A summary and highlights from a Synergy48 Group Knowledge Sharing Dinner panel discussion on 11 Sept 2018  between a Marketing Strategy and ROI Specialist; a Print media and online marketing and sales process specialist;  a Media Advertising Specialist; and a Google Adwords Specialist, discussing how to get a positive ROI on your marketing mix.

The discussion was hosted by Synergy48 Group Integrated Business Improvement Solutions Coordinator and business consultant Stewart Clark from SCS Performance. Guests at the dinner were members of Synergy48 Group and their clients and invited guests.

The dinner was recorded and the summary and highlights below have been taken from the recording.

Meet the panel

The panel Q & A

We hear a lot of different things about marketing strategy and tactics. Could you just give us a perspective of the difference between them as you see it as an academic and a practitioner?

Thanks Stewart.  It’s not just an academic distinction.  The problem is that most business owners start and end with tactics and that’s the key reason they don’t get a positive ROI on their marketing mix.

Let’s start with strategy.

When we look at a strategy, it has to link back to an objective and an objective has to link back to a goal.

Using war as an analogy:

  • You want to win the war. That’s the goal.
  • To win the war you need to win three different battles:  One battle’s in the air, one battle’s on land, and one battle’s in the sea.  Those are your objectives.
  • The strategy that you will apply to each of those objectives is very different.

Once you have the goal, objectives and strategies – only then can you look at tactics. And the tactics that you’re going to use in order to deliver on each strategy is going to be very different.

It’s the same with marketing:

  • We need to start with a big goal
  • Break it down into objectives
  • Then determine the strategies and finally the tactics needed to achieve those objectives.

A tactic is what your strategy is made up of, so you can have a myriad of different tactics in each strategy.

The choice and effectiveness of your tactics will be based on three things:

  1. Your resources. Do you have the resources to deliver those tactics? Do you have the technology to actually apply those tactics? And when I talk about technology, I talk about software, middleware, and hardware.
  2. Your processes: Do you have the processes in place? Do you have good governance?
  3. And are they integrated across your entire business? ‘Cause each battle must be integrated with the other one in order to win the war.
Tina Manolitsas

Tell me about brand. How does brand come into the equation and how do you protect your brand assets?

Your brand is your story, everything you trying to communicate about your business. Not just a logo. A logo is basically just a symbol that summarises your brand and what it stands for.  Picture the Qantas kangaroo. Whenever you see that, you know exactly what it is. But the logo, the kangaroo, is not Qantas. It’s the people, it’s what they’ve said about the Qantas over many, many generations, decades, they’ve been running.

From an accounting perspective marketing is treated as an expense. But there’s a downside to that.  Businesses start to see their investment in their brand assets as expenses rather than assets.

Your brand assets are all the elements which communicate and stand for your brand.

Your website is a brand asset. Your logo is a brand asset. The copy you have on your website or your brochures are brand assets. These are all very, very powerful assets for business and you need to protect them.

That’s why businesses should be investing in their brand assets just as you would your machinery. You should be protecting them, you should be upgrading them, you should be moving to a new asset over a period of time.  be upgrading them, you should be moving to a new asset over a period of time. And those assets here, things

We’re not just talking about from a legal perspective. I’m talking about from an ownership perspective as well. And we see a lot of people lose control of those assets, and they do that because they don’t treat them as assets, just expenses, so they look for low cost solutions and quick fixes.

Ian Bosler

What are the tools out there that can help us decide what’s the best approach?

It really comes back to:

  • Your objectives, what you’re trying to achieve,
  • what resources you’ve got.

You need to be clear on your objectives before you start choosing.

Then it’s about research, it’s about doing your homework,

It’s not about whether  TV’s better or whether digital’s better. They all work. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve…. and of course your resources, your budget.

The more homework you do the better results you’re going to get.  if you don’t do any of that work and expect to throw money or mud at a wall and have it stick, it won’t work. And you’ll be disappointed, and you’ll blame the medium or the media, but it’s not really about that. It’s about what you really put into it at the beginning.

Badly executed ideas don’t work terribly well and good ones do.

Ken Mackie

Drilling down to one specific media. Looking for that greatest return investment. What are the pitfalls? What are the mistakes that people are making day to day with their Google ads?

Google’s trying to sell AdWords to everyone.

They tell you on the Google home page of AdWords that you can get started in 10 minutes and there’s a video case study there saying how great it is and you just put key words in.

But that’s actually my client, I built their account, they didn’t do it themselves.

The problem is, when you just do the next, next, next, next, Google tells you, you end up with something that isn’t very relevant.

And that’s the most common mistake.  Creating one campaign one with one adgroup and  putting 100,000 key words in there for one ad. If you think how relevant that is, that’s the same as having one billboard for all your different services and trying to list all your services on that one billboard. How good is that billboard going to be? How relevant is that going to be to everyone going past?

The power of digital is you can put a “Travel to Hawaii,” billboard up on a street where everyone already wants to go to Hawaii.  And you don’t have to pay for it unless they visit your website which is selling travel to Hawaii. That’s what digital is.

That’s where most people are doing it wrong.  They’re saying to everyone, “Everyone, look at my Hawaii trips.” They’re not actually taking that power and niching each service and showing it to the exact right people.

Tony Sambell

I’m looking for maximum efficiency. I want the best return I can get. So when we’re sitting there planning through these different concepts, the strategies, the tactics, etc., what are the main elements that we should consider?

Most importantly you should be seeing it as a process, not discrete elements. By thinking of it as a process end to end, you just think of it as an assembly line. Then you can look at how you take a person through your marketing and sales assembly line, from a  prospect,  into a customer and then into an advocate.

Systemize the process, then you can measure everything, inputs and outputs, very easy. Just like an assembly line.

There are three key elements to the overall process.

1. Attract:

That’s where you attract the right people into your world. You bring them into your shopfront, whether it’s a website or a retail store, it’s the same sort of thing. You bring them into a shopfront.

2. Sell

Then you educate or sell to them.  Selling is really about educating, which is really meshing what you do to what their needs are. That’s really what we’re selling is. Well, it won’t be a four letter word to a lot of people. It’s really not that bad, not that hard. But the selling is there, it’s the second element.

3. Wow

The third element is where you over deliver. See, it’s not only delivery, but you have to over-deliver. You can’t create an advocate if what you’re going to do is deliver the average. So the whole concept of promising and over-delivering works, what works even better is over-promise and then over-deliver again and again.

When you build it as a process, you can measure the steps in the process, streamline it, make it move faster, see where the weaknesses and blockages are. You can do that when you look at it as a process, but discrete elements, you just can’t do that.

Ian Bosler

In your experience here, you’ve played across many different tactics. What works best? TV? SEO? SEM? Digital? There’s lots to choose from.

There are a lot to choose from.

I’m going to be pretty boring here, but it comes back to your objectives and your resources.

The bottom line is, if you’ve got the budget, the more channels you use, the better results you’re going to get.

As long as the message is on point. 

A lot of clients want to race to the end point,  the media, the tactic, whether an SEO or an SEM or  TV,  radio, or whatever, without doing their homework first.

Whatever media you use, success depends on working on that background.

  1. Knowing your objectives
  2. Planning the journey you want your customer to take
  3. Getting your message and your branding right.
  4. Getting consistency of message and brand across all of the channels you are using.

Clients understand how much it costs to do media. They understand they’ll get X amount of spots and reach this amount of people.

But it doesn’t matter how many spots you get or how many people you reach if you haven’t done the background work or if you don’t know your objectives. 

There’s call to action campaigns, so that’s usually short and sharp. There are price points we’re talking about here, discounts, get in the store, hurry in, etc., etc. So the TV, radio, and press sort of aggregate an audience together at the same point in time. So like, for example, on TV, what people saw today …

Where the confusion sits with digital and probably traditional platforms is how the audience is measured.

Digital,  would be from a digital hits point of view. That would probably be by the thousand.

With traditional platforms, I talk about a moment in time. So with TV, I talk about a million people watching the show for the entire programme. Not for a millisecond, not for six seconds, but for the 55 minutes.

And there’s also a controversy about what is a view? Is it six seconds? Is it 30 seconds? Is it five seconds?

In the end I think it’s just about making sure that you know what the media does and how it fits into your overall customer journey and what you are measuring and that your brand and messaging are consistent across all of the different media you are using.

Ken Mackie

There’s a term that you hear “commercialise your marketing strategies.” What does that mean?

Commercialising is understanding what your strategies and tactics are actually going to give you once you’ve deployed them.

You need to know upfront.

When I’m building a website, what’s my return on investment? A website is no different to building a shopfront. It’s just an online store. When you’re building a physical entity, you need to know what your return on investment is going to be or you wouldn’t build it.

Now, in isolation, you can’t know that. But when you start to integrate them, then you can.

For instance,

  • you’ve built a website,
  • you send out a direct mail piece sending people to your website
  • You run an adwords campaign coming back to a particular page to take action.

Now you can measure that.

So what you’re now doing is you’re  integrating all your tactics to be able to say,

If a customer follows a specific journey

  1. respond to my Direct mail piece or adword
  2. Visit a specific page on my website
  3. Pick up the phone or fill in a form

Am  I going to get a return on my investment?  If I’m not going to get a return on my investment, then why am I doing it?

Often what we find is that people just do the tactics in isolation. Build a website, or run an adword campaign or send out a direct mail piece.

You’ve got to be able to link it all together so you know that the journey that you’re taking your customers on is actually going to commercialise to something. And you need to know what that commercialization is going to be.

Now, when I talk ROI, it isn’t always dollars.

Dollars is one element of ROI. Sometimes dollars is not what you’re looking for. Sometimes you’re looking for eyeballs, because you need to create awareness. No different to when you’re dating. You want to create awareness that you exist for somebody to find you. But you need to know  your objective, your ROI,  for each of your customer journeys.  And if that ROI isn’t what your business needs then you need to change the journey.

Tina Manolitsas

It’s not just all the different channels out there, but there’s also a lot of differences within the channels. So Tony, with Google ads… search ads, banners, videos. What’s in vogue and what’s best?

Okay, so once again,  it’s about objectives and strategies, what do you want to achieve?

People search on Google either to find a service or a product or to fix a problem.

If you are a plumber,  No one cares about your brand. When the toilet’s overflowing, the first person to answer the phone is going to get the job.   That’s where a search ad is great. ‘Cause literally, the first one to get in gets the job.

So if you’re like the plumber you’ve got Google search, which is the quickest ROI action.   It’s for people looking to do an action. You just need to pick the right search terms.

But if you’re a long-term investment,  maybe construction, people aren’t just going to just find someone at the top of Google, and say, “Great,” and they’re going to use them.

This is where all mediums work well together, because if they find you in Google and they watch you on YouTube and then they see you on a billboard, all of that keeps you top of mind … Nothing’s changed since the 50’s as far as how many times we need to see a brand before we remember it. Like that’s five to 10 or something like that. That’s always been around. We’re not going to remember a brand instantly.

If people need to trust your brand, which is what a lot of businesses need, all of them work well together.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’ve got the right the mix.

At the very least I would recommend you do basic remarketing. retargeting on Facebook and Google,  you can do that with video and banner ads, as well as search. 

If you’ve got enough people, you can have your ad come up in Google search after they’ve already been to your website.   That’s a good tactic for really looking big and being there for a lot of other terms. 

It’s about the strategy. You don’t just do every tactic. It’s about getting in the mind of the user, thinking about what pathway are they going on, and then making that whole experience perfect for them.

Nothing out of the box – that’s what Google would tell you.

By the way Here’s a quick tip: if you want to buy something online, add it to your cart, close the tab, open it again, and go to News.com and see if you can get 5% off. Because they often do that. I’ve saved 5% off and get free shipping al the time.

Tony Sambell

How important is it when speaking to businesses for them to know the return they’re getting for their online activities?

Hugely.

The first question I often get is, are you just going to take my money and spend it because I have already spent money on marketing and I don’t know what I got for it?

I had a business not long ago that said to me, “I’m really scared to talk to you.” And I said why? And he said, “I just spent $200,000 on marketing, and I can’t tell you what I got for it.”

But when I probed more it turned out he didn’t have goals, objectives or a strategy to determine how he spent that $200K.  It all went on tactics.

If I could just take a dollar from everyone every time I heard, “I don’t know where my marketing dollars are gone,” I’d be a millionaire.

Do you give your accountant your money to manage? You don’t. You have your accountant work with you. When you’re doing marketing, you need to know where the money’s going. You need to know that journey map to say, “We take our clients down this journey. This is what’s going to be the return on investment.”

Then you know where your dollars are going.

I had a client who said to me:

“I’ve just decided I’m going to start with the website.”

“Why are we going to start with the website?”

“Because that’s going to make me look good.”

“well, that’s great. So are we going to do any AdWord campaigns so that people find your $25K website 

No.

Are we going to do any direct marketing campaigns?

No.

Are we going to do any social media?

No. I don’t want to spend my money on any of those things, I want to spend my money on a website.”

There’s $25,000 down the drain. Are you happy with that?”

Why’s it going to be $25,000 down the drain?”

“‘Cause you don’t want to do any other form of integration. You just want to build a website.  How are people going to find you?”

Oh.”

So let’s just throw away $25,000, and I’m happy to take it from you. Then what you’re going to do is you’re going to come back to me and say, ‘You’ve just spent 25,000 and I’ve got no customers. I’ve got no leads. I’ve got no sales.'”

But we haven’t done any activity to drive traffic. We haven’t mapped the customer journey so you can decide that a $25,000 investment in a website is worth it.

Tina Manolitsas

So Ian, with that sobering thought on our minds, when you’re putting together your marketing, your sales dashboards, what sort of metrics are you looking at? How do you measure?

The measurements follow your process and your strategy.

You start with the number of people that come into your organisation, so the people you attract, so it could be the interface with the world is your website. It’s basically traffic to your website. Pretty simple metric to measure easily.

Then you look at how they travel through your process.

For a B2B example:

  1. How many prospects?
  2. How many proposals?
  3. How many invoices?

Then you can start to see the conversation rates from the form of the traffic coming in through to the number of proposals through to your convergence into an actual sale.

And then you start to look at your followup as well.

  • How many testimonials did I get?
  • How many referrals did I get?
  • How many cross sales and up sales did I get with that particular prospect as they go through that journey.

If you run it at a high level, it’s really very fast and easy to do.

For my printing business, I knock one of those out probably about 10 minutes a month. That’s all it takes. But I get a pretty clear visibility on how the whole process is working and I can get a measure on my ROI immediately. Because I know how much money I’ve spent in a month, and I know how many dollars I got in in a month. It’s as simple as that.

Once you get the high levels, sometimes you want to drill down deep. So for example, if I’m using AdWords to get people in, I might dive down into the campaigns. Are they the right people coming in? If I change the people coming in, can I improve my conversation rates? Can I improve my dollar sale value? So you start to then drill down in specific areas and tweak the process and tweak your dashboard, your marketing dashboard, so. It’s pretty much the way I look at it.

Ian Bosler

Old media. Isn’t that just kind of what it is, old? Surely the new digital platforms perform better?

Well, sometimes they do, absolutely.

I have a rule, they absolutely all work, digital and old media. But again, as Tina said earlier, it’s all about what you’re trying to achieve,  your resources and how you integrate your strategies across all the media you are using.

There’s been lots of studies all trying to find how to get the best ROI.

Digital media, generally speaking, is maturing as a business now. What’s great about digital is it gives you great accountability,  it also is a bit easier to execute and get happening very quickly.

Newspapers have been probably the most disrupted of the old media and magazines have been smashed, they’re all down 20% year on year. That’s been going for a few years now.

The press, at least the digital platforms that the press have started going to are working.

TV’s up 3% I think in the last financial year, where it was in decline. The audiences have dropped off too, they’re probably steeper than that. Close to 10 to 20%, this is probably over a period of half a dozen years.

Ken Mackie

You hear people talking about disruption in digital marketing, can you give us your thoughts around that?

When I use the word disruptive, I think disruptive of mind rather than disruptive in technology. Technology is just the enabler.

How can you use disruption to your audiences in a different way so that you stay relevant and top of mind? Because as Tony said, if you’re the plumber, you can be forgotten very, very quickly.

In the age care sector, we’re using a lot of AI technology and virtual reality and holograms to disrupt them from being lonely in age care facilities. We’re not there to wow them with our technology, but we’re there to provide improved experiences.

Disruption can also be about being controversial. I had one client who had a paleo book and had the most amazing, mouthwatering recipes that he kept putting on Facebook, but he was getting no traction. Why? Because everyone’s doing the same thing.

So he changed his images from food to cavemen dragging carcasses.  So people visited his site to have something to say because he had been controversial only to get there and be wowed by what was there.

Another quick example was I held an event, I used to have a lot to do with RFID technology, and this was the easiest disruption, was everyone got a tag, a little wristband as they walked in, which had an RFID chip in it. Every time someone walked in the event, there were three smiley faces. There was happy, sad, and indifferent. Every time you walked in, a smiley face came on. And they’d go, “How did they know I was happy?” And they walked back, and they’d walk through again, go, “I’m going to trick these. And now I’m indifferent.” Well, of course I’m indifferent because that’s what I’m looking at. How did it know that now I’m indifferent? I’m going to walk back out again. And it walks back, and it’s happy again. So I had grown men and women going backwards and forwards in this event space, we had 2,000 people, wanting to trick this thing. There was no trick. At any moment in time, we are one of those three things. At any moment in time, we have been one of these three things.  So if we’re indifferent, it’s because we’re waiting to see that it’s not going to be happy or sad, so naturally if it’s indifferent. Now, a minute ago I might have been sad, this morning I might have been sad because my husband, daughter, whatever was making me run late. So all of a sudden it goes, “How did it know I was sad?” So what we did was basically disrupt the thinking, so when they get into an ICT event, they’re now in the mindset of they’re going to see things that are different.

So your goal is to disrupt the thinking, you can then decide on what technology or what channel or what thing that you’re going to use to actually disrupt and make that thinking different.

Tina Manolitsas

Who’s going to help me with all of this: who needs to be on my marketing team?

Your strategies can dictate who should be in your marketing team. But the main thing is that you have a marketing team and that you think about it as a team.  Although they don’t have to be part of your organisation.

There are people that you can tap on the shoulder to work with you when you need them.  They understand your brand, your goals and your objectives and they can work together effectively.

We’ve got a number of them here tonight:

  • Strategists,
  • Search engine marketing,
  • search engine optimization,
  • graphic design,
  • web design.

By the way, I’m going to stress this, they’re two different people, two different mediums. Don’t ever, ever go with somebody who can say, “I can do graphic design and I can do web design.” Never ever. Biggest mistake.

  • Photographer.
  • CRM and marketing process automation.  The most valuable process in your business, is your marketing and sales process. Without it, you don’t get to generate an invoice. You don’t have a business, if you’re not generating an invoice.
  • A printer.  Print is great its a valuable, old school tool that can cut through, because nobody does it.  It’s old-fashioned, but it stands out. And that’s what marketing’s about, standing out and getting noticed.
  • A media advertising specialist.
  • Finally somebody to coordinate the whole team, whether you do that yourself or whether you have somebody. I see a lot of strategists get involved in coordinating the team, and that’s primarily a role that they gravitate to because they see right across it. So if you’re going to outsource the management of that team, use a strategist, cause at the end of the day, marketing should be generating returns on investment. It should be putting bucks on the bottom line, simple as that. Otherwise it’s just a waste of money, and if you’re not measuring it and you don’t have the right people to help you measure it and help you drive it forward, you’re just throwing money away.
Ian Bosler

We’ve seen lots of change in the digital space over a long period of time, and it seems to go leaps and bounds. So you’re the Google guru at the table. What does Google AdWords look like in five years’ time? Or three, if that’s too far ahead?

Two years back Google picked 20 agencies (I was one of them) and they sat us down around a table and they said, “Your job won’t exist in five years. So you guys have to start changing what you’re doing.”

What we were doing two years ago was picking key words, picking ads, targeting time of the day, targeting the device, and sitting there trying to get into the minds of the customers and try to pick every single way and what ad to show when and who and what and all of this, and that’s not how you write AdWords anymore.

It’s going to be machine learning. It’s on its way and its going to get more.

There’s no robots out there that are going to kill us yet, but …. Actually, there’s an activity that will help. [Tony speaks to a person at the back of the room “Frank, can you get me a mint? But don’t bring it to me. Can you just pass the parcel? no throwing. Pass the parcel. “]

Its about using data to make the right decision. So why should you pay me $150 an hour to sit there and analyse all your data and then say …  “I just found out that at 5 pm, everyone’s interested in your services, so I’ve looked at three months of data and I’m going to make an adjustment to your ads to show at 5 pm.”

You just wasted three months of advertising, plus you had to pay me lots of money to figure that out.

[The mint arrives from Tina sitting next to Tony – “Thanks, Tina., I’m going to give you all the credit for giving me this mint.”

But Tina didn’t do all of that. Everyone played a part , and Google can look at all of this information and then contribute it evenly and then make adjustments to your bids, adjustments to your ads.

So right now, they’ve just launched, I think they call it responsive ads, they’re coming out to everyone, where you write 15 or 18 different ad descriptions and titles and it will blend them into different ads for different people depending on which one it thinks is more relevant for that person depending on what they’ve just done in their life.

They know your location, they know your device, they know whether you’re married, they know whether you’re buying a house. They know everything about you. It’s creepy as hell, but they know this.

So let them make the decision, which lets us figure out the strategy and the creative to make sure that’s appropriate.

That’s where Google’s going to be in five years.

It’s going to mean your website’s going to be more important than ever, in the future, because essentially it’ll be going, “Google, get people to my website and get the right ones there.” And if your website is terrible at explaining what you do, then Google is going to find terrible people.

Tony Sambell

Meet the host

Stewart Clark, Founder and Principal coach of SCS Performance

SCS performance is a specialist consultancy firm delivering a specially designed range of coaching programs to the small to medium business market - to drive bottom line return.

Stewart is an energetic and experienced business adviser with many years of experience coaching, advising and supporting small and medium sized businesses across Australia.

Leveraging a lengthy career in finance and corporate business, Stewart has worked "in" or "on" a range of businesses and industries Australia wide.

Possessing a people-oriented style and a keen eye for detail, Stewart is well versed in strategic planning, financial analysis, sales delivery and business improvement. Stewart is also a published author of “It’s not what you make, but what you keep” and is a regular speaker.

Unlike a traditional business coach, Stewart focuses on enhancing the mechanics of a business – its people, its process and its systems – to achieve long-term business success.

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