I set off a small firestorm the other evening when I Re-Tweeted the following tweet; "RT @KathySierra: "WONDERING HOW IT IS THAT WE CAN BE HORRIFIED BY THE FINANCIAL CRISIS YET NOT SEE MOST ADVERTISING AS A HORRIFIC WASTE OF MONEY"

 For those not familiar with Twitter, a RE-Tweet is just that, you re-tweet someone else's tweet. A tweet is a 140 character or less statement you type for anyone who follows you on twitter to read.  So, I didn't originate the phrase, "Wondering how it is that we can be horrified by financial crisis yet not see most advertising as a horrific waste of money" but I sure did resonate with it, and this was Pre Super Bowl.  

IS YOUR ADVERTISING ADDING VALUE
A point of this blog post is to just point out that there are new and different ways to market your Product Offering, and that the "Way we have always done it may not be AS effective." One of the tweeters in the firestorm went on and on telling about how irresponsible it is to Not Advertise. My point was consistently, "Is Your Advertising or Marketing Adding Value" and the bottom line is, most of the time the answer is NO, Your Marketing is NOT adding any value and Your Advertising is a Horrific Waste of Money.

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY
As I navigate these challenging economic times in our own small business, marketing continues to both amaze and baffle me. In 2004 we ceased all traditional marketing tactics in exchange for Social Media Marketing. For clarification, I dump everything into the Marketing Bucket. We work hard to train our folks we work with that everything that we do is Marketing. Irrespective of if you have on the PR hat, the Customer Service hat, the Advertising Hat, It is all Marketing. And, we are communicating our Brand at every step.  

Interestingly, In our boutique apartment management business, as we aborted traditional marketing and applied Social Media Marketing, our new traffic leads never declined, in fact they went up. What was fascinating is that our Google ranking for apartment search in our local area continued to climb, and now rests consistently on page one Google. We are not SEO gurus by any stretch. We went in a diametrically different direction than anyone else in our business, and our traffic leads went up as well as our search optimization, How is that?

THERE IS A BETTER WAY
As we trended further away from traditional marketing methods, we deployed available marketing dollars in a different direction. We aimed them at our Core Resident Base, at our Customer. While practicing Social Media and the transparency that comes with it, we experienced and practiced humbleness. After all, when you are called out when you drop the ball for everyone out there to see it, it is a bit humbling. But along the way, as we continued to look inward something else started to happen, We Created Customer Evangelists, and they helped us Rent Apartments.

When you market inward, and Enhance the Customer Experience  you get a compound return on your marketing dollar. You have made an existing customer happy, and at the same time marketing your product. What would happen if everyone Marketed Inward, and Enhanced Their Customers Experience


February 15, 2009





Eric Brown has (30) years in the Multi-Family Apartment Business having built and developed over 17,000 apartment units, both market rate, luxury and tax credit apartments. Having started Urbane Apartments in 2003 after leaving a lengthy stint as a Senior Vice President at Village Green Companies, a national apartment developer, Eric decided he wanted to create wealth, and set out from Corporate America on his own and created Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, MI.






Comments(27)

From a resident's standpoint this is working -- what's better -- a flashy advertising campaign aimed at getting new residents, or answering my -- true story-- service call re heating on the Sunday morning of a 3-day holiday weekend within 3 minutes and having a service provider here within half an hour to get the heat back on. (I'll note that I'm tempted to write I'm biased as I've gotten involved with Urbane as a resident -- but that's the point -- these guys are doing things that make happy folks, making us go out of our way to recommend them. Who's heard of residents loving their landlords. Okay, back to drinking the kool-aid!).

Brandon, Thanks for the kind accolades, and Thank You for your continued business, we very much appreciate it.

This is interesting, and should be noted You never Really Know Who is Listening, and may leave a comment! Sometimes it is your best customer and sometimes not, but what Social media does do is allow you to Participate in the Conversation.

That's completely true. Advertising (esp in a Web 2.0) world doesn't make any sense. Studies show that consumers no longer trust marketing, they trust other consumers. Social media marketing is the way to go. We've never done a single piece of advertisement for my company, it's all been organic. Organic may be harder, but well worth it in the long run!

Twitter.com/Bookgal

Just went to a presentation by Dmitry Orlov on Friday, providing some pessimistic viewpoints on the current economic crisis. Got me to thinking about how even though we are all hyper-connected and information flow is instantaneous, that behavior changes are very gradual in the absence of catastrophic events. In the case of consumer spending, we are hesitant to change from our 0.5% savings rate to the necessary 10%. The same can be said about spending of companies, accustomed to the traditional advertising mediums and spending budgets. Only the forward thinkers are able to change quickly in fast-evolving industries.

I do think there are some effective advertising strategies that are worth while, but it's all about tracking. Online advertising, mainly adwords, provides for highly trackable and measurable results. Since each company or property has different value propositions, consistently analyzing the acquisition funnel (via online, print, social media efforts, etc) and weaving out the less effective ones is the route I would take. I would bet that print would be the most expensive and first to go. But definitely a faster transformation from current spending behaviors in advertising needs to a occur.

Social media marketing is very effective. Take Go Daddy for instance...They spend a bundle on Super bowl ads, but at the end of the day, does anyone have any more respect for them? They should Twitter and actually get to know what their customers want. I use to have 40 domains with them, but I've moved them all because I'm tired of Go Daddy. Most webmasters already know about them, they either like them or don't. Putting up a big expensive ad will just make the people that don't like them think well there's a big waste of money. People that do like them will think, oh look an ad by Go Daddy. It won't bring in more customers, but interaction and communicating provided by social marketing would.

Penny, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. We agree with you that the Rating Sites may well be the best place to leverage your time and marketing resources.

We would love to hear what is working for you if you care to share,

Well, I don't know. I agree that enterprise-level advertising campaigns, the 'Go Daddy' type campaigns, would not work for your company. You are selling a living experience so the marketing and promotion of that needs to be relationship based and local. But I do think that a nice sprinkle of ads located either online and/or offline in conjunction with your other marketing tools is important to get the name out there.

The thing people overlook most is research. They don't understand their demographic and further, they don't understand how to reach them. If you are having results based on your promotional activities, that is good. But advertising isn't dead, it is simply shifting in theory and location.

From a marketing standpoint I find your tactics alarmingly risky and poor advice for the majority of businesses in the United States.

It is never a good idea to put all of your marketing into a single basket. Good marketing is a balance of all marketing venues available to a business. I work with many small businesses in providing professional marketing services and can tell you from our successes that engaging in strictly social media marketing is a recipe for failure for many small town businesses. Social media marketing works well in metropolitan communities as well as with enormous businesses. It will also work well with a select grouping of businesses that are intrinsically related to ecommerce and high end technology. But even in these cases, don’t totally discount the value of traditional marketing.

I agree that treating every aspect of your business as marketing is solid advice; it always has been and is nothing new to the marketing world. Many businesses seem to discount and have forgotten this over the years though. Any marketing that is done, must be well thought out and justified, especially in a market such as we have today. The effectiveness of newspaper advertising has definitely taken a hit in recent years, but there are still many things newspaper advertising does well. I seldom suggest a display ad in the paper, but advertising in special publications produced by the paper such as an annual “Bridal Guide” that is inserted with the newspaper is as good as gold for wedding related businesses.

For a small business in a rural communities, that provides products or services locally; relying strictly on social media would be a sure fire way to run a going out of business sale.

Eric Wu, Thank you for your insight. A point here should be that as companies embark on the new media way, other forms of marketing and advertising need to be dropped. The issue then is fear, and "We have always done it this way" pops up.

What if the whole way in which folks purchased things were based on their Experience? Just think about it. Did anyone ask your permission to stop full service gas stations? Did anyone ask your permission if it was OK to change from records to eight tracks, to cassettes, to CD’s and now, throw all of those out, music is invisible, it’s in ether land!

Maybe we all should wake up pay attention to what is going on, and embrace the change and be part of the revolution.

Rebecca, Good Morning
In any of our marketing or product offering we should strive for Remarkable,

Remarkable, as defined by the legend Seth Godin;
• Remarkable doesn't mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it?
• Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won't accomplish much. It's easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.

Chris, Hi Thanks for stopping by,
I agree with your comment. For clarity, I am not insinuating advertising is dead,

My point was consistently, "Is Your Advertising or Marketing Adding Value" and the bottom line is, most of the time the answer is NO, Your Marketing is NOT adding any value and Your Advertising is a Horrific Waste of Money.

Tim, Hello, Thank you for commenting and articulating your points. I appreciate your candor, although I disagree with you based on our experience and how we have chose to spend our marketing budget.

I clearly get your point, the marketing studio we were using for our small business fired me as a client several years ago for just the reasons you list.

I get that Social Media isn't for every business, however, We do run a Small Business in a Small Town in one of the most depressed states in the union, with unemployment in the double digits and our product offering is typically considered a commodity.

I am not a marketing guy, I am a small business owner. So, based on our own experience, I chose to spend my marketing dollars in a different way. We focus on Enhancing the Residents Experience and we have worked hard to Break From the Pack of Apartment Commodity.

I believe that Social Media Marketing works BETTER for Small Business than large, but the point of this post wasn't really about that, it is about that most of the money we all spend on adverting is a waste of money and adds no value.

The world is changing and the old ways no longer work so well. Look, Starbucks focused on the Customer Experience and grew into a pretty well respected brand, and is known for spending more on training than advertising.

I think it all depends on your market as to what works and what doesn't. I've dabbled in advertising in many forms such as online, leaflets, newspapers and all to varying degrees of success.

It really does depend on the market though as to where will be most successful with your audience, and I think if you can afford it it can be a trial and error process to see what works for you.

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John, Thank you for stopping by,

I agree with you completely, and some things work better than others for sure. Many agencies want to have you "Do it All" and see what works. NONE of them tell you up front that it is a Trial and Error" but you are right, that's what it really is.

Here are some much better alternatives-
Post on blogs
Post on Forums
Submit to social bookmarking sites using social bookmarking software
Write articles on ezines

They are much more efficient methods.

Hi Eric

This is an interesting post. We as marketers always need to follow the trend. That is why we are defined as marketers because we market to markets. And the market is always the place where the most activity is. In our case today it's social media. I however won't abandon traditional means of marketing because traditional means hardly die IMHO. I'll always be a fan of Google as well as good old on-site advertising with the use of adspace etc.

Don't get me wrong, social media works really well...especially video. It has helped me tremendously with all my online businesses.

Regards,
Ryan
Ultra Lean Green

Ryan, Good Morning,
Nicely put, The danger with Social Media too is that I believe that folks think you can buy it similar to traditional marketing, and it sure doesn't appear that that works well.

This is an interesting post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree with you, I think there are some much better alternatives.

I think it all depends what the goal is for that advertising. If a company is doing it for branding alone than they immediate concerns are not ROI.

Conventional market or social media,demand and trend decides the sale. It depends on when, how and how much one does to make their presence felt in the market.


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This is excellent. Usually the truth is met with contreversy, as so many people have the "crowd mentality." But every last word here is true. Advertising should be held accountable for a ROI, not thrown against eh wall hoping and praying that some of it will stick. Thanks for this excellent post!

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Hi Nick, Thanks for stopping by.

It seems the goal for advertising should always be to get a sale, does it need to be more complicated than that?

St Louis Missouri Guy,
Thank you for the comment. Your point is right on target. I get that not every program launched will get the same result.

When we started "Looking Inward" and "Marketing Inward" we got compound returns for our marketing dollar.

Most people advertise to generate sales but a lot of companies do it for branding purposes. You need a lot of money to brand properly but it pays off in the end if you have a good product/service

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This is an interesting post. It all depends on your market, in these case the only things to do is to increase targeted web site traffic, here my key point:

Title optimization

Social bookmarking

Submit articles to directories(in this article I talk about a list of 1000 free directories)

Use of approapriate keywords

Use of meta tags

Feeds

yeah.. i agreed with Nick Stamoulis.. bigger company for example.. they won't mind investing lots of money to brand their products..

Advertising is mostly used for branding, but in some cases if you really need a customers you should try to promote your products using and participating to social networks.

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