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Treat Your Marketing Database as an Audience? That’s a Mistake



Treat Your Marketing Database as an Audience? That’s a Mistake

Modern marketing’s evolution leads to what you classically understand as “content marketing.”

A main theme in my new book, Content Marketing Strategy, is that overall descriptions of modern marketing contain strong elements of managing content and evolving operations, so marketing acts more like an internal media company.

Take consulting firm McKinsey’s definition:

 “Modern marketing is the ability to harness the full capabilities of the business to provide the best experience for customers and thereby drive growth.”

Or look at the American Marketing Association’s explanation:


 “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Now, compare those to the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing written about a decade ago:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

I won’t stretch the comparison too far because the definitions involve an integration, not a replacement. Classic marketing and content marketing have always had an intricate relationship. But the new, pronounced focus on operating like a media company – and getting your owned media house in order – is telling. More and more marketing teams recognize the value of building an audience.

But what does that really mean? Haven’t you already been doing that?

Your marketing database is not your audience

When asked about building an audience, your content team might say something like, “We have an email list. We’re gating some of our content to build our marketing database.” The demand generation team might say, “We have a marketing automation system that drips content to our prospects. We use technology to gather intent data about those people.”  The sales team might then say, “We have a whole re-messaging program for people who fall out of the funnel and send them our wonderful content.”  

Then, all together, you might shout: “We have an audience.”

But you don’t.


Your marketing database is NOT your audience.

An audience differs from your leads, prospects, or any database that falls along your buyer’s journey. Let me put it hierarchically: You have an audience. Some of whom also might be prospects, leads, and customers. You should value the audience inherently differently than your marketing database.

What is an audience?

Merriam-Webster defines an audience as:

  1. A group of listeners or spectators; a reading, viewing, or listening public
  2. A group of ardent admirers or devotees

So, an audience (relevant to this usage of the word) is a group of people who gather willingly and enthusiastically to listen, view, read, or in some way consume your content.

“Willingly” and “enthusiastically” are the important words.

I often ask workshop attendees and clients, “If you put a full stop on every bit of your content production, who would miss it? Who in your marketing dataset would contact you to say they missed your weekly email newsletter, media posts, or white papers?”

If you have any of those people, they are in your audience.


The difference between a subscribed audience and an addressable marketing lead lies in the reason (the intent) they give their information. A subscriber doesn’t only sign up for immediate access to a content asset. A subscriber signs up for the promise of the future value of what’s promised after that initial asset.

Think about why you signed up for that streaming app. Maybe you wanted immediate gratification by watching the premiere of the hot, new show. But the real intent behind your purchase was that the show’s remaining episodes would be entertaining. Your decision to continue the subscription is based on the level of trust (your confidence) that the streaming service will deliver value, most of which you haven’t even conceived.

Developing this level of trust and maintaining this confidence in future value separates a subscribed audience from a marketing database.

Does that mean, as marketers, you should abandon all efforts to gate your content and acquire contact information for direct marketing purposes? No.

As I’ve written, gating and ungating are viable strategies. Both speak to the increasingly powerful idea of marketing operating like a media company. Some content acts as the “product” – delivering value and building the audience. And some content is meant to be “promotional” – persuading prospects that your products provide value. Knowing the difference between product and promotional content is key.

If you’re building an audience, the absolute worst time for a salesperson to contact subscribers is right after they fill out the form. Why? Because they are that trusting moment of “future value.” And your brand just dashed that confidence with a heaping tablespoon of “How much value can I sell you today?”


How to build an audience

In my book, classes, and consulting practice, I discuss at length the value of audiences and the idea of ROA (return on audiences) as an investment metric for modern marketing. I also talk about measuring audiences’ value beyond a marketing or lead conversion.

My advice comes down to what audiences can help the business accomplish. See, again, I’m talking about setting broader business objectives – not tactical direct marketing goals.

Subscribed audiences are multipliers. They ultimately act as a renewable asset that can help the business differentiate, be more efficient and effective, and, ultimately, create better, more valuable customers.

Let’s look at three key ideas that help the process of building an audience:

Idea 1: Treat audiences differently than buyers

Many companies develop buyer personas. From a product marketing perspective, the valuable exercise helps facilitate the buying process. But the reason for subscribing is different, and so is understanding the audience and what it needs.

You must understand your audience members and what they value from a perspective other than their need for your product or service. You have to understand them through the lens of inspiring, helping, teaching, or entertaining them to achieve something beyond the bounds of your product or service.


Ironically, you usually can and should target more niche (i.e., smaller) audiences than your product marketing’s total addressable market. You will compete against media companies for audience time and attention. Media companies need big, broad audiences to monetize them through advertising or subscription revenue. Your brand does not. As a marketer, you can afford to be specific about segmenting your audiences and the value you provide.

But you need to know your audience as people, not just buyers of your product or service. (You can follow this process for developing audience personas.) The bottom line is you must devote the time and energy to do the research and understand all their challenges to develop a range of ideas for content beyond your products’ features and benefits.

This case study on a company that worked through this may help.

Idea 2: Think of one audience, one platform, and multiple attributes

A big challenge in building an audience is where to build it.

In a classic campaign with a marketing-database mindset, you build a gathering of people to convert into customers. You say, “The marketing database is about driving leads into sales.” Therefore, the audience should be centered or built at the early or middle part of the customer’s journey.

But a challenge arises. When you build an audience at another part of the customer journey that differs from the marketing database, what happens to the audience when they scatter – becoming leads, qualified leads, opportunities, new customers, and old customers? Do they stop being part of the original audience?


I see this in B2B marketing, where one audience built in the early awareness stage gets put into a marketing database. But then, when they sign up for a sales-enablement experience (say, a webinar), they are added to yet another marketing database. With this database thinking, the brand creates siloed dead ends technically and editorially. It’s not long until a singular customer receives tens of emails from the company sent through the siloed marketing databases that speak to irrelevant values and needs.

Where do you build your audience? The answer points to the convergence of marketing strategy and content strategy. As a business creates its first or seventh owned media platform to build an audience, it must make it specific to the needs of the audience AND the business goals it will support. Ideally, one audience per platform.

Do you need an owned media experience for each audience persona at every step in the customer journey? Well, technically and ideally, yes. But, of course, that is unrealistic.

The task becomes to figure out where audiences become buyers, loyal, or ready to move into a buying, upsell, or cross-sell stage. Once you map this carefully, you can figure out how the platforms work together to create an integrated set of journeys for the different personas.

Over time, you will almost certainly manage a portfolio of these content-driven experiences – blogs, websites, webinar programs, customer events, etc. To make this portfolio work, you must NOT think in terms of “handoff” – where a subscriber is now a “lead” or a “customer.” You must adopt a mindset, as well as the technology infrastructure, to have one database that assigns attributes to the engaged audiences.

You gain a subscriber. That person evolves to inherit an attribute called “lead.” Later, that person inherits a new attribute called “customer.” No matter how that person’s data technically moves in your system, you have one view into your audience that shows how and when each audience member achieves a new attribute.


Idea 3: Give a unique story and a unique context to gather around

Remember Merriam-Webster’s second definition of audience as “a group of ardent admirers or devotees”? People become that kind of audience because they share a common enthusiasm. It could be for a unique story told broadly or a unique context told narrowly. In other words, people can become the audience of the story and/or the storyteller. The most ardent and devoted audiences do both.

For example, you become a fan of Star Wars when you see a Star Wars movie, read a novel, or watch a television series. In those cases, the storyteller has much less to do with your fandom than the story itself. However, you also become fans of news and trends not because they are impactful stories but because they are delivered by a storyteller or an interesting interface you like.

Marketers should use these levers to build audiences and find out where and how to balance both types of content. Construct unique stories that span common contexts and create common stories told from a unique context.

Take Salesforce’s The Ecopreneurs. The 11-episode series told the stories of everyday people stepping up to create extraordinary climate solutions. It serves as a wonderful example of building an audience based on the value of the story itself. Salesforce barely makes a mention of the brand. And Salesforce, as the storyteller, certainly isn’t the reason an audience would subscribe to see all 11 episodes.

Compare that to Salesforce’s Ask More of AI. The nine-episode series contains multiple stories about thought leaders in the technology industry. However, audiences aren’t subscribing to any one story but to the storyteller of Salesforce and Clara Shih, the CEO of Salesforce AI.

Both series are successful, and both feed off each other. Subscribers to Salesforce+ may sign up for the promise of future value from either option. The value delivered by one feeds the discovery and loyalty to the other. People who loved the Ecopreneurs videos are more likely to give the AI show a try because they trusted the story first and are now open to trusting the storyteller. The reverse is also true.


Audiences are more than leads

Ultimately, no matter where in the journey you build an audience, the opportunity is more than driving leads, converting sales, or upselling customers. Building an audience is an investment in an asset that can serve many business purposes.

Just as with your marketing database, many (if not most) of your audience members may, indeed, never become leads, opportunities, or sales. Let’s assume your audience-to-lead conversion rate to be the same as the average qualified-lead-to-opportunity ratio. You might see 15% turn into actionable leads. That means 85% didn’t.

But here is the key difference. If those marketing contacts are simply scanned trade-show badges, purchased lists, or people who wanted that cool digital content asset you gated, the great majority of that 85% is useless.

On the other hand, if those contacts are audiences, that 85% can be valuable and, in some cases, even more valuable than leads. These 85% represent people who are willing and enthusiastically gathered to hear more from you. They will:

  • Recommend your content to others in their network – thus giving you more organic reach to new audiences (and thus new customers)
  • Have occasion to need your product or service and be predisposed to choosing you
  • Help data targeting to get better results from personalization or segmenting content and/or paid media efforts
  • Provide insight into other products, markets, or even regions you may want to explore.

We are all audience companies these days

Don’t take my word for it. Just watch today’s purebred media companies. As they evolve, they not only build audiences and sell access to those people through advertising, they sell products and services to those audiences. Media companies make markets where none existed, using the power of an engaged audience to learn what audience members purchase and develop better products as a result.

Why, as product and service brands, do you not avail yourself of the same kind of operation?

Brands that understand the power of audiences set new values for the entirety of marketing by establishing direct, proprietary relationships with audiences. They do what smart marketers have been doing for 100 years. They create their markets. Today, only content has value to build and keep an audience.


Marketing’s job has changed. It’s time to build audiences.

Updated from a June 2020 post.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute


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The power of program management in martech



The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.


Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition


Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.


Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.


Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.

As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2



2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.


1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 


I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 


Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 


Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 


Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 

ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?


Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 

Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 


But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.


He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 

PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 


Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.

Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 


In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 


Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.


Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.

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Roundel Media Studio: What to Expect From Target’s New Self-Service Platform





By Tinuiti Team

Roundel™ Media Studio (RMS) has arrived, revolutionizing Target’s advertising game. This self-service platform offers seamless activation, management, and analysis of Target Product Ads, with more solutions on the horizon.

Powered by first-party data from both in-store and online shoppers, RMS provides new audience insights. Coupled with Target’s new loyalty program, Circle 360, advertisers gain precision targeting like never before.


But Target isn’t stopping there. With the rollout of a paid membership program on April 7th, bundling Target Circle, the Circle Card, and Shipt delivery, Target is elevating its media and membership offerings to rival the likes of Walmart and Amazon.

Curious to learn more? We sat down with our experts at Tinuiti to dive deeper into the potential implications of this platform for brands and advertisers alike.

What is Roundel Media Studio?

Roundel™ Media Studio is an integrated platform that consolidates various solutions and tools offered by Roundel™. At its core, it kicks off with our sponsored product ads, known as Target Product Ads by Roundel™.

example of target roundel ad
Example of Target Product Ads by Roundel™
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This comprehensive platform grants access to the complete range of Target Product Ad placements, featuring tailored slots like “More to Consider” and “Frequently Bought Together” to enhance relevance and personalization.

Moreover, Roundel™ Media Studio operates without any DSP or access fees for Target Product Ads, ensuring that your media budget is optimized to deliver greater efficiency, more clicks, and ultimately, increased sales.

“One of the larger benefits of the transition is that advertisers have an opportunity to capitalize on the additional dollars saved by switching to RMS. Without the 20% fee, brands can re-invest those funds to scale campaigns or optimize budgets, all without having to allocate more funds which drives better results. Roundel™ is putting more control in the hands of advertisers by introducing this new self-service platform.”

– Averie Lynch, Specialist, Strategic Services at Tinuiti

To summarize, key benefits of using RMS include:

  • No Access or DSP Fees
  • All Target Product Ads Inventory
  • 1st Price Auction with Existing Floor Prices
  • Closed Loop Sales & Attribution
  • Billing via Criteo Insertion Order
  • Access Using Partners Online

How to access Roundel Media Studio 

According to Target, there’s 3 steps to access Roundel™ Media Studio:

Step 1. Check that you have a Partners Online (POL) account for access. Don’t have one? Reach out to your POL admin to get set up with an account (reach out if you need help locating your organization’s admin). 

Step 2. Once you have gotten access to POL, reach out to your Roundel representative who will grant you access to the platform. 

Step 3. Users can access Roundel™ Media Studio in 2 ways:

Roundel Media Studio Best Practices

Target offers a variety of tips on how to best leverage their latest offering to drive performance. 

Let’s take a look at the latest best practices for strategies such as maximizing efficiency or driving sales revenue. 

Recommended bidding tactics for maximizing efficiency:

  • Set your line-item optimizer to Revenue for the highest return on ad spend (ROAS) or to Conversions for the lowest Cost per Order (CPO).
  • Since the Revenue and Conversions optimizers modulate the CPC you enter to maximize performance, it is useful to set a CPC cap to make sure that your bid will not exceed the maximum amount you wish to pay. The CPC cap should always remain at least 30% above the bid you enter to allow the engine to optimize effectively.
  • Set your bids competitively to balance scale and performance (ROAS or CPO) targets.
  • Optimize bids with respect to your CPO targets: lower CPCs slightly to increase efficiency, or raise them to increase scale

Recommended bidding tactics for maximizing sales revenue:

  • Set the line-item optimizer to Revenue.
  • Set bids to maximize scale and competitiveness while staying above KPI thresholds. Since the Revenue optimizer modulates the CPC you enter to maximize performance, it is useful to set a CPC cap to make sure that your bid will not exceed the maximum amount you wish to pay.
  • Adjust your bids progressively and preferably at the product level: filter the top products by Spend and then slightly reduce any bids that have a ROAS below your threshold.
  • In general, slightly lower CPC to increase efficiency or raise CPC to increase win rates and therefore increase sell-through.

Takeaways & Next Steps

This is just the start for RMS. In the future, Tinuiti will continue its partnership with Roundel to refine features and introduce additional ad types and functionalities.

When exploring any new advertising opportunity, the best results are typically realized when partnering with a performance marketing agency that understands the unique landscape. Our team boasts years of hands-on experience advertising in new and established marketplaces, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Working directly with Roundel, we ensure our clients’ ads harness the full functionality and features Target has to offer, with results-oriented scalability baked in.

Ready to learn more about how we can help your brand? Reach out to us today!

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