Marketing Wonders of the World: The List Begins

In this day and age, everything seems to be about marketing — politics, education, philanthropy…and the vast array of products and services that are made and sold. There are zillions of books and articles about the “7 Wonders of the World.” So why haven’t I seen anything about the “Marketing Wonders of the World?”

A few memorable marketing moments immediately cross my mind:

– The 2008 campaign that elected President Obama broke all sorts of records: dollars spent, contacts made, social media tools launched, etc. As John Quelch says in his Harvard Business Review blog post, “When the book is written on this election, it should not be titled “The Making of a President,” but “The Marketing of a President.” Barack Obama’s campaign is a case study in marketing excellence.”

– The Apple iPod/iTunes launch and how this innovative combination finally made digital music a legitimate (and profitable) business. Oh, and how Apple saved the butts of the recording companies, who had no idea how to handle the Internet except to send troops of lawyers after Napster.

But I’m going to start with something different. I’m going to give the Volkswagen’s AUTOSTADT the honor of being the 1st Marketing Wonder of the World.

Now you might think, oh come on, it’s just another fun auto museum. Well, yes and no. The Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany, is a brilliant combination of marketing and customer service, all rolled into a Disney-like day of fun. Oh, and it attracts 2 MILLION VISITORS A YEAR! According to Andrea Hiott, author of Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle:

In some way, the Autostadt is one giant advertisement, a public relations stunt on par with anything ever done by the likes of Edward Bernays [ed note: pioneer in the field of public relations]. In another way, it is a piece of modern art, a way of using the corporate world to advance the creative one. Being so technical and modern, and yet also being a place totally devoted to the love of cars, it’s certainly a place where emotion and reason are allowed to collide.

One of the most brilliant marketing bits of the Autostadt is how VW delivers cars to customers right there, in the middle of this playground. Two monstrous glass towers, 48 meters high, are fully automated, high-rise stacks that deliver an average of 600 vehicles per day. As you can see in the picture above, what a sight!

According to VW:

New cars are rolled over from the neighbouring Volkswagen plant using a robotic-pallet system mounted on rails. The cars are loaded into and fetched from the towers using two “car shuttles” or lifts per tower, each servicing 180° of the silo. Cars are loaded 24 hours in advance of their collection to ensure timely delivery aided by their close proximity to the Car Distribution Centre.

A signal which is activated by the customer-service agent sets one of the car shuttles in motion. The shuttle then selects the correct vehicle and conveys it to the centre of the tower from where it is gently lowered to the ground floor. Thereafter the new car rolls through a tunnel into the Car Distribution Centre. Here, in the LastFinish area, number plates are mounted before the customer takes final charge of the vehicle.

Customers watch as their new car is delivered to them. Volkswagen staff introduce each individual to their car, pointing out all the special bells and whistles. At the end of the day, customers jump into their beloved new VW and drive away through giant doors.

I learned to drive in a used, red Volkswagen bug. I’ll never forget the experience or the car. How’s that for a marketer’s dream come true?!

I’m taking nominations for the next Marketing Wonder of the World to add to the list. Who or what do you nominate?

WEBINAR 5/22: PR 101 – Effective Marketing Communications for the Automation Industry

NOTE: This webinar has been rescheduled to May 22nd.

Sponsored by the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit…

PR 101 – Effective Marketing Communications for the Automation Industry
April 4, 2013 12:00-1:00 PM EDT


The one and only Walt Boyes, automation industry pundit, presents a totally revised and updated version of PR101, his very popular Marketing Communications Master Class. This is an updated version of his standing-room only seminar presented a few years ago at the ISA Marketing & Sales Summit.

This webinar is for both newbies to marketing communications (product managers, sales managers and engineers who have been “promoted” into marketing) and those who have been doing marcomm in the automation industry for a while.

PR101 is specific to the automation industry and discusses:

– Marketing “bang for the buck”
– Integrated marketing
– Public relations in the automation industry
– How to place a press release
– Product releases and news releases
– Relationship building with editors, influencers, and thought leaders
– Social Media: Inbound and outbound marketing — a cascade control loop
– Metrics and measuring results

Walt has more than 25 years of experience in sales, sales management, marketing, and product development in the automation industry, including Executive Committee experience and board of directors service in both for-profit and not-for-profit companies.

Walt is currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of CONTROL magazine. In addition, he is a principal in Spitzer and Boyes LLC, a technology consulting firm devoted to assisting companies to better market their products in manufacturing and automation. Walt also acts as a freelance acquisitions editor for Momentum Press, a division of iGroup, on Instrumentation and Automation texts. Walt has published professionally in the technology and science fiction fields, and is a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

WEBINAR 3/19: How to Price Solutions Without Giving the Software Away

All too often, industrial companies set product prices based on their incremental costs and wind up under-valuing their products. If hardware-based products are priced incorrectly, can this be avoided when prices are set for software deliverables that have very low incremental costs? How can a company get software revenue when they encourage hardware sales by giving software away? How should a company deal with customers who expect software to be free? Find out how to stop leaving money on the table when pricing the software component of systems…

Join us March 19, 12:00pm eastern for
ISA Marketing & Sales: Getting Paid Fairly from Software Sales

In this webinar, Jim Geisman of Software Pricing Partners will show how systematic pricing and packaging of software can increase revenue and profits including:
• How software pricing techniques compare with hardware pricing
• How a software pricing model can improve pricing quality
• How software deliverables change the tasks of sales and marketing
• How to overcome the challenges of software revenue generation

Jim Geisman is founder and principal of Software Pricing Partners, Inc. Since 1990, he has helped B2B senior managers address fundamental pricing issues affecting business success. Before founding Software Pricing Partners, he held marketing management positions at Tektronix and served as the first director of marketing at Apollo Computer. He was also a member of the ARPANET team at Bolt Beranek and Newman where he performed throughput testing of the forerunner of the Internet. Jim is widely published and an expert in software pricing strategy and sales negotiations. He is a sought after speaker for computer trade and industry association meetings. He has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University and an MBA from Harvard.

Jim will be doing a full-day pricing workshop,, at the Professional Pricing Society meeting in May 2013.

Using Social Networking to Boost Sales & Marketing

There’s a lot of upheaval going on in the social media realm. Google Reader is about to be retired (anyone got any recommendations on good “listening” tools?). Google is giving a little search ranking boost to those who use Google+ — maybe that will make G+ a relevant social network. LinkedIn has dropped LinkedIn answers because sites like Quora are doing a great job handling Q&A. In fact, Quora has quietly grown to 1.5 million visitors per month.

It’s hard to keep track of which end is up. So each year, my good friend Michael Holbrook, Senior Business Advisor at the MSBDC Network Center at Clark University, invites me in to give a talk to business owners about digital marketing. This year, the focus was “Using Social Networking to Boost Sales & Marketing.” You can find the full presentation on SlideShare. Here’s a quick recap.

In many ways, social media marketing is like public relations. It’s all about reaching out to prospects and influencers to build your brand recognition and generate leads (and, hopefully, sales). Social networks give us the added value of more interaction with the people we’re reaching. But, like PR, social media marketing requires a fundamental focus on building trust and credibility. To make that happen, we need to consistently and persistently deliver relevant, meaningful, and interesting stories.

For those who haven’t heard me say it already, today’s marketing is all about STORIES and KEYWORDS. But back to today’s story… 🙂

When people ask me about social media, they almost always start with “Which networks should I use?” and “When do I post?” WRONG WAY TO START!
To succeed in social media marketing, you must first and foremost know your target market. Then ask, who are you trying to reach, what do you want to accomplish, and what do you have to say.

Define your target market and create a Content Marketing Plan. Latest data from eMarketer shows that articles, videos, and white papers provide the best ROI.

The Content Marketing Plan is based on one of the little secrets to successful marketing — Write Once, Use Many. For instance, if I create an article on social media marketing, I can first try to place it in a publication, like my local business newspaper or an industry journal. Once it’s run there, I can turn it into a blog post, then link to it from short blurbs on my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. That’s a Write Once, Use Five. I like those numbers. But don’t overdo it or it will get repetitious and undermine your cred.

Now that we have the base in place, let’s look at my list of the 10 Steps to Social Media Marketing Success:

1. LISTEN. Start with one social network that is likely to have target customers and/or relevant influencers. Gather data. Look at how people talk on that network. What’s posted? What’s not posted? Most social networks frown on crass commercialism, so tread lightly.

Here’s a look at some of the recent posts for the Twitter hashtag/keyword #pauto (short for process automation).

2. AVOID THE HARD SELL. Be very careful with outright pitches. That can turn a lot of people off. Follow the 80:20 rule — 80% talking about the industry and technology and tutorials and news, 20% talking about your company and its products and services. For your 20%, think about what you can promote without being “spammy.” That’s a technical term. Lol.

One of the best examples is my favorite viral video, Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass.” It was created for their key investors, but ended up going viral because it tells an incredibly good story about how technology is about to change our lives…again. Along the way, Corning subtly talks about the different products they make.

3. HELP OTHERS. This goes back to building trust and credibility. Your prospects are out in the digital ether looking for help to fill a need or solve a problem. Your job is to educate them while being authentic and credible. Here are some interesting infographics from Dell’s pinterest page.

4. HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND. Tell stories. Converse, don’t spout corporate speak. Let your company culture show. Then, empower your employees to spread the word.

5. MAKE YOUR BRAND MEMORABLE. It’s all about being relevant, creative, and engaging. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. Here’s a great example: Gucci’s Cut and Craft contest that had Facebook users create their own custom purse out of paper.

6. BE MORE VISUAL. Social media is words and pictures. People’s patience continues to diminish each year. Visuals are a great way to get to the point quickly. Here’s a great infographic on just how visual social media has become.

7. DON’T ENCOURAGE SPAMMY BEHAVIOR. That means be careful with contests and sweepstakes. Encouraging people to post thousands of pictures of your products on their pinterest page is just going to turn off visitors to that profile.

8. FIND YOUR SWEET SPOT. Start with one social network and experiment. Get it right, then expand to another network. If things didn’t go well, pivot and spend your time on a different network (or your enewsletter or your blog…etc.) HubSpot, which regularly recommends your company start with a blog, discovered they can’t be everything to everyone. They launched a manufacturing blog some years ago. But they didn’t get the engagement they wanted because they didn’t know that manufacturing isn’t a single niche market…it’s a series of niche markets that adds up to a whole heck of a lot of topics to cover. No one blog can be broadly of interest to manufacturers.

9. BE CONSISTENT & PERSISTENT. Create a presence for your brand. This takes time. Nuff said.

10. BE QUICK & POSITIVE. Respond to customer comments quickly. And don’t let negative situations spin out of control. Learn from Nestle and their disastrous performance when Greenpeace made a video about their use of a non eco-friendly supplier. Nestle censored the video. Bad, bad choice. Censorship and social media don’t operate in the same universe. Instead, deal with the situation and fix it, like Domino’s did when two idiot employees created a video of themselves violating health codes. They were quickly fired and Domino’s apologized.

One last tidbit. Many small businesses ask me if they need a web site and a blog. I tell them, put their money where it will get the biggest bang for the buck — DO A BLOG FIRST. If you have a complex product line and need hundreds more pages, you can add a web site later on. But get your content marketing plan in place first. A blog is the best repository for that information. You’ll get better search results from it and you can reuse the content in multiple places…like the company enewsletter and social networks.

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