Most marketers, I hope, are familiar with traditional push-pull strategies.  But, me being me, I don’t like to assume things–we all know what happens when you do that.

If you’re unfamiliar with push and pull marketing, here’s the gist of it:

  • Push marketing aggressively seeks out the consumer, often incentivizing them with discounts and special offerings.  This strategy touts, or pushes, these deals to customers so they’ll buy.
  • Pull marketing generates brand awareness, essentially pulling the customer in because they want to learn more.

Not clear enough? Let’s look at some examples.

Traditional Push Example

Anything that urges you to strike while the iron is hot or claims to offer an unbeatable deal is typically a push strategy.  Think “limited time hotel deals” and the “McDonald’s Dollar Menu.”

Traditional Pull Example

Unlike push strategies which tend to be rather blunt, pull strategies are much more subtle.  They don’t simply use low prices to market their product.  They aim to build brand awareness.  Think Apple and Red Bull.

Apple rarely pushes their products onto their customers via special offers.  Innovative advertising and word-of-mouth pulls customers in.  Red Bull, which also uses innovative advertising, uses sponsorships–X Games, Formula 1, etc.– as well to rope people in.

While some companies lean heavily on the push and some heavily on the pull, most companies try to strike a balance between the two.  After all, it’s tough to generate awareness without putting your name out there.

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about traditional marketing.  How does this tie into what you’re really here to learn about, online marketing?

A New Push-Pull Strategy for Online Marketing

Make no mistake about it–online marketing is still marketing.  All the general principles still apply.  And with Panda, Penguin, and any future cuddly updates, online marketers are being forced to get back to basics.

That being said, the Internet is a relatively new medium for marketers.  With social networks popping up left and right, the people, the customers, are out there. We’re no longer marketing to “Internet users.”  We’re marketing to people with faces, with online profiles full of information.

With those customers at our finger tips, it puts marketers in a unique position.  They have the ability to push products (*cough* spamming *cough*) but they also have the ability to study their customers and develop ways to pull them in.

Websites and blogs are pull strategies.  By fine-tuning them with on-site search engine optimization tactics, we’re improving that pull strategy.  Your website and your blog are your brand and you need to build that.  Even your company’s social media profiles, which may seem like push strategies on the surface, can in fact be pull strategies.  If used properly, they build brand awareness.

That brings me to content marketing, currently the industry’s biggest buzzword.  Companies are now their own publishers.  They create what they believe to be useful content for their customers and publish it on the web.  However, with customers so close to us on social media networks, it’s easy to push when we mean to be pulling–just think of all those “social profiles” who simply pump out articles and blogs without any real commentary.

In the end, you’re likely to see more long-term success through pull marketing online.  Of course, like I said before, though, some push is needed to help you get off the ground.  For example, an e-mail campaign, which can be effective if done correctly and sparingly, is a push strategy that I encourage you to employ.  You can also push certain offers through your social media profiles as long as that’s not all you’re using it for.

Marketing certainly isn’t anything new.  The Internet and how it’s used today is though.  That means we need to adapt our traditional strategies for the web while maintaining a healthy balance between pushing and pulling.

 

The popularity of blogging continues to grow with countless new blogs created each year and massive spikes of traffic making its way to blogs. Businesses have also recognized the many benefits that a blog provides their business. A blog allows businesses to easily and quickly reach a large online audience. Blogs not only help generate traffic, but also give a business more online exposure and increase a business’s credibility. Also, online audiences favor blog content because it delivers a more personal message to readers in which readers feel connected and valued.

Great blog content is what heavily attracts online audiences. Through blogs, businesses can provide information and their thoughts on their latest product or service, and inform readers about the latest news in the industry or their business. However, while business may produce stellar content, there are other important elements that a blog should consist of to make it stand out. While blogging is nothing new, competition is still alive and fierce with businesses trying to capture the interest of online audiences.

If you want your business blog to stand out, here are three things your blog needs:

  1. About us page
    What if, after reading your blog, audiences want to learn more about your business? Unless you write a blog post discussing your business, audiences won’t learn about your business. To help readers learn about your business, your blog should include an “About us” page. You can discuss when your business was created, your company’s mission, and step into some detail about what your business does, and your products and/or services. Another page you may want to include is a “Contact us” page should readers have any questions or want to learn more.
  2. Comments section
    Nothing turns away online readers easier than the inability to voice their opinion or comment on a blog post. Allowing online audiences to comment helps them feel appreciated and valued. Also, don’t just let comments sit there; respond back to them. If you end up receiving a myriad of comments, in order to respond to all, create a blog post that answers their questions and responds to their comments.
  3. Social media engagement
    In order to give your blog more online exposure and help online audiences become more familiar with your business, make sure your blog has your social media sites on it that readers can easily click on and be directed to your social media sites. Also, be sure your posts have share buttons so that readers can share your posts via social media.

As the Democratic National Convention begins with the Republican National Convention finished, social media will continue to keep people from across the country tuned in on the action. Regardless of what political party you support, with the use of social media those from all angles of the political spectrum can catch all the action, cast their opinion on speakers, reflect on current issues, and show support for their party.

Since social media took center stage in the 2008 Presidential election, it has become a viable means of connecting voters with candidates. Social media sites help improve campaign engagement by sparking online interest. This year, a sharp use of Twitter and YouTube during the RNC occurred, with an already expected high use of these sites to follow during the DNC.

Within the RNC’s three-day long period, over 4 million tweets posted with 14,743 tweets popping up per minute. This is a drastic increase in comparison to the 2008 convention, in which only a mere 360,000 tweets were tweeted during the two week timespan of both conventions. This year’s trends included the official GOP hashtag of #GOP2012 with the hashtag #RNC also highly used. While the DNC occurs, users can expect to see the official Democratic hashtag of #DNC2012, as well as #DNC to trend. While listening to speakers, Twitter users can reflect on speeches, argue their points on issues discussed, and you can expect to see a lot of quotes by Presidential candidates and speakers.

YouTube pages are especially hot spots for social media users to watch and stay tuned in on convention activities. This year’s RNC saw more than 2.5 million YouTube views, with over 300,000 hours of video streaming, and a view time of more than 30 minutes. In addition to listening to speakers, YouTube offers infographics and social data to keep online audiences informed of the latest numbers.

Regardless of what social media site you’re on, you can expect the conventions to be a highlight, especially with the 2012 Presidential election rolling around the corner.

Following the recent appointment of new CEO, Hubert Joly, Best Buy is now beginning its turnaround and attempting to return to its former profitability.  While the retailer initiates its restructuring plan, both Best Buy and Joly remain prominently featured in news headlines, blogs and throughout social media.  Although the public response to Best Buy’s management changes has provided the brand with enhanced visibility on the Web, the company must now take measures to monitor and manage its reputation in order to maintain a positive brand image.

Some companies struggle with terms such as “complaints”, “reviews”, “scams” and “rip-offs”, however, those may not be the biggest adversary for a company with the worldwide identity that Best Buy has forged for itself as a leading retailer.  Instead, the primary focus for Best Buy’s marketing division should be terms such as “Hubert Joly” and “Best Buy CEO”.  These keywords are expected to have a high search volume and any negativity associated with them must be neutralized using reputation management techniques.

An effective strategy for Best Buy to remain reputable during this transitional phase would be the development of a customer engagement plan.  Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive feedback and reviews on their website, blogs and on social networks will boost the brand within the SERPs and help to suppress any potential negativity.

It is essential that the company maintains a positive reputation in the months ahead and a proactive approach is necessary.  Best Buy must implement a “call-to-action” to keep its satisfied consumers while also remaining focused on gaining valuable market share online.

Do you think reputation management will be a key component of Best Buy’s restructuring efforts?  Send me your thoughts via email at brymshaw@webimax.com or follow me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

How can lip balm be controversial? Just ask Chapstick – they’ve managed to offend a lot of people with the image they chose for a new advertisement and, moreover, how they chose to deal with the backlash on their Facebook page.

Chapstick is the latest example of a brand mishandling negativity over a new advertising campaign – a prime example of how NOT to use social media when it comes to managing your reputation online.

What many companies don’t realize is that, for the most part, Americans are a forgiving group of people. We watched as Britney Spears fell from grace, but now she’s a judge on the popular television show X Factor with millions of people rooting her on. Michael Vick was involved in an illegal dog fighting ring and served time in jail for the conviction, but now he’s the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles with a strong fan-base. Chris Brown was charged with felony assault for beating his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, but he continues to be a celebrated member of hip hop community.

What do these three people have in common? They all admitted their mistakes, apologized, asked for forgiveness, and explained to the public how they plan on changing their lives for the better. Any publicist will tell you that trying to cover up a controversial event will only make matters worse. Owning their actions and taking responsibility for their mistakes is the only way that celebrities or famous athletes can begin to repair their relationships with the American public – and that goes for brands, too, not just people.

So when Chapstick ran this ad -

- featuring a woman bent over the back of a couch looking for her lost Chapstick (we know where they were going with this ad: read Dan’s latest post about how sex sells in the marketing world), and they received criticism on their Facebook page by people who found it offensive, did they take ownership? How did they handle the backlash?

They deleted the comments. Big brand management no-no.

To make matters worse, in bold letters at the bottom of the ad it says “BE HEARD AT FACEBOOK.COM/CHAPSTICK.” Perhaps a more accurate call-to-action would’ve been “be heard – as long as it puts our brand in a positive light.”

If Chapstick wants to use social media as a place where consumers can go to give their honest feedback and “be heard,” they’ll need to be prepared to take the bad with the good. Here are my two pieces of advice for Chapstick, or any brand that is faced with a similar situation:

  1. Listen to people’s complaints, and apologize to those you have offended on your Facebook page where the public can see your response.
  2. Be prepared to handle criticisms as well as praise & approval whenever you launch a new campaign – especially if you direct readers to your Facebook page where consumer feedback is a fundamental part of social media for businesses.

What do you think about Chapstick’s decision to delete negative comments from their Facebook page? Join the conversation on Twitter using #brandchat or email me at pryan[AT]webimax.com.

Each year, more businesses are adopting social media marketing strategies to enhance their traditional, offline marketing efforts.  The overall reach of social networks is impressive, with the combined user base of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounting for about 1/7 of the world’s entire population.  However, the vast scope of social media has left some business owners concerned about being “lost in the shuffle” and struggling to attain discernable visibility.

One important element to gaining recognition and visibility in the social space and within the SERPs is relevance.  The term “relevance” goes beyond merely generating on-page content and keywords that are in line with a page’s general theme or context.  Researching trends in social media and discovering ways to relate those trends to a brand’s offerings is one of the most effective ways to maximize the value of social media marketing and enhance brand awareness online.

Last week, fellow WebiMax.com Blog contributor and VP of Marketing & Digital Strategy, Todd Bailey, appeared on FOX News to discuss the hot topic of Penn State and how the university can repair its online reputation.  Additionally, he wrote a follow-up blog post and hosted a video News Update further detailing the situation and possible long-term reputation management solutions for PSU.  By relating a trending news topic to one of his areas of expertise, Todd was able to gain considerable visibility for his knowledge of reputation management and its application to a widely known issue.

Creating pertinent content not only positively affects organic search rankings and social engagement, but it is a crucial component of building brand awareness and establishing brand personality.  With the roles of P.R., rich content and social media becoming substantially larger in online marketing initiatives, businesses should expect to see significantly increased value in generating high-quality, original content from trending topics.

What are your thoughts on the role of social trends in Internet marketing?  Let me know!  Email me at brymshaw@webimax.com or follow me on Twitter: @brwebimax.