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Focus on Ad Equivalency (AVE) Fails PR Firms


Don Bartholomew wrote a fantastic article that explains why Ad Equivalency Value is OUT. This notion that PR firms can total up column inches, research the equivalent advertising cost (based on the rack rate) and then multiply that number by whatever multiplier they think is fair (usually between 3 and 5) has been shown to be misleading at best and fraudulent at worst.

David Michaelson, member of the Institute for Public Relations’ Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation, says the reason for this “lack of understanding by practitioners of best practices or fundamental research practices.” Michaelson and Dr. Don W. Stacks of the University of Miami Communications Department conducted a groundbreaking research project that found.

“No statistically significant difference between ad and editorial in an experiment focused on key measures of credibility, knowledge, interest and purchase intent.”

Thereby eliminating all justification for AVE in public relations!

Copyright (c) Don Bartholomew,
Acumentics Research

Instead, PR practitioners must focus on the total value their efforts contribute to an entire organization. Don developed the concept of the Total Value Cube to help visualize these benefits, which include brand and reputation, engagement, influence and action. It also looks at cost savings and cost avoidance.

If you are still measuring results at the output-level only, realize that in these cost-saving times you will soon be responsible for measuring and validating levels of engagement, influence and action (changes in behavior).

If you fail to do these three things well, expect to have your department downsized or cut altogether.

10 Helpful Hints for Breakthrough Public Relations


public relations notepad1. Define the problem

A "problem statement" begins as a "crisis" that must immediately be addressed, or a situation that may soon develop into a crisis. In proactive environments, a problem statement may describe a situation that could be improved. In writing a problem statement, describe the situation in specific and measurable terms. For example, what is the source of the problem and who is involved? How are they involved? Why is this problem a concern for the organization? Do not place blame or include solutions in your problem statement.

2. Research

Often overlooked, research is the foundation for your marketing and public relations efforts. Be sure you understand the reserach questions and that your approaches increase your understanding of the situation. Don't overlook informal methods such as personal contacts, key informants and community forums.

3. Define Your Target Audiences

Know your publics. Create a customer avatar to accurately understand your constituencies problems, frustrations and top areas of concern. Your organization has multiple publics it must communicate with -- customers, employees, shareholders, investors, donors, etc. List out each audience and rank them by priority. Include all the people between the organization and teh customer who have an influence on the buying (or donating) process. Identify everyone who has the opportunity to provide credibility to the product, the market and the organization.

4. Identify Your Key Messages

Tailor your message to your unique audiences, interests, specific problems, communication preferences and news environment. A strategic message framework will help your team stay on the same page, with messages that support underlying business goals.

5. Have a Positioning Statement

Use a positioning statement to ensure you understand who you are talking to, what problems you solve and what makes you different. The positioning statement is not a document that is made public, but a way to align communication efforts and stay on task.

6. Use SMART Objectives

SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based. If you are a budget manager for a PR firm, beware of vague objectives! Beware of objectives that focus on tactics, rather than outcomes. Useful objectives will focus on knowledge outcomes, opinion/attitude outcomes or behaviorial outcomes. 

7. Plan Strategically

"We get paid for results, not planning." A dollar spent on research and planning is one less dollar for implementing tactical activities. However, this leads to counting activities, rather than counting results. When clients can't understand how tactics (Facebook fans or Twitter followers) directly link to business outcomes (knowledge/behavior/opinion) they grow weary of large monthly retainers. Having a strategic plan is your best defense. Planning also prepares you for contingencies if conditions unexpectedly change (new CEO).

8. Execute

It's not the number of activities you generate, but the outcomes those activities generate. Strong execution reinforces messages up and down the line using multiple techniques and channels. Tactics such as grand openings, events, press releases and social media each have their own purpose and place. Your marketing director needs to clearly understand which channels, media and techniques to use at different stages of a campaign, and how to mobilize those forces effectively and efficiently.

9. Evaluate

"You can't measure public relations." "You can't see the results of public relations." "It's intangible." Nonsense. Changes in behavior, knowledge, opinions and attitudes can be measured. There are many books, journal articles, national gatherings and guidelines all directed toward evaluation research. My experience is PR departments avoid evalation so they can avoid accountability. Budget 5% of your budget for evaluation, and build it into your plan from the beginning.

10. Prepare for Additional Concerns

Be prepared for overwhelming good and bad seasons. Crisis planning must be proactive. Plan now to avoid irreparable harm to your reputation in the future. Also, consider an employee relations program. Not communicating well with your employees can harbor ill will and resentment that will spill over into front-line relationships with customers. Not communicating well to your own employees can cause your company to loose large accounts.

What other tips can you share?

Write your tips below.

How to Use a Traffic Calculator to Set Social Media Goals


Here's a traffic calculator to help you understand the many factors that will contribute to the success of your inbound marketing efforts:

  • How traffic from e-mail, blog, PPC, SEO and events converts in different ways
  • How small increases in your opt-in and conversion rates can dramatically lower the amount of traffic you need to generate
  • How to understand the full lifetime value of a single customer
  • How to estimate the value of a qualified lead
  • How to know if your traffic goals are too high or too low

Estimate Traffic from All Sources

The first thing I do when I start a social media campaign for a client is use a traffic calculator to estimate the amount of traffic I’m going to have to generate from all our online sources. A traffic calculator tells you how much traffic you need to hit to reach your inbound marketing goals. I started by using a free spreadsheet originally provided by HubSpot, but have since modified it to meet my needs and the way I work.

First, I look at all the ways I generate traffic to my website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is organic search traffic that comes from people typing “Big Island public relations” or “West Hawaii Social Media.” Blogging represents the amount of traffic my blog was generating in 2010 (hey, at least I’m honest; it wasn’t a primary area of focus then.) Social media is traffic I can legitimately trace from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites. Pay-Per-Click is paid advertising. If I generate traffic from radio or display/print advertising, I would but that in the “Other Paid” column. I also count the amount of traffic my site receives after I attend a networking event, speak at a conference, or meet a group of people in person. At the end of December 2010, I was generating about 200 quality visits to my website.

This part of the worksheet also shows my desired number of visitors from each source, but I don’t actually know what that number will be until later in the process. Disregard the blue column for now. I’ll get back to it later.

Only Estimate Qualified Prospects

I don’t count random, miscellaneous traffic, such as those generated by bots, spiders or automated scripts. Don’t use the number that Google Analytics gives you. Look closely at your data to see if you can tease out the number of “real people” perusing your site each month. For my traffic calculator, I only want to count the number of qualified prospects—people that might possibly do business with me one day or refer someone else who might. The numbers in red reflect my best estimate of “potential prospects” that come to my site to check me out.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

The leads you get from social media will be of a different quality than the leads you get from blogging and events. Make sure you’re spreading yourself around in a realistic way, so that your sales funnel is full of the right types of prospects. Be clear about this. Know your customer and where they hang out. If they don’t use social media, then don’t expect to use social media to drive the bulk of your traffic. For example, I expect organic search to account for 20% of my traffic, blogging 30% and social media only 10%.

Stop to consider if your traffic goals are realistic. Make sure you’re not expecting too much from social media, blogging or just your e-mail campaign alone. Make sure to weigh your efforts accordingly.

Estimate Your Opt-In Rate

Now that you’re clear about which channels you’re using to reach people, look at the actions people will take to form a relationship with you.

Your first call-to-action is to “opt-in.” That means asking a visitor to either sign up to receive content via e-mail, asking them to submit a form, or simply call you. I average about 1 sign-up and 3 phone calls a month from all my efforts. This is my first point of contact with people, or my “opt-ins.”

I can expect to generate 74 new leads each month if I meet my traffic goals in each area (e-mail, blogging, social media, events combined).

Estimate Your “Opt-In to Sales” Rate

Once you have a group of “leads,” you can then begin to estimate how many of them will become a customer. This is your “opt-in to sales” figure. If you’re selling to businesses and the cost of your item is rather large, say $1000 or more, use 5% as your opt-in rate and 2% as your opt-in to sales number. If you sell a small-priced item or sell directly online, your conversion rates will be higher.

In this example, I use an entry-level price point of $500 to estimate the amount of monthly revenue this might generate. If I reach my traffic goals, I can realistically expect to earn 3 new clients valued at about $1,468.

Note: Make sure the size of your market in real life matches up to your desired traffic goals. You may need to reach beyond your geographical area to attract the right traffic.

Look at the Lifetime Value of Each Customer

How many of your customers will continue to work with you long-term? If your sales funnel offers the ability to go from a small, entry-level package into a more complete and full-service offering, then you can plug those numbers into your traffic calculator as well.

Here, I estimate one in 10 customers will progress into larger and larger packages. I use an average price point of $1,000 and $3,000 to represent midrange and high-end packages.

At the end, I can get a reasonable, if not conservative, estimate for how much revenue I could generate from inbound marketing. This number is in addition to the revenue earned from repeat customers and other sources of new business not accounted for here.

If the total revenue figure from inbound marketing is too low, I can adjust my traffic goals accordingly. In this case, I carefully looked at the number of monthly leads I would need to process. If 74 qualified prospects “opt in” to engage with me, then I better have the support systems in place to nurture those relationships.

Estimate Average Revenue Per Customer and Per Lead

Another benefit from using this worksheet is the ability to estimate the average revenue per customer for each sale obtained via inbound marketing, and even the average revenue per lead! This is really handy for creating an advertising and marketing budget, because in this scenario you can see that each qualified lead is worth potentially $18-$45 in new revenue.

You can also estimate how much of your total website traffic will become a “lead” or “customer.”

Don’t let this spreadsheet intimidate you! There are easier ways to use a traffic calculator in your business. I just wanted to walk you through mine so you could see how all the different elements of your social media campaign add up to new business revenue.

If you’d like to get started using social media to drive more traffic to your website (or learn how to optimize your website for lead generation and conversion), contact me for a consultation. 

Your 2014 Mobile Marketing Strategy

Mobile media is causing one of the most significant changes to consumer behaviorsince the dawn of the industrial revolution. What does that really mean for your business today? What does it mean for you as a marketer?

mobile marketing strategyAs you develop your online social media strategy, consider how your customers want to hear from you. Be where your customers are. In 2014, its less about expecting your customers to come to you, and more about going to them where they are living, playing and socializing already. Think of ways where your brand naturally intersects with the lifestyles of your best customers. Use social media to show superior service and attentiveness to your customers needs. The extra effort you put behind your efforts will pay enormous dividends in your social media marketing efforts in the future.


Got Fans? Now What?


So…you’ve got your business a Facebook page and have even started generating a fan base. But now what do you do? Companies spend lots of time and money trying to get Facebook fans. And for many, that number might equal major success. But what is the like of your wife’s cousin’s best friend really worth? Do they know what they are liking? Do they care? Are they going to want to see the things your brand has to offer and interact? Chances are, no. Likes out of obligation or just because, those fans really aren’t worth much at all.

Define Your Target Audience.

By only being focused on the number of likes, and how to use Facebook to increase that number, marketers are missing the main point of using the platform all together: the user. 

It’s very important as marketers to know who you are trying to reach. When you define your target audience, you are making it easier for your company and brand to appeal to the type of person you want to buy your product. What is the age group of your target audience? Are they male or female? Do they live in a particular area? What do they like? What don’t they like? If you don’t have a clear view in mind, use this Customer Avatar exercise to define your ideal Facebook Fan.

It’s important to ask yourself these questions so you can tailor the content you produce to attract that type of person. Makes sense, right?


How to Turn Facebook Fans into Customers

What does your audience like?

Once you’ve defined your target audience, or “buyer personas” you are in a better position to properly serve the people that are most likely to give you business. And who better to focus on?

Once you have defined your target audience, you can move forward with focusing on what to post with that group in mind. As you begin posting, start keeping an eye on your Facebook Insights to get a feel for what your fan base is interacting with. Are they liking photos or videos the most? Do they answer the questions or polls you post? Once you start to see some trends, you can post more of what gets your fans interacting during the times that they use Facebook the most.

Make Your Facebook Fans Feel Important.

Once you’ve figured your buyer personas out, you can really go the extra mile by making them feel special. Give your Facebook fans special offers or giveaways so they know they matter. Plus, they’ll be more likely to share those offers and giveaways to their friends. See how important they are?

You can also use Facebook as a place to showcase your excellent customer service. Ask questions and answer questions. Solve problems. Share a positive review or customer story. This is a place to publicly remind your fans how awesome you are! Don’t forget, not everyone is going to have something nice to say, but how you handle those situations can define how you rise or fall as a brand. Use the negative as a ways to turn a situation around.

Create a content calendar.

So, now you’ve got your fans down to a science now and you really want to keep up the great work. One of the best things you can do is create a content calendar of all the things you want to share with your fans ahead of time. The main goal of a content or editorial calendar is to create a content strategy ahead of time, allowing for stress free execution of stellar content. For more on creating a content calendar, check out our post, Creating an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing. 

Don’t Forget the 80/20 Rule in Social Media.

One of the best things you can do to keep your fans interested is remember that it isn’t all about you. Only 20% of your content should be about promoting your brand, offers, or content. The remaining 80% should be content that relates to your product or industry, but isn’t created by you. This could be news articles, photos, and videos that you know your audience would want to see. This ensures that they don’t get bored with your page. Cause who likes the guy that is constantly talking about himself at a dinner party? Bring more to the conversation – as long as it’s relevant. 

Keeping Facebook fans interested is a challenge marketers face everyday. But with a little insight to your audience’s mindset, you can have a well thought out and successful Facebook fan page in a few simple steps.


Turn Facebook Fans into Customers

More Than a Meme


Captain Hindsight Meme

Memes are very popular on social media, and companies have taken the idea to the next level as a marketing strategy. Some memes are clever and funny, while others can feel forced or emphasize too much promotion. And with the potential for memes to go viral, some marketers have taken the use of memes too far. So much so, that Facebook has started to penalize pages that are posting too many meme promotions. 

Joomla Meme

So what are some other ways you can be sure you’re posting content to your Facebook page that will be engaging and relevant? Let’s go back to the basics. 

The 80/20 Rule. This is a general rule of thumb that many marketers follow to ensure their entire social media strategy isn’t about them. Use just 20% of content to promote offers, company news, and share blog posts or images. The other 80% of content shared should be by other influencers and sources. Of course, this content should remain relevant to your target audience and provide them with information related to your industry or field.

Post often, but don’t spam. It’s easier said than done. Sometimes, there are so many things you want to post and not enough time! And what if someone didn’t see it the first time? But it’s about quality, not quantity. The last thing you want is for someone to hide your posts from their newsfeed or unlike your business page all together because you’ve posted too many times about your 50% off sale this week. Slow and steady wins the race.

Captain Hingsight Meme

Timing is everything. If you share a blog post that you’ve been up all night writing until 3 am right when you finish, how many people are going to actually see it? Know you’re audience and when they are online. This is the perfect way to take advantage of your Facebook Insights. Going to the post section of your insights will allow you to see the time when your fans are most active on Facebook. Use this time and a few of the other top tier times as your go-to for posting. 

Photos are your friend, when done right. It is no wonder memes were so popular: they combine photos with just the right amount of text to get your point across. But photos are now the most liked, shared, and commented on posts on Facebook – meaning? They’re everywhere. Now more than ever it’s important to choose your photos wisely and share them with one or two lines to engage the reader, and a link if needed. Take a look back at the types of posts you’ve shared. You can determine based on previous interaction, what type your audience likes best, and continue to do that going forward.

Advice Mallard Meme

Create a conversation. Facebook is now a place where people don’t enjoy being sold to. A hard sell is no sell at all. A genuine conversation can go a very long way with your audience. So ask questions, and answer questions. Like comments, and respond back to others. It’s these little extras that create a well-rounded conversation, and potentially turn a well-rounded conversation into a lead or sale.

If you must meme…

Just do it with a purpose. Are you promoting an event or sale for a holiday? By all means, post a funny meme that relates to your event or sale, with a link to your site. Just don’t use memes as a blind way to gain likes or shares without a reason behind it. Likes for no reason at all won’t be anything but that. Gain likes with engaging and relevant content and you’ll be on your way to a genuine relationship with your Facebook fans.

Turn Facebook Fans into Customers

7 Marketing Funnel Secrets to Draw Your Best Client


Come and join me April 1st at the next meeting of the Hawaii Internet Marketer's Association as I explain--for the first time--how to set-up the best online marketing funnel for your business.

Get your tickets here:

For the past 10 years I have been helping start-ups and small businesses develop and measure strategic marketing campaigns that grow businesses. I also head up Hubspot Hawaii, a user's group for online marketers, business owners, Web developers and designers who want to master online marketing and generate more business leads for their business.

I'm very excited about this event. The Hawaii Internet Marketer's Association (HiMA) is a place where you can network with local business leaders and professionals, while learning from Hawaii's best Internet Marketers.

In this event I'm going to talk about:
1. What turns an "information ready lead" into a "sales ready lead"
2. How to find the best places to put your call to action
3. A 3-week quick start template for turning website traffic into new business leads

Free for HiMA members. Guest tickets are $10 via Eventbrite or $15 at door. So get your tickets now:

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, 6:15 pm to 9:00 pm
Manoa Innovation Center, Presentation Room
2800 Woodlawn Dr.
Honolulu, HI 96822

Marketing Agency Helps Build Website Traffic, Sales Leads


We all know how important a website is to a business's online strategy, but what does it really take to have a great website that drives visitors, leads and sales? Hawaii's award-winning inbound marketing agency is making this  resource available to small business owners, particularly for those in the process of redesigning their own website.

25 Website Must Haves

This complimentary, 52-page guide is the ultimate resource to having a killer website.

You will learn:

  • How to get found online with search engine optimization (SEO), including
  • building inbound links, meta tags, and more
  • Important design and usability factors you need to know
  • Tips for creating content that attracts and keeps visitors on your website
  • Best practices for converting traffic into leads, including Calls-to-Action, Landing Pages, and Forms
Get Yours Here: 

How Marketing Agencies Set Goals for Inbound Marketing Campaigns


Social media measurementWhen asked about goal-setting, top marketing agencies will say, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there," and never has than been more true than in the world of inbound marketing.

Having a clear, specific goal will keep you on the right path. I like S.M.A.R.T. goals--Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Time-Specific.


  • By Dec. 31, 2014 5% of visitors to our website will turn into a brick-and-mortar customer within a 6-month time period.”
  • Starting 12 months from now, our website will generate 10% of retail revenue.” 
  • 80% of people surveyed within a 10-mile radius will be able to correctly identify and describe our primary business.

These are just some ideas to get you started...

Outputs, Outgrowths and Outcomes

Ultimately, any effort to measure the Return-on-Investment of your social media marketing program will come down to a combination of closed-loop customer data tracking, customer surveys and/or specific behaviors such as number of downloads or expressed interest in offers and trials. Each marketing tactic must have a specific goal in mind and linked to it's own measures of success. Be clear about what you are trying to do, and link your initiatives to the audiences and metrics you care about most. For a sample ROI metric dashboard, send me a tweet at @lkinoshita.

With your marketing dashboard, you will be able to measure: 

  • Outputs (clicks, followers, retweets, website traffic, likes, etc.)
  • Outgrowths (cost savings, engagement, word-of-mouth, influence, reputation)
  • Outcomes (change in sales, change in behavior, change in opinions or values

Marketers have direct control over outputs, but outgrowths and outcomes will also be influenced by other factors – like the responsiveness of your staff, the quality of your customer service, your level of consistency, effectiveness of your sales team, etc.

Even factors such as consumer confidence, seasonality and what your competitors are doing (like outspending you in advertising) will affect your overall marketing outcomes.

But one factor will always hold true—the more power you put into your marketing effort, the more you will get out of it.

Get Examples of Social Metrics

5 Facebook Tips for Marketers


Facebook in Hawaii

Back in 2009, a friend of mine told me that “no one in Hawaii is on Facebook,” and it inspired me to write this blog post. About the same time, a local Internet marketer also stood up in front of a room full of small business owners and told them all that “Facebook would be dead in five years.” 

Well, it’s now five years later, and just in the state of Hawaii alone Facebook has 470,000 active profiles. Worldwide, the number of users has grown to 1.23 billion and more Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible.

We're also using Facebook on mobile devices much more than we were five years ago. Today, 91% of Americans have a mobile phone, and 67% of them use it to find businesses. But did you know that less than half of small businesses in Hawaii even have a website? How will businesses without websites get found in a post-Facebook world?

It was only a few short years ago that we first identified a small minority described as "Motivated by Mobility.” They were a rare, and many marketers struggled to explain them. But now, that person is us. All we have to do is look in the mirror.

We’ve gone from talking about who’s online and why to who’s not online and why in just a matter of five years 

As marketing consultants, we want to reach the right people in the right place at the right time, and nowhere is that more possible than on the Web. It's where people are spending increasing amounts of time, including time on Facebook and other social platforms.

So what does this all mean for Hawaii marketers? 

1. Invest in your website and digital marketing. Stop putting this important aspect of your business on hold. You're just slipping behind and making it harder and more expensive to catch up later. Market leaders invest 2.5% of revenue toward digital marketing and you can too. 

2. Invest in social platforms. Google's +1 will help you get found in search and Facebook will help you get others talking about you. Invest an hour each week and encouraage two-way dialogue.

3. Save the sales pitch. People don't want to be sold to on Facebook or social media. Use your relationships to build trust and credibility. Provide value over and over again. Show your sense of style and what you believe in, who you support (but leave the politics and religion out of it.) There will be a time to make the sale later. See #1 above.

4.Don't put all your eggs in one (Facebook) basket. Things are changing fast over at Facebook, and users are moving to other platforms, a trend that will only accelerate in the next two years (Princeton Researchers). Be aware of where people in your community are going and connect with them on thier terms. Be ready for text and SMS apps.

5. Keep growing. Stay active with what's happening and don't take your users or your relationships for granted. Learn what your community wants and give it to them. Investments in your own website will pay you back for years to come.


Turn Facebook Fans into Customers

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