Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thinking About Words: Part 1 "Snafu" and "Kudos"

Words can be fun. 

That sentiment sounds like the title of a 1960’s era elementary school textbook. 

But in fact, some of us consider it fun to contemplate word origin, usage and history of words. 

A previous blog post warned against “Blah Blah” words commonly found in marketing and there are plenty of those around in b-to-b marketing-speak.  Blah blah text sneaks into too much of my marketing copywriting like “leverage”, “world-class”, “industry leading” and other blah blah terms.

This time, though, the fun comes from thinking about the origin of words.  

For this first installment of the recurring “Thinking About Words” blog posting, let’s focus on two words, shall we? Snafu and Kudos…

The word “Snafu” seems to occur regularly in my conversations in an average week.  I just heard it today at a meeting.  It’s a fun word to say, and most dictionaries define it as “chaotic or confused situation” or “in a state of confusion or chaos”. Snafu can also refer to a bad situation, mistake, or cause of trouble.

What might not be commonly known is that SNAFU is an acronym that stands for Situation Normal: All F***end up. Removing the foul word, it can also stand for Situation Normal All Fouled Up.

According to various online research, the acronym originated in the US Army during World War II.

Who knew?

Kudos is another word one hears in a range of settings.  

Kudos is loosely based on a Greek word meaning "praise" or “good job” or even “well done”.  Online research from “Take Our Word” website notes the term entered English as university slang.  The first known recorded use of kudos comes from 1831. 

Interestingly, folks in the UK pronounce the word Kudos as "cue-doss" while in America it is "koo-doze". 

If taking a wild guess, I would have thought Kudos had its origins in Latin. Yet digging a bit deeper shows it is basically a co-opted American slang-word.

Looking for More?

As you undoubtedly agree after wading through this blog post, it can be fun (a time-waster, but fun nonetheless) thinking about words. 

Want to think some more? Then be sure to visit one of the web’s leading resources on all things words - Wordnik.

Wordnik bills itself as “a place for all the words, and everything known about them.” And they do a great job in that regard

Check out the “Word of the Day” just for fun. 

Wordnik goes to town with other word-related info.  For example, this page about the word “Kudos” features a chart detailing the number of occurrences of the word "kudos" per million words from the 1800’s to today.  How do they know this stuff?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thank You MarketingSherpa, for Your Useful and Timely Wisdom

I’m never disappointed when I click over to MarketingSherpa.

Chances are, you’re familiar with this organization.  But if not, MarketingSherpa is an online community dedicated to providing useful marketing resources and research.

As they note on the About section of their website,  the name "Sherpa" refers to the Sherpas – or guides -- of Nepal who guide climbers up Mount Everest. The goal of this for-profit entity is to guide marketers through their tough climb toward great marketing results.  They do this by providing research on 'what works.' 

Chart of the Week
The chart of the week is especially interesting – there's a new one shared every Tuesday. The one posted above summarizes top objectives of email marketing, as gathered from one of their member research analysis.

Wisdom Report
Other content offers additional value. For instance,   I just stumbled upon a useful document entitled the 2011 Wisdom Report.  As always, it is a concise and succinct summary of shared wisdom related to direct marketing, list management, social media marketing, and online marketing.

Please read it for yourself – it is available as a free download (not sure how long, the offer will be valid, though). 

In the interest of this blog posting, here are a few standout nuggets of wisdom.

Importance of  driving traffic to website
No matter the b-to-b marketing program, be it a press release, media coverage, guest blog posting, Tweet, LinkedIn update or banner ad, never minimize the importance of driving traffic to your website.  Embed links to your site, as many as you possible can. Of course, you must provide a clear “call to action” on your website once folks land there, but all programs should aim to drive traffic back to your own domain, not somebody else’s. The report shares the conventional wisdom other folks have learned about this important goal.

Social media marketing
I’ve covered this before in various blog postings, but this research reminds us that social media marketing needs to be “social” and focus on =connecting and engaging with folks relevant to the business.  Don’t just blast your message.  Engage, connect, pose questions, answer questions about the topics and industry trends that make sense for your company. Consistency is key.  A regular (daily) stream of postings goes a long way to communicate about a company’s brand.  

One especially useful nugget: “Successful social media marketing is about identifying the most influential members of your audience and leveraging them to achieve your key business goals.”

Pay attention to the horror story one company experienced – engaging with an agency to manage their social media marketing at a rate of $7500 pre month, only to garner a miserable ROI. 

The importance of communicating  "targeted content to segmented lists"
The more timely the message, the better the open rate and conversion rate (amount of people who take an action like download a report) when it comes to direct mail.  We’ve proved this time and again at various clients.  Open rates of messages improve when a subject line is tweaked to target the list segment of recipients. This research reminds us of this important fact.

Download the 2011 Wisdom Report today. Bookmark the MarketingSherpa website and visit it often!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Five New Year’s Resolutions for B-to-B Marketers

B-2-B marketers are a busy group of folks.  For many marketing departments, the to-do list seems never-ending. There’s always another marketing campaign to generate; tradeshow to plan and attend; eNewsletter to write and distribute; prospect database to build; Adword campaign to launch; and so on.

Before this first month of 2011 ends, it might be useful to commit to a set of resolutions as a way to give focus to efforts.  This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, just a way to place priorities.  Hope it is helpful as we start the New Year of business-to-business marketing. 

1) Test your marketing programs, when you can.  If you have a CRM solution, split direct email marketing messages into A/B groups and test one element at a time.  Test the placement of a download button; test a subject line for the best open rates; test design elements like photos; test headlines.  Use Google Optimizer tools to A/B test two pages of a website. See which message or page gets the largest open rate or conversion rate.  This approach is truly liberating and focuses effort on the optimized, best performing elements.

2) Ask somebody else outside of the organization to review your content.  This is a favorite subject, as my colleagues likely know.  Did you just write a web page, brochure or eNewsletter?  Let somebody outside the organization, who is in the same general industry, read the content and see if resonates or hits the mark.  Getting feedback from folks outside the organization is a low-cost, high impact strategy for improved marketing communications.

3) Make campaigns as relevant and timely as possible.  Here’s a resolution to put into place as much as possible.  Just yesterday President Obama signed a new food safety bill into law, and a Markit Strategies client sent a notice reminding our team of the news.  We quickly sent out a direct marketing message to food industry folks in the prospect database addressing how the client’s products help meet the new mandates.  The message was emailed that same afternoon (subject line: Food Safety Bill Signed Today. Now What?)   The timely nature of the subject line and content helped garner a nearly 8% open rate (that’s pretty good!) and very high conversions responding to the offer, plus a few direct calls right into the sales team.  The timely nature of the message was a big part of the success.  Let’s do that again!

4) Make measurements meaningful.  Measuring success in b-to-b marketing is critical, as long as you choose the most meaningful metric. In the case above, two measurements helped us gauge success: open rates -- the number of emails opened by recipients of the email; and conversion rates --- the percentage of email recipients who visited the website or downloaded a form by clicking on a link in the email.  Likewise, when measuring social media engagement on Twitter don’t concentrate on number of followers, but analyze the type of followers (do they fit a certain profile?), along with their level of engagement in terms of mentions or retweets.  Measuring engagement is pretty significant in terms of social media programs.

5) Keep learning! Try something new!  That means attending webinars, participating with professional groups like IABC Detroit, or attending conferences such as Usability Week conferences by Norman Nielsen Group to keep skills fresh.  Resolve to keep abreast of current thought about social media marketing, SEO and online marketing. Learn a new skill?  Try it out to see if it garners results.

Happy New Year, all!