Why Your Business Might Need a Digital Transformation

Why Your Business Might Need a Digital Transformation

Why Your Business Might Need a Digital Transformation

Countless small and mid-sized companies are using outdated or uncoordinated digital marketing strategies that result in wasted time and money. If you’re still not on social media, have not segmented the audiences on your email list, or are throwing proverbial spaghetti in the general direction of digital platforms—you might be due for a digital transformation. From getting a sense of what a digitally transformed business can look like to understanding exactly which transformative elements will work for you, the bottom line is this: digital transformation will help you make every effort (and dollar) count. Understanding how to embark on a digital transformation for your business has the power to massively uplevel the kind of goals you’re able to reach.

What is “digital transformation”?

Digital transformation is when an established business makes the switch from either traditional marketing or uncoordinated digital marketing to strategic implementation of online or digital methods to meet the needs of an evolving market.

The key word here is “strategic”. The transition to digital requires more than just moving existing methods online. It’s about a thoughtful approach, one that a seasoned marketing leader, like a fractional CMO, often subtly navigates. Digital transformation is increasingly necessary in our technological marketplace because if you aren’t evolving, you’re falling behind (hello AI!). Implementing a digital transformation of some kind in your business has the power to increase productivity while reducing labor costs, improve customer experience, drive innovation, and keep you ahead of your competition.

What are the 4 Ps of digital transformation?

  1. Platform: The foundation of impactful digital transformation lies in modern digital platforms. Cloud technologies, for instance, provide the necessary agility and scalability. The right leadership subtly ensures the integration of existing systems into these new platforms, enabling businesses to maximize their digital ecosystems. This includes selecting tools for collaborative work and efficient CRM systems, an area where a strategic marketing perspective can be invaluable.
  2. People: At the core of digital transformation are the people who drive it. Cultivating a culture of digital innovation and establishing effective processes are critical, and often benefit from the guiding hand of experienced leadership. Ensuring the right talent in strategic roles, perhaps guided by a marketing leader’s insights, is crucial for effective change management.
  3. Project: Digital transformation projects aim to deliver improved customer experiences through relevant and engaging offerings. Involving customers early on and using digital project management tools are key. Here, input from a marketing leadership perspective can be instrumental in aligning these projects with customer needs and market trends.
  4. Process: Revising operational processes is a vital step in digital transformation. Streamlining these processes for efficiency often requires a blend of technological understanding and customer-focused strategy, areas where a fractional CMO’s expertise can make a significant impact.

What are the most common types of digital transformation?

Digital transformation encompasses a wide range of initiatives, but most can be categorized into several common types. These transformations are typically aimed at improving efficiency, customer experience, and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Business Process Transformation: This involves reimagining and streamlining business processes to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve service delivery. It often includes automating manual processes, adopting new technologies like AI and machine learning for data processing, and implementing digital workflows. Here, fCMOs often start with website optimization and SEO as part of digitizing marketing processes. You want to ensure every page of the company’s website serves a distinct purpose and contributes towards the overarching goal. This holistic approach, combined with a targeted SEO strategy, can significantly enhance online visibility and customer engagement.
  • Domain Transformation: This type extends a business’s reach into new digital sectors or domains. Companies might venture into entirely new digital markets or integrate digital technologies into traditional offerings to create new opportunities. As companies enter new digital markets, multi-channel marketing becomes crucial.
  • Cultural/Organizational Transformation: This transformation focuses on changing the company culture and organizational structure to be more agile, data-driven, and customer-centric. It often requires a shift in mindset at all levels of the organization, encouraging innovation, collaboration, and a willingness to adapt to change. fCMOs contribute to cultural shifts by advocating for and implementing modern, multi-channel marketing strategies. This helps in fostering a culture that appreciates the nuances of diverse digital platforms, driving a more innovative and adaptable marketing approach within the organization.
  • IT Transformation: This involves modernizing the IT infrastructure and capabilities to support digital business needs. It can include moving to cloud computing, adopting new software development practices like DevOps, and enhancing data security and compliance capabilities. In modernizing IT infrastructure, the role of the fCMO often includes ensuring that the marketing technology stack is optimized and integrated with the overall digital infrastructure, particularly in areas like website functionality and multi-channel marketing tools.
  • Data Transformation: Focusing on the way a company collects, stores, manages, and utilizes data. This often involves big data technologies, data analytics, and implementing systems for real-time data processing and analysis to drive decision-making.

Each type of digital transformation has its unique challenges and opportunities, and many companies will engage in multiple types of transformation simultaneously or sequentially as part of their digital strategy.

Determining where to start for your business

Digital transformation is a strategic imperative that extends beyond marketing, encompassing every aspect of business operations. It requires thoughtful leadership that understands the importance of integrating modern technologies, fostering a culture of innovation, and focusing on customer-centric processes. As businesses navigate this journey, the role of strategic leadership, including guidance from experienced marketing professionals, becomes indispensable in steering these initiatives towards success.

Which area of digital transformation to start with depends on an array of factors like company size, marketing goals, current campaign development, and staff capacity. The only one-size-fits-all suggestion we have is to work with a feasible end goal in mind, set a date, and start small. Our fractional CMOs are literal pros at digital transformation for companies and strategies of all sizes. Reach out today and get matched with the perfect fractional CMO to guide your business to game-changing digital transformation.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’s growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

About &Marketing:

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Revolutionizing Marketing Leadership Podcast: Insights to Fractional Executive Roles

Revolutionizing Marketing Leadership Podcast: Insights to Fractional Executive Roles

Revolutionizing Marketing Leadership Podcast: Insights to Fractional Executive Roles

Recently, I had the opportunity and privilege of being featured on the IMpluse podcast with industry expert Prateek Panda as part of a series discussing fractional executive roles and strategic marketing leadership within medium to large-sized startups and established companies. When you have time during your commute or while you walk the dog, give the full episode a listen. Below is a bit of a highlight reel of what I shared.

Why Fractional CMO?

I started &Marketing almost 8 years ago to serve middle market companies with an outsourced marketing department. As that has grown and evolved, a common thread I noticed was a huge need for marketing strategy and leadership. After looking around I realized that there was a gap in the market on both the offer side to the prospect/client and for the Fractional themselves. So we created a better one.

We started to focus on fractional CMOs in late 2022, and it has made all the difference in our business as well as the businesses we partner with.

What Makes a Successful Marketing Leader?

Here’s a snapshot of those key ingredients for success, the kind that’s making waves in the industry:

  • Crafting the Big Picture with a Dash of Agility: It’s not just about laying down those long-term plans; it’s about being nimble enough to dance with the ever-changing tunes of the market. A top-tier marketing leader blends foresight and flexibility seamlessly.
  • Being a Customer Whisperer: Getting into the customer’s headspace, understanding their beats and rhythms – that’s the heart of it all. It’s about creating strategies that resonate on a personal level with your audience.
  • Making Decisions Fueled by Data: It’s like being a detective, where every clue (data point) leads you closer to solving the case (nailing your strategy). Making calls based on what the numbers are telling you – that’s the name of the game.
  • Acting the Part of a Maestro: Leading a marketing team is like conducting an orchestra. It’s about getting all the different instruments (team members) to play in harmony so it resonates across the entire company.
  • Having Digital Savvy with a Conscience: Today’s marketing maestro has to be fluent in the language of digital but also stay true to the ethical core. It’s about using tools not just for their flashiness but for their ability to genuinely connect and engage.

In essence, it’s about being that visionary who can look through the lens of the customer, crunch the numbers, lead with heart and purpose, and constantly innovate while staying true to ethical marketing roots.

Challenges and Rewards of Being a Fractional CMO

Being a good marketing leader is the baseline, but most fractionals don’t realize how hard it is to actually create a business for themselves from scratch. You’re now selling and delivering a service where YOU are the product. That’s hard for many marketing people in particular because it’s a different skill.

Outside of the challenges though, there are always rewards in this unique role. When a fractional CMO partnership is done right, you’ll feel like a part of a strong executive leadership team. Fractional CMOs are brought on because their expertise is desperately needed at that time, meaning they get to be the hero of the story in many ways—that’s fulfilling.

Benefits of Joining &Marketing as a fCMO

Our fCMOs enjoy a multitude of benefits by partnering with &Marketing. Some of the most impactful ones are:

  • Inbound qualified (and vetted) leads
  • Community of like-minded experts
  • Tools & tips, coaching, advice
  • Assistance in negotiating deals
  • Offload all paperwork and invoicing to our staff
  • Transparency and as little drama as possible

How &Marketing is Different from Similar Agencies

  1. We are not captive – meaning we don’t sign any agreements that prevent you from getting leads from other sources or take a cut from leads we don’t bring in.
  2. We qualify leads before our community sees them. You know they are looking for a fractional before you talk to them.
  3. We help you negotiate the deal. Having someone in your corner makes a significant difference.

One of my proudest professional accomplishments so far is seeing this Fractional trend and pivoting our resources toward making it successful. It will be interesting to see where it goes!

The team at &Marketing is at the forefront of bringing the highest quality of AI tools to our partners as well. Being able to leverage AI to take marketing to the next level is the next frontier in our field, and we are doing that every day with our partners and clients.

I encourage you to make some time to listen to the podcast episode to get a full picture of what’s going on in the field of factional executives right now. Plus, I tell a great story about my biggest professional failure and share which influencer I would choose to have lunch with. (My answer might surprise you!)

For any questions or to get more details about fractional CMOs, please reach out!

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’s growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

About &Marketing:

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

The Power of Digital Marketing Analytics: When, How, and Why to Use

The Power of Digital Marketing Analytics: When, How, and Why to Use

The Power of Digital Marketing Analytics: When, How, and Why to Use

When companies start to see a plateau or stagnation in growth it’s usually due to one of two things: 1) the refusal to implement new ideas or 2) guessing at which new ideas to implement. We’ve helped dozens of businesses through both hurdles. The key to pushing through that growth plateau is to use the power of digital marketing analytics to guide your growth. Understanding how to leverage data analytics to drive marketing decisions and strategies can lead to considerable growth in companies of any size.

What is digital marketing analytics?

Digital marketing analytics refers to the practice of measuring, managing, and analyzing marketing performance data to maximize its effectiveness and optimize return on investment (ROI). In other words, it’s crucial to helping businesses understand the impact of their marketing efforts and make informed decisions to drive growth and customer engagement.

A few key components of digital marketing analytics include:

  • Data Collection: Gathering data from various digital marketing channels such as websites, social media, email campaigns, digital advertisements, and more.
  • Data Analysis: Analyzing the collected data to understand user behavior, campaign performance, and the effectiveness of different marketing strategies. This often involves the use of analytics tools like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and others.
  • Performance Measurement: Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) like click-through rates, conversion rates, cost per acquisition, engagement metrics, and others to evaluate the success of marketing campaigns.

How is analytics used in marketing? Choosing the right data.

Data analytics can be intimidating at first, especially if you don’t quite know what you’re looking for or where to start. The good news is that there are hundreds of ways to gather marketing data analytics for your business. (Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.) It’s critical to know which analytics are valuable to consider for your business and target audience and which ones won’t move the needle for growth. Getting caught up in trying to collect all the data and then getting lost in mountains of numbers that you’re uncertain of how to even use is an easy trap to fall into.

Some common types of data analytics used in marketing are:

  • website analytics
  • social media platform metrics
  • CRM/Sales data
  • Email service platform metrics
  • geographic stats
  • audience demographics

Data such as how many website hits and bounces you’re getting, the number of email opens and clicks, and social media followers are pretty simple to follow. Where too many businesses go wrong is thinking that’s all they need to consider. Additionally, a common misstep is mistaking vanity numbers for strategic data.

In other words, the number of followers on your social media or the number of subscribers to your email newsletter doesn’t necessarily convert to actual revenue.

Our fractional CMOs leverage their expertise in marketing and data analytics to make sure the right metrics are being tracked so that all the data being gathered can be impactful in making decisions about where to focus your time, energy, and money to combat that stagnant growth you may be experiencing.

Connecting digital marketing analytics to strategic decisions

When the best data is gathered and analyzed, you can connect those marketing analytics to strategic decisions. Instead of attempting to collect all the data, or guessing at which data you should pay attention to, our fractional CMOs get to the heart of which metrics matter so you can do things like:

  • Enhance cross-functional marketing strategies so that your multiple touch points actually move your potential customers along a journey instead of simply bombarding them
  • Identify cost savings within digital campaigns to maximize each dollar spent on paid ads
  • Identify target audiences to ensure that you’re only reaching out to your actual potential customers and clients
  • Equip sales teams with warmer leads to shorten the sales timeline and increase revenue faster
  • Provide intel for potential expansion areas and insights needed to create a strategic roadmap for growth

Leveraging the power of data analytics for growth

When you identify the right data analytics to track and know what meaning to attach to that data, you can confidently create a strategy that will lead to overall growth. There are a multitude of options available to assist you in gathering the data you need. Several platforms you’re currently using may already give you marketing data analytics, but we also have some impactful software in our toolbox like:

  • Power BI: a unified platform for data visualization and sharing
  • Stata: an integrated software that provides data manipulation, visualization, statistics and automated reporting
  • Semrush: a SaaS platform specializing in keyword research, competitor analysis, and ad campaign optimization

Our fractional CMOs use these and other data-driven tools to give you the kind of power boost that takes companies from a plateau to exponential growth to become industry leaders.

Getting Started

When you know what your numbers are and what they mean, you can take actual confident action toward growth. No more guessing at the next steps or sifting through tons of information to try to figure out which data to focus on. Data analytics in marketing doesn’t have to be cumbersome or time-consuming. Contact us to find out how a fractional CMO can help guide your business growth using the right data in the right way at the right time.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’s growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

About &Marketing:

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

B2C Closet Company Combines Digital Marketing With Direct Mail Marketing to See Big Results

B2C Closet Company Combines Digital Marketing With Direct Mail Marketing to See Big Results

B2C Closet Company Combines Digital Marketing With Direct Mail Marketing to See Big Results

Business Challenge Summary

Clozetivity Southeast PA is a recently launched custom closet franchise company that needed to produce new leads at a lower cost per lead. The client needed help generating more awareness to get in front of prospective buyers using a mix of social media and paid digital advertising. Knowing that content and SEO take time, Clozetivity Southeast PA needed to expand the ways they could target the market to generate awareness and leads more quickly.

Solution

The client turned to &Marketing to supplement their digital approach with a traditional marketing tactic, targeted direct mail, using Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) by USPS. EDDM strives to make direct mail more efficient and targeted by allowing you to select routes based on specific audience parameters: 

  • Route: City, Rural/Highway, PO Box
  • Residential or Residential AND Business
  • Age
  • Average Size of Household
  • Average Household Income

Not only does this ensure mail pieces are seen by the right people, but at an average price of mailing that is less than a postage stamp. Users are responsible for the printing and delivering of the mail pieces to the post office, but the USPS does provide listings of certified available printers to use for both guidance and physical printing (see here). Mailings currently cost as low as $0.189 per piece (postage). 

After designing two different postcards to A/B test, Clozetivity Southeast PA partnered with PrimoPrint to print 6×9 postcards, select the routes of the audiences they were targeting (residential, high average household income, ages 25-55), and deliver the printed pieces to the USPS for delivery.  

Is direct mail marketing still effective?

Direct mail marketing maintains its effectiveness when strategically implemented, offering tangibility, personalization, and targeted messaging that can create memorable interactions. Although it can be more cost and time-intensive, direct mail stands out in less cluttered physical mailboxes, potentially building trust and capturing attention.

The integration of direct mail with digital strategies, alongside careful tracking and measurement, can enhance its impact. However, its success depends on various factors including the industry, audience, message quality, and design.

Direct Mail Marketing Results

 

After sending about 12,700 highly targeted direct mail pieces for $5,700, Clozetivity Southeast PA received four high-quality leads from Postcard A, two of which led to sales of over $10,000. This led to a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) of 351%. (What is your ROAS? Check out our Calculator.) Additionally, Clozetivity generated brand awareness among roughly 6,000 potential buyers. Though Click Thru Rate (CTR) was low (0.18%) by industry standards, the conversion rate was extremely strong (17%). This can be attributed to the brand being unknown and the testing of the creative pieces sent. As Clozetivity Southeast PA continues to improve its awareness online through digital advertising and content, the brand will use the lessons and success from this direct mail test to further expand reach.

Results

Spend

$5,700

SQL’s

4

Sales

2

Revenue

$20,000+

ROAS

351%

Conversion Rate

17%

Results

Postcard A

Postcard B

Spend

$2,556.92

$3,098.50

Delivered

6,728

5,995

Clicks

17

6

CTR

0.25%

0.10%

Conversions

4

0

Conversion Rate

24%

0%

Sales

2

0

Revenue

$20,000+

$0

ROAS

782%

0%

What is the average return on direct mail marketing?

The return on investment (ROI) for direct mail marketing can vary widely depending on various factors such as the industry, target audience, quality of the mailing list, design of the mailer, and the offer presented. However, to give a general idea, the average “return” or response rate is anywhere from 0.5-2%. The exact ROI is going to depend on the type of campaign you’re running and what action you ask your recipients will take.

It’s important to note that this is a broad average and actual returns can be significantly higher or lower based on the specifics of the campaign. Well-targeted and well-executed direct mail campaigns have been known to yield ROIs much higher than the average, while poorly executed campaigns could result in a loss. To learn more about direct mail campaigns and decide whether they might be a tactic you should integrate into your marketing strategy, reach out to our team!

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’s growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

About &Marketing:

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Commercial Due Diligence Services for Private Equity Investments

Commercial Due Diligence Services for Private Equity Investments

Commercial Due Diligence Services for Private Equity Investments

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

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Private equity acquisition is a complex undertaking with countless moving parts. Your company’s funds, time, and reputation are all on the line, and as new products emerge and marketing capabilities expand thanks to advancing digital intelligence, it’s more important than ever that you know the commitment you’re making.

Commercial due diligence offers invaluable clarity into your acquisition, from helping you determine whether or not it’s worth the investment to understanding how to maximize its opportunities for long-term growth. Today, more and more private equity firms are choosing to outsource these services — and they’re quickly seeing all the benefits that it provides.

What is Commercial Due Diligence?

A commercial due diligence is a critical deep dive into a businesses’ current position and future potential. Typically led by an executive marketing consultant (or a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer), this internal review involves assessing everything from a company’s ability to attract and retain customers, its market positioning and digital presence versus its competitors, how it defines its brand positioning and value proposition, and a number of other key elements that allow a business to identify opportunities to accelerate growth and value creation. 

Here’s what you can expect from an effective commercial due diligence: 

  1. A deeper understanding of your acquisition’s market dynamics, competition, and customers/consumers
  2. A robust roadmap for growth and a holistic marketing plan  
  3. Practical strategy execution with detailed analysis of the results and expected ROI

     

Outsourced commercial due diligence services typically involve a fractional CMO supported by digital specialists brought in through an agreement customized to the needs of the company. Their scope is specifically process-driven to help frame your portfolio company’s scale up, while ensuring you have the proper guardrails and strategic oversight to meet your long-term growth needs.

 

Why Do Commercial Due Diligence?

In the case of private equity firms, a commercial due diligence can offer invaluable clarity into the long-term potential of their investment through the support of highly experienced subject matter experts with practical advice and support to execute, ensuring the most meaningful results and greatest ROI.

This process will focus on fully understanding the target acquisition’s opportunities to determine whether there is potential for significant growth to create shareholder value. In many cases, commercial due diligence consultancy is usually employed after the private equity firm has conducted enough initial due diligence that it is willing to invest the time and resources to gain more transparency and confidence into whether it is a good investment opportunity in the long-run. And it can either be done pre or post-acquisition.

How Much Does Commercial Due Diligence Cost?

In order to best understand the costs associated with a commercial due diligence, it’s important to know your options — and what you’re getting. For example, &Marketing offers a flexible engagement through a retainer or “on-demand” model with various activities scoped on an ad-hoc basis. These retainers are typically for an initial project that is defined based on the specific target company’s needs (strategy, research, digital ads, SEO, email marketing, social media, etc). They can also be done as a “percentage of full time” on a weekly basis and paid monthly with a typical 3-6-month minimum engagement.

Here is a breakdown of a commercial due diligence framework/checklist and the associated costs

Market Position Analysis

  • Determine the company’s target markets or audiences based on its sales, margin, and customer retention history  
  • Review and map the company’s positioning verses its competition for selected dynamics, such as value, uniqueness, market share & growth potential
  • Determine whether the product and service positioning is “True, Distinct & Compelling” 
  • Map out the company’s Core Competences to determine whether it has sustainable competitive advantage
  • Costs range from $10,000 to $20,000.

Customer Insights Collection

  • Interview the company’s current and previous customers to guage how compelling and unique its products and services are from the perspective of their target audiences
  • Interviews with customers to reveal what’s effective & what’s not:

    a. Why they purchased
    b. The products/services’ strengths & weaknesses
    c. Level of customer satisfaction & the likelihood they’ll continue to purchase or use products/services
    d. The reason past customers chose to leave

  • Determine retention rates among customers over the last 12 to 18 months. (Note: many start-ups may have lower retention rates as they home in on higher potential target groups. For quick turnover consumer products, the metric here is repeat rate, which should be at least 50%)

  • Typically, 25-40 qualitative phone interviews are performed for a cost of approximately $15,000 to $20,000, or online surveys can be utilized with costs ranging from $5,000 to $10,000

Digital Marketing Strategy Positioning

  • Evaluate the company’s website for content, positioning and messaging, ease of use and technical functionality, and suitability for future value creation
  • Initiate discussions with key sales and marketing leaders to understand the existing lead generation pipeline and processes for managing leads generated to identify opportunities for future revenue growth
  • Conduct in-depth analysis to determine the company’s and its competitor’s digital strategy, approach, and effectiveness, quantifying its digital presence and identify high ROI approaches to accelerate revenue growth
  • Costs range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on complexity

Marketing Capabilities Review

  • Evaluate the company’s marketing materials, both printed and digital
  • Conduct interviews with marketing teams regarding strategy and success to date
  • Work with the management team to outline the strengths and weaknesses found
  • Recommend cost effective improvements and internal organizational changes
  • Costs ranges from $5,000 to $10,000.

Is Commercial Due Diligence Stressful?

Performing a commercial due diligence can be time consuming and resource intensive if you try to tackle it internally without the right resources, bandwidth, or expertise to do it properly. This is why more and more private equity firms are relying on outsourced fractional CMOs and marketing teams to handle the commercial due diligence of their portfolio companies on their behalf. 

While some commercial due diligence experts will leave the execution of your marketing strategy to your portfolio company or a third party, there are full service digital agencies that provide the executive leadership and marketing team to see the entire process through from pre-acquisition advisory to practical execution. This approach not only leaves you with a single point of responsibility throughout the process, but also decreases the risks of issues and unapproved changes to ensure the overall effectiveness of the investment. 

To learn more about the benefits of outsourcing your portfolio company’s commercial due diligence consulting to ensure you’re harnessing the best solutions for long-term success, contact the digital marketing experts at &Marketing today. 

 

 

About the Author

As the Founder & CEO of &Marketing (www.and-marketing.com), Raj and his team strive to provide growing businesses unparalleled marketing strategy and execution services. Raj has more than two decades of experience in B2B and B2C marketing, sales, & strategy. He has led nearly 100 high-profile marketing strategy projects for Global 100, mid-sized clients, and SMBs, plus over a decade with General Electric and General Mills. He is a sought-after advisor and facilitator, with experience across five continents. He is known for bringing the best of ‘big company’ marketing and strategy to smaller companies without the baggage, his bias for practical implementation, and his unrelenting customer focus.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

Is Fear of Negativity Holding Your Marketing Team Back?

Is Fear of Negativity Holding Your Marketing Team Back?

Is Fear of Negativity Holding Your Marketing Team Back?

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

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Sometimes marketers obsess over maintaining a glass-half-full viewpoint in their content, believing it’s always better to show the customer positive benefits rather than “focusing on the negative.” While it’s true that you don’t want to stress out your audience, both B2C and B2B shoppers are savvier than ever. When your brand avoids acknowledging the real-world problems your audiences face, you risk being seen as out of touch and artificial.

When you face reality head-on (without dwelling or sounding defeatist), your brand earns more authenticity among those looking for a solution. They’re more likely to give you their time when they can see that you understand their challenges.

If brands want to cut through the noise to capture their audience’s attention, empathize with their struggles, and differentiate themselves, it’s time to get more comfortable with a little negativity.

The Power of Bonding with Your Audience Over a Problem

It may feel counterintuitive to risk stirring up negative feelings in your audience by drawing on negative experiences. But when done correctly, it can help with reader retention and engagement by creating a shared experience and tapping into emotion to make the reader feel seen and understood. For example, an electronic lock brand may reference the frustration of losing your keys or getting locked out, a common negative experience that most people understand and can bond with the brand over.

When incorporating the StoryBrand framework into their strategy, marketers must understand that “every story is about somebody who is trying to solve a problem, so when we identify our customers’ problems, they recognize us as a brand that understands them.” (Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand)

If we want our audience to pay attention, we have to position ourselves as offering a product or service they can easily use to solve that problem. To do that, we have to clearly identify and articulate that problem so they can see that we understand what they’re dealing with. StoryBrand marketers turn that problem into a personified villain so we can tell the audience a story about themselves as a hero, overcoming the villain using our products and services. Stories are only compelling because they include a struggle, a challenge to overcome. If we limit ourselves to only discussing the positive, we can’t create as effective a story.

A great example is a Rug Doctor campaign that showed people “steaming mad at dirt,” angry at their soiled rug. While most people aren’t enraged by a dirty rug, they certainly don’t like it, and this makes for a more interesting story than simply offering the benefit of a clean rug — the audience’s aversion to dirt is more powerful than their appreciation of cleanliness. Starting with a clean rug doesn’t make for an interesting story, because there’s no problem for the hero to solve. A clean rug is a nice benefit but a poor attention-grabber.

4 Examples of Useful Negativity in Marketing

Personify problems as villains.

Personifying the audience’s central problem as a villain is vital in marketing storytelling. For example, the medication brand Mucinex has done a great job of personifying mucus as nasty little monsters living in your sinuses — and positioning their product as your best defense against the invader.

Try a “negative” headline or title.

Refer to the title of this blog as an example of a negative headline: Is Fear of Negativity Holding Your Marketing Team Back? This headline introduces doubt and the potential that the reader may be doing something wrong — but there is also the implied promise of a solution. The important thing to remember when using this tactic is to provide solid content that offers a solution or a way to improve.

Take a stand.

Take a stand for something your brand believes in. This might involve something controversial, possibly a social or political issue, but it doesn’t have to be that serious. You could have what constitutes a ‘hot take’ in your industry but is low-stakes for those outside your audience — like an audio/video company stating that the industry should have chosen the Beta video format over VHS. Some may disagree with you, but it could be worth it if it gets people talking and associating your brand with a specific position on the topic, especially if you have the data and experience to back it up.

Poke some fun at yourself.

A little self-deprecation and self-awareness can go a long way. For example, Domino’s Pizza acknowledged that many customers thought their crust tasted like cardboard and pledged to improve the recipe. This helped to humanize the brand while proving to customers that they not only listen to their feedback but also take it seriously enough to take action.

Tips for Using Negativity Effectively in Marketing

Referencing negative experiences or audience problems is essential, but requires practice and diligence to ensure it’s done effectively. Here are a few tips to help you maintain balance and avoid alienating the audience:

  • Be sure you truly understand the audience’s problems and the negative emotions those problems cause.
  • Be subtle — it’s best not to be heavy-handed or extreme when referencing negative experiences.
  • Once you’ve formed an emotional bond over a shared negative experience, shifting the mood quickly to a solution is important. Don’t dwell.
  • Show the reader that the solution is simple — there’s an easy way to escape from this situation, and we can show you how.

Overcome the Fear — We Can Help

From learning how to effectively use negativity in advertising and marketing to building a content marketing calendar and measuring its ROI — and more — we can help! Contact &Marketing today. If you want to DIY your brand’s messaging, download our narrative marketing outline as a guide.

 

About the Author
Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content.

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