6 Must-Dos To Maintain Human Connection in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing is one of the fastest changing industries in the world and today’s digital marketing technology is more advanced than ever before. Automation and technology lets marketers do so much more in a fraction of the time. Technology helps us track, analyze and reach target customers.

According to a recent Forbes Insights survey, nearly 62% of brand and agency representatives around the world are satisfied with how well their current marketing technology is meeting their expectation and 57% plan to make new technology investments.

We have technology to help us understand customer behavior and characteristic trends. Growth in smartphone adaption and the popularity of mobile and messaging has exploded since 2005 with 50% of searches done on mobile. Artificial intelligence such as Facebook’s Bot Engine for Messenger, that offer consumer assistance, is one of the biggest trends of 2016. Marketing cloud solutions like Adobe, Salesforce, and HubSpot help us help us automate data across customer lifecycles.

Multi-platform internet usage requires marketers to manage email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, paid and organic search and more across platforms. And more new technologies are coming!

With such powerful automation at our fingertips, it can be easy to overlook the ‘human connection’ involved in digital marketing. How do you think about your customers? How well do you understand your audience? What do they want?

Digital marketers can, and should, be considering customers and prospects in all aspects of digital marketing. Some ways to do this come right out of the traditional marketing playbook. Knowing your customer is the first step to winning others like them to your brand. Customer demographics like age, gender, income, education and occupation are on nearly every marketer’s radar. But what about customer psychographics? What do you know about a potential customer’s interests, activities and opinions?

Here are six ways to understand your customers and to maintain a human connection.

1. Focus Groups. Focus groups offer a great advantage to marketers. Invite a group of people who meet the demographics of those you want to attract to have a discussion. Ask them questions to get at a better understanding of what they want in a product, how they choose to make a purchase, and what motivates them actually make the purchase. The more people who join in, the better your chances to really understand your customer base.

2. Build Relationships. When promoting your product or service avoid pushing information or advertising at your audience. Instead focus on building an ongoing relationship. Social media is designed to let customers look for help and for you to provide feedback and resolve problems. Can you be empathetic with your audience? When you truly understand them and care about what they want, the better that relationship will become.

3. Create a Customer Persona. Consider creating a marketing persona to represent your customer. Include demographic information, their goals and challenges, their values and fears, as well as their interests, activities and opinions. How do you do this? Review your website analytics to determine additional demographic information about your customers. Use social media listening to find potential customers. What are they saying already?  You could also bring a group of colleagues together—human resources, customer service, accounting, etc—to share their customer perspectives with you. And, a really sound approach is to ask your customers questions directly. Conduct a survey, a focus group or one-on-one interviews. Once you’ve pulled together a customer profile or persona, give her/him a name. Bring them to life for your marketing team so every interaction is personal.

4. Use Emotion in Marketing. People are, after all, human and as humans most of us have emotions and often make purchasing decisions based on emotions. Rather than base marketing strategies on hard data, add emotion to your marketing. Tell a story with humor, excitement, action, adventure…whatever motivates your customer.

5. Show Your Own Humans. Marketers usually promote a company filled with people. Why not show—through photos and videos—those who connect with customers? This helps humanize your company and your marketing efforts. Use testimonials, statements about company philosophy, why customers matter, etc to show that the company cares about customers.

6. Get Personal. Can visitors find a telephone number easily on your website? When they call, do they get an automated answer or does a person pick up? The last thing you want is to lose a prospect because they can’t reach a real person. Ensure that customer service representatives—or anyone who interacts with customers—knows how to be friendly and professional on the phone. And, set up policies and procedures that reflect how you feel about your customers so everyone within the company understands how important this is.

Try not to get mired in digital marketing technology and automation. Learn to listen to your customers. Treat them like people by keeping human relationships at the forefront of your marketing and customer service.

7 Digital Must-Dos To Promote Your Cannabis Business

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Promoting your cannabis business is challenging. Because cannabis is still illegal federally and laws vary from state-to-state, knowing what you can and cannot do isn’t always clear. While you want to avoid advertising with search engines such as Google and Yahoo, sending postcards through the mail, or setting up a store on Facebook, you do have options for reaching your patients and dispensaries.

1. Start With a Strong Brand. Creating a strong brand will build patient and dispensary recognition and give you a competitive edge in the market. Focus on what makes your products different and the shared values you have with prospects. From there it will be easier to connect with customers and introduce new products.

2. Go Organic Strategically. Choose your words carefully for your website and your social media posts. Hone in one the phrases and words patients and dispensaries use when looking for cannabis products, then hone in on other words specific to your brand and the shared values you project.

3. Follow Mainstream Social Media Rules. You can promote your brand on social media if you understand the ground rules. Earlier this year, Facebook dropped some dispensaries from its platform. This rattled the industry but the dispensaries hadn’t read the fine print for using the mainstream platform. Focus on education and brand recognition on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. (see How to Protect Your Cannabis Facebook Page for more insight)

4. Use Cannabis-Based Social Media Platforms. There are social media platforms specific to the cannabis industry and promoting your brand on them will be safer. By now you’ve probably heard of MassRoots, the first to market. But there are others including Duby, which is similar to Instagram and Social High, which is like Facebook–both are specific to the marijuana industry.

5. List Your Business on Cannabis Directories. Many of these directories are free and offer great back links to your website. Some worthy of mentioning include the Marijuana Business Daily Industry Directory, Medical Jane’s Database of Cannabis Businesses, and Ganjapreneur Business Directory, and Dispensaries.com.

6. Maintain a Blog. Writing your own content on your own blog is a great opportunity to share your story and your brand. Blog posts can easily be shared on social media platforms, can be extensions of your website, and can attract prospects based on your knowledge, industry insight, and personality.

7. Email, Email, Email. Connecting with existing patients and dispensaries by email is crucial. Collect emails at every turn if possible–at conferences, cups, online–wherever your brand intersects with prospects. Then create emails with impact and maintain contact consistently.

What’s been your experience promoting your cannabis business online? What’s worked best? If you’re struggling to promote your cannabis business, bring on a digital marketing expert to help!

 

 

 

Why Our Word Choices Matter When Talking About Cannabis

I regularly write for Oaksterdam University’s blog Cannabis Industry Today. This post was originally published on that blog on March 17, 2016.  

NOWe all look forward to the day when cannabis is legal across the United States. As advocates, we work to promote change. But have you ever considered the power words hold, especially surrounding cannabis?

I sat down with Oaksterdam University’s Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones to talk about this subject; it is one she discusses in lectures and is mindful of every day.

“The truth is that our words carry enormous weight,” said Jones. “Words shape our thoughts, feelings and attitudes, which dictate our actions. That’s why how we talk about cannabis is so important today.”

FMarhuanaLots of words in the English language are used to refer to cannabis: locoweed, weed, grass, dope, pot, marijuana, ganja, maryjane, and others. At one time in America ‘cannabis’ referred to the plant and was used by pharmaceutical companies in medicine to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism. Not until the early 1900s—when Mexicans legally immigrated to America to escape the Mexican Revolution—that we learned the word ‘marihuana,’ which in-and-of itself is not a bad word.  However, the stigma associated with ‘marijuana’ took hold in the early 1930s when Harry Anslinger specifically used the term in propaganda and linked its use to minorities in an effort to racialize the plant.

The War on Drugs was declared by former president Nixon in 1971, soon after the Controlled Substances Act became law and classified cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance illegal federally. At this time in history, America was experiencing youthful rebellion, social upheaval, political dissent and an elevated presence of federal drug control agencies. Generations of children learned about the dangers of drugs including marijuana through programs like D.A.R.E., which perpetuated negative information and attitudes related to cannabis.

Today, even as cannabis is more accepted by the general public, Jones maintains that the cannabis industry is still a movement. “No other industry in America produces and trades a product that is federally illegal,” said Jones. “Until this changes the cannabis industry is a movement.”

Dale Sky Jones - Oaksterdam University
Dale Sky Jones

Movement implies work-in-progress and that’s exactly how Jones sees it. “Some of the obstacles still in our way are mental, perceived, and emotional. These are all very real and the words we use must be specific to change perceptions and stigma.”

So, what words do we need to drop from our vocabulary as cannabis advocates? “Stop using the word ‘recreational,’” said Jones. “It’s a dangerous word because it conjures up images of stereotypes or images of children playing, both of which don’t help us move forward.”

Other words to consider include:

  • Adult, Commercial, Retail … instead of Recreational
  • Cannabis, Medicine … instead of Pot, Weed, Marijuana
  • Consume and Consumer … instead of Use and User
  • Overmedicate … instead of Overdose
  • De-schedule … instead of Reschedule

“Advocacy requires education and responsibility,” said Jones. “Choosing our words wisely advances our goal.”