Top 15 Marketing Blogs to Read Over Holiday Break

The holidays are almost here. You’ve got several weeks off from classes, studying, online seminars, and exercising your brain. You can relax now. But should you?

After all, the holidays brings about a time for socializing, and who knows? You may end up talking to a friend of a friend who just may be a high-ranking marketing pro with an eye for young talent. Impressing with insights about current news could lead to a future internship or even a job offer after graduation.

As a student with aspirations in achieving a marketing degree, it’s important to keep up with what’s current in your field. Sure, you’ve got family and friends to catch up with over the holidays, but it’s also wise to keep one eye peeled to stay up-to-speed on marketing industry knowledge.

Industry news sites and marketing-focused blogs have replaced newspapers and printed industry contact directories for college students seeking industry information. If you’re in marketing, or aspiring to be, you should be checking blogs covering content marketing, consumer behavior, search, tech, consumer blogs and industry sites. If you work in marketing for a company, you should be checking your company’s social media feeds as well.

So let’s take a look at the top marketing news sites, blogs, tip sheets and insider forums to help you keep tabs over the holidays.

Overall Marketing Sites

Advertising, marketing and digital platform Advertising Age offers up its Power 150 daily to readers to gauge the strength of the overall marketing industry’s blogs and thought leaders. A recent tabulation for the top 10 marketing blogs from the Power 150 recently showed:

10. Brian Solis

9. I Believe in Adv

8. Search Engine Land

7. Social Media Examiner

6. Seth’s Blog

5. Copyblogger

4. ShoeMoney

3. Chris Brogan

2. PSFK

1. Ads of the World

Digital Marketing Sites

There are of course many news sites and blogs dedicated to trends and insights in social media, digital advertising, search marketing, content marketing SEO tactics and more. Search Engine Journal has a super shortlist of some of the best articles posted in early 2012 to track in all these areas.

Here’s a sampling of some of the wisdom you can tuck under your Santa cap this holiday break:

Business Marketing Sites

Business marketing sites Forbes and Fortune offer great insights for the practicing marketer or even soon-to-be marketer. Here’s a sampling of some of the top business marketing blogs, where you’ll find basic marketing practices and key inspirational insights from marketing professionals on a daily basis:

Have fun this holiday season, but stay active in your marketing reads as well. Use this list above to increase your knowledge of marketing blogs on your way to getting your marketing degree.

Successful Gamification Tips for Your Business

Customers just want to have fun. That’s why gamification is so popular and steadily on the rise. The purpose of gamification is to make things more fun and to encourage user engagement. Just about any business can figure out ways to incorporate gamification into their marketing strategies – all it takes is a little creativity, and a little understanding of what makes it such a successful approach. Here are some tips to help your business gamify your Internet marketing:

Clearly Define Your Goals

What do you hope to gain from gamification? You need to know before you begin. Gamifying your content should work in tandem with your overall business goals, and should produce specific results. For example, do you want to boost traffic of repeat users to your website or social media? Do you want to use gamification as a tool to assert your image and foster brand recognition? Knowing exactly what you want will help you implement the right gaming elements.

[More on Internet Marketing education.]

Know Your Audience

You should already have a clear idea of who your customers are.

  • What is your target audience?
  • What demographic is the majority of your audience made up of?
  • Who visits your website?
  • Who are your friends and follower?
  • Most importantly, what do they like?

Create gaming elements that will appeal to your audience in particular.

Offer Rewards and Incentives

People don’t play games if there’s nothing for them to win by doing so. While rewards can be things like real-life prizes, they don’t have to be. Badges and pins for achievements, for example, are very popular (think Foursquare). You can also offer some type of virtual currency, which could be used to purchase anything from real-life merchandise to items within the game. Rewards and incentives give people something to strive toward. Offer them generously enough to keep their interest, but make sure they’re still challenging – a game isn’t fun if there’s no challenge to it. Consider including recognition as a reward, too, such as with a public leader board.

Constantly Analyze

As with any marketing strategy, you should be paying close attention to the results. Look for ways that you can quantify the results of your gamification. Find out the numbers: How many people are playing?, How often do they play?; How quickly do they earn achievements? Are you earning more fans and followers? Are you getting more clicks? Use the numbers to figure out what works and what doesn’t….

Ask for Feedback

Another way to analyze your strategy is to simply ask your audience and participants what they think. Make it easy for them to do so, such as by including optional feedback boxes at certain checkpoints. Use their feedback to improve your gaming elements to make them more user-friendly and enticing. Consider a user survey in the beginning stages of your gamification. Listen closely. The trick to gamification isn’t just getting people to play – it’s getting them hooked so they keep playing.

About the Author: Russell Martin is a marketing pro and small business entrepreneur who often gives advice to other businesses about ways to improve customer engagement.

Making the Sale: Sales & Marketing Tips

As a Sales and Marketing degree grad, or even seasoned salesperson know this: when you’re trying to make a sale, you have to keep in mind that not every customer is going to be falling to their knees and begging you to take their money. You have to make a concerted effort to have the right attitude and approach when calling a potential customer. You are not just selling a product or service, you are selling yourself, and a customer is much more likely to buy something they want or need from somebody who is friendly and helpful than someone who has the wrong attitude. The customer could need some persuading – not everybody says “yes” right away – but injecting some personality into your pitch will make you far more likely to succeed. The worst that somebody can say is no, so make sure you put your best case forward when calling the customer and you could find yourself the proud owner of a great sale.

 [More on Marketing degree options...]

Reasons Why A Customer Won’t Buy

  1. Attitude of a company employee
  2. Dissatisfaction with a product
  3. Lured away by competition
  4. Persuaded by a friend to go somewhere else
  5. Customer moved away

Why Customers Will Buy

  1. Product met their needs
  2. Good savings/deal
  3. Impressed with product quality
  4. Company has good reputation
  5. Liked the salesperson

Infographic courtesy of Precept Sales Coaching

How to Obtain Financial Aid as a Marketing Degree Student

College tuition continues to rise and tuition costs are one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome when you’re trying to get an education. Fortunately, there are a number of grants and scholarships available that are specific to a particular major and these can help ease the financial burden a college degree entails. If you’re a marketing major or if you plan to become one, you probably already know the importance of marketing yourself and presenting yourself well to those around you. Those skills are vital when applying for marketing grants and scholarships because each has a considerable amount of competition. The first step in obtaining financial aid for your marketing degree is to know the options available to you so you know where to apply.

The Adelante! Fund offers a MillerCoors Brewing Company Scholarship every year that pays between $1000 and $3000 for each recipient. The scholarship is for Latino students only in their junior or senior year in college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You must be majoring in Marketing or a related field like Business or Public Relations. You also must participate in Adelante’s Annual Leadership Institute to be considered. The application period runs from February 1st to May 1st each year.

PPEF scholarships are designated exclusively to employees of the promotional product industry and their children. The Four-Year College Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Achievement Scholarship pays $1000 a year for four years, giving the recipient $4000 total over the course of a college career. The scholarship is awarded to high school seniors or graduates who will be attending an accredited four-year university in the fall, meaning that community college students are not eligible. A minimum high school GPA of 3.0 is also required and the student must either be a marketing or advertising major or express the intent to become one.

The Chairman’s College Scholarship is another PPEF scholarship and while the entry requirements are the same, the scholarship pays $5000 in two $2500 increments, meaning the scholarship is paid out over two years instead of four.

The Lagrant Foundation provides 15 different scholarships to marketing, advertising, or PR degree majors each year. Both undergraduate and graduate minority students are eligible for the funds. The students must be citizens of the United States and carry a full-time student status of 12 credits or more at a 4-year accredited university. All applications must be typed and not handwritten to be considered. A minimum 2.75 GPA is also required to apply.

There are numerous local scholarships in each state that apply to specific colleges in the region so call around to universities near you to see if they know of any scholarships unique to their school or township that is open to marketing majors. You also greatly increase your chances of success in any scholarship hunt by maintaining the highest high school GPA as possible. Donating time to charitable causes also helps separate you from other applicants. Get letters of recommendation from your teachers if possible, especially those that teach in field relevant to your field. Business or psychology are two examples.

Scholarship submissions are competitions because there are always more applicants than there are funds available. Use your marketing skills and ambitions to set yourself apart from those around you to maximize your chances of having a lower tuition bill next year.


Top CMOs of 2012

Today’s Top Chief Marketing Officers, or CMOs, are results-driven leaders with both public and employee-wide recognition. Executive compensation is an important factor for any company officer.  However, without the marketing results or the bottom line improvements these companies’ employees would not be there for long.  How does the new and improved market for consumer goods stay on top of this wonderland of an economic storm?  With so many ways to fail after the 911 debacle, some of today’s marketing officers have succeeded.  So how did they do it?

With the current consumer markets either in free fall or in sudden up tick, today’s marketing executive needs to be a stellar juggler but also somewhat of a soothsayer.  The following five CMOs have ridden the pipeline and are now on the other side of the ride:

1)  Albert Pimentel of Seagate is the marketing officer for this manufacturer of hard drives.  He is paid a significant compensation that consists of base salary, stock options, and other valuable additions.

2)  Steven Chambers of Nuance is the drive behind the marketing program with this software technologies group.  Having a lead in the war on communications is bringing this executive to one of the front positions in this list.

3)  Anne Martin-Vachon is the marketing officer for Nordstrom upscale department stores.  The prominent vision of this store chain has led the way for other department chains to follow, and most notably acquired flash site, Hautelook.

4)  Annie Young-Scrivner is the brains behind the sweeping success of Starbucks presence in today’s consumer market.  This upscale coffee shop chain has redefined the word coffee – and she has been a main contributor to recent success.

5)  Nicholas Utton of E-Trade has developed an online presence for stock trading like none other.  This online securities trading platform at least brings an element of promise to all those business-types who would like to have more input into their investment portfolios.

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Successful Strategies for the Profit-Challenged

In today’s economic landscape, the business owner is often looking at an uphill battle even to stay afloat.  So how do these marketing executives for Seagate, Nuance, Nordstrom, Starbucks, and E-Trade make a great profit?

1)  It seems that most of these five companies have a large media and online presence.  Seagate, Nuance, and E-Trade are all internet or technology-based companies, as far as their products are concerned.  Keeping up with the mass changes in communication seems to be critical for these companies’ bottom line or overall economic health.

2)  Nordstrom, Starbucks, and E-Trade are all household brands. It seems that through mass media, these brands have remained on top and at every consumer’s fingertips. Nordstrom is online over and over with its online store and catalog business. Mass media presence and popularity come to mind when the names of these companies are mentioned.  For example, Starbucks and E-Trade seem to be the next greatest thing to do for the pop culture crowd or popular crowd.

3)  Youth-driven seems to be the goal of these five companies. The next greatest thing is branded and marketed to the youth of today’s society. Think Starbucks, for example, and right away a trendy and student- oriented brand comes to mind.  This coffee shop is creating a place for the youth of the community to gather.  Also, the new and upcoming executive crowd seems to be meeting around this kind of marketing idea.

Where is the Next Generation Going?

Within the marketing programs of the twenty-first century, there lies the answer to many of the economic woes of today’s business landscape.  How these problems are turned into answers is the direction to take.  Many of the current economy’s great minds will tell you that a problem is just an avenue to a great answer.  It seems that each of these marketing executives have done just that.  Here is the insurmountable problem.  Now how is this company going to solve it and make it a step in the right direction?  Answering this question very well will gain the budding marketing executive a place on a successful marketing team.