Marketing, Technology and Product Development Consulting

We won't bore you with cliches like "marketing that works!" and "demand-driven marketing infrastructure" or confuse you with cryptic advertising agency babble like "ideation of scalable marketing revenue-drivers."

What we do is help organizations build a marketing and technology strategy to deliver products and strategies to market, acquire more customers and retain the ones They've got. All designed to drive more revenue in a way that's measurable. Our clients are primarily larger organizations with large customer databases, but we also help businesses looking to make the push into next cycles of rapid growth. 

Take a look around the site and you'll get the idea. Then call or email to get started. 801-815-0122 or ryanteeples@ryanteeples.com.

Ryan Teeples is a well-known thought leader in the evolving convergence of marketing and technology in enterprises. His writing is featured across multiple media outlets and he can be found speaking at conferences, symposiums and training events across the country. 

Join me at Social Media Conference in Las Vegas in two weeks

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Just a heads up: I will be speaking at Social Media Conference Las Vegas on January 16-17.

It's a great event full of social media minds, both industry leaders as well as social marketers who live in the trenches. And it doesn't get better than Vegas, right?

If you want a discount, use this link to register for Social Media Conference Las Vegas 2013.

I will be speaking on social CRM and the integration of social media marketing with the rest of the organization's technologies. People from Skype, Cisco, Guitar Center and various other companies will be there to speak as well.

It's time to start thinking mobile. Always.

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One of my favorite movies is the all time classic Fletch. Comedy at its finest, with great writing and humor that wasn't dependent on baseness.

But one of my favorite lines is when Chevy Chase, posing as an airline parts supplier, tells two mechanics "C'mon, guys. It's all ball bearings these days!" The line is still used today by fans of the movie today as a reference to anything that's ubiquitous.

In light of that, I'll deliver this line: "It's all mobile these days."

Marketers aren't getting it yet

I was speaking at a conference recently and decided to sit in on the session before mine. The speaker did a pretty good job describing methods for building a communication and messaging strategy for marketing campaigns.

But then, near the very end, he threw up a slide that basically said "don't forget to think about mobile implications."

I realized then (and through subsequent interactions with marketers) that mobile marketing is still often seen as an afterthought. At best it's seen as an important nuance. But that's all wrong.

Because very soon, and in many cases right now, it's all mobile.

We're already seeing over a million new Android devices being activated each day. And even that may soon grow exponentially.

Microsoft and Windows 8 will change the game for marketing

While Windows 8 has been a bit sluggish out of the gate, every CMO, Creative Director, Marketing Manager and Communication Specialist worldwide should close the lid to their MacBooks and pay VERY close attention.

Because when Windows 8 has fully taken hold, it's not just going to blur the line between mobile and desktop/notebook, it's going to erase it.

And it's due to both the devices and the software.

Microsoft's new Windows 8 user-interface has a touch layer (Metro/tiles) and a full windows layer. More and more, things like reading consumer emails and web-browsing will be done in that former, more mobile-like layer. For marketers that means lower screen resolutions and less real-estate, and a need for more clear, simple CTAs. In some cases appification or gamification.

And then there's the hardware. Convertibles like the Surface have only begun to take hold. Once they have the right chipsets and Windows 8 fully underneath, they're going to explode. Anyone who goes to the store to buy a new PC will end up with a touchscreen machine. It doesn't matter if it's a desktop, notebook, tablet or convertible. The touch interface and inputs mean the experience will be much more like mobile than desktop.

Mobile-ization

Regardless of the sea-change coming with Windows 8, change is on the horizon for all aspects of marketing. We're using our phones a whole lot more. Things that we used to eschew doing on the mobile device for the laptop are now much less awkward and convenience is beating out features. We're looking up recipes, finding places to eat, and posting what we had for dinner, all on our mobile devices now.

Combine the mobile comfort with the fact that the traditionally non-mobile devices like laptops and desktops are soon going feel as mobile as a phone, and marketing is going to experience another revolution.

So marketers: Get on the bus and get educated. Don't think of mobile as an annoyance or different part of the campaign process. It's all mobile now, and you'd better get with it.

Otherwise, you'll be left holding your iPad in the unemployment line.




Marketing Differentiation and egg-shaped pancackes

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I'm astounded and frightened often when speaking to "marketing experts" who, in truth, do little more than deliver a deluge of marketing buzz-words.

So many people from the SEO and PPC space are calling themselves "experts in marketing" (they're not) or "Gurus" (run away from anyone who calls him/herself a Guru) despite not having any ability to see the marketing forest for the trees.

And they all say marketing has dramatically changed. But has it really?

Maybe marketing hasn't actually changed (at it's core, at least)

Marketing success doesn't come from a new and flashy medium. It's part of the equation (and a very important one), but only part. Success comes when you deliver the right message for the right product/service to the right person at the right time in the right medium.

When it comes down to it, despite the constant emergence of new media (and subsequent hype), marketing at it's core hasn't changed. The secret sauce isn't in the medium alone, it's in the overall strategy. It's form serving function.

Sometimes it can be so plainly simple.

The batter from our colored Easter Egg Bisquick pancakesFree Marketing Advice for Bisquick, and a lesson for all other marketers
I apologize for three straight posts about food, but that seems to be where my marketing mind is lately. This Easter morning I woke up and made my three kids pancakes for breakfast. I got out the griddle and put it on the kitchen island so they can watch, and they always love it. I add food coloring to the batter to make it a little more fun.

Being Easter, today I decided to make egg-shaped pancakes, and we ended up with purple, pink, blue and yellow egg-shaped flapjacks. The kids thought it was fun, I enjoyed watching them smile, and we had a nice family breakfast.

But I couldn't help but think Bisquick (which I used to make my pancakes) is missing out on a great opportunity for differentiating their product and finding a creative way to sell during the holiday. And there's a lesson in it for all other marketers.

With a minor tweak to the packaging, the company could add pictures off colored, egg-shaped pancakes to the front of the box, instructions to the back of the box for making them, and put food-coloring droppers inside. With display on the shelf they could push more product through seasonally.

But let's go back to our principles above. Marketing is about the right: Message, Product, Person, Time and Medium.

our colored Easter Egg Bisquick pancakesIn this case, the message, product and person are fairly universal. "Everyone loves Easter-egg pancakes with Bisquick" is a message relevant to most Americans. Who doesn't love fun and pancakes?

Timing is a challenge Bisquick faces. You buy more batter mix when you A) run out or B) need some for an event or meal. But by packaging the boxes for the season and turning the process into an experience they are creating the timing and creating the demand.

And the nice thing about doing marketing right is that it can thrive in a myriad of media. This message resonates in a point-of purchase environment. Coupon promotion would move the meter. Television and display works. And social media could make it explode. Thousands of moms (or dads in my case) would post to Pinterest (as I did for testing purposes), share on Facebook and Tweet on Twitter.

In the end, done properly for a few years, Bisquick could become PART of the season itself.

But remember, they key is that ALL areas of the marketing process were factored in. Not just the latest media fad.

Don't let yourself get sucked in or fooled by the buzz. Don't listen to those telling you it's all about the media, or the technology or the secret methodology. That's like saying baking a great cake is ALL about the oven.

It's about the right message about the right product or service to the right person at the right time in the right medium. And lately, it seems to be about the food.

A Marketing Success Case Study from Red Robin

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Of all types of marketing, I find local as challenging as any. But a recent experience at a local Red Robin restaurant taught me that sometimes traditional thinking can be much more effective than the online methods we have become dependent on (and definitely more suitable than some of the hocus-pocus being sold as “SEO” by unscrupulous vendors).

The Contest

A while ago my family and I were out and around and decided to visit Red Robin for dinner. It’s a fun atmosphere for the kids and pretty good burger for a chain.

When we got there, my son and daughter immediately noticed the coloring pages all over the front wall. Kids had put crayon to paper and entered Red Robin’s coloring contest and the restaurant was putting the entrants on the wall. The contest winners received an award and a free kid’s meal.

Of course, my kids wanted to enter. My son, who is seven years old loves art projects and is also very competitive. So he did his best coloring work and entered it into the contest. Red Robin collected our names, email, phone number and kid’s birthdays on the entry form.

We thought nothing more of it until the ride home when my son mentioned he thought he had a chance to win the contest. Remembering the hundreds of colored sheets on the wall (many of them very good) we humored him but realistically didn’t give him a chance at the prize.

His expectancy continued over the next couple weeks when he continued to ask us if the restaurant had called to tell him he won the contest. We told him they hadn’t, and tried to brace him for the disappointment of not winning.

The Call

I was at my desk in the home office a bit later when my wife walked in and gave me the old “You won’t believe who I just got off the phone with” routine. You guessed it: It was Red Robin (the restaurant, not the bird).

The girl on the phone informed us Eli was “one of the winners” and as a result for a free kid’s meal, certificate and could come meet the Robin himself.

Suffice it to say, my son was excited, although, not surprised. But it was all marketing brilliance.


The Marketing

Do I think my son’s picture was well colored? Sure. Do I believe it was one of the best of possible hundreds on the wall? No. And the contest judges probably didn’t either. But they are savvy marketers.

Of course, my son wanted to go to Red Robin that very night to claim his prize and get is picture taken with the Robin. And, of course, we ate dinner there as a family that night. While his meal was free, we still dropped $30 on the rest of the family but left feeling like we’d been treated like winners. And guess where my son always wants to eat?

So let’s walk through the marketing that went into Red Robin’s plan

They engaged a responsive audience
First, the campaign was directed at current customers. We were in the restaurant. We had experienced the product and would likely be responsive to the campaign.

They made it obvious and easy…but compelling
My kids didn’t have anything else going on. They saw the pictures on the wall, colored and turned them in. The barrier to entry into the campaign and the difficulty to respond was negligible.

It was inexpensive
The cost of printing the coloring pages was miniscule and the restaurant already gives out the crayons. I’m not sure how many “winners” they called or emailed, but I bet it was a lot. The cost of the free meals is considered an acquisition expense that’s covered and recouped easily in the parents that accompanied the child to his/her free meal.

They collected data
This is the most important key. Red Robin made me willing (through the compulsion of my kids) to give them my name and contact info. Right into the CRM system it goes where I am put in the hopper for later contest notifications, coupons and other promotions.

They created a lasting, positive impression
As a family, we now have a very favorable impression of Red Robin. Sure, I know it was a marketing ploy. But it worked. My kids love that they got to color and “won” the contest. We love that the restaurant made my son’s day and gave him a boost of self esteem.

And we’ll keep going back because we get regular promotions and discounts from their CRM system. All in all, it makes for a nice, tidy marketing case-study all organizations can learn from.

 

Relative Deprivation in Marketing and Lying to your Customers: Don’t be Texas Roadhouse

There’s a theory in psychology called Relative Deprivation. A technical definition of the theory by Richar Schaefer is "the conscious experience of a negative discrepancy between legitimate expectations and present actualities.”

In the real world, it means that we set (consciously or unconsciously) expectations in every situation we encounter and when those legitimate expectations aren’t met we get upset.

This is VERY important in marketing. It’s the psychology behind value. What we expect to get for our money and time versus what's delivered.

I've had this post written for a while, but while at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas this weekend, the keynote touched on the deadly move of lying to your customers with a line about McDonalds: "Clowns Lie." Hating clowns myself, and agreeing vehemently with the speaker I decided to polish this post and publish.


Unmet expectations at dinner ruined the weekend

Let’s make relative deprivation in a marketing situation simpler to understand by using a real-life, negative example.

The other night my wife and I decided we were hungry and I didn’t want to cook. Living in an extremely suburban area, our restaurant choices close-by are painfully limited to the usual chain offerings. So we decided to pack up the kids and hit the Texas Roadhouse.

Texas Roadhouse touts “Call-ahead Seating” in which you call the restaurant and find out how long the wait is, get on the list and do your waiting at home.

When I called, I was told the wait was 55 minutes and to show up then. No problem. I had a seating number and I had set my expectation. It was based on information from the process I was wrung through, and the variables assigned by the restaurant.

The expectation Texas Roadhouse set:

  1. I can show up at the restaurant and be seated shortly thereafter
  2. I must wait 55 minutes before showing up for #1 to be true.

So we waited our required 55 minutes and walked into the restaurant. Once inside, we were told it would be another 15 minutes before a table was ready.

Although not by major margins, I experienced my first negative reaction due to relative deprivation. The expectations that were set above were not met completely. But we were hungry, and it was only 15 minutes. Plus, they have free peanuts. So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

40 minutes later we asked again when we could expect to be seated. We were told just a few minutes. My expectations were again adjusted, but relative deprivation had started to cause strong negative emotion to arise – especially in my wife.

During this time, we were standing near the hostess desk (because Texas Roadhouses foyers are DREADFULLY designed) and the hostesses continued to tell people walking in that the wait was around 30 minutes.

They were bold-face lying. To everyone. And it resulted in a restaurant full of people angry because their expectations weren't met.

To end an already long story, we ended up waiting over two hours to be seated (55 minutes at home, 75 at the store) and gave up eventually when the kids and wife were so surly due to relative deprivation that I thought us better off grabbing thai food and cutting our losses.

My wife was so furious at the whole situation that it nearly ruined her weekend. She fumed about it. Posted negative comments on social networking outlets. And in the process, transferred her relative deprivation-induced negativity to hundreds in the direct customer-base of the restaurant.

Lying to your customers brings serious relative deprivation consequences

For marketers, there’s a very important lesson here: Lying will create negative relative deprivation responses EVERY TIME.

At Texas Roadhouse, the issue wasn’t the waiting. The issue was the effect of the lie. The gap between the expectation of the wait and the actual wait. The restaurant knew it could never meet the expectation they set but for fear of giving up business to competition, they continued to lie.

What resulted was a ton of negative response for the restaurant.

I don’t know if this is corporate policy to prevent people from leaving, or just bad management. But the point is that kind of behavior destroys your customer base. My wife will never go back to Texas Roadhouse because in her mind, the restaurant fails to meet expectations. Same for the hundred or so people who waited with us that night. And those people will influence others. In the end, it won't be worth the lying.

And that’s the worst thing that can happen to a business in the minds of its customers.


Set realistic expectations and always be honest

When you communicate with your customers through marketing or direct interaction, always, always ALWAYS set very realistic expectations.

It’s important that the expected outcome of the customer is met to avoid the negative reaction that always comes from relative deprivation.

And never, never NEVER lie to your customers as Texas Roadhouse did. You’ll scorch your customer base like a petite sirloin left on the grill.

And no amount of free peanuts will mend the relationship.




What is end-to-end (E2E) marketing? You need to know

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"Marketing" is a very ambiguous word. Unfortunately, many salesman call themselves "marketers." But that's like a flying cricket calling itself a bird.

SEO people are likewise starting to call themselves "marketers." But that's also an egregious exaggeration. SEO experts are no more complete marketers than bookkeepers are CPAs.

The fact is, there's a lot to being a true Marketer. But at it's core should be end-to-end communication, or E2E.

E2E is about constantly getting value from leads and customers you already have


E2E marketing looks past the oft-made mistake of focusing primarily on acquiring new leads/customers and puts a big spotlight on converting, up-selling, cross-selling and retaining the leads/customers you already have.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies aren't doing it. Or do it half-assed at best.

According to a 2011 Marketing Budgeting Survey from the Goldstein Group less than 10% of all marketing effort is spent on efforts to retain current customers, while the remaining 90% is focused on acquiring new customers.

The survey indicates that PPC, SEO, online banners, trade shows, print advertising, PR and collateral (all traditional acquisition marketing tools) account for that 90%, while email and other customer-focused marketing media are less than 10% of the budgeting mix.

Now, you can argue it's because E2E media are fairly inexpensive, so they are a small portion of the budget. It's a good point. And I would buy it IF I didn't see, over and over again in the organizations I work with, that the ongoing life-cycle communication strategy accounts for less than 10% of marketing's thinking and execution as well.

Batch-and-blast is still the norm

For the most part, the organizations I work with are still operating in an environment I call "batch and blast." This kind of marketing is campaign-focused and involves a marketer developing a message or two and batching a list of recipients which is then blasted out via email, direct mail or even social media.

There may be some segmentation, and there may be some variable data used in the messaging. But for the most part, the process is still campaign-focused, manual and impersonal.

Successful E2E Marketing is trigger-based, personal and automated

It doesn't matter if it's email, social media, direct mail, online banner or outbound call, smart end-to-end marketing can be made both automated AND personal. They may seem at odds, but they're not.

Your CRM (Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, etc) or Marketing Automation system (Unica, Aprimo, Alterian, Eloqua, etc.) should have workflow tools which allow you to instantly send messages to users when certain data-point requirements are met. And it should allow you to include variable data relevant to an interaction.

When a new customer buys online, you have an email communication strategy for that buyer, beyond a confirmation and thank-you email. In may initially involve an on-boarding plan which sends email messages and an outbound call from a rep. Then, you should have an ongoing communication strategy for that person, so that no matter what happens to him from there, you always deliver relevant marketing messages to him.

And segmentation and personalization helps make the message relevant and leads to staggering increases in response. You can base messages and segments on data attributes like:
  • Previous purchase history
  • Recency metrics (i.e. "We haven't served you in over six months. Come on back!")
  • Monetary metrics ("You're one of our best customers...")
  • Demographic data (age, geography, income, etc.)
  • Recent logins/visits to your website
  • Interactions with sales reps

Make marketing a process, not an event

To truly get to that next step for successful end-to-end marketing, you have to think cyclically. Marketing shouldn't be a bunch of campaigns or events you put on during the year. Marketing should be one big cycle that's tied together by data, and is designed to run automatically.

Your goal should be to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Once you do it, you increase buying and improve overall LTV (lifetime value).

Until then, you're just batching and blasting. And missing the point.