B2B opportunities after COVID

COVID 19, the Coronavirus, will eventually go away. But consumer behavior would have changed forever. And all B2B opportunities will change for all B2B exists because consumers (B2C) does. If you are a B2B marketer there is a consumer down the line who pays. This applies to B2B marketers of aircrafts to small hardware.When consumers change behavior and preferences change B2B offerings need to change. The best old B2B product becomes irrelevant when there is no consumer at the other end.

States like New York have started to reopen after reaching low COVID infection rates. Here are some thoughts about opportunities for B2B marketer:

Helps Covid Coping

Does your product/service Help Covid Coping?

Then you have great demand for the next year or so. These include manufacturers of masks and sanitizers. Our friends in the facilities maintenance industry are very busy as different organizations try to re-open. Cleaning and sanitizing buildings seems to be an unending cycle. Similarly, COVID testing services have booming demand as have the COVID vaccine makers and manufacturers who can scale the vaccine.

There are also a multitude of technological solutions and apps that try to keep track of individual Covid exposure and testing results. These give comfort to all kinds of organization from healthcare to education that are trying to minimize risk for all. Then there are numerous process changes which will endure after COVID. As an example, if you buy auto insurance you are encouraged to get your own printout of the insurance card that must be kept in your vehicle.

If you filed tax returns through tax software like Turbo Tax you would be used to uploading scanned documents. However, if you used an accountant- the chances are that you needed to provide scanned copies this year. Why? because everyone was working from home. And it’s too hard to open the office and access the high speed scanner. By and large individuals got used to scanning and printing at home. The phone apps for scanning work surprisingly well. It’ll be interesting to watch if printing and copying reduces within organizations as everyone becomes more comfortable with digital documents.

Some parts of the economy that were given up for millennials are seeing an upsurge. Uber/Lyft is being partly replaced by car buying-just for perceived Covid safety. Similarly, millennials realize that working from home needs a decent home so home buying is up. Surprisingly manufactured food like cereal is up and cooking at home has picked up. Fintech and apps like Robinhood has given a boost to the younger investor.All these changes give hope to B2B suppliers who were experiencing negative sentiment from younger folks pre-Covid.

Hurts Covid Coping

Does your product/service hurt Covid coping in the short run? Then read on…

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all activities that depend on people getting together for any purpose. All forms of travel and tourism, sports and musical events, schools and colleges, churches and places of worship, malls and retail are hard hit. Within each category- establishments that have no space for social distancing are hardest hit like bars and pubs in crowded cities. B2B opportunities and upstream supply chains are completely disrupted. Thus, the beer that goes into beer kegs for bars had to be thrown away, just as school milk .

If you are a supplier to anything that involves low social distance you can expect things to get better only in 2021. It’s a good time though to look at new ways of working digitally. Restaurant owners are still not allowed to have indoor dining in large parts of the US. Food delivery services (like GrubHub and Uber Eats) demand a large commission from what is only a take-out business. Local restaurants take direct phone orders and if you pick-up yourself they are grateful. Direct restaurant order and payment software would see an uptick, going forward. Just as, grocery chains have accelerated online order and delivery.

In both teaching and medicine, online processes have accelerated during the pandemic. After COVID we can expect online learning to remain as an important pillar of teaching and learning. Telemedicine is likely to augment doctor/s visits and provide for a better overall patient experience.

In retail, Amazon is looking to convert malls to distribution warehouses. Since closed malls will reduce local employment Amazon is offering local logistical partner opportunities. In other words, brick mall retail seems to be nearing its day of reckoning much faster after COVID.

The Coronavirus misery will continue for a year or more, but it has speeded up digitization in a big way. Changes that might have taken 10-20 years anyway, will happen in a year or two. All businesses and their supply chains will be able to decide what parts of their business model can be moved online.

And it is in digitization that every B2B Marketer will find new opportunity.

About StratoServe.

Content Creators: Would Mark Twain have written 4000 words a day during the Spanish Flu of 1918?

One of the most delightful places to see in Hartford, Connecticut is the Mark Twain House. This is where Mark Twain did the bulk of his writing. There is an upper floor where you see the writing table and ink pens that he dipped in ink and wrote. Twain apparently wrote 4000 words a day according to our tour guide. The word counter blog suggests that he wrote between 1400-1800 words a day. That’s a lot if you need to dip the pen in an ink pot after every few words.

This blog has been somewhat sporadic ever since the March Coronavirus shutdown. To get inspired we looked at the Mark Twain wikipedia page just to check if Mark Twain was around in 1918. Alas, Twain died in 1910. But given the intrepid nature of the legend, we are sure that Twain would have kept pushing out content, had he been around in 1918 and the Spanish Flu.

The Coronavirus has challenged everyone globally. However, all content creators can get inspired by some popular nuggets from Mark Twain.

  • Get started: One of Twain’s famous quotes is “The secret of getting ahead is getting started“. Whether you run social media content, you tube videos, blogs there is a block to getting started. Once you start you can get it done!
  • Simplicity: “I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.” This one is quite incredible given that it is over hundred years old. There was no television, internet or social media yet Twain knew that you are writing to communicate. And not to win the Spelling Bee! The same applies to video, tweets and instagram or whatever.
  • Productivity: Mark Twain had a time and place i.e. daytime and a desk. And he worked from home, like many folks during the Coronavirus pandemic. He would complete his writing for the day in what seems to be a very disciplined manner.
  • The Twain White Suit and Marketing: Twain wore white suits on the lecture circuit and anywhere there was press. For newspapers were black and white and the white suit made him stand out. Twain was conscious and tried hard to market his work. Many more readers would know about Twain given the social media and Internet today!
  • Revenue model and copyright fight: Twain fought valiantly for intellectual property right. Copyright meant that he and his heirs could earn from his books over time. By 1909 the Copyright act brought the total period to 56 years. Finally in 1976 American Authors were given copyright for life and fifty years forward as this nice article from USPTO explains.

We hope that content creators in the digital age will get inspired to keep plugging away. We will eventually work through the Coronavirus.

About StratoServe.

Happy July 4th: Why think about life after the COVID Pandemic?

 American Flag and Sparkler
Tomorrow is July 4th, 2020 the American Independence day.  It is a day celebrating hope and freedom for all people.Traditional firework displays have been cancelled in regions where there is an upsurge of COVID cases. However, there are some options to watch fireworks  and here is a nice list of virtual fire work displays.

Here is our July 4th post from 2008, in the midst of the great recession.It’s really important to start thinking about life after the global coronavirus (COVID) pandemic…. because like the great recession, we will overcome this.  Here is why we should all be hopeful this 4th of July:

  1. We adapt better after each catastrophic event: Call it the ability of the human species to survive and treat every dire necessity as the mother of invention! We tend to develop institutions and mechanisms after every catastrophic event. Thus, the United Nations after World War, Homeland Security after 911, quicker financial support actions after the great recession of 2008. It is the experience of 2008 that prompted the US Government to support people  much bigger and quicker in 2020 than 2008. In the case of the coronavirus, although cases are rising  the death rate is declining  according to the CDC.
  2.  Rejoice -the death rate declining: As noted in an earlier post, the virus needs a host. If the host is too sick and can’t meet (infect ) anyone and the virus can’t survive. This is the reason public health authorities were locking down and that was killing off the virus which had literally – nowhere to go.  The other factor is that the medical folks have developed a great deal of expertise with the ailment and these include many treatment options that were unknown at the early stage of the pandemic. Older folks and people with pre-existing conditions are at greater risk of death so everyone needs to be particularly careful with this vulnerable segment.
  3. Face Masks, Hand washing, Social Distance and Outdoors help-a lot: Social Distance and outdoors help put some distance for the virus to travel and that reduces the chance of infection.Face masks prevent spread of the virus from an asymptomatic patient.It appears that 40-50% of the spread is from asymptomatic patients. Wearing a mask if you have no symptoms but are carrying the virus (i.e. asymptomatic) stops the spread.It turns out that  face masks also protect the wearer.
  4. Coexisting with COVID -assume that the Coronavirus is endemic: The idea of a disease being endemic is that is there and you have to learn to live with it. For example, if you visit parts of Africa and Asia that have endemic malaria, its good to take malaria tablets ahead of your visit and try and cover yourself with mosquito repellant and avoid mosquito bites. Similarly if the Coronavirus is going to be around and vaccines will take time it’s best to think of face masks, hand washing  and social distance as the equivalent of the mosquito repellant. Doing so, will enable us to  co-exist with the virus.
  5. The next pandemic will have much better global response:  Epidemiologists are convinced that there are many more different pandemics that will emerge due to the thousands of viruses that might jump from animals to humans and start spreading. We can be sure that that the global response will be far more robust. The global pressure on all countries where such pandemics originate is now such that, in the future you can be sure that such viruses will not leave the town where the virus originates.

In the meanwhile, here is a simple way to prepare for a post pandemic world in 2021 once vaccines are widely available:

Learn a digital skill relevant to your industry or functional expertise. For the coronavirus has truly unleashed the power of digitization in every aspect of life. Grocery stores and restaurants are taking online/phone orders and online/phone payments. This online/phone combination can be seen in banks, education, healthcare, manufacturing, movies, retail,  sport, public safety, entertainment  and everything else. There is a huge opportunity to perfect the digital channel in 2020 while folks are still in lockdown. Consumer behavior will change forever and if there is anything positive from the pandemic – it is the acceleration of digital. It will grow all markets because the combination of physical/virtual will open up global markets like never before.

We wish our readers a very happy 4th of July!

About StratoServe.

Why Reopening America in the Summer of 2020?

Reopening Coronavirus StratoServe
Today (May 20, 2020) all US states have reopened partially after two months of lockdown. This has left many of our readers wondering why America is reopening when Coronavirus infections and deaths keep increasing ? Here are some thoughts on this question:

Summer is Fun in America :  Think of all the fun  Hollywood movies set in summer. If you look at Google  trends in the last 30 days you realize  that even states that do not have very cold winters – summer is important. Traditionally, summer is when kids are not at school. Despite huge celebrations of the calendar new year Americans live more by the school calendar.  Summer is when you have Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer and it’s interesting that all states have decided to re-open before Memorial day in 2020 which is May 25, Monday. It’s quite amazing that politicians from both parties criticize each other exuberantly in public at the local, state and federal level and yet no one is staying entirely shut down by Memorial day.

Summer is tourism season:  If travel and tourism does not limp back over the summer of 2020, it’ll be really hard to start everything in the summer of 2021. While people may not travel far but you can be sure that local attractions will have good crowds. There is a lot of local government intervention if people ignore rules for face masks and social distancing.  Local governments at the town level are very important because they provide all emergency services, schools and collect property taxes to pay for these services.

Government  Bailouts are rare in America: Folks globally hear a lot about American bailouts to businesses and individuals. Since individualism is a core value in America, people do not rely on Government as far as possible. The Government also tries to stay out of peoples lives except for support to the most vulnerable. If you are employable, you are on your own. Seen in this backdrop, the idea  of the “Paycheck Protection Program” is motivated by the need to finance businesses to keep their employees.  For if a business fires its employees, everything truly grinds to a halt. Even in low skilled  jobs if the business is closed and employees fired – there is a whole new cost associated with finding employees, training them once the business starts.

Coronavirus New Cases  are down:  The new cases of coronavirus infections are down as are are death rates. It’s fascinating to look at the state and county data at the CDC website. Given access to data and much better testing of infection and antibodies local leaders are in a much better position to manage the re-opening effectively.

Coronavirus needs a host: The coronavirus needs a host where it replicates. With lockdowns the hosts were away so the coronavirus could not find hosts and hence the decline in cases. The COVID 19 realizes that if it makes the host very ill or the host dies then it dies too. There is thus an emerging view that COVID 19 might be causing less harm to hosts to stay alive like other viruses like SARS etc. which are around but less severe.  Disclaimer: We claim no medical expertise. Please ask your doctor.

All in all, we do hope and pray that all the US re-openings go well. People are aware and co-operating with rules, Businesses are eager to get back and the disease surveillance is in place.

About StratoServe.

How work-life will change after coronavirus

With the experience of  coronavirus COVID 19 lockdowns work-life will change forever. With 91% US kids at home parents are spending more time than ever with children. Some parents have jobs that allow digital work and these folks are so lucky. Then there are the  struggling 25 million unemployed in the travel, tourism, retail and any type of jobs that require a physical presence. At the other end of essential workers are the beleaguered medical worker, true heros, who show up every day to work. No less valiant are factory workers, grocery retail workers, law enforcement folks who are keeping essential services working. For everyone in each of these situations the pandemic has been trying as the USA tries to reopen. Going forward here is how work life will change:

  1. Residential real estate and families will be more important: For those who enjoy a lifestyle where most time is at work or out of home leisure – homes were just a “place to sleep” . For these folks “stay at home”  has been particularly trying. In urban settings living quarters are cramped, and it’s hard to stay indoors. Moving forward there should be an uptick in residential real estate as folks realize that the next pandemic should place them in better situation. Also there should be an increase in renovations and upgrades and the associated industries. But perhaps the lockdown has had the greatest impact on the bonds within families. Never before have parents and kids spent so much time together. The situation has been stressful but unexpectedly joyous!
  2. Work from home and digitization will increase: Wherever possible, all types of organizations will encourage work from home. People realize that if you can eliminate “set-up” time for face to face meetings then you can really enjoy very productive meetings. The “set-up” time is your drive time, stuck in traffic time, waiting for the person you went to meet time etc. However, the face-to-face meeting will assume new significance. People will try and meet face-to-face to allow continuity in their interactions.
  3. Share your screen and share what exactly you are going through: A big  advantage of video  (eg. Zoom meetings)  are that you can share your screen. For teaching and learning it’s just incredible. For those of our readers who have used Facebook Marketing support -you know why the ability of sharing your screen is so incredible. The starting point  becomes the experience and understanding of the customer. Above is a fun example of a home services company who is trying to understand the customer’s problem. Perhaps some “paid” telemedicine in plumbing could be a revenue source.
  4. Leisure will become purer: Although travel and tourism is in a tough spot right now – things should turn around soon. Cruise lines are taking bookings for August 2020. In fact Carnival Cruises are reporting  a 600% increase in booking for August 2020.
  5. Take out restaurant food will boom: As a  market segment take out food will increase a great deal. Restaurants who are trying to stay in business during the pandemic have innovated a lot. Innovations include meal configuration that move well in take-out containers and touch-less curbside pick up. The delivery piece should also be a growing opportunity that Uber is trying to grab with the $6 Billion acquisition of GrubHub. The large 20-30%  commissions of order by app folks is a matter of concern for restaurant owners. Perhaps for self pickup Uber could charge a much lower commission

The need of the hour is to re-open safely and prudently. Local,State and Federal leaders have to balance “lives and livelihoods”.

About StratoServe.

Coronavirus: Why is the panic so acute?

MonaLisa Coronavirus StratoServe

Note that this post was written on March 3,2020 – trying to be cheerful. Update March 19, 2020. Stay home even if you are not sick. Stop the spread!

It’s hard to remain calm when one was expecting the Dow index to cross 30k and it’s in the 26K range. – in a matter of days despite interest rate reduction.. If the Louvre museum is closed and Mona Lisa has a mask things are getting serious. Coronavirus is dangerous but the panic is even more dangerous. Why is the panic so acute? Here are some thoughts:

  • The world is global: People travel – a lot- and economies are intertwined through business, education and tourism. People to people contact has increased tremendously in the last decade with the increase of social media. Even when you are not travelling you are in touch with whatever is going on. For inquiring minds who want to know “Coronavirus – (name of country)” on Google will reveal more than what you want to know.For the TV minded legacy media folks – the news channels are fanning the frenzy. Mike Mulvaney the Trump Chief of Staff suggested stopping watching TV, to calm the stock market. Great idea, but hard to do….. because…
  • Slow motion Horror Movie: The Horror movie genre has crossed $1 Billion and is a high growth segment of the movie industry as per Variety magazine. And you are getting a slow motion movie unfolding on TV complete with a global cast, reporters all over the world trying to keep that right “panicked but brave” look.
  • Politics is local: Politics is local because local people vote.  Politicians are held accountable and taking action like closing schools,quarantine seem like forceful actions and the watch words seem to be “we are doing enough”.
  • Supply Chain Risk: is one of the fundamental concepts in managing risk in supply chains. The basic idea is that you never source any physical goods from any one factory. Naturally larger factories become cheaper and it’s hard for supply managers to justify why they source more expensive product from a different country or location. In the digital world – things are simpler because you can have software in the cloud and that is physically backed up in different places.
  • Value Chain Impact:  The back end of the value chain to the organization is the supply chain and the front end  of the distribution channel including the wholesaler and retailer to consumer is the distribution channel. If people don’t travel then industries from airlines, cruises,  sporting events are all affected. And this slows down the back end supply chain and the all associated economic activity. The run on face masks, liquid soap and sanitizers is not helping calm the panic.
  • Social Media Frenzy: Just open your social media including Whattsapp and be surprised by the amazing types of cures and prevention techniques that are being shared around.

On  a more serious note a 1.4 to 2 % mortality rate for the coronavirus COVID-19, is very serious when compared to the 0.1% mortality rate in the seasonal flu. It turns out that most of the mortality is among older people with underlying health conditions. But if you are older and have health conditions there is the Framingham score of your cardiac risk in the next 10 years.

One guesses  that the prospects of 2% mortality within weeks does sound more scary than 2 % cardiac risk in the next ten years! It is probably the imminent threat is what is causing the panic. Younger people at lesser risk seem more worried about quarantine uncertainties.

We will overcome this soon and as the Corona virus slows down, maybe we’ll all become more alert to respiratory infections and be more amenable to taking  timely flu shots that should hopefully contain an antidote by the next flu season. Meanwhile washing hands frequently and staying home if you feel sick is all that is needed.

About StratoServe.

Is your business Instagram ready? Lessons for “foot traffic” marketers on main street

Go to any event and observe dressed up folks taking selfies. Or folks asking someone else to take a picture for them. Also observe how younger people are examining the background- i.e. the photo frame. The purpose of those photos is not to take a print and make an album. But to post on instagram!
To make all this photo posting more high quality, newer smartphones offer 2 and 3 cameras.
Pop-up museums have caught on to this trend. Here is a great video that explains the Art museum pop-up phenomena from Vox.

The need for everyone to take selfies is disrupting traditional museums. who did not allow photographing for copyright and damage to artwork from flash bulbs. Major museums like the Louvre,Paris now allows photographs without flash. Hotels too have got into the Instagram friendly game. See the pop-up breakfast visual in the food and wine article below. You can be sure that carb conscious guests are not consuming all those bagels. Instead, guests would be posting images of the bagels and waffles on instagram !

Pop-up Breakfast
If you have a business that has foot traffic Instagram promotion is a great option.All types of organizations with some “experience marketing”  including healthcare, education, gyms, apparel  and jewellery stores,restaurants,takeouts, home appliances, home repairs, insurance agencies,financial planners, lawyers  can benefit. Here are some inexpensive ideas:

  1. Observe your customers: In clothing and jewellery stores you see customers trying out stuff that they can’t do online. It might be easy to designate a space for tryouts. The only requirement is an attractive “Instagram worthy” backdrop or photo frame.
  2. Backdrops or photo frame ideas can be very inexpensive from balloons and pendants to the more expensive printed point of purchase stuff you see in grocery stores.
  3. Lighting is critical- the tryout corner should look like a photo studio in terms of lighting.
  4. Your Instagram hashtag needs to be displayed on the tryout corner and should invite the shopper to take a selfie and post on instagram.
  5. ‘Even when the shopper does not buy- if you can encourage an Instagram post.It spreads your word.

About  StratoServe for Digital Growth.

Resolve to change your web content fast in 2020

Change your website fast- StratoServe
Cyber Monday 2019 has had a record US online sales of sales of $9.4 billion out of which one-third is on mobile phones. It’s not surprising because if you see a bunch of people waiting anywhere – you see them buried in their cell phones.
We have advocated in earlier posts to make your website mobile friendly. Do the Google mobile friendly test. This post is about why you need to be able to change your website fast in 2020. But first:
Why is it so hard to change your web content? Here are some top reasons that we have observed:
  • There are many people involved- on the technical back end side. These could be an in-house tech team or a vendor agency.
  • Technical folks don’t seem to have clear instructions from their bosses. If you are the person doing the changes, your boss seems to give more priority to some managers than others.
  • Organizational politics play a big role. A less powerful department manager asks for a “contact us” form on a particular page. “The contact form is already there on another page”, the tech person reasons. He/she now needs to discuss with the technical boss. And this could take weeks unless the requesting manager keeps reminding. In case the requesting manager forgets and the tech folks forget- it never gets done. Meanwhile, the advertising agency keeps spending money driving traffic to the department page. The results are lackluster.
We urge our dear readers to resolve that they’ll work on improving web content change speed in 2020. Here are some suggestions to convince your colleagues:
  1. What does your audience do first? Before calling, emailing they go to your website. Usually through a search engine like Google.
  2. Address any initial questions that your audience has can on your website. Why? because people first research online as the 2019 online sales confirm.
  3. No one we have met, is “happy” with their website. This is strange, because website owners and the audience have conflicting needs. While owners like to “look good”, audiences need answers to questions. Before they start talking to you.
  4. So useful content is much more important than “looks”.
  5. If you are a line manager, responsible for any type of results . develop a routine to follow-up. Be relentless to follow-up for changes is necessary in 2020. Take your web folks for lunch- friendships help.
  6. Do not fall into the website “re-design” trap. It makes your organization “look” better but does not help your user. There are too many re-design stories of lost SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking. Because the old content now has a great look but a different url. Search engines take time to index your “new” pages.
  7. Ensure that your website is mobile friendly. If the 2019 mobile sales don’t convince you- ask your colleagues to look around. At how many people are on their mobile phones at lunch, at the theater, game or any public place.
In 2020, resolve to change your website fast !

Giving Tuesday: Why Non-Profits must focus on marketing their impact

Giving Tuesday
Today is Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s timely think about the impact that a non-profit is able create and communicate . With 1.5 Million non-profits in the US, it’s hard for both beneficiaries and donors to find the non-profit that will actually make a difference. Most beneficiaries are incapable (eg too sick or too poor) or unaware (eg US opiate epidemic) that there are helping hands around.
Governments worldwide award non-profit status (in the US 501 (c) 3) to spur civil society engagement in social service. The non-profit status gives a tax break to the non-profit and also give some kind of a tax break to the donor. Governments hope that non-profits will take charge of the many social challenges of the time.
If you think about it, the only difference between non-profits and for-profits (businesses) is the tax break. Otherwise, both sets of organizations are trying to serve a customer or beneficiary. Businesses are more accountable because if customers don’t buy, lower profits turn off investors. Hence Wall Street earning calls are stressful for company leaderships.
Non-profit donors do not have the benefit of all the data that business investors have. For larger non-profits there are rating agencies like GuideStar and Charity Navigator who value things like low overheads vs impact. If you are a non profit and have high administrative costs, you can expect to get a poor rating despite the excellent impact you may have. This traditional rating approach leads to two problems:
  • Non-profits can’t pay employees as well as private business- for the same skills.
  • Results or impact is poorly managed. Most non-profits will not be able to tell you how many beneficiaries they touched in the last week. You can be sure that the smallest business will have a good idea of their recent sales and revenue.
So it was nice to see that a new start-up “Impact Matters” is trying to measure non-profits by impact. Adding to the existing methods of rating charities the start-up focuses on efficiency. So as a donor you know exactly what impact your individual donation would have. The methodology relies on a variety of data sources and the larger charities should be able to take advantage of this new service. But it is a great start. Check out Impact Matters.
Charity rating agencies like Charity Navigator are able to rate less than 10,000 of the 1.5 million US Charities. So for the rest of almost 1.5 million charities they need to get the word out about the impact they have. Here are some suggestions on how to do so:
  1. Do you have a prospective beneficiary list? This is the target market you are trying to serve. Developing a list is a great way to start as any B2B marketer will tell you. Once a beneficiary starts receiving your services – you now have a data point and – a story of your impact to share.
  2. Make sure you have your website up and running. If you have a website – check that is mobile friendly. Create a non-profit Facebook and Instagram business page. We notice that it’s hard to make quick changes on a website but easy to make changes on a Facebook business page.
  3. Empower your field staff to post on social media. It is your field staff who works with your target beneficiary. Most of your field staff are on Facebook already. Encouraging them to post impact stories on your non-profit Facebook web-page on a daily basis can help. Check with your legal folks if you need a waiver from your beneficiary. Think of sales and service people in business who have to file a daily report. Wouldn’t it be great if non-profit field staff filed their daily report on social media?
  4. The Google for Non-Profits grant is great. It gives you $10,000 ad money to spend a month to spread your message.
  5. Spend on marketing. Be bold in making marketing investments. If you can hire in-house marketing staff who can manage communications with beneficiaries as well as donors, do so. A good model to manage your digital outreach is to hire a competent agency. The agency should work with your field staff to to fine tune your outreach to both beneficiaries and donors. So long as you spend 65%  or more of your budget on programs that help your target beneficiary, you would be considered an “effective” non-profit. By consistently investing in your marketing  efforts you can ensure that you have a growing budget for the important work you do.

About StratoServe for Growth Strategy.

Why marketing attribution continues to be a problem

Ask any business about which marketing effort connects them with a new customer- and you’ll get a variety of answers
. “It’s all word of mouth (WOM)” , some friends lett us. Others say: “its face-to-face sales”, its “search advertising”, its” social media advertising”, its “social media posts” etc.
The backstory starts in the pre-internet age. Back then, sales folks were very reluctant to adopt technology because they wanted to keep their leads to themselves. After all, commissions depended on who “closed” the sale. In direct mail and catalogs, the coupon code and a mailed in order form identified which mailing worked. As digital and internet marketing developed, the legacy metrics were adapted and “last click attribution” became important. If you think about it “last click” or the ad that you clicked mirrored the “sales closing” and fitted neatly with the old direct mail coupon code model. All you had to do was to put some tracking computer code on the ad, email. At checkout, if the transaction had a web visitor who arrived from the ad, it was “Eureka” you had attributed the ad spend, specific email or ad to the purchase.
The trouble was that marketing and sales does not work on a last click basis. You do not buy on a single ad. As early as 2016, Search Engine Land had an excellent article by Christi Olson that explained the attribution challenge. Here is how to think about attribution in marketing:
  • What are customers doing today? It all starts with a customer need and your value to the customer. Sometimes the customer does not realize that there is a need and Steve Jobs invents the iPhone. In doing so, disrupts the phone industry, killing the phone booth. Remember, carrying coins to use at the phone booth? While at it, mobile phones also kill digital cameras, GPS devices, music players etc. Asking what the customer is doing today is a great place to start.
  • Are customers really doing nothing? Not true. It is surprising how many organizations rely on shuffling excel sheets instead of relying on a software system. Advanced excel skills are most valuable for fresh out of college employees. If you are selling software systems, there is no point in mocking rampant excel use. Accept, that there is something the customer is doing till they hear about your great product or service.
  • Do customers need to be educated? Yes, yes and yes. And this goes to advertising’s core purpose to inform, remind and persuade. The process of educating the customer is also called the “customer journey” starting at the top of the sales funnel (I didn’t know that I needed Alexa). For low cost items that involve only the customer (eg. a soda) the sales funnel can be pretty quick. As soon as more people are involved ( in most B2B) or the value is high (eg. a car with the family involved) the sales funnel can be long and run into years in complex sales.
  • What about multi-channel ? This Cyber Monday (2019) will be the biggest single day of retail sales online. Estimates are that 85% of the US is comfortable shopping online. While the order may come through on a desktop, the customer does most of her research on a mobile phone. Her research includes investigating a brand on Instagram in response to a friends post or an ad, and lots of video viewing on YouTube. Think of the customer journey as continuing beyond buying . You do want the customer to be happy and become your champion. Sometimes the customer checks out a YouTube video from you or your happy customer who explains a use question. Think of attribution as being multichannel. When a use question finds answers on Google or YouTube it goes towards progressing the buyer through the sales funnel. Each bit helps!
  • Why review, review and review? It’s useful to think about all forms of reaching the customer in the continuum of inform, remind and persuade- the objectives of advertising. Because you have a “Buy Now” call to action button in your ad does not mean the customer will buy immediately. However, when the customer just sees the ad,clicks on it or lands on your website- there is progress being made.Platforms like Facebook report (attribute) sales across platforms like mobile and desktop provided the customer is logged into Facebook. Google Analytics in contrast, relies on devices. So if you saw the Google ad on a mobile phone but bought on the desktop – the (poor!) ad does not get any credit. The important thing is to have a review meeting on a regular basis to see what results you are getting. Tracking tools like Google Tag manager, email tracking code, Facebook pixels are available for free. But they don’t help unless you review results regularly – they  just can’t help. And it just takes an hour a month to review for our clients.

About StratoServe for Growth Strategy.