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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shame on Google’s “Aging Delay”


Lawrence Deon in a post on "Web Marketing Now", wrote about the length of time it takes Google to calculate and attribute a higher page rank to a much deserving website. Originally, the move was to eliminate “link farms” and other unfair SEO behavior.

Lawrence argues the controversy is a bit of a miss-understanding and I think Google’s gone too far. First, an excerpt from Lawrence's post:

Current and unconfirmed speculation has been misplacing the blame [for delayed or penalized listing] on Google’s "sandbox" effect. While this is a possibility I believe it’s also highly improbable.

The sandbox holding period is typically anywhere between 90 to 120 days, the “aging delay” appears to be much longer. I've seen new sites delayed for up to 6-8 months.

The premise of the sandbox delay theory suggests that new sites are being penalized for gaining too many links too fast. To date I haven’t seen a scrap of evidence to support that claim.

It just doesn’t seem ‘reasonable’ for Google to penalize sites for acquiring legitimate directory listings and building an optimized reciprocal link network. In my opinion, mainstream SEOs are confusing the existing sandbox effect, with Google’s new ‘aging filter’ that arrived on the search scene earlier this year.

It seems more likely that Google’s aging filter is weighing the ‘maturity’ of inbound links and not the new site itself. Meaning that in addition to the traditional ranking criterion, the age of a site's inbound links are also now considered and given a stronger rank.

If you ask me, the “Aging Delay” makes logical sense on a whiteboard on some corporate retreat, but like most things discussed during those retreats, it only makes sense at the time.

By waiting to give a better page rank to new content, pictures, or interlocking links, they may have slowed the "free ride" the spammers were advertising a year ago, but they've also unduly punished everyday sites for being new and ever-changing.
For shame!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Get a "LOC" on Direct Marketing

Get a LOC on Direct Mail MarketingSuccessful direct marketing begins with setting a few priorities. They are "List", "Offer", "Creative" and they are in that order.

List

The most important part of any direct marketing campaign is the list. This is the "direct" in direct marketing. If you're sending your message directly to the wrong audience, what's the point? Don't just buy a list of zip codes if your business is not regionally-focused. Don't purchase a list all at once—rent one. JDM is generally weary of list brokers anyway. Consider purchasing/renting a portion of a publication or event list. These lists are usually opt-in and under-saturated.

The list is the single most important part of any direct marketing activity. Don't even begin to think about possible promotions or creative design until you've locked down your list. Even the world's best offer and creative will fail if it's sent to all the wrong people.

Offer

Once you've nailed down the list, the next step is developing a relevant and aggressive incentive (aka, offer) for taking some action. "Call today" is neither incentive-based nor much of a call-to-action. Ask yourself, "why should they call today?" It's human to act on something with an incentive.

Creative

Traditionally, people think about list, offer and creative in exactly the opposite order. However, this is almost certain failure. Creative should speak to a specific audience, promoting a relevant and action-provoking offer. That's it. Non-traditional print sizes, attention-getting design or headlines are also great, but don't let yourself get carried away with creative. Remember, the list and the offer. Let the creative flow from them.

Visit JDM's new website for more direct mail marketing information.

More information regarding human behavior and marketing can be found on our "Psychology of Marketing" white paper. Register on JDM's website to download the full version.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Excerpts from “The Psychology of Marketing”

Psychology of MarketingFact is, marketing is by definition is psychology applied to business. Customers make purchase decisions based largely on the messages they receive. However, are our marketing efforts crafting that message carefully enough? What are the psychological and physiological factors that influence how we receive and retain a marketing message?

The following excerpt from "The Psychology of Marketing" covers the power and psychology of intrigue.

Human eyes don’t see everything at once; the mind fills in the gaps. We are unable to remember every explicit detail so our mind manufactures the details tying the notes our mind took at the time together. The human mind is an eight pound guessing machine, so what happens when it receives an incomplete marketing message? It goes to work trying to solve the puzzle.

Teaser campaigns play on our interest in solving the partial message. The key is to make that partial message so strange or provoking that the mind can almost make out the answer but never does until the campaign’s conclusion.

A similar take on the psychology of intrigue is the innovative or just plain weird. Nothing can make your message stand out, be remembered and even discussed more than a strange, incomplete message. The next time you’re in a good loud cocktail party shout these words just loud enough for those near you to hear: “I don’t know. It started with this friendly monkey and then it…” and then trail off. You’ll see, first hand, the power of intrigue.

Topics also covered in "The Psychology of Marketing" include:

  • Humble Extravagance: Marketing to the 'Penny Wise & Pound Foolish'
  • Reverse Psychology: Though often quoted, it’s rarely understood.
  • Practice Makes Permanent: Reach, Frequency & Retention rates
  • A Man Goes Into a Bar: The Retention Power of Humorous Ads
  • I Heard About That: Public Relations in the Information Age
  • Optical Delusions: How to break the rules of design for a reason.
  • What's in it for me?: Incentive-based marketing
  • What's in it for you?: Marketing to the modern skeptical consumer

"The Psychology of Marketing" is available for download after a short registration from our new website: http://www.justindowneymarketing.com/CFR/jdm_Registration.php?refer=psych.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Psychology of Marketing

The Psychology of Marketing Most marketers took at least one psychology class in college but few learned to apply what they learned to their work. Watch TV or listen to the radio for an hour and think like a consumer. You’ll quickly surmise what their marketing department thought you wanted to hear, and you’ll know just how far off they really are.

Fact is, marketing is by definition is psychology applied to business. Customers make purchase decisions based largely on the messages they receive. However, are we marketers crafting that message carefully enough? What are the psychological and physiological factors that influence how we receive and retain a marketing message?

In JDM's latest white paper, "The Psychology of Marketing :: Minus all the Psycho-Babel", we’re not trying to teach tactics for prying open consumer’s minds and cramming the marketing message in. Rather, this whitepaper attempts to ensure the message sent, its frequency and its look are interpreted by the audience accurately and efficiently.

Like the conductor in front of his orchestra, this white paper aims to tune and pace the marketing message for maximum impact. We're not trying to coerce a love of classical music.

"The Psychology of Marketing" covers topics including:


  • Humble Extravagance: Marketing to the ‘Penny Wise & Pound Foolish’
  • Reverse Psychology: Though often quoted, it’s rarely understood.
  • Practice Makes Permanent: Reach, Frequency & Retention rates
  • A Man Goes Into a Bar: The Retention Power of Humorous Ads
  • I Heard About That: Public Relations in the Information Age
  • Optical Delusions: How to break the rules of design for a reason.
  • What's in it for me?: Incentive-based marketing
  • What's in it for you?: Marketing to the modern skeptical consumer
  • Resist the Monkey!: The untapped power of intrigue

"The Psychology of Marketing" is available for download after a short registration from our new website: http://www.MarketingHasEvolved.com.

What will JDM think of next? Vote for the next white paper topic on the adjacent poll.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buy Bear; Sell Bull

bull and bear markets

Buy low and sell high. Could any investment strategy be more simplistic? In times like these, many forget this basic principle. Here we look at how a Bear market is really a lamb in wolf’s clothing.

The terms "Bear" and "Bull" markets come from how these animals attack. Bears stand to attention on their hind legs and attack downward using their tremendous weight as leverage. A bull, conversely, attacks upward with its sharp horns and powerful neck. The definition of a Bull or Bear market is cause for debate. The definition I use regards perception and perception is what really drives any market.

In a bull market, investors buy because of a perception that the price will continue to rise. In a bear market, investors hold or sell but don’t buy as they perceive the market to continue to fall. What’s interesting is that these are self-fulfilling prophecies. If investors believe the market to fall into decline, then the market will decline. The inflection between a Bear and a Bull market comes when perceptions begin to change.

Bear markets are sticky ones because investors are looking to bet against the market. Fair enough, but the opportunity a Bear market brings is often glazed over in the media. Remember buy low; sell high? Investing in a Bear market to sell in a bull is a long-term strategy of buying low and selling high.

The opportunity exists in these market conditions to invest when things are at all-time lows. Things will pick up. They always do.

For more information regarding investing in marketing during a Bear market, see "Under Dog Marketing in a Down Economy" on JDM's new website.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Under Dog Marketing in a Down Economy

Under dog marketing

Mark Willaman recently wrote a posting about marketing in a slow economy. You can check out the post on his blog, HRmarketer Blog. In it, he mentions investing in your company when times are tough, because things will eventually get better.

That’s the whole idea of "buy low and sell high."

It got me thinking. In an economic slowdown (dare I say the “R”-word) businesses usually look to the far future and in the meantime, hunker down and weather the storm. They fire all but a few of their accounts, eliminate in-house IT support, and especially look at marketing as a financial open wound.

HOWEVER, there is a real opportunity for outsourced marketing, IT and Accounting businesses in this economy. An outsourced services firm can offer an entire firm of expertise for the price of a single new employee.

In regards to marketing, specifically, as marketing budgets for large competitors shrink, the playing field is beginning to level. Imagine actually being able to out-spend and out-market your larger competition in a down market.

Some say now is the worst time to invest in marketing and although I’m a little biased, I assert it is the best. There is money in the marketplace, and few willing to invest in marketing to secure a piece of the pie when things pick back up.

For more information about increasing your investment in marketing when others are divesting, check out our “Off-Peak Campaign Strategy” on JDM’s new website.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ruin a Rebranding in 5 Steps

Today, competition is heating up and consumer spending is down. It’s a natural tendency for businesses to look to changing their Brand through a rebranding exercise, rather than looking at themselves and making a real change.

Like trading your bathroom mirror for a fun house one rather than just hitting the weights, rebranding without rethinking is a recipe for expensive disaster. Here’s our top 5 ways to ruin a rebranding.


1. Lack of True Change

Rebranding with snazzy new graphics and re-written content is a start. The new image will motivate people to take a fresh look at you—and people’s primary motivation in taking a new look is to see what’s changed.

If you're the same old place dressed up in new wrapping and ribbons, you'll merely confirm your former position and you’ll have wasted a valuable opportunity to change their perceptions.

2. Making Too Big A Leap

Executives can often get a little caught up in their own vision of where the company could be and lose touch with where the company should be. When rebranding, keep your primary focus on the achievable, not the aspirational. If you make too big a leap, your market simply won’t believe you.

3. Lack of Internal Alignment

If rebranding is an initiative implemented solely by the marketing department, it’s likely to fail. Include all facets of the business from sales and customer service to engineering and manufacturing.

Of course all that input is useless if management doesn’t listen. Internal alignment will provide valuable insight into what the company is, rather than what management might like to think it is.

4. Failure of the Champion

While rebranding may be born in the marketing department, unless the CEO is the champion of that effort, it will likely die there. As the chief branding officer, the CEO needs to set the vision and lead the charge, ensuring that products, services, people, and resources are aligned to deliver on the promises implied in the rebranding.

5. Failure to Clarify Positioning

Rebranding should always clarify and refine your positioning. Your goal in rebranding should be to make it easier for customers and prospects to understand exactly why your company should be one of their top choices, why there are few credible substitutes for your company in the market. This isn’t the place for puffery. Merely claiming to be the best is meaningless—and using empty words like "best value" and "exceptional customer service" do nothing but create more skepticism.

As a rule of thumb in rebranding, if the change doesn’t scare you a little, it's probably not a meaningful change.

Learn about the new JDM at www.MarketingHasEvolved.com and our rebranding in our eNewsletter, ipsumNEWS.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Justin Downey Marketing is now “JDM. Marketing Evolved.”

JDM is now a full-service marketing firm providing our Texas-based clients marketing services that combine proven strategies, innovative tactics and emerging technology. We're developing cutting-edge marketing activities that not just revolutionize marketing, they evolve it.


The traditional agency model can be painfully inefficient and teeth-grindingly—well traditional.
We characterize our approach as Marketing Evolved™ because like evolution, we're not reinventing what's already working. We innovate what could work better or differently, test it based on hard data, and then incorporate it.



By combining marketing strategies proven by testing, incorporating creative and innovative tactics and utilizing the latest emerging technology, JDM is able to provide our clients (and sometimes agencies) more than just traditional marketing, but evolved marketing.


Need examples? Check out our marketing portfolio & case studies and see how even the most traditional marketing activities can still leave room for JDM innovation.


Of course, you don't have to take our word for it. Check out JDM's client testimonials.

 
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