Monday, April 12, 2010

Marketers Adoption of Social Media

Over the past year we have seen a great deal of activity from companies in the social media space, with many dedicating human resources and larger budgets to these initiatives. Social media is not a fad that will go away over night and many experts believe it will continue to grow into an integral part of every individual’s online experience. This has many marketers, both B2B and B2C, scrambling to get into the action. Every marketing publication browsed these days includes headlines on social media marketing. Many state if you are not involved in it, you are way behind the times. Analysts are currently predicting that the money spent in the social media marketing segment will experience a thirty-four percent compounded annual growth rate over the next several years. Many state that these estimates are by no means aggressive and some agree that they are downright timid. This estimate bodes well for those providing services to social media marketers, however, it means that marketers are shifting budgets from traditional direct to this new segment (along with other digital practice areas). This graph and chart (provided by Forrester Research) depict the estimated growth in social:

As can be seen, many companies are moving into digital and social media marketing efforts. It should be noted that to be successful with social media a company must alter some key fundamentals of branding and marketing online. It requires businesses to grasp the concept of entering into a two-way conversation with customers through multiple channels, rather than one-way communication through traditional marketing tools such as print advertising. Businesses can benefit from a carefully designed social media strategy, starting with the understanding that companies and their products are already being discussed online. Marketers need to monitor and participate in these discussions along with building trust among existing and prospective customers. There are numerous resources available to help design and execute a social media strategy as well as providing valuable tips to navigating the social media world. Social Media Examiner offers excellent information to help marketers get started:

Many marketing initiatives are currently complementing the old-school marketing mix with an aspect of social media. Traditional marketing as we know it will never completely go away, but many new digital initiatives will be implemented to drive top-line growth.

(Cartoon credit to: Silicon Cloud)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

GOMC...What a Great Marketing Ploy!

This past week has required me to do a little light reading for an upcoming class project called the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC).  This contest sponsored by the leading the search advertising provider is quite intriguing not only for its educational focus, but also for its marketing and lead generation capabilities.

 Below is how Google describes the Challenge on it's website:

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a great hands-on exercise for undergraduate or graduate students in classes such as advertising, ecommerce, integrated marketing communication, management information systems, marketing and new media technologies.

The goal for students is effective online marketing via sound marketing analysis to optimize, manage and update a Google AdWords campaign.

The Challenge works like this:

Students divide into groups of 3-6, and then receive free online advertising vouchers for Google AdWords worth US$200.

The groups recruit a small-to-medium business, under 100 employees, who has a website but doesn’t currently use AdWords.

Each group works with the business to set up an AdWords account and structure an effective online marketing campaign.

During a 3-week competition window, the groups optimize and refine their campaigns. They must submit two competition reports – one before they begin and one after the campaign ends.

Google and a panel of independent academics from all over the world select the winning teams based on the success of their campaign and the quality of their competition reports.


Now at face value, this seems like a nice gesture on Google's part to invest the time and money for holding a contest of this manner.  After all, it is providing free hands on skills development to undergrad and grad students seeking to learn about search engine marketing.  Everybody likes companies that invest in the education of our youth in helping them to prepare for their future endeavours, right?  I do agree that Google is helping to develop students, however, the more I thought about this challenge the more I felt that Google benefits more from this challenge than the students. 
Below are some of the benefits to Google:
  • An army of students thoroughly trained to use Google's product.  As these students begin marketing for their future employers it is safe to say that most will opt for Google's product(s) when it comes to search.
  • Free sales force due to the students having to identify a company that is not currently using Google's AdWords and then sign the firm up as the search marketer for the contest.
  • Free trial program for small businesses that are identified by students to play a part in this contest, leading to an ease of entry to search marketing for the business (not to mention a strategy set up by the students).
  • Increased product awareness due to the promotion of this challenge through universities.
I have to give credit to Google, this is an ingenious program that will continue to reap rewards for the company many years from now.  Great idea to invest a little in the current student population and look forward to them signing on as customers when out in the workforce.
A question I have to ask is why haven't other search advertising providers come up with a mainstay program of this nature?