March 06, 2012

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The 48 Hour Imperative Every marketer makes offers. The difference between the successful marketers and the also-rans is follow-up. Fast, personal, on-point follow-up turns a random offer or a blind pitch into the beginnings of a meaningful relationship. More great campaigns have been killed by the lack of fast-acting follow-up than anything else. The most effective marketers build follow-up communications into the initial plan. Why? First, to break through the clutter. Prospects are busy, not paying close attention and not looking for a message from you. Distracted by others they are generally bombarded by messages that don’t matter to them. Second, to differentiate your brand. Prospects are so used to being ignored or treated with one-size-fits-all messages that when you actually listen and respond you instantly separate yourself from the pack. And if you listen and respond in ways that are personal, relevant and synchronize with what they told you or what they want -- you have a momentary shot at becoming their new best friend. Both forms of follow-up require a strategy and technology to implement. Map out the most likely responses to your offer and how you intend to respond to each one. Drawing a schematic forces you to think practically. Those squiggles on paper lay out the links between your marketing concepts and your infrastructure. The process forces you to factor in all the people, systems, channels and departments that will have to work in concert to effectively follow-up. It helps if you can program “triggers” and automate much of the follow-up. Triggers should be linked to choices that prospects make. If they select a particular industry, they are offered White Paper #1. If they are actively in a buying cycle, they get different content and your inside sales team gets cued. The BANT criteria should shape how you trigger follow-up messages. So should elapsed time. 48 hours is the outside limit for follow-up messaging. If a prospect took an action, you have to assume some level of conscious action. But in the same moment you must anticipate that the conscious action is at the low end of the urgency or value scale. Therefore unless you follow-up while your brand still lingers in short term memory caches, the prospect will forget that they had any interaction with you whatsoever. The offer-response-follow-up cycle has to be rhythmic. If they download the white paper, an automatic e-mail is sent out 48 hours later to assess readership, satisfaction and next steps. If they take the benchmarking survey, their results are automatically compiled and e-mailed at the end of that business day, a reminder or follow-up message is automatically sent 48 hours later and the compilation of survey results is automatically dispatched 30 days hence. Treat each response like a nuclear isotope with 48 our half-life. Act quickly to follow-up and respond, probe or ask for preferences. We live in a world of nanoseconds. After 48 hours your precious prospect interaction lost and so is whatever cash or capital you spent to create the moment.
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You & Your Data You've probably been hearing a lot about Big Data; huge databases accumulated by companies. The challenge is to make sense of that data in ways that personalize the experience for consumers and sell more stuff. The other faster moving data trend is collecting different sets of data, linking them and automating them to serve specific purposes. A huge number of start-ups are based on this premise. They use Facebook, as the database of choice because it’s rich (and getting richer each day) in personal information and because Facebook has made it easy and cheap for developers to get access to its data. Imagine a travel company that uses your Facebook info (posts, photos, apps, games) to figure out what kind of traveler you are. They know or can infer who you are, where you went, whom you went with and what you did there. Then they marry your info to a database of travel locations and deals and serve you up offers that match your style and your inferred budget. The richer the data sets; the richer the value to you and to them. The underlying assumption is that people will appreciate data mash-ups because it will yield more personal, relevant and valuable ways to enrich our lives expand our connections one to each other and make our money go further. At the moment this might seem, far-fetched. But when you realize that more than 25% of the population has always lived with the Internet and is very comfortable with living out loud, sharing their actions and ideas publicly and is quickly embracing the latest technology, you can begin to see the near-term future. The use of data is simultaneously creepy and useful. Studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans will trade off private data for utility or value. As data sets automatically talk to each other, this trade-off will be perceived as less scary and more useful. We’ll get used to being cued and prompted easily and quickly. A principle tool for data collection is your mobile phone. You may not realize it but everything you do with your phone is stored and captured. It’s easy to figure out who you talk to or text, how often, from where and at what times. Your phone's GPS device records and potentially tracks or monitors your whereabouts and movements. The built-in accelerometer can imply what activities you do, the speed you do it and the likely impact. There are many apps with sensors that measure and record vital stats like blood pressure, heart rate, etc. All of these technologies reveal a great deal about you that could be used to personalize offers and enrich or personalize a brand experience. This is data arena is where technologists and entrepreneurs are playing today. There will be some horrific privacy breaches and some amazing new gadgets that come out of this tension between privacy and technology.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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