Does Racially Tone-Deaf Marketing Actually Work?

22 Mar


The recent issue with H&M putting a young black model in a shirt that said, “Coolest monkey in the jungle” certainly created its share of backlash. However, the attention that the brand received from it created more attention for the brand as a whole. As they say, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Does racially tone-deaf marketing actually work? Let’s try to take a look at this admittedly sensitive subject from a professional perspective.

Marketers are not stupid.

The brands that “find themselves” in hot water from a racially insensitive ad may not be so naive. The huge brands that have been in the news lately are top tier companies. Companies don’t get to that level by overlooking details.

We live in a world where “leaked” sex tapes create legitimate celebrities. One of the easiest ways to make it above the fold is to get a demographic protesting you. It is relatively inexpensive, and most importantly, it works. The proliferation of big data makes the behavior of large groups easier and easier to predict. Top marketers have access to all of this data, which means their decisions are usually among the best informed of any department.

Diversity is a problem within marketing.

The percentage of blacks, Hispanics, and women in the ad industry do not coincide with the percentage of those groups in the population. Only 6.6% of people in the ad industry are black; 10% are Hispanic; 11% of those employed are women.

Racially insensitive ads may not have to go through as much vetting within the ad industry, which may explain why they continue to occur despite the backlash. The decisions made in the war room will quickly become about profit and acquisition metrics, rather than morals under these conditions. If the numbers say that an ad will work, then it is likely to be run.

The message will fade, but the brand will stay.

The uproar that the public has over racially insensitive ads is relatively short-lived. However, the brand moves on as a more famous version of itself. Eventually, people forget why the reason they heard of the brand was from a racially insensitive ad. They will simply remember the brand. H&M, for instance, enjoyed a great deal of publicity from hip-hop stars who remarked that they “didn’t even know that H&M carried men’s clothes” until the “monkey in the jungle” crisis. Would they have been talking about the clothing in H&M if the ad had never run? Keep in mind that H&M runs ads with men’s clothing all the time – the message that hit was one of insensitivity, and whether we like it or not, it worked.

No one will admit it, but from Pepsi to H&M to Dove soaps, racially tone-deaf marketing seems to have its place in the modern business landscape. Now that there are enough case studies to determine the financial and emotional backlash, companies have a benchmark to quantify the positive and negative results. This may be why it keeps happening. Employ this morally questionable tactic at your own peril, but keep in mind that your competitors may actually be considering this strategy to gain leverage over you.

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What Business-to-Business Marketing Trends and Tactics Will Define 2018?

20 Mar


The world of business-to-business marketing continues to evolve in 2018. The trends and tactics that will move business forward may not be the strategies that experts thought would work months ago. What B2B marketing trends actually define 2018? Let’s take a look:


Both consumers and marketers will demand a great deal of more transparency from brands. Companies may have to open up their supply chains to scrutiny, and they will certainly have to learn how to communicate the value of their suppliers to prospects. This puts extra importance on suppliers of raw materials, and may be one of the reasons that many companies are trying to find low-cost quality from overseas.

Social Outreach

Whether you are talking B2C or B2B, the social outreach a company initiates will directly affect the business that company does. The Millennials who are now controlling the purse strings in both spaces are adamant that the companies they patronize give back to the community. This is especially important in the volatile political climate when many companies will be purposefully making their outreach public to sway potential consumers away from the competition.

Quality Content is King, Not Content

The phrase “content is king” is finally being put to rest. Well, not exactly – it is being modified. Quality content (that is also consistent) is the only thing that works for search engine algorithms. However, human visitors also have much better filters for garbage content, and lazy marketers who duplicate content are slowly but surely being weeded out by Google and friends. Refined, relevant content will earn a premium in 2018 and beyond.

Scaled One-on-One Marketing

Artificial intelligence, automation, and better apps are allowing companies to personalize communications at a large scale. This makes personalized B2B marketing quite viable, and prospects are beginning to expect this kind of service. 2018 is the year that many companies will begin this kind of marketing in earnest. Many products that are geared specifically towards push notifications, email communications, and in product messaging are creating easy methodologies that require less specialized expertise to employ.


The future of marketing will be hands-free and heads-up. Voice will be the leading edge of this revolution. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are just two of the digital assistants that are showing marketers how to communicate with prospects. Eventually, the communication chain will open up, become legitimately two way, and marketers will begin using voice tech to sell to prospects in the B2B space.

Influencer Marketing

Contrary to what many people may believe, influencer marketing is actually losing steam in 2018. Although monies moving into the space are increasing, regulations are causing many influencers to dampen their messages, reducing their selling power. Expect this trend to continue as the FCC continues to regulate outlets such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Regardless of the tactics that your company may use from the list above, marketing will continue to evolve with tech and data. Keep your ear to the street if you plan to keep up with the leaders in your industry – or better yet, be the leader that others are looking to follow.

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How to Dominate Mobile Marketing by Leveraging Engagement

15 Mar


Smartphones are now the number one way that consumers access the Internet. People are no longer making buying decisions sitting at home on a laptop – they are actively doing commerce within the scope of their daily activities. This new consumer requires a new type of marketing – you have to keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle and stay relevant to their needs moment-to-moment.

Here are a few tips on dominating your niche by leveraging engagement in the mobile space.

Engage your prospects exactly where they are.

The mobile marketing space allows you the unique strategy of location based marketing. You can send a personalized coupon straight to a mobile device as a prospect enters a certain radius around your storefront. This coupon can also be personalized to the behavior of that individual, ensuring its relevance as well as its timeliness.

Use social media to reinforce a brand.

Social media is the new word of mouth. Review sites have created mini celebrities based around insightful critiques. It is essential to harness the power of social media to engage customers in a comfortable space that also serves as an intelligence gathering mission for a company.

Savvy companies are playing off of the entertainment value that social media apps have, especially when marketing to youthful demographics. Finding the superstars within a social media niche is the new Hollywood celebrity pitch – if you can connect with a social media influencer, you can build an organic campaign that will drastically improve your mobile marketing ROI.

Engagement means entertainment.

Although new technologies such as augmented reality have served niche communities for years, they never really hit the mainstream until they serve some entertainment purpose. When they do, it is up to your marketing gurus to figure out how to leverage more attention for your company using the new entertainment outlet.

Sticking with the AR example – Cadbury Creme Eggs used augmented reality within the Snapchat platform to create a lens app that turned people’s eyes into dancing eggs. The campaign was highly successful with younger audiences – it was used over 14 million times in 2016.

Engage your niche and avoid wide net marketing.

Leveraging engagement means finding people who want to be engaged in the first place. By focusing on highly vetted prospects, you increase your ability to retain the attention of your audience, which improves ROI. There is another advantage – you avoid the click fraud that plagues wide net mobile marketing campaigns. If you put your ads out there unprotected, your competition may steal your money by clicking on your ads, reducing the budget that gets to your target audience.

Restricting programmatic ad campaigns to private marketplaces is a great way to avoid fraud and improve engagement with prospects who are more likely to want what you are selling anyway.

If you miss the boat on mobile marketing, then your business faces serious consequences. Learn how to take your piece of the pie in this Wild West environment before it closes to new brands and ideas. Leveraging your engagement using the tips above is one of the best ways to ensure that your mobile marketing campaigns hit hard and stay relevant.

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Do You Want to Improve Lead Gen? Personalize Your B2B Marketing.

13 Mar

Startup Business People and Strategy Board Presentation Workshop

Marketing as a whole is not a numbers game, but lead generation certainly is. We’re all blind going in. By the same token, our prospects only know what our marketing tells them until they try our products. At the beginning of the marketing process, namely during lead generation, the numbers game is in full swing.

However, improving your chances of success in today’s digitally streamlined business landscape does not mean employing traditional volume-based customer acquisition strategies. To the contrary, personalization may mean more here than it does further down the sales funnel. Because of the amount of choice every prospect has these days, a relationship that does not begin on an engaging personal note likely will not make it to any other stage of sales planning.

With this in mind, let’s look at some ways to personalize your B2B marketing for today’s highly sensitive and digitally savvy clientele.

Trading Short Term Savings for Long-Term Viability

Personalization may cost more in the short term, whether you hire a third party specialist or invest in a business intelligence package. However, the customer loyalty and retention you will enjoy more than pays for this initial expense. On average, retaining a loyal customer costs around 90% less than attracting a new one, so when you get someone on the hook, it is best to keep them there.

Creating a Dynamic Experience

It is much easier to convince a potential client of your message when that message is highly dynamic in nature. Keep your prospect interested by telling them exactly what would help them based on their individual profiles. Do not put your prospects on a carousel or try to tell them everything at once – this is wide net marketing, and it does not work anymore.

Pick Good Key Metrics

The best way to personalize your marketing is to start with your own key metrics. If you have been trying to reduce the bounce rate on your homepage, then direct all of your efforts to that goal. Your efforts will naturally streamline your lead generation efforts, creating a more specific experience.

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Technology Disrupts Marketing

8 Mar

There are many blogs and headlines focused on how new tech is disrupting the marketing industry, but there is actually another area being disrupted that is just as important. Led by Millennials, new talent is moving unapologetically into tech companies from media.

The group of people who grew up on the tail end of Prodigy and AOL Online is now experiencing, just like the rest of us, the proliferation of digital technology in mainstream life. However, these people have an added appreciation for the new stuff, because they can remember, if just barely, a time in that it did not exist. These Millennials are therefore much more likely to appreciate the importance of a new technology and jump on it more quickly than older talent, who do not understand it, or younger talent, who take it for granted.

Many of these Millennials began their professional careers after the first Internet bubble blew up. They learned (and helped to create) the power of digital media and watched legacy industries try to keep up with tech. Innovation was occurring away from places like music companies and moving into agencies. The brands that wanted to explore digital media did so with a vengeance and reaped the rewards of the educated risk.

This was the time of big data. Mainstream audiences became separated from media. The entire commercial landscape changed from one of media buying and planning to one of consumer buying and planning. Digital buying and planning were now done in two separate steps, and the roles between agency trading desks and programmatic teams became much more pronounced. Companies that were slow to learn about big data and audience buying found themselves losing control of their strategies and insights. Within a few years, automation had completely changed the relationship between the consumer and producer. Traditional media became available programmatically.

The people who helped agencies become the powerhouse of this era began to notice another shift as AI (Artificial Intelligence) allows for new levels of automation at scale. The idea of personalizing the customer journey through automated procedures is becoming a reality. Agencies will have new opportunities to focus on the aspects of business that cannot be automated, namely random creativity, consumer insights, and strategic planning.

However, the talent that helped to build agencies is correctly moving away from roles that fuse certain types of data-driven creativity. These people understand that companies are looking to streamline operations as much as possible. They understand that AI-driven processes are very attractive to businesses in every industry – robots do not make random human errors, they do not take sick days and they do not require the overhead that traditional manpower requires.

What happens to talent in this new era of artificial intelligence will define the way that we do business in the years to come. Where will humans fit in now that all rote operations are set to be fulfilled by automated processes and programs? The answer is yet to come, but the disruption to talent is obvious – and it will only continue to become more obvious as time goes on.

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