For obvious reasons, the internet is abuzz with opinions and theories about the reasons for Target's demise in Canada. This article lists some of the most common theories, including poor inventory management, the effect of the exchange rate and social-media-enabled consumer complaints. Those are all valid and reasonable speculations. But the reason is far simpler:
There was no reason to shop there.
Target entered Canada two years ago, but they offered Canadians nothing they didn't already have. Whatever success Target enjoys in the U.S. is based primarily on it's aggressive pricing. But in Canada, the proliferation of Walmart stores (391 locations, compared to Target's 133) offers us access to all the $6 t-shirts and $10 watches we can handle. Canadians that already shop at Walmart have absolutely no reason to shop at Target instead.
In the U.S., interestingly, Target and Walmart opened their first stores in the same year - 1962. That allowed Target to create, over time, a loyal customer base that keeps it running. Walmart entered Canada 19 years before Target. That head start allowed them to fully establish a leadership position in the category - an insurmountable lead in customer loyalty that Target was unable to overcome. Especially with nothing unique to offer!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS AND BUSINESS OWNERS:
This unfortunate turn of events is more evidence to suggest that for any business considering entry into an existing industry, success or failure is based on your ability to demonstrate some form of remarkable differentiator compelling enough to convince consumers to stop shopping where they are used to shopping and start shopping with you.
A daunting task indeed.
Why do you think Target failed?
Teasing the social media audience just enough to compel them to click on the post to get the rest of the content promised in the tease.
I don't like it.
It's too antisocial.
Take the above Facebook example. "Unreal photobomb occurs at surf competition". The photo in the post is a stock image of an ocean. Wouldn't it make sense for the photo in the post about a photo to BE THE ACTUAL PHOTO?!
Instead, if we want to see the real photo, not the fake photo, we have to click through to the site. That's click-baiting.
The site wants traffic so it can capture the browser's interest in hopes of building brand association and loyalty. It also wants traffic so it can sell advertising on the site.
I get it.
Doesn't mean I have to like it.
Here's the antisocial part. They're using a social experience (in this case Facebook) for purely promotional means. They're engaging in tactics designed to boost revenue, within the social channel. That's not what the social channel is for! People already hate Facebook for the advertising they allow on the site (again, see image above), and now we add this advertising-tactic-in-disguise to the experience?
Imagine you're at a party and one of the guests says "Hey, I've got a great joke! But to hear it, you have to come to my place". That's bad social behaviour, and it's no different than click-baiting on social media.
What can we do about it? As social media participants we can ignore it, we can choose not to click, and we can accept the fact that it's happening. Web sites gotta make money, and they're going to use whatever means possible.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
But as marketers, we can make change! Post the photo! Give away the content! Make your audience so happy to have immediate access to entertaining, enriching and enjoyable content that they will use THAT as the reason to engage with your site. Who knows, it may even be more effective than click-baiting in the first place!
What do you think? Is it a necessary evil for marketers starved for opportunities to engage with an audience? Or is it antisocial behaviour that needs to be combatted?
NOTE: Facebook is combatting this issue to the extent that they can. But it will be hard for them. Here's an article explaining their plan to stop... or at least diminish... click-baiting.
Let’s think about that term for a second...
a-ware-ness - noun
1. knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
For a business to have awareness, the market must have knowledge of their existence and/or some sort of idea of what the business does. Furthermore, since the internet (and specifically social media) has enabled sharing and social validation among peers, brands are relying on ordinary people to create that brand awareness on their behalf.
What does this all mean? Businesses need to make it crystal clear what they do, and they need to make it easy for ordinary people to tell other people what they do.
Enter Big Ass Fans, from Lexington, Kentucky. They make, well, big ass fans.
Not only is it clear what they do, but they’ve made it memorable (see logo). And shareable.
Next time you or someone you know needs a large-scale fan for a large-scale building, I dare you to forget their name.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES:
To win the battle for awareness:
Case(s) in point:
Give me other examples of businesses that are so simple and so memorable.
To make a long story short, my sister booked flights through a rewards agent, only to discover that the flight was quite full, and since she has two children under 4, she wanted confirmation that she would be given the LAST set of three seats in a row (as opposed to three single seats scattered throughout the plane). Air Canada's rule is that advance seat selection has to be done on the phone.
You know where this is going, don't you.
After waiting on hold for 3.5 hours (that's not a typo), she finally gave up and went to sleep. The next day she was able to confirm that she wouldn't be separated from her very young children, for a mere $150 extra.
During this ordeal, in an effort to help (and also as an experiment), I took to Twitter to see if that would be more helpful to her. You can click on the image for the conversation, but basically they said nothing helpful: "...thank you for your patience..."; "...high volume of calls right now..."; "...that's our policy..."; blah blah.
On one hand, at least they were listening and apologetic. On the other hand, they didn't help her at all, which arguably makes her angrier.
What's worse; to answer but provide no assistance, reassurance or compassion? Or to not answer at all?
The owner of a small bakery in London, England describes her recent Groupon experience as "without doubt, my worst ever business decision".
I respectfully and earnestly disagree. But I'll get to that.
Rachel Brown, through Groupon, decided to offer $40 worth of cupcakes for $10. 8,500 people took her up on the offer! In a very short period of time, she needed to bake over 100,000 cupcakes, forcing her to hire extra staff which resulted in a $20,000 "loss" on the Groupon experience. She went on to say "we had thousands of orders pouring in that really we hadn't expected to have". And she described that as a bad thing.
That has to be the first time in history that someone complained about thousands of unexpected orders.
Now, I get that for small businesses, an unexpected $20,000 expense can be overwhelming and difficult to accomodate financially. But I think she's missing the bigger picture. She just sold 100,000 cupcakes!
Let's remove Groupon from the picture for a moment. Imagine someone approached her and a month ago and guaranteed her 8,500 new customers for $20,000. "Where do I sign?" would most certainly have been the response. But because it all happened so quickly and because she wasn't prepared for it, she is portraying the experience as negative, as is the media. I also think that because Groupon was involved, the temptation is to lay blame there. Groupon is tremendously successful (and powerful as a result) which I think makes them a target. But that's not my main point here.
Mostly, I want Ms. Brown (and other business owners) to consider the other outcomes of this experience:
- 8,500 people now know of a local bakery that sells great cupcakes, sometimes at a discount.
- The bakery has received immeasurable media exposure (which is surely worth $20,000 on its own).
- The word-of-mouth exposure has surely been significant ("You should see the deal I got at Need a Cake...")
Add all that up and you get business value that far exceeds what $20,000 can buy.
That's the point. If you think of this as an investment in the marketing of the bakery, it's an overwhelming success.
What I really hope is that they somehow captured the contact information of the 8,500 new customers (I really, really hope they captured email addresses). If so, imagine the potential for future business from an audience that has clearly demonstrated a willingness to purchase baked goods with the right offer. If not, well, that would be the real failure in all of this.
I am really interesting in your opinion on this. Do you agree? Am I missing something?
Blasphemy! How could I even suggest such a thing, right?
Hear me out.
I don't have a problem with fiscal responsibility. The problem is the math.
For years, business managers and marketers have been calculating Marketing ROI as a way to justify spending, staffing and other 'investments'. They've been creating metrics to measure such as calls to a dedicated phone number, coupon redemptions, new leads and more. Then, after comparing those metrics to the cost of the corresponding campaigns, they get a tidy ROI calculation that is used to evaluate marketing efforts and justify campaigns going forward.
Enter social media. The emergence of social media as a mission-critical marketing tactic (and investment) has given ROI heightened importance. And rightly so. Business owners want to be able to justify spending more time and money on a new (supplemental) marketing discipline, marketers are better able to measure 'return' (since most response can at least be observed, in the form of Retweets, Likes, and so on), and managers that don't quite yet see the value or importance of social media for business can at least see that it has a positive ROI.
So, we agree that the concept of validating effort and investment is worthwhile. My problem is assigning a mathematical calculation to marketing. It can't be measured. I should clarify: it's difficult if not impossible to measure response, let alone attribute that response to a specific, measurable investment.
Let me use some examples to illustrate my thought process.
Many marketers measure web traffic (and even online sales) against investment in email development for an email ROI calculation. Seems logical, right? Sure, but maybe some of those browsers / purchasers were more influenced by something like a friend's recommendation, and were merely inspired to buy by the email? That visit / purchase may not be directly attributable to the email alone. How is the investment in word-of-mouth, which happened much earlier, factored into the equation?
Another example: Many marketers measure Twitter Followers against the time invested in Twitter engagement for a Twitter ROI. Logical again. But there is also a correlation between the value of the content being tweeted and the number of Followers. How do you factor the genius of the person writing the tweets into the equation?
Another example: How do you even measure the return of a billboard campaign?
There are many other examples of ROI calculations that are first of all based on metrics that are hard to measure, and second of all not necessarily directly attributable to the tactic being measured. In legal circles it's comparable to circumstantial evidence.
So what's my solution?
Don't get me wrong, you should continue to care about ROI, but stop trying to calculate it mathematically. Instead think of it this way: "To what extent will this marketing tactic help me reach my objectives?" That's your 'return'. That thought process allows you to assign a grade or rating to the tactics accordingly. For example, if one of your objectives is to better manage your brand reputation, social media helps you achieve that objective to a great extent. Then, assign a measure of 'investment' to that tactic. Keeping with social media as the example, the monetary investment is $0, but the investment of time is considerable. So in this case, the 'return' is great, and the investment is 'considerable'. That's about the best you can do. The challenge then becomes comparing that tactic (social media) against other tactics to determine where you will direct your (presumably limited) resources (time and/or money). Are there tactics that help you achieve your objective(s) to a greater extent, with a less considerable investment of time and/or money? If so, do that first.
All of this is designed to help you understand where you should dedicate resources. That's the key to marketing management. There are lots of marketing tactics - all of them worthwhile. But for those businesses that don't have unlimited resources, you need to be choosy. You need to, as best you can, determine which marketing tactics deserve your investment. That's where this new way of thinking comes in.
Instead of ROI, I call it ETWTAOAITM: Extent To Which the Tactic Achieves the Objectives Against the Investment in Time and/or Money. The acronym sucks, I know. Hopefully the concept helps you make better marketing decisions!
Defend the ROI! Let me know why you still calculate an ROI for your marketing, other than because your boss makes you.
Facebook just rolled out a fairly significant change to users' home pages today.
This isn't the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. However, this one feels different. It feels worse.
The primary difference in the redesign is the 'featured stories' emphasis. The prime real estate of the page is occupied by 'Recent Stories' and stories 'From Earlier Today". These 'stories' are posts from my friends and the Pages I Like that Facebook deems to be most interesting to me. Gone... or should I say pushed to the side... is the simple chronological feed of updates.
In the past I haven't made much of a deal about Facebook redesigns - there's a period of resistance and opposition, but eventually people get used to it and move on. But in this case things are different. Facebook has decided that it will decide what's important to me.
I'm not sure I like that.
How do they know what's important to me? And what gives them the right to show me just that? I'm sure they know a lot about what's important to me based on the Pages I Like, the comments I post, and other clues. But every once in a while I like to look at random things or read about topics that are new.
Before this redesign it was quite clear that Facebook was collecting these 'Top Stories' as they were called, but I had the choice to toggle between 'Top Stories' or 'Most Recent', and each was given the same amount of attention. Now, if I want the most recent, I have to scroll through the small, cramped window that's been dismissed to the corner.
Facebook, I don't agree with the liberties you have taken, nor with the implication that you know what I like.
I only wish there was something I could do about it.
What do you think? Am I overreacting? Will I just get used to the change like every one before this?
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!
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