The Dog Days Of Summer
This article is late. Very late. Like late enough to where my editor should probably fire me (now might be a good time to point out how amazing, smart, talented, and, did I mention amazing, she is).
But it’s not my fault. It really isn’t.
You see, every year as summer starts to roll in, a relaxed complacency starts to set in both personally and marketing-wise.
Holiday 2011 is a distant memory, but Holiday 2012 is still too far off to talk about. Spring/Summer 2012 is on sale, but Fall/Winter collections are still a few months off.
Both marketers and consumers everywhere go on vacation (both physically and mentally). It’s hot, the days are long, and NYC is beginning to get that ripe smell that you can only get from trash baking in the sun all day on the sidewalk.
All fine things, but nothing article-worthy, so what am I actually supposed to write about (convinced it’s not my fault yet)? Marketing complacency, that’s what. Just as this complacency has hit me (and is the sole reason for my article being late), it also hits our campaigns this time of year — causing us to lose money and miss out on opportunities to move our businesses forward.
Start With Search And Get Creative
So where do we start? Search.
While paid search has great potential, it seems much easier to simply check all the best practice boxes and let it go. Sure you are updating your bids and keywords, but when was the last time you really got creative with your paid search campaigns (and that one Friday night you had a few glasses of wine and upped your bids 20% doesn’t count.)?
Sure paid search has its character limits, so our creativity is stifled a little bit, but one area where paid search is virtually limitless is in audience targeting. Through smart keyword selection and geotargeting, you can target almost any individual group of people you want. A few examples:
- If you are Nike, get a list of all the upcoming half- and full marathons in the US and buy keywords surrounding those events. A few months out, have your creative centered on marathon training, then as the event nears, focus on a motivational, branding message.
- If you sell designer swimwear, look into beach destinations and travel-related terms. The audience is already prequalified both interest-wise and HHI-wise (if you choose the right destinations), plus you are beginning to associate your brand with the right consumer mindset (e.g. luxury vacations).
- If you are a Colorado resort, advertise your cool temperatures, relaxing pools, and beautiful green surroundings only to people in Texas cities with high temperatures above 100 degrees (trust me, everything turns brown in Texas in the summer, so anything green sounds refreshing).
None of these are over-the-top creative, yet very few people apply this type of thinking to their paid search campaigns. And for those of you saying “yea, but the ROI on these terms…” you should stop yourself.
Don’t Let Fear Of Low ROI Hinder You From Trying New Things
Will ROI on these types of terms be the same as your current campaigns? Probably not. But the good thing is you can control what you spend. So start small, and if it does work, scale up and if it doesn’t, turn it off.
The one thing I can guarantee you is if you don’t stop yourself from making that ROI comment, you will never test new areas – and if you never test new areas, you will continue to be complacent and limit your campaign’s growth.
Break Out Of Your Display Rut, Too
If search is the limited channel, display is the limitless channel. There are all sorts of sites, blogs, and Tumblrs for just about everything you could ever think of (don’t believe me? Try this: http://samepicofdavecoulier.tumblr.com/).
So your possibilities for targeting — and your potential to spend a lot of money — are endless. But the same type of thinking still applies: get creative with both your media buying and your targeting.
Starting with your media buying, if you always buy from networks, try buying from a DSP. If you always buy direct from larger sites (e.g. New York Times, NYMag, etc.), try buying with smaller sites or bloggers. It will take a bit more work, and there is a risk in buying from a new media outlet, but if you do the research, you will likely end up with a few new outlets for your campaigns.
As for getting creative, think the same way you did when you came up with your new search segments — and you can even use your search segments to somewhat qualify your display efforts. Using the same examples as above:
- If you are Nike, instead of buying Men’s Health, buy local sites surrounding the cities of upcoming marathons or use geo-targeting in your national campaigns to target IP addresses in marathon cities and serve them more personalized banners.
- If you sell designer swimwear, consider aligning with AMEX to buy ad space targeted to card holders with a high spending threshold and who have bought luxury vacations in the past.
- If you are a Colorado resort, sponsor the weather pages on all the local TV affiliates for the major cities in Texas.
Again, all of these ideas are somewhat basic and aren’t nearly as creative as is possible, but hopefully they are a starting point that can help break you out of your network-only, view-through-conversion-debating rut that can set in over the summer months.
Others’ Summer Laziness Could Be Your Opportunity
So as we begin to enter the dog days of summer, history says all of us will begin to lose our motivation to do anything creative, out of the ordinary, or that could potentially make us sweat. But those are the exact things that should motivate us.
Everyone else is sitting around being complacent — leaving the door wide open for someone to step through and take a chance with a new idea that could end up growing your business.
And if that doesn’t motivate you, I can always send my lovely, amazing, smart, wonderful editor your way. You would be amazed how motivated you become when she is coming after you with a rolling pin in her hand.
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