on your unique selling proposition.

Getting inside pet owners’ heads and hearts is the key to getting your product in their hands.

*APPA National Pet Owners Survey.

**“Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S.,” 5th Edition.

Traditional or digital marketing? Choose not to choose.

Some digital marketers roll their eyes and dismiss traditional marketing as hopelessly out of touch and out of date—while some proponents of traditional marketing may see digital as faddish, fleeting, and flawed. Here’s why they’re both wrong.

Like any marketing approach, both have their strengths and weaknesses. By themselves, they can’t be everything to every brand. But put them together in a dynamic campaign—where they integrate and interact with each other—and you have something pretty powerful.

Pity the poor print ad. If you abandon traditional marketing, you forgo its proven strengths: building brands and relationships with customers over time, using careful research, planning, and precise execution.

Why we “Like” digital. Similarly, if you ignore digital media, you’re missing a richer, deeper understanding of your customers—where they are, what they’re doing, what they do and don’t like, and, most importantly, what makes them buy stuff. All of which helps you create more targeted, engaging, and effective campaigns.

It’s not one or the other, it’s both. Savvy marketers know that you don’t have to choose traditional or digital. The most effective campaigns combine both in a seamless, continuous cycle of consumer awareness, engagement, and conversion. Here’s an example of how it works.

A marketer runs a traditional print, radio, or TV ad to create awareness of its products and services—and embeds a message that drives viewers to its website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page to engage with its brand. Once on the company website, a consumer’s IP address is evaluated for location, triggering banners and rich media content customized for their area—which then drives them to their local store to convert the prospect into a customer. Now in the company’s customer database, the customer receives a traditional direct mail piece with an offer that drives them to the website or back to the store, and the process begins again.

Which traditional or digital tactics you use and when depends on your specific goals. With so many communication vehicles to select from today, there’s sure to be a combination that works. Traditional media can start the conversation, digital can trigger the give-and-take, and on it goes. You get the awareness-generating and relationship-building power of traditional, and the immediacy, data-generation, and measurement power of digital.

We’ve talked about what’s different. What’s the same? It’s really this simple: effective traditional and digital campaigns have one critical thing in common—they both begin with a solid creative idea. Any marketing that’s based on a tired concept or a flawed premise is doomed to failure, no matter what channels or tactics you use. When choosing marketing partners, make sure they not only have the digital chops, but also the people who can deliver the big ideas behind the technology.

So don’t waste your time trying to solve the traditional vs. digital conundrum. Instead of pitting them against one another for your marketing dollars, figure out how they can work together to move the needle—and your brand—forward. Continue reading Traditional or digital marketing? Choose not to choose.