Q&A With Ad Students: Advice For Marketers Just Starting Out

The following is my latest monthly Analytics column, originally published on ClickZ. You can read all my previous columns on ClickZ here.

Presenting to students at UF Ad Society in Feb, 2017

Recently, I visited my alma mater, University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, to speak with advertising students about digital marketing, analytics and how to start a career in our field. As I had expected, I received many questions from students, both after my talk and via email. I decided it would be more helpful to answer several of the best questions as this month’s column to share thoughts with students everywhere who may have similar questions.

So if you’re new to our sector or someone on your team is, today’s post is for you.

What are some of the essential tools every marketing student should know going into their first marketing internship/job?

Well, of course, Google Analytics is one critical tool. We even have online courses and a demo account to help new users get up to speed quickly and become proficient at making decisions with data. But while understanding specific tools is great, it’s probably more important, when first starting out, to understand how to create a digital marketing strategy, which always comes before tools and tactics.

Being proficient with not just Analytics, but CMS (content management systems), CRM (customer relationship management) tools, programming languages like HTML, etc would all be good ideas and core to what we do. If you don’t know everything yet, that’s normal. Even the best experienced pros are still learning daily.

What do you think makes certain interns stand out from the crowd?

I think the best thing you can do is begin building a sandbox project (a place you can test and tinker on ideas without worry or oversight) from the ground up, without help. Create something real and tangible you plan to grow long-term in your free time such as a blog, an app, an e-commerce store selling something you’re passionate about, or another side project. Find a friend if you want, but also document your process and be sure to be involved at every step. Resist the temptation to outsource things at first.

You’ll learn so much as the result of experimenting on your own and be forced to go through the entire process a start-up or brand will when conducting digital marketing, including creating the actual product – something far too many marketers skip. You can’t get the same, real life, hands on experience in school or through certification. Smart brands and managers, the type that are really essential to work with at the start of your career, will value this greatly.

What are daily habits you believe a successful marketer should have?

Keeping your analysis skills sharp is probably the single most important thing you can do. Good marketers know not just how to record metrics and what KPIs matter, but how to use that data to influence decisions at the strategy table and get buy in for new projects. This involves both left and right brain thinking, as you can get pretty creative with how you use numbers to tell a story. Becoming proficient with data-driven storytelling requires lots of practice so working on it daily is helpful. Moreso, there’s big demand for analytics-savvy professionals so having this skill will provide a leg up.

What are some good readings marketers should have read?

To be an effective marketer in a world of constantly-changing communications trends, it is essential to stay at the edge. Embrace this and take the charge personally to follow sector news. Read case studies, industry trades, relevant blogs – create a system (email subscriptions + labels, RSS, whatever you prefer) to get the right information and data coming to you every day without spending much time. I’m less concerned with where you follow our sector, just that you follow. It’s important that all marketers do put in the effort to stay informed s things change so fast.

How do I choose between going agency and in-house?

This is a personal choice. I personally started my career on the agency side and think it’s a great decision because you get a view into many different types of companies and sectors. You also get to implement all different types of strategies and tactics as your different client’s marketing needs are unique. Agencies are a great way to get your feet wet in our sector and gain a diverse skill set. If you find a company you really love right out of college, go for it. Your first roles will be great learning experiences no matter where they are.

How do I make my resume really stand out?

There are countless articles on making a great resume so I’ll offer another idea: do something creative, in addition to the resume, which gets noticed by targeted companies or key executives. For example, ad copywriter Alec Brownstein targeted creative directors at advertising shops in New York via clever search ads driving traffic to his website. From this, he received two offers. He then made a YouTube video showcasing the results which has received nearly 1 million views. The point is he knew what he want and did something creative and specific to achieve it.

One more story: a friend of mine, Eric Friedman, tells the tale of his job interview with renowned VC firm Union Square Ventures in New York. During a pivotal second round interview Eric sat down with one of the partners, Brad Burnham and presented his resume. Brad told Eric to hang on to it as he just wanted to chat. When Eric pressed him as to why, Brad responded with something remarkable which went like this: “You can work really hard on crafting a well written, organized, resume with bullet points of accomplishments – but you can’t fake 500 blog posts.” On the web, it’s “show me, don’t tell me.” Showing dedication through consistency is a powerful way to demonstrate you’re a cut above.

Final thought: get started today mapping your journey

Our industry is still growing rapidly and the demand is there, everyone who puts their mind to it can have a great, fulfilling career as a digital marketer or analyst. Think critically, make a career plan and start executing on it. If you try I am almost certain you’ll succeed.

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Kaytra : Interesting case of co-branding

Brand: Kaytra
Company: AVA Group

Brand Analysis Count: #583

Kaytra is an interesting brand story. The brand is from the AVA Group which is the owner of the famed Ayurvedic brand Medimix. Kaytra is a brand jointly created by AVA Group and the celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist Ambika Pillai. 

This is an example of co-branding and if you observe the logo, you can see the name of Ambika Pillai along with the Kaytra brand. It is not a unique case since Indian market has witnessed many such co-branding exercises. 
As a professional, Ambika Pillai commands a lot of respect in the market. Kaytra’s brand promise is that it is created using the expertise of Ambika Pillai. The brand is positioned as a premium product with the personal endorsement from the celebrity hairstylist. 

The brand is now testing the waters in the Kerala market and according to media reports, the brand will be launched in other markets soon. Having said that, I have not seen the products in any of the supermarkets so far. Probably the brand is very selective in the distribution.

The advantage of Kaytra is that AVA Group has expertise in FMCG market and through Medimix has sufficient distribution reach. The second factor is that Ambika Pillai is personally vouching for the brand which adds a lot of power to the authenticity of the brand. The source of the brand equity for Kaytra is Ambika Pillai and her reputation.
On the promotion side, the creator has been able to get the endorsement from many of her celebrity clients and the brand is generating content about personal care in social media. Ads featuring Ambika Pillai is also aired on various television channels.

According to the brand website, Kaytra is the Sutra of good skin and good hair. Interestingly there is no tagline for this brand.

For a product in the hair-care space, the survival of the product solely lies on the tangible performance. Hope that the brand will live up to the expectations set by the creator. 

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ITP2 Wrecks Attribution And Makes Marketing (Even) Worse

Intelligent Tracking Prevention. ITP2. It’s a nightmare for us marketers. Everyone’s talking about how it trashes audience targeting.

If you want a primer on ITP2, read this AdAge piece.

What sends a chill down my spine, though, is what ITP2 will do to attribution and by extension marketing, which is bad for everyone—not just marketers. Hear me out.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention and other “security” efforts wreck referrer tracking: We can no longer accurately track traffic source. Organic search, social, paid media traffic gets lumped in with “direct.” We did an audit, and found at least 18% of client traffic is misattributed “dark” traffic:

Dark Traffic As Percentage Of Direct Traffic
Dark Traffic As Percentage Of Direct Traffic

Dark Traffic As Percentage Of Direct Traffic

Amazing research & dashboard by Michael Wiegand aka smartest analytics person ever aka @mwiegand. Here’s the Google Data Studio version.

We assumed dark traffic if a direct visit landed on a page with a URL longer than about 15 characters. We could be wrong. Forty-seven million people might be typing
https://www.portent.com/blog/internet-marketing/the_internet_marketing_list_59.htm into their address bar. They could be bookmarking

I know I do.

That was sarcasm. The reality is that our attribution data is getting munged at scale. Attribution is a pivotal marketing argument. Break it, and you break everything.

ITP2 isn’t helping privacy. It’s about as useful as Not Provided. The real risks to our privacy are phishing scams, ISPs, cell providers, credit card companies, that time someone dumped 20 million personal records off the back of a truck, and that guy who just walked by and scanned your iPhone’s portable hotspot. Not efforts to track which color socks I just bought.

What ITP2 does is make marketing even worse. You thought spam plagued us before? Now you’ll have a million panicked marketers stuffing inboxes and SERPs, trying to exceed goals by another 18%. The new Nigerian top brass will be some marketer pleading “ME ME ME ME OH ME PLEASE GODS ME OTHERWISE MY CHILDREN WILL STARVE!!!!”

All ITP2 does is set us back to the 1990s. You heard it here first.

The post ITP2 Wrecks Attribution And Makes Marketing (Even) Worse appeared first on Portent.

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What You Must Do to Get the Best Out of an Online Marketing Agency

If you read through the experiences businesses have with search engine marketing services you would find them spread across the spectrum of satisfaction. While some would sing praises about how a digital marketing company has added to their brand equity, others merely complain about campaigns gone haywire.

Keeping skills, expertise, and professionalism of the service providers aside from one of the major contributors to bad experiences is clients’ involvement in a project or rather the lack of it. If you expect an online marketing agency to add wings to your digital marketing campaign you will also need to get involved with the project actively. Here are some of the ways in which you can get the best out of an agency and cement a strong relationship with them. 
Also Read
  • They won’t read your mind, have no such expectations
What is at stake for the search engine marketing agency you have just hired? At most, they would lose a project, a client and perhaps few hundred dollars. What is at stake for you? Well, just about everything you can think of – your business’ reputation, sales and perhaps your existence in the digital ecosystem. This is where you need to take a proactive approach while the project is being executed. Offer the team as much information about your products, competition, target market and everything you consider being relevant to your project. Keep yourself communicable and always respond to their doubts and queries. If your business’ goals have changed make sure you inform them about it. 
  • It’s your project and being proactive would pay you
What is at stake for the search engine marketing agency you have just hired? At most, they would lose a project, a client and perhaps few hundred dollars. What is at stake for you? Well, just about everything you can think of – your business’ reputation, sales and perhaps your existence in the digital ecosystem. This is where you need to take a proactive approach while the project is being executed. Offer the team as much information about your products, competition, target market and everything you consider being relevant to your project. Keep yourself communicable and always respond to their doubts and queries. If your business’ goals have changed make sure you inform them about it. 
  • Show respect, they’ll return the favors
Your time is precious so is that of the search engine marketing company you have hired for the job.  If you expect to be treated fairly and respectfully you also need to treat your agency the same way. During the course of association with the agency and its agents, there may come moments where there is serious disagreement or you feel the agency isn’t adhering to the scope of the project discussed earlier. You should handle such situations professionally. Never show disrespect to anyone individually or hurt the morale of the team. This helps you in no way and can jeopardize your project. 
Keep these things in mind while working with an online marketing agency and you will be able to get the best out of them.

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Using Journey Maps to Tell the Customer’s Story

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I originally wrote today’s post for Story of Business. It appeared on their blog on August 3, 2018.

Stories are a wonderful communication tool and a powerful teaching tool. They allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages the audience, helps them understand the characters in play, and, hopefully, inspires them. People tend to connect to stories and, therefore, remember them and the message they convey.

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LinkedIn® Power Game

Note that LinkedIn® has been acquired by Microsoft since this event was recorded and that LinkedIn is consistently changing the way that they handle free vs.

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WLS : Live Natural

Brand: WLS ( Formerly Wills Lifestyle)
Company: ITC

Brand Analysis Count: 588

Wills Lifestyle was ITCs foray into Indian textile market. Launched in 2000, Wills Lifestyle initially was pioneering the premium fashion clothing market in India. The brand when it was launched was seen as an attempt by ITC to keep the equity of the cigarette brand Wills. Since cigarette brands cannot advertise, a clothing extension would be helpful in sustaining brand awareness. I viewed it as a case of surrogate advertising. 
Contrary to my assumption, ITC had other plans for the brand. Will Lifestyle quickly became successful as a premium clothing brand. The company expanded the brand franchise through retail stores across the country. In 2006, Wills Lifestyle became the principal sponsor of  India Fashion Week. Through this fashion event,  Wills Lifestyle became associated with fashion thus differentiating itself with the other clothing brands. However, the product was priced at a premium this restricting its scope into a niche brand.
Over a period of time, the clothing vertical became a laggard in the ITC portfolio and I presume that the company’s foray into the FMCG segment had all the management attention. 
This year, the brand has a major restructuring. ITC has rebranded Wills Lifestyle into an acronym WLS. The brand also has a new positioning – sinless clothing which means 100% natural. 
With the rebranding, Wills Lifestyle has severed its ties with the cigarette brand. 
It is a very bold and risky move since at one stroke the brand has lost the source of its awareness. Now ITC will have to move the awareness of the older brand to the new brand name and that involves a whole lot of money. The new positioning of ‘ Naturalness ‘ is the buzz word in the FMCG space and ITC is hoping that the clothing market would also follow the trend. Also being natural is a good excuse to charge a premium!
WLS has adopted the tagline ‘Live Natural ‘ to support the new positioning. The relaunch saw teaser ads across the print media. 
Wills is a powerful brand which has huge resonance among the male segment. Trading that powerful brand for an acronym does not make much sense in the marketing point of view. However, ITC may want to disassociate other businesses from the cigarette brand so that in future ethical questions can be avoided. 
A rebranding of this scale requires that the brand has to start afresh, right from identifying the source of brand equity to reworking all associated brand elements. With huge cash reserves, ITC does not have a financial issue in building awareness for WLS. What I am little skeptical is the  » Natural  » positioning platform of WLS. I don’t see this as a compelling attribute, especially for a premium clothing brand. Time will tell. 

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