Archive for February 2011

How to Pitch the Right Product, to the Right Customer, and at the Right Time

February 8, 2011








by Dr. V. Kumar* | Georgia State University

In the last column, we discussed the resource allocation strategies available to managers when adopting The Wheel of Fortune Strategy@ to maximize CLV. In this column, we will focus on the decision to pitch the right product, to the right customer, and at the right time.

Why follow this strategy? Most firms offer an array of products/services. It would be useful for a firm to predict the relative probabilities of different product/service categories being bought at different times from a given firm, given the varying purchase patterns of each of its customers. This would enable firms to send out sales and promotion messages to their customers that are relevant to the products that are more likely to be purchased next. This way the firm does not waste or duplicate its sales and marketing efforts.

How does this strategy work? The timing of a customer’s next purchase is predicted first, and given this information, the product most likely to be purchased by the customer next is identified. We would need historical data on customer-level purchases on the products bought and the time of each purchase. Using this data, we can estimate the probability a customer will choose a particular product (essential to build a choice model), and the probability that a customer will make a purchase at a particular time (essential to build a timing model). Then, customers are divided into two groups – test and control groups. For the control group, all the customers are contacted with the pitch to sell all the products in all the time periods (Status Quo). For the test group, only those customers who are expected to purchase in a given quarter are contacted (Proposed). The test group customers are pitched only with those products they are expected to purchase based on the predictions of the purchase sequence model. Then, the returns on investment for the marketing efforts are calculated separately for the test and control groups and compared to ascertain the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

What are the benefits of implementing this strategy? When this strategy was implemented in a B2B high-technology firm, 85% of the customers predicted by this model to make a purchase actually went on to do so![1] This indicates the robustness of the model used. Additionally, such a strategy was also able to improve the firm’s profits by an average of $1,600 per customer, representing an increase in ROI of 100%. This strategy was also implemented in a financial services firm that resulted in an increase in the firm’s profits by $450 per customer (on average), representing an ROI increase of 200%. Therefore, by understanding the purchase sequence, firms can target the right product to the right customer at the right time. It helps in increasing cross-buy and revenue apart from decreasing marketing costs, thus leading to an incremental ROI. This also helps firms devise effective cross-sell and up-sell strategies. This, when integrated with CLV measure, can help companies design the most optimal marketing strategy directed towards offering the right product to the right customer at the right time through the most cost-effective channel.


*V. Kumar (VK) is the Richard and Susan Lenny Distinguished Chair Professor in Marketing, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Brand & Customer Management, and the Director of the Ph.D. program, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

@ Managing Customers For Profit (Wharton School Publishing) – V. Kumar

[1] For additional reading please refer Kumar, V., R. Venkatesan, & W. Reinartz, (2006), “Knowing What to Sell, When, and to Whom,” Harvard Business Review, 84, 131-137 and; Kumar, V., R. Venkatesan, & W. Reinartz, (2008), “Performance Implications of Adopting a Customer-Focused Sales Campaign,” Journal of Marketing, 72, 50-68.



King of the Content Castle: How to Write an Effective Online Press Release

February 8, 2011

By Maureen Streett – Director of search and social at Atlanta interactive marketing agency, What’s Up Interactive.

You’ve heard it before: Content is king.

But what makes the difference between a so-so announcement about your company, and a rock star online press release that gets picked up by Google, blogs or media?

First let’s make an important distinction: the goal of traditional press releases and online press releases differ. A traditional release is most often pitched – traditionally – to the media. Online PR is an [in my opinion] underrated interactive marketing tactic to grow your visibility and traffic digitally.

So, it is a simple yet effective piece to any marketing tool kit…but what separates the good from the bad? Follow these best practices when crafting content to ensure your online PR efforts are worth the time:

Craft a compelling headline

Who said college Journalism classes wouldn’t come in handy? A compelling headline sets the tone for potential readers, AND often shows up as the blue link of a Google search result. Compelling = clickable.

Don’t forget your brand!

A press release on a high-traffic site can show up at the top of search results. That is valuable real estate YOU can be taking up, in addition to your own site and/or blog. Mention your brand in the headline and towards the top of the release, and reap major benefits in the long run.

: You [Atlantans, mostly] may have heard of Highland Beer Fest. A story from our local online newswire, Atlanta Daybook, about last year’s festival still appears at the top of Google for the search, right under the event’s main website. A bit of keyword research reveals about 500 people/month search the term “highland beer fest” in Google. That is 6,000 impressions/year with the distribution of one news release.

Link back to your site

Ultimately online PR can be considered a form of link building. Increasing the number of links back to your website boosts your SEO, and over time can help you show up more often in search results. So, whether it’s in the contact information, body copy or about us section… link back to your site.

Note: not all online PR sites allow hyperlinking, and some may charge a fee. It simply depends on the channel you’re using.

Optimize your boilerplate

Finding it hard to incorporate keywords into the body copy? Use your boilerplate. These snippets are a must-have, and can be easily tweaked. Update it to reflect your products and services, using highly searched terms – or even create a couple versions to prevent keyword overload. They often end with a mention of your URL – don’t forget your Twitter handle, Facebook page or other social call to action!

A holistic marketing strategy includes both offline and online public relations. While the short-term goals of each tactic differ, they dovetail nicely – creating multiple touch points for your potential customers to hear about you offline, and come across you digitally, too.

DMA Atlanta Luncheon | February 17th 2011

February 8, 2011

Thursday February 17th – 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Location: Maggiano’s Perimeter  | 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd |  30346 Atlanta

Are You Ready For The Census? – And It’s Impact on Your Marketing Strategies.  

The Changing Consumer Landscape and How to Shift your go-to-market Strategy.

The 2011 Census will have a profound impact on how we see ourselves as a nation. You can expect to see headlines like: “Hispanic Population Grows 42%” – “Overall Multicultural Grows to 48% of the US Population” The coverage will be on every marketing news outlet.

All the data points to the importance of multicultural market to your businesses today, for example marketing to Hispanics means reaching out to a growing population rather than a graying population.

SPEAKER: Roberto Gomez Jr.
Sr. Consultant – Multicultural Director


Are you guilty of spamming?

February 8, 2011

by Kristy Barker, WhatCounts?

Of course not—right? Well let’s go a little deeper. You follow the CAN-SPAM laws by using accurate sender information, avoiding deceptive subject lines and making sure to include a working unsubscribe link in every message. So isn’t that enough? Legally, yes. But not if you want to actually get your messages delivered.

The deliverability landscape has shifted dramatically in the past few months, leaving many email marketers frustrated by ISP blocks and messages that just can’t make it to the inbox. Rather than just following the CAN-SPAM rules, marketers now need to be on the same page with how their recipients are thinking about spam.

You say potato, I say…spam. Everyone has their own idea of what spam is and isn’t. The marketing definition is “bulk email that is unsolicited.” However, consumers often rely on a very different definition when using the dreaded “report as spam” button. In fact, according to Marketing Sherpa, almost 60% of consumers have reported an email as spam just because it was not of interest to them!

These complaints can have a big effect on your delivery reputation. You can avoid these complaints by having an obvious opt-out mechanism (hopefully steering those spam reporters to just opt-out instead), keeping your content relevant, and monitoring frequency.

Unless it makes sense for your particular publication (such as a daily news alert or Groupon style email), most readers do not want to hear from you everyday, so make sure you abide by their frequency expectations.

Your list building methods can make a difference too. While building a house list that is purely opt-in (double opt-in is even better) will definitely produce the best engagement results, it’s not always a feasible approach. Sometimes you need to acquire data from an outside source. This approach can lead to some good outcomes, but you need to be very cautious of how the data is acquired.

All spam monitoring companies have spam trap email addresses that they put out on the internet in various places. When one of these addresses receives a marketing email, it sends up a red flag that the sender mailed to an address that was not opt-in. So be cautious when working with list rental companies—make sure that all addresses are opt-in, and that they can prove it.

Another potential delivery problem comes from sending to lists that have opted in through a third party vendor. While this is legal, it can still lead to some high complaint rates from readers who don’t know how you got their email address. Avoid third party opt-in lists if possible, but if you do use them, be sure to monitor your complaint rates.

Bottom line? Follow these guidelines to avoid being labeled as spam (unless you mean the canned meat kind…which you probably want to avoid as well).

Pepsi Chooses Social Media Over Super Bowl

February 8, 2011

by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer.

Running a commercial on the Super Bowl can be expensive, just ask companies like Budweiser, GoDaddy and Coca-Cola. But when you’re reaching more than 100 million viewers, the expense often pays for itself.

Not according to Pepsi.

Last year, PepsiCo walked away from spending $20 million on television spots and put the money into online social media contest instead. It was the first time in 23 years that Pepsi decided to walk away from running ads on the Super Bowl. But the company says it was a huge success and has decided to do it again.


Pepsi has decided to by-pass the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Costs for a 30-second spot continue to rise. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to The New York Times, more than $20 million in grants, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 has been distributed to about 400 winners of Pepsi’s online contests. Some of these grants include $25,000 for new uniforms for the Cedar Park High School Band and another $25,000 for a new playground that opened in Las Vegas last week.

“This was using brand dollars with the belief that when you use these brand dollars to have consumers share ideas to change the world, the consumers will win, the brand will win, and the community will win. That was a big bet. No one has done it on this scale before,” Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo told The New York Times.

The paper continues by saying, “As Pepsi had hoped, competitors have turned to their personal networks on Facebook and Twitter to gain support for their ideas, extending the Pepsi brand and its do-good message. Nearly 19 percent of the 77 million votes have been cast through Facebook. On Twitter, participants were urged to use the hashtag ‘#PepsiRefresh,’ and they did.”

A recent study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that figuring out how to translate social media efforts into sales and customers — and how to measure overall effectiveness — was cited as a top concern of many companies looking to expand their efforts to reach consumers using social media. More than 79% of the 2,100 companies participating in the survey said they either currently use social media channels or are preparing to start social media initiatives.

(Shameless plug: Anyone reading this article who is interested in finding the answer to the question “How can I measure the ROI of my social media campaign?” will find the answer in my book, How to Make Money with Social Media, available at fine bookstores [and a few not-so-fine bookstores] everywhere.)

What Pepsi’s No-Super-Bowl-Approach Means for You:

Is Pepsi doing the right thing here? Are Super Bowl commercials a thing of the past?

In a nutshell, both approaches can and do work. But if you’re like most businesses, you probably can’t afford to spend $3 million to run a single TV spot. So, you might consider seeing if you can get some bang for your buck by spreading the dollars around on a social media and cause-related marketing program.

That said, here are three things to consider:

  1. Cause-related marketing programs require more than just a donation to the cause. They require campaigns to make people aware of the cause-related donation. Those campaigns aren’t free. And they can backfire if not handled properly.
  2. Social media isn’t free. Despite what you may have heard, social media does require a financial investment. Some of this investment needs to be in hard, cold cash (e.g., YouTube video production, Landing Page development, etc.). There are soft-dollar investments in social media, too, such as the time and labor needed to run and manage the campaign.
  3. Don’t forget mobile media. Mobile media can be used to enhance a cause-related or social media campaign. There are six ways businesses are using mobile media to build awareness for their brands: SMS, Location-based marketing, mobile website, mobile apps, 2D codes and mobile websites. Explore each of them as your developing your program.

There are lot of different approaches you can use the Super Bowl to grow your sales and revenue. Good luck with whatever you’re doing  — be it running a TV spot, running a social media campaign or simply running to the fridge for an extra beer.