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If you are looking for new posts, please visit our new blog. We will be updating there from now on!

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Big Big News at Clayman!

We hope you’ll pardon us for doing the unthinkable and writing a blog post that is pretty much about us, but we have a lot of important news we want to share with you!

First, we are changing our name. Instead of Clayman Advertising, Inc., we are now Clayman Marketing Communications, Inc. There are a lot of reasons for this change. While we still specialize in advertising services, we really wanted a name that better reflects all of our capabilities, which range from website design to content development, social media, trade show graphics, and more. In reality, this change is long overdue! We will be changing our domain name to claymarcom.com effective Monday, December 3, so please make sure to update your contact information!

We also are moving to a new location on November 30th so while you are updating our website address and email addresses, you’ll also need to update our street address! Our new address will be:

Clayman Marketing Communications, Inc.

Sawmill Run

1245 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road

Suite #226

Akron, Ohio 44321

Our phone numbers will remain the same.

Needless to say, we are extremely excited about these changes, so we wanted to take this brief moment to share the good news with you. Thanks for listening!


What CEOs of Manufacturing Companies Are Worried About

As marketers, it is easy to focus only on the facets of the business world that affect us. We keep busy tracking trends in SEO, the newest social media platform, whether QR codes are hot or not, and how people are accessing information most often. When we meet with the C-Suite, these are the concerns we bring to their attention. We talk about things like ad readership studies, the latest way to track analytics, updates we need to make to the website, and more.

As we discussed earlier this year, a key skill for anyone in the business world is listening. By listening we don’t mean hearing; we mean actually listening to absorb what someone else (say, a customer) is saying to us. With that in mind, we thought this survey from Industry Week was a good wake-up call as marketers continue to help companies plan for 2013. We all know that the economy is a concern for manufacturers (along with everyone else) as we discussed in this summary of the National Association of Manufacturers Survey. What are CEOs of manufacturing companies really contemplating as we end 2012? A new survey from Industry Week offers an overview.

• CEOs are worried about the “Wal-Mart” factor. People are making decisions based on price versus what the highest quality product might be. As companies strive to make the highest quality product possible, and as it becomes more expensive to do so, this becomes a significant problem.

• CEOs are worried about politics. In the group surveyed, the general consensus seemed to be that politicians were more interested in their own careers than in actually solving problems.

• Unfair wages are a concern for CEOs. They are aware of the gap between what they make and what their employees make. Consider Warren Buffet as one extreme example of this line of thinking.

• Customers are decreasing while the price of raw materials and freight continues to increase.

• Educational institutions are not properly preparing younger generations for manufacturing careers.

You will probably notice a distinct lack of commentary regarding marketing issues like, “Should we be on Facebook or not?”  This is not to say that marketing is unimportant to manufacturing CEOs, but these are the issues that come to their minds first when asked what they are worried about, not “How is my SEO?” Can marketing assist in dealing with these concerns? In some cases, most certainly. Educating the industry about high quality products is a potential answer. Partnering with educational institutions tied to manufacturing, networking with those groups on social media sites, and using PR to impress the importance of these issues all can help. But the first and most important step, as a marketer, is to really listen to what these CEOs are saying, and to understand the breadth of these concerns. These are not local or regional issues. These issues are global in scale.

Before you lose patience with a CEO who has not gotten around to your social media presentation or your advertising recommendations, remember these factors that are weighing heavily on their minds. Acknowledge that these are pressing issues, and that some of them are probably, in the long run, higher priorities than a Facebook page. Marketing is important, and it is necessary, but it is not everything.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hygienematters/5505283929/ via Creative Commons


Weighing the Benefits: Sponsored Content Versus Advertising

Screen shot of Pulse on an iPad from the cited article.

We saw an interesting article in Advertising Age last week regarding the news reading app called Pulse. Like so many other platforms catching fire today, Pulse organizes content into a more visual system that makes finding and reading content easier. It is a competitor of the more commonly known Flipboard. Both companies, Flipboard and Pulse, are taking the bold step that so many internet start-ups have missed over the last decade – they are entering the game with a revenue plan. However, the two companies are approaching their money-making ventures in different ways.

Flipboard, according to the article, has gained some attention from advertisers because of the flashy magazine-type ads it sells. In fact, if you visit the advertisers section of the Flipboard site, you can see that they tout the availability of full-page ads that can also be fully interactive in a mobile environment. This is a fairly standard advertising/revenue generation model. Content is accompanied by flashy ads that hopefully are appearing in an environment that will garner them some interest. Print advertising has been working this way forever.

On the other hand, Pulse, despite the tried and true status of the paid advertisement model, is trying something different. Pulse executives are offering sponsored content opportunities instead of paid advertisements. This means that like an advertorial in a print publication, an article would appear that would be noted as sponsored content, and readers would have to pay to be able to access the content.

Why is Pulse moving in this direction? “The canvas is getting smaller, and brands are at their best when they are unshackled and can focus on being powerful storytellers,” Dmitry Shevelenko, Pulse’s head of monetization products, wrote in an email. “Skyscrapers, takeovers and other bombardment tactics popularized on the desktop web are largely irrelevant on intimate devices.” The article also notes that the kinds of “full page” ads Flipboard is offering just doesn’t work as well on the smaller screen. The impact is minimized, especially on a smart phone device.

Benefits to the advertiser

In many ways, sponsored content can be more attractive to advertisers than the ads of yore. Whether the environment is mobile or web, customers are becoming less patient with “interruptive” marketing. Tactics like flashing skyscraper banner ads have most certainly seen their day in the sun. “Roadblock” ads that you have to look at before proceeding to a website or to a new page are best categorized by most people as really annoying and disruptive to the overall experience. If someone is reading, whether it’s a print publication, a website, or articles via Pulse, what they’re most after is good content. Sponsored content is still content, and if it’s compelling enough, people will click it and read the full article. This is why text ads are one of most preferred email marketing recommendations. People don’t often click on a banner ad, but a block of content is much more attractive.

Sponsoring content also can help build the brand of a company as a thought leader. It can increase the likelihood that your company will be perceived of as a good resource for information, and it of course also indicates that your company is active in the industry.

The downside

In the case of mobile apps like Pulse, the biggest question right now is whether people will be willing to pay for content they used to get for free, especially if they see that the content is sponsored by a company (this would tend to make you think the information would be biased in some way). It will take awhile to move past the era of free content into the future landscape of increasing paywalls, but that seems to be the way  the publishing industry is headed. The interesting trend to watch will be whether publications will move towards the sponsored content model as they move their platform to mobile devices. Will B2C and B2B publishers continue to sell “full page ads” for iPad versions of their publications, or will we see a great decline in the use of banner ads in favor of more and more “pay to play” content?

What are your thoughts about this both as a marketer and/or as a consumer? Would you be willing to pay for content? Would you prefer that over seeing banner ads? And if you’re in marketing, what are your thoughts? Do you agree that sponsoring content is the wave of the future?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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How to integrate social good into your marketing

Imagine this scenario. You’re a manufacturer of a men’s razor, you’re going into the holiday season, you’ve just introduced a new product, but all of a sudden you hear about a movement that encourages men NOT to shave. Sounds like a pretty big problem, doesn’t it? In fact, that is exactly what Gilette has been facing for the last couple of years. According to an article in Ad Age, men have been shaving less anyway (mustaches are officially back!), but during the month of November especially, shaving is not a popular thing to do. Why? The Movember movement.

If you aren’t online much, you might never have heard of this cause. The basic idea is that for the month of November, men grow out their mustaches to visually show support for fighting prostate cancer and for prostate cancer awareness. Men can create donation pages where people can also contribute to help fight prostate cancer. It’s a fun way to raise awareness about a serious problem. Men can show pictures of their growing “mo”s or mustaches, and sometimes women even apply a digital “mo” to show support. All excellent news unless you’re a manufacturer of men’s razors. Or so you would think.

This year, according to the Ad Age article, Gilette is adopting more of a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. The company has launched a new facial trimmer, so they have jumped onto the Movember bandwagon this month with a reminder that you can keep that growing mo looking nicely trimmed with their new product.

This might seem disingenuous on Gilette’s part, and you may even feel that they are perhaps demeaning the importance of the Movember message. However, social good is becoming something that companies in all industries need to begin to tune in to. An article from March 2012 published in the Huffington Post by Jon Carson (founder of BiddingforGood.com, a charitable e-commerce site) suggests that “the climate is ripe for social enterprises to be profitable while making great contributions toward social good.” He goes on to say:

Because right now many institutions face deep, universal funding challenges due to stock market losses, reductions in charitable giving, and lost government resources. There is no choice for them but to be innovative, either on their own or with the help of an outside company that can create jobs and benefits for society in the process.

Richard Branson, CEO and founder of Virgin Records (and then Virgin Mobile and Virgin Airlines, among other things) has been a proponent of businesses engaging in social good for years, as this article from the Guardian notes. In fact, that same article cites an Edelman study that says 73% of people polled would choose a company aligned to a good cause versus one with no social good affiliation.

What this means for you

Maybe your company isn’t as big as Virgin or Gilette. That does not mean that the opportunity to engage in social good is beyond your grasp. Especially with online communication, it’s easier than ever to align your company with good causes. These opportunities can also help “humanize” your brand or make people feel that you are more accessible. For example, perhaps one of your employees is currently fighting prostate cancer. Your company could update all of the pictures on your website’s “contact us” page to include a “mo” and to explain why you have done that. Add a link to a donation page and you’ve created a compelling message, a tribute to your employee, and, pragmatically, a reason to drive traffic to your website.

In addition to being a good thing to do, social good also creates a long tail of positivity around your company. It’s a way to affiliate your company with causes that people feel good about supporting. By extension, people feel good about affiliating with you. PR can maximize the impact of your good deeds so long as it does not get to the point of perpetual back-slapping. People can tell when you are being phony versus when you are actually trying to improve the world.

If you want to get the most “bang for your buck” out of all of your marketing tactics, investing in some social good, even locally, can be a great first step. If you have any experiences with this you’d like to share, or if you have any questions, please leave us a comment below!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44313045@N08/6176064777/ via Creative Commons


What Obama’s Re-Election Means for B2B Marketers

The suspense is finally over. After an interminably long election season, we have the results. President Obama will serve four more years. Already, there have been significant repercussions to this announcement in the business world. The biggest news has been large companies like Applebees and Papa Johns trimming payroll, claiming that “Obamacare” will be too expensive for them to be able to maintain a full workforce. Many manufacturers are fearful because of the medical device tax, part of the Affordable Care Act due to go into effect in January, 2013.  The bad week that Wall Street had in the wake of the election signifies a lack of certainty, or perhaps a general feeling that Romney would have brought better news for business. One could perhaps say that businesses as a whole are not feeling secure in the current domestic and international economic environment. Instability seems to be ruling the day and the fiscal cliff looming doesn’t help things.

Regardless of the cause, one of the most common reactions to uncertain times is make cuts in marketing until it’s more clear how the times are progressing. Marketing can be viewed as a luxury item, great when you can afford it but not a necessity. Factually, there are fewer times when marketing is more important than when the economy is hitting a rough patch. We preached this passionately when the economy took a major hit in 2008 and 2009. Many companies wanted to cut back on marketing before they even began to feel the impact of the recession. In the long-term, this is not always the best decision.

The Message Not Sending A Message Sends

Ultimately, marketing is a way for you to tell your story to your customers and your prospects. Here is your product, and this is why they should consider buying it. Here is the service you offer, and here is how it could benefit them. If you are not out there telling that story, the likelihood of someone else telling it for you is pretty slim. During uncertain or rough times, if you stop sending out your story, you will experience the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” People may even assume that your silence means you went out of business. You will lose the opportunity to remind people you exist along with the opportunity to explain why what you offer is superior.

Lest you consider this advice self-serving on our part, see what others say:

The Emotion Factor: Companies don’t experience uncertain times in a vacuum. Your customers are experiencing the same thing. Back in 2009, Entrepreneur Magazine noted that when your customers are watching every penny, that’s the time when you need to really emphasize the value you offer. You need to remind your customers why they trusted you in the past and why they purchased from you in the past. Given a choice between trying something brand new or something reliable, people are more likely to gravitate towards a known factor.

Know What To Focus On: In 2008, John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School, wrote an article for Harvard Business Review noting that marketers should not cut back on marketing during a recession, but rather that marketers increase their targeting and determine what needs to be focused on most. He offers eight items to focus on in the article, ranging from a shifting of product promotion to emphasizing your company’s core values.

Mine for Gold: John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, and The Commitment Engine, wrote a blog post in 2008 offering advice on how to dig out of a recession. Rather than cutting marketing, his advice leads companies towards focusing on existing customers, reconnecting with former customers, and creating a flawless process for winning new customers.

Set Your Budget, Set Your Priorities, Have A Plan

If ever there was a year to have a grounded marketing plan in place, 2013 seems to be it. There are more opportunities than ever to market your products or services; there are more competing messages reducing the amount of attention you can get, and the economy remains a point of trepidation. The advice some marketers give, which is to “try everything,” is simply irresponsible at this time. Too much revolves around every decision you make. Have a plan. Consider all of the options in front of you, but do not be distracted by “shiny objects.” The conversation should focus on corporate objectives and what tactics will most efficiently move you towards achieving your company’s goals. And measure – measure your progress, measure your ROI, measure what works and what does not. There is a difference between continuing to invest in a marketing campaign versus simply tossing money at your marketing department and hoping for the best.

It’s pure conjecture to try to determine if the same uncertainty would have existed had Mitt Romney been elected. Factually, the US economy and the world economy is still far from healed. Too many people still are without jobs, and as we have discussed before, the business world itself is changing dramatically. All we can know is the reality we’re in now, and that reality is marked by a lack of confidence. Approach your marketing with a clear head and clear goals in mind.

If you need help, feel free to download our free white paper offering advice on how to approach 2013, or leave us a comment with any questions or comments.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robr/2911349913/ via Creative Commons

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The Silver Bullet – Knowing What Your Customers Think Of You

For the last few weeks, we’ve been writing posts inspired by John Jantsch’s latest book, The Commitment Engine. Today’s post is the final post in that series, so we thought we would wrap up everything we have talked about in this series into a single bite-sized lesson. That lesson sounds deceptively simple – all that matters in the end is your customer. If you’re in business, you know this even if you have not verbalized it. Your customer pays your bills. Your customer is the reason you go to work each day. Your customer keeps you in business.

Despite this apparently obvious truth, how many of us actually know what our customers think about us? As Jantsch writes, it can be a scary or even uncomfortable conversation if you decide to ask your customers what they think about you, but this conversation is key to everything else we have talked about in this series. For example, while having a big idea or a big purpose is great, if your customers are unaware of what motivates you, they will not be able to appreciate it or join you in your passion. If you want to build a corporate culture that your customers can feel comfortable in, it is essential to know first whether they are even aware you have a corporate culture. Do your customers know your mission statement? Do they know your story, or your “why?” Do your customers see the value you present them or are they with you because you offer the lowest prices?

Listening to what your customers have to say about you requires the perceptive listening we discussed earlier in this series. You cannot simply ask your customers what they think and then prepare with a defensive response. You really need to listen, and after listening, you really need to absorb what it is they said. Does their perception of your purpose stray far away from what you want your purpose to be? Does their perception of your company stand in stark contrast to everything you want your company to be? These are things that are unpleasant to hear, but knowing that your customer has these perceptions is the first step in improving your customer service and your customer relationships.

When we talk about customers, it is essential that we also talk about employees. We discussed how your employees now can interface with existing and potential customers more often and with greater ease than ever before thanks to social media. How you treat your employees will be reflected in how your employees treat your customers. Understanding how your customers feel about your employees is another acutely important step in improving your customer relationships.

This is not to say that you are unimportant in the equation, of course. Commitment to your customers must also mean a commitment to yourself. If you let yourself become too harried, too anxious, or so dedicated to your work that you are not able to tear yourself away, this can negatively impact your own life in addition to how you relate to your community at work. We hope this series has offered you some ideas on how to preserve your own sanity while letting your entire company’s community see and understand your commitment.

We highly recommend you purchase and read The Commitment Engine for yourself. It is a thought provoking book, and we’d love to hear your take on it. If you missed the previous posts in this series, just click here. We hope you enjoyed these posts!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/goldmoneynews/4700653868/ via Creative Commons