Friday, January 30, 2015

Charged with B2B Marketing? How to tie that into the Big Game this Sunday!

B2B Brands and the Super Bowl: How B2B Marketers Can Capitalize on Consumer Events

by Sandra Fathi |

Often, the Super Bowl seems as if it's more of a season than a one-day event. It dominates consumer conversations for weeks and weeks before Super Bowl Sunday arrives. From the food to the entertainment to the ads and the big game itself, the public is more focused on the Super Bowl than on most national holidays.

Communications professionals typically see the game as a time for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers to capitalize on the benefits of all that conversation. But the truth is that business-to-business (B2B) companies can, and should, also take advantage of major consumer events.

Conversations from the newsroom to the living room and even the conference room are all about the Super Bowl. It's natural for companies to want to engage in that conversation—and they can, and they should.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You know you need to market your business, but how much should you budget for marketing to get the most for your investment?

Tips on Developing a Marketing Budget
By Rodger Roeser, CEO, The Eisen Agency

Creating a marketing budget can be one of the most daunting and insecure moments in the life of a business owner. How do I know what to spend? How do I know where to spend it, or what to spend it on? What if it doesn’t work? For the majority of business owners in the small business base, this is an area of expertise that you almost always should consult a strategic marketing firm or counselor if you feel uncomfortable doing the planning phase. A good marketing consultant will surely save you time and dollars, and direct you toward strategies and programs more likely to succeed – as a good, experienced counselor should know what will and what won’t work.

You can expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 for this type and this level of work, but it’s a smart and advised investment if marketing isn’t necessarily a core competency. And remember, there are two “worst and worster” things you can do with your marketing dollars – don’t market at all or just wing it. My absolute best advice is hire a professional agency, but if you insist on doing it yourself, here’s some tips to make sure you’re getting the most for your hard earned dollars. Think strategically before you think tactically.

1. Take Inventory
Gather all the materials you’ve used and have been using over the course of the year or so. Ads you’ve purchased, press announcements you’ve made, social media, trade shows, events – anything that you have spent dollars on in the marketing of your business. Take a look at what each cost and how you feel each performed in doing what you wanted it to do, and remember, putting out a press release isn’t designed to triple your business so be honest with yourself based on the tactic you chose, i.e.: develop leads, share some good news, gain exposure and the like, and attach a value between 1 (stunk) and 5 (worked perfectly) to each one. Were the items professional developed and designed? We’re they clearly written, with clear calls to action, and so forth. Once you have all your “stuff” decide what needs improved – for example, more frequency of this, better designed that, and so on. Now you know what “stuff” you need.
2. Competition is Key
Take a good look at your direct and indirect competition. What is in the way of your business adding that customer or why won’t they try you out. What is your competition doing that you’re not. What is their traffic on Facebook or LinkedIn? Do you see them mentioned in the newspaper often? Are there ads more frequent than yours or better developed? Do they do something creative that helps them build their business, such as earning local awards or hosting events? As you understand your competition, you can then look at ways to stand apart from them and invest your marketing dollars in areas where they may not – the riches are in the niches – so don’t be afraid to cater to a specific group. Don’t copy your competition, understand them and communicate why you’re better and share those benefits.
3. The Target Audience
Speaking of which, who you share that message to – your target publics – is obviously critical. And this target varies wildly depending on location, business type and literally dozens (or more) other variables. So, take a good look at your existing customers or clients and those you would like to add. Be brutally specific in creating a profile for your target public because that allows you to stretch your marketing dollars because you’re pinpointing exactly to which public you wish to relate – and your dollars can be invested in this group. Make the profile as specific and detailed as you can, for example: women between the ages of 18 – 24, income of $100,000, within a 10 mile radius of our restaurant who own their home and are single. This allows you to market in the right places and with the right type of message that would resonate to this type of individual – obviously, each business type will have to determine its own profile.

4. Be Smart
Remember, if you decide to go it alone without agency support, you’ll need to work with the various advertising representatives of each type of media and medium you are considering. So, when working with these ad reps, be mindful that they have a quota of sales to make and they are selling their specific outlet and medium with that outlet and medium in mind – they are not objective counselors – they are salespeople. There’s nothing wrong with that, and they’re certainly not bad people, but they are there to sell you their product, not what will necessarily be the smart marketing investment. Also, keep in mind the price of things varies wildly, so have some idea of what “things cost” before contacting them. Much information on the costs of basic tactical marketing purchases are available online.

5. Rule of Thumb
In many cases, you can determine your annual marketing budget with a relatively simple formula. Take your annual gross revenue and multiple that by a low of two percent and a high of 10 percent. This is most likely the range for your business – although my firm would be able to give you an exact percentage. Based on this range, one being the least you should invest and the other being the most, you now can start to look at your inventory of what you need (new collateral, a refreshed website, better ads, more media relations) and call that your foundational expense. As you look at proactive spend, it’s smart to focus on single areas and single mediums at a time, so look where your competition isn’t and consider going there – and don’t just rely on old print ads. Radio, online, sponsorships and events can be excellent tactical investments.

6. Moving forward
And, this year, benchmark all your numbers right now, this month. Take a look at all the things you want to measure – website traffic, social media traffic, turn, butts in seats, votes, sales of widgets – and set a benchmark. Then, each month, based on the marketing work performed, measure that benchmark number to growth and divide by your monthly marketing spend. While rudimentary, it will help to give you something resembling an ROI.

Rodger Roeser is the CEO of Greater Cincinnati’s premier marketing, branding and public relations consultancy, The Eisen Agency. His firm specializes in developing leading and proven marketing and business strategies and tactical execution for small to mid-sized businesses across the country. More information can be accessed at

Monday, January 19, 2015

So, You're Thinking of Hiring a PR Firm. Why?

So, you’re thinking it’s time to hire a PR firm?

Great, I can help! I have hired 6 or 7 (and fired a few).

While the process might seem simple, in truth it is hard to do well. By “well” I mean hiring the right firm, for the right reasons, with goals set to deliver a positive impact. The first few times I went through the process it felt overwhelming, but over the years I have built up a list of tips that help me choose the right PR firm every time. I think my tip list might help you, too!

If you made it this far into the article, congratulations, you’ve already realized the value of PR. If not, and as a refresher, think of PR as key top of funnel customer touch point. As marketers know, we must touch our prospective customers a few times before they buy and there are many ways to do that, PR being one of the most powerful. If done right, PR subtly touches prospects in the media they consume and world they live in every day.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Time to do your Communications Audit!

The Mechanics of a Professional, Objective Communications Audit
By Rodger Roeser
It’s that time of the year where it’s smartest to sit back and review the work you’ve done over the course of the past 12 months. How did your team perform, how did you perform and how did your marketing perform are three big questions that are perfect to answer and address during the month of December. It’s called a communications audit, and it may the wisest task you take on this year to ensure you have a more successful, more rewarding and more profitable next year.
The basics of a communications audit are pretty simple – you need to gather up all the communications activities you did over the course of the year. From ads to press announcements to letters to collateral to web statistics – everything that was communicated either externally, if this is an external communications audit, or internally if it’s an internal audit. Once you have all the “stuff,” what we like to do is either spread across a conference table or post it to a wall so you can take a step back and review on first blush the general look, feel and presence of the “stuff.” As you have a vision in your mind as what this should communicate overall, take a look and see if you feel is conveys that idea or that brand. If so, check off the ‘look/feel’ box.
Next, review the copywriting and verbiage being used in things such as ad copy, sales letters, press announcements and collateral. Does it come from a singular and branded voice, or does it feel disjointed and penned by several writers. This can be exceptionally challenging when different folks in different departments or varying agencies are putting items together without consideration of the entirety of the branded conversation. While good communications can certainly have some degree of variance, you want your materials to be consistent throughout in tone and feel. Are the materials conveying the thoughts and concepts you want them to convey, are they portraying your business in the light you wish it to be conveyed, and does it help foster engagement and truly share a story.
After you’ve reviewed tone of voice and tone of look, now you need to look at your metrics. Assuming you had a marketing plan for the year (you didn’t have a marketing plan, well, that’s another article but you need to do this to start making your plan for next year) now you can begin the measurement of how things actually functioned. Look at increases in web traffic, social media voice, articles published, interviews conducted, sales leads generated, impressions and so on and so forth – whatever key performance indicators (KPIs) were important for you and your business to measure. My favorite, most often overlooked KPI is overall sales – did they increase? If not, what the hell is marketing doing? Right? These metrics take on a variety of forms and can be broad or incredibly granular depending on the program, product, service or goal. For example, let’s assume you wanted to measure the increase in sales of windshield washer fluid. Assuming you had a campaign to push said sales, it’s relatively simple to have benchmarked current sales, then after the campaign gauge those numbers and divide it by marketing investment. Or, on a much broader scale, if you’re looking towards increase web traffic, what percentage did that go up based on general branding and awareness activity.
Now, if all this sounds like a lot of extra work, well – it is and it isn’t. But, I’m a firm believe that you “can’t manage what you can’t measure” so having a tight communications audit is a critical, but sadly often overlooked aspect, of a good marketing plan and a good marketing leader. It’s important to have the numbers, it’s critical to look at what is and what isn’t working. Is your internal team coming up with good ideas and strategies that are helping to achieve goals, or are they simply executing random tactics as they come up. Is your agency working with you to proactively drive business success, or are they simply executing tactics. And, if they’re simply executing tactics (assuming they’re your tactics you’re directing them to execute) are you measuring them against your goals?
And, are you able to do so objectively. Can your CMO or marketing directly truly share when something is not working well, or spend is too high or simply not producing. Sadly, in some internal situations, the fox is guarding the hen house when reporting results, so keep an objective third party in mind that has the ability and expertise to perform a comprehensive communications audit to keep your marketing and your results on track – while also looking at other opportunities that may be a significantly better investment based on the goals and results you seek.
About the Author
Rodger Roeser is the CEO of Greater Cincinnati’s premier professional services branding and marketing firm The Eisen Agency. Roeser is an award winning television, radio and print journalist, and an award winning public relations and marketing executive. He can be reached at