We help you figure out the “Why”

When I go to the doctor, which I try to avoid, he typically asks questions and perhaps even runs a couple of quick tests before he prescribes a custom solution to remedy my situation.

I’ve never walked into his office expecting a prescription for something without his initial analysis.  In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  When it comes to my health, I want to know “why” something is being prescribed before we get to the “what.”

Is you experience similar?

How We Work

Over the years, I’ve often thought about this analogy is terms of how I work.  It’s also how Fruition Interactive begins any client engagement.  We like to ask a lot of questions before offering solutions.  We typically like to get a 360 degree look at someone’s business (or situation) before we recommend the “what.”  We wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it any other way.

Why?

Mainly, it’s because most people (not all, but many) don’t think about online marketing in the right context.  Sure, they know what they want (brand awareness, leads, sales), but they think tactics, not strategy.

They ask the “what” questions:

“What’s our web site (and blog) going to look like (do)?”

“What can we do on Facebook and Twitter?”

“What’s it all going to cost?”

Start Asking Why

Everyone gets so excited (and busy) about launching new sites and social media initiatives that sometimes they completely put aside strategy (the why).

Instead of asking “what” ask “why”:

“Why should people come to our web site?”

“Why should we be on Facebook and/or Twitter?”

When you understand the “why”, you’ll then know why people want to be a part of your community, buy from you, and tell others about you.  You’ll know what success looks like.

This is what we help you do.

We ask a lot of questions to help you figure out the “why” (before the what).

So, when’s the last time you had a check-up?

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning is the VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive. He’s spent 10+ years (and put in his 10,000 hours) working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the PROFIT 100. At any given moment, Mitch can be brainstorming ideas for a client, writing for blogs he contributes to, or resting under a tree in a quiet vineyard with @treatqueendiva.

Photo credit: anyjazz65

What does success look like?

One of the questions we like to ask our clients when we start working with them on an engagement is “how are we measuring the success of this?” And often clients aren’t sure how to measure the success of their online marketing efforts. So we help them establish some Key Performance Indicators — important things to measure that drive the health and success of the business overall — and put in place analytics systems to measure those things.

Recently we evolved that practice to include creating something we call an Online Marketing Dashboard. It’s a simple spreadsheet that we use to capture a birds-eye view of important online success measures on a month-to-month basis.

So what does an Online Marketing Dashboard look like. Well, for us — Fruition uses one, of course — we identified 4 key things that online marketing does to build our bottom line as a company:

  • Creating awareness of our company
  • Engaging potential customers with our ideas and perspectives
  • Spreading the influence of our ideas
  • Generating leads

And for each of those general categories, we  identified some measures that would indicate the extent to which we were being successful at doing each of those things. For us, our main online marketing vehicles are our Web site, our blog, Twitter and LinkedIn and our metrics reflect that.

So, for instance, to measure the growing (we hope) awareness of our business, we track our Web and blog unique visitors and total visits, our Twitter + LinkedIn followers and our Google PageRank. To measure our success at creating engagement with our community, we track comments on our Blog and on our LinkedIn posts, Twitter ReTweets and mentions, average time spent by  visitors to our site and blog as well as  the number of page views per visit on our site and blog.

It goes on like that, but I think you get the idea.

To be truly effective, your Online Marketing Dashboard needs to be tailored to your business goals as well as to your specific online marketing activities.

How about you? Are you measuring your online marketing success? How are you tracking your success? I’d love to hear your tips and insights, too.

Your Website Is Not Important

I’m always looking to improve any web site (media property) I own, contribute to, represent, or help bring to life.  I’m mainly referring of course to [fruitioninteractive.com] and [mitchellfanning.com].

I’m consistently tweaking and fiddling with these sites in an effort to optimize results.  At the same time, however, I’m keenly aware these sites are not as important to you.  It’s not your morning destination.  It’s not the place you go to first thing to see “what’s new.”

I’m okay with that.

Why?

Mainly because, I’d rather be hanging out where my audience “is” (and so should you).

So where do people hang out?  I’m glad you asked.

Search Engines

No doubt about it, the minute someone hears something about you (or meets you in person) and want to know more, the first place they go is to their favorite  search engine to see, exactly, what your story is.

The point.

There is a digital footprint that represents you and your business on every major search engine.  The first page of search results is your “brand” and the way the world sees you.

Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.

Here’s the deal…much of what determines ranking position of your web site (in a search engine) is now mainly due to what happens off the page, in the form of links from other sites, which brings me to my next point.

Social Networks

Consider this fact.

People now wake up and check their Facebook and/or Twitter streams (usually on their smartphones) to get a handle on what’s happening in the world.

More importantly, social networks are where your audience hangs out.  It also happens to be an effective way to attract links and increase your search engine rankings.

Put simply: If your content isn’t good enough to attract good, natural links (via authoritative sites like Facebook and Twitter), it doesn’t matter how “optimized” the content is on your web site.

The Lesson

Spending time improving your web properties is fine.  Just make sure you’re also hanging out where your audience is and stay focused on ensuring your brand is being properly maintained on those online channels.

So, where do you hang out online?

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning is the VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive. He’s spent 10+ years (and put in his 10,000 hours) working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the PROFIT 100. At any given moment, Mitch can be brainstorming ideas for a client, writing for blogs he contributes to, or resting under a tree in a quiet vineyard with @treatqueendiva.

Photo credit: mandyxclear

Online Video: Keep It Fun, Simple, and Entertaining

It’s no secret online video is effective.

The reason is clear: video simply engages people in a way that static text and images cannot. There are dozens of studies (and recent examples) that show the power of video to boost customer interaction, encourage viral sharing, and build brand awareness.

One only has to go back a week ago to realize this fact. So, in honour of Isaiah Mustafa (The Old Spice Guy), here are my two all-time online video campaigns:

Enjoy!

The Old Spice Guy

Despite all the recent backlash, I’ve enjoyed this campaign from the beginning (disclosure: I happen to use Old Spice :) ).

After two days and an incredible 185 personal responses to fan queries on Old Spice‘s YouTube channel, actor Isaiah Mustafa signed off last Wednesday in what could be the most successful social media experiment to date.

The ‘real-time’ brand assault made Old Spice’s YouTube channel the most-viewed channel of the day and the fourth-most subscribed to date at the video sharing site and garnered an avalanche of awestruck media praise and sites including Mashable, Reddit, and Digg.

Update [7/28/2010]: Since posting this article, according to Mashable, Old Spice body wash sales have increased 107% in the past month in part thanks to this social media marketing campaign.

Will It Blend?

Small home appliance maker Blendtec’s first “Will it Blend” video featured a man in a lab coat turning a handful of glass marbles into dust using one of the company’s home blenders. That video has received million of views since it was put online in 2006.

The videos have certainly gotten a little more flashy since their debute, but the idea is essentially still the same simple formula: blender + common object (that you wouldn’t normally put in a blender) = viral video hit.

The Lesson

Why have these videos worked so well and had so much staying power? In no small part, it’s because they kept it fun, simple, and entertaining. Stodgy sales pitches don’t work on the web, but short, goofy, wacky, and unexpected almost always does.

How can you start using online video to make a real connection with your audience?

This is Mitch, on a horse…signing off :)

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning is the VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive. He’s spent 10+ years (and put in his 10,000 hours) working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the PROFIT 100. At any given moment, Mitch can be brainstorming ideas for a client, writing for various blogs he contributes to, or resting under a tree in a quiet vineyard with @treatqueendiva.

The Old Spice Man backlash has started. Is it justified?

So the Old Spice Man backlash has begun.

Time (speaking of brands that could use an update), is calling the campaign a #fail because sales have reportedly dropped by 7% (comparing June 09/10 to the previous year. The blogosphere’s piling on, too, with BNet and Jezebel taking a few kicks at the Man Your Man Could Smell Like (and I don’t know about you, but I get ALL of my marketing advice from Jezebel).

So how could this be? The Man has had over 12 million YouTube views and counting, they’ve had thousands of people participate in their interactive video push, they’ve had more positive earned media mentions than anyone other than their PR agency can count. By every “soft” category of measurement — exposure, engagement, influence — Old Spice Man has been a HUGE success.

So why isn’t that translating into hard ROI?

Jezebel has a theory — it’s about gender (surprise) — and the industry  is starting to play this as a repeat of the old “great creative doesn’t get results” story.

I’ve got another theory: the numbers are bullshit (for now).

Leaving aside the fact that the sales data exclude WalMart, let’s look at the time period. Years ending June 2009 vs June 2010.

Old Spice Man launched in February of 2010, so on the surface it makes sense that you should see some lift in the units sold data for year ending June 2010.

But The Man didn’t really start to go viral until May/June of this year (at least that’s when I first saw him, and I don’t think I’m THAT far out of the loop)[correction: i just looked it up -- I first saw The Man in February, although it feels a lot more recent than that]. And Proctor and Gamble (Old Spice’s parent company) didn’t make their REAL viral push — with their “get a custom message from the Old Spice Man” thing — until mid-July.

Last week I tweeted a link to 7 Social Media Lessons you can Learn form the Old Spice Man. Here’s the 8th lesson: social media marketing takes time.

It takes time to build relationships. It takes time for the people that know, like and trust you to develop the intention to become your customers. Heck, it takes time to run out of body wash and to need to go buy more.

Social media marketing isn’t a campaign. It isn’t something that you can flip a switch on and see lift from  next week. It’s a process. A process that’s built on long-term awareness and engagement.

Old Spice Man is building that engagement, so I’m not ready to write him off yet.

Think Like a Publisher

In a recent blog post, I discussed the importance of making sure your home (on the web) was ready to entertain guests (generate leads).

If you’re past that point and are in the process of assessing your digital marketing efforts (or lack of) to investigate new ways to build influence and attract clients, undoubtedly you’ve run into the term content marketing.

Simply put, content marketing is creating and publishing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined target audience – with the objective of driving profitable action.

Think About It

How do you find useful information to make decisions?

Sure, you might call somebody you know (a “go-to person” on the particular subject), but if that’s not an option you (or someone who works for you) probably jump on a search engine, blog site you’ve bookmarked, or social network.

Well, according to Nielsen, that’s what you might do :).  The recent study revealed for the first time ever, blog sites and social networks are visited by three quarters of global consumers who go online – an increase of 24% over last year (Google and Bing were #1 and #2 respectively).

Are the people you’re trying to reach any different?

Maybe your prospective clients have been online today searching for you (or someone like you).  Imagine for a moment, when they found “you” they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes consuming your online content (then contacted you).

This is the power of content marketing.

How To Adopt a Publishing Model

In almost every introduction to content marketing, you’ve undoubtedly heard (or read) phrases like, “you are the media” or “think like a publisher.  Most people, however, have a hard time conceptualizing what this means or how they can successfully apply the concept in their business.

Here are the 4 crucial steps to consider:

Mind-Set

Often, the first step (or obstacle to overcome) to publishing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage your target audience is changing your mind-set on “what you do” as a business.

Companies that have made this mental leap see themselves as ‘publishers’ (first) who just happen to sell stuff (or provide services).  They create content that teaches and inspires action.  As a result, they build a tribe of profitable and loyal repeat clients.

Most importantly, however, small to mid-sized enterprises who change the way they think about content output start delivering content through multiple outputs and creators – i.e. tweets, videos, photos, podcasts, blog posts.  Instead of just one output, there might be 5, 10, or even 20 pieces of content being created by multiple people in the company at the same time.

What if the entire company told your story online?

Listen

As a rule, when someone mentions “Fruition Interactive” online we want to know about it so we can comment.  However, listening also helps to make better decisions on the kind of content that is important to your clients.

Set up Google alerts to target keywords that are important to your brand. Next, identify the blogs, social networks, and other places where your clients (readers) might hang out.

Now just watch and listen.

Recruit an internal champion

Adopting a publishing model for your business won’t just happen.  You need an internal driver.  Find someone internally to champion this initiative (someone with real passion for using social media). This person will be your lead trainer and evangelist.

Find content rock stars

Speak to your employees and determine their interest in becoming content creators.  Set up the tools for each of your employees and develop a social media policy that will help employees tell your story.

Train each employee how to write effectively for the web and share their experiences through the web and social media.  Next, consider recruiting key content creators (bloggers and subject experts) from your industry to align with your publishing brand (web site and media properties).  Most organizations have just a few key content creators, why not have an army.

What did I miss?

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning is the VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive.  He’s spent 10+ years (and put in his 10,000 hours) working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the PROFIT 100.

Photo credit: purdman1

Is JustCoz.org the REAL Influence Project?

Last week I wrote about the negative buzz that Fast Comany created with their Influence Project (nope, not feeding them another link) and the backlash from actual prominent influencers.

To quickly recap: with the Influence Project, FC is asking people to sign up to receive a personalized link to the FC Web site. Particpants send the link to their circle and ask them to click on the link. Each click counts as a vote, the most clicks wins “Most Influential Person Online” and gets on the cover of Fast Company. Critics, myself included, dismissed the project as a vapid attempt to milk people’s egos in order to generate more clicks (and therefore more revenue) and more links ( and therefore higher page rank and therefore more long term clicks) for the publisher.

It was the utter meaninglessness of the whole exercise that really got under people’s skin.

I think I’ve fou d the antidote or at least a really cool alternative way to leverage your online influence AND create some meaning in the world. It’s called JustCoz.org.

JustCoz Model

Co-founded byJeff Pulver, whose mega-resume includes co-founding VOiP pioneer Vonage, JustCoz.org asks participants to use their influence to spread the word for a cause or charity of their choosing throughout their community.

Here’s how it works:

Cause-based organizations — they need to be using Twitter as part of their communication strategy — register with JustCoz and create a listing to be posted to the JustCoz.org Web site.

Would-be influencers register with the site and choose a cause from the listings. From there, JustCoz.org manages the day-to-day mechanics of retweeting one message a day from the cause to your Twitter account.

It’s simple, it’s sweet. And best of all it’s a meaningful way to use your influence online. I think that’s worth a magazine cover.

Is Your Home (on the Web) Ready for Guests?

Ian Elmes (my father-in-law-to-be) is a distinguished architect for the Quartek Group.  Like most traditional professions, when someone mentions they’re an architect, it’s inherently understood what they do.

For the most part, architects plan, design and supervise the construction of buildings for people to occupy and use.  Most importantly, architects along with their team of planners, engineers, and designers bring “living space” to life.  They create “destinations,” which meet both the requirements of the client and their guests and visitors.

We Create Homes Too

More and more, as the digital marketing landscape grows in complexity, I often remind people that creating a web strategy is very similar to building, decorating (re-decorating), and inviting guests to your home.

Before you ask people to come over, you need to get your home (website) ready.  If you’re in the building or re-decorating stage your focus should not only be on your needs, but on the needs of your guests (entertainment & education) and what will encourage them to stick around (interactive media & content).

Next, start to think about the different rooms in your home and how they all serve a different purpose, from the decor and furniture (branding and design) to the living room (community and conversation).  Once your home is ready for guests it’s time to show them how to get to the front door (advertising).

Lastly, before your guests leave, make sure you get permission to connect with them again to let them know when the next ‘get-together’ is (loyalty).

The point?

Before fiddling around with search engine marketing, social networks, email, mobile applications, wikis, widgets, and all the other buzz words you hear on a daily basis, make sure your home (on the web) is in order and ready to entertain guests.

So when can I expect an invite?

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning recently became VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive. He’s spent 10+ years (and put in his 10,000 hours) working with businesses of all sizes, from global brand (NBC.com, Nestle) to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the PROFIT 100, creating, selling, implementing both traditional and digital marketing opt-in strategies.

Photo credit Will Scullin