Marketing & Public Relations Firm - Verasoni Worldwide

All posts tagged marketing strategy

Several weeks ago I posted about the comeback of the American consumer and its impact on the financial services market. Since then, I’ve engaged in the same discussion with healthcare device makers and distributors who are also wondering how a stronger consumer will impact their business.

The obvious reality is that every sector in the United States ought to be positioning itself in light of strong consumer sentiment and data.  Let me quickly set the table by restating a few key points from my previous post about market conditions and business climate that are relevant across industries, but are certainly applicable to healthcare equipment makers, manufacturers, and distributors:

  • The stock market is at or near an all time high
  • The business media seems to be whistling a happy tune about the comeback of the American Consumer
  • Earlier this year, according to Macys’, Target and Gap reported sales that topped sales estimates in January, 2013
  • This past February, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.3 from 73.8 in January
  • Ernst & Young cited stronger global markets and calls the US markets “very positive” in its most recent forecast.
  • With property values rising and the job market strengthening, Americans seem to be poised for an uptick in wealth

So, what does the comeback of the American consumer mean to Healthcare consumption? From 10,000 feet, two things: 1) The American healthcare consumer will have more money and more confidence to spend it and 2) that confidence and willingness to spend will be tempered by impact on the collective psyche still felt from the 2008 market crash.

Who will benefit from this consumer wealth effect?  Consumer medical specialties, like dentists and cosmetic dentists, plastic and cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, fertility specialists, bariatric surgeons, and those companies who are selling to them, as well as hospitals and surgi-centers who will deliver care in these service lines. We believe that other specialty areas will also see benefits such as certain areas of orthopedics, We see a healthy return of discretionary income spending in the aforementioned areas. At a recent meeting of Plastic Surgeons in New York City, a Baltimore based doctor said: “we’re seeing people coming off the street and dropping a $1,000 to $1,500 on procedures, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”  As I write, there’s a strong bi-partisan push in the senate to repeal the medical device tax. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I am a device manufacturer or distributor. Just as a reminder, the 2.3% excise tax is on the gross sales price of taxable medical devices. Regardless of whether the medical device tax is repealed or not, companies who better position themselves in this climate relative to the American consumer, will have a whopping advantage over those who don’t.

Here’s how healthcare device companies and distributors can better position themselves in light of the coming wealth effect:

1. Down-line Education – Three pronged approach: 1) Get out in front of the market by arming your buyers with the information they need to make an informed buying decision for your products. Include information on what the wealth effect could mean for both their business and patients.  It is likely that they themselves are feeling the wealth effect personally. Of course, buying certain equipment will put your buyers in a better position to serve the needs of their patients who will now feel more comfortable in spending discretionary dollars on healthcare services. 2) Consumer down-line education through web and digital strategies will provide fertile ground to drive consumer education and show buyers your commitment to their success.  3) Peer-to-Peer education for buyers of healthcare devices and products. Down-line education must have a strong digital component, especially with the rise of mobile and the coming of Google Glass, which will once again revolutionize mobile. [A quick aside: I was one of the privileged few to recently accompany a Google employee on a Google Glasses tour and indeed healthcare must be prepared for the coming revolution, but that's a post for another day.]

2. Brand Like You Mean It – This is a great time to get back into the market with a healthy respect for your customers. Communicate with them on a level that they come to expect and specifically communicate value.  Your visuals must be stunning, your value lasting.  Now, I have been on the record and continue to be by saying that branding is “not what you do,” it’s a “result of what you do.” For those companies who have been lacking in promoting their products and services to exceed market expectations, the time to start building a foundation for your brand has never been better than right now. This is especially true now because some of your competitors will inevitably continue to rely on the same strategies, thinking the same old ways, or their size, or whatever will produce results in this environment. Good, let them. For companies who consider themselves brand leaders in their space, don’t rest on your brand laurels, because your customers will now need more information to make buying decisions, and have more access to information about your products and your competitors’.

3. Mobile & Digital Will Drive Marketing Strategy Linkedin just surpassed 1 million doctors and nurses worldwide. Our own proprietary research shows that as of January 27, 2013, there were 500,000 people who have identified themselves in the United States as “dentists” on Facebook and 33,000 in the same category on Linkedin. There were 2,918 people who identified themselves as “general dentists” on Linkedin. Combine that with Healthcare topics being the most consumer-searched subject online in the United States, and you now have an idea of how important the digital environment is to your business. Educating the consumer and the market about the value of your products in the digital world is crucial to building consumer awareness and driving demand to your customers (doctors, dentists, hospitals, surgi-centers, clinics). Web and digital content must meet the expectations of the market, and if it doesn’t your company risks brand erosion. Positioning your products juxtaposed against value – remember, your customers and the consumer is once bitten and twice shy by now – will go a long way to making the case for your products. Your digital reputation and your customers’ must be spotless, because it is your reputation. So, move away from creating social pages and posting to meaningful digital strategies. Location strategies relative to how you sell should play a critical part. For example: if you’re selling an intra-oral camera, or gastric sleeves, you may want to share with your customers who else the in the area is using your technology via a mobile map application.  The very least you ought to do is mobilize your websites to make it easier for your sales force and your clients to access your products and services.

4.  Be a Category Creator – In Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), the authors found that “category creators experience much faster growth and receive much higher valuations than companies bringing only incremental innovations to market.” Researchers found that category creators, while only 13% of the companies studied, accounted for 74% of the group’s growth. Consider the dental industry’s fore into sleep medicine. It was a blue ocean strategy, which opened up a new market for dentists and provided patients with yet different way to utilize and view their dentist. Whatever category you choose to create, and at the risk of overstating the obvious here, it has to be both ethical and make sense for the patient. So, be creative, you may surprise yourself.

It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare. Being nimble and entrepreneurial and taking advantage of selling into the current climate no matter size of your company is a virtue and highly accretive to growth in this environment.  So, jump right in, the water is fine.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide
Follow @akasbo or

For distributors and manufacturers, the dental market is now moving faster than ever before and with a greater emphasis on efficiency and market penetration. It’s perhaps the understatement of the decade to say that companies are now trying to position themselves in this seemingly hyper competitive space in order to better gain market share in an industry that’s forecasted to deliver about $70 billion in sales in 2013.

However, the unfathomable speed that is moving technology and media is creating a dangerous intersection for CEOs and CMOs who may be left feeling like they are drinking from a fire hydrant when it comes to marketing communications; so are now seeking more clarity on the subject than ever before. Strategic integrated marketing decisions in this space, and acting on them or not, will obviously affect brands and sales outcomes, but only if one can sufficiently separate the hype from the realities.

Below is our take on some of the realities and what dental companies and distributors can expect in 2013 in the marketing communications space. Here are our predictions for the New Year!


Companies Will Be More Mobile or Will Lag Behind

According to Hubspot, in 2012 more people bought more smartphones than PC’s. Fifty-percent of US adults own a smartphone or tablet and 66% get the news on those devices.  In the second half of 2012, tablets outsold PCs.  By the end of 2013, we predict mobile will play a more strategic role with companies in the dental space, including the adoption of mobile branded content platforms, mobile ads and location based marketing.  Naturally, dentists have already moved in that direction, as their behavior typically follows the consumer market.

We believe the strong attachment to mobile devices will mean that those companies who move in a measured and meaningful way will also position themselves to own the mobile device behavior of their clients and salesforce.


Editorial Branded Content Will Prevail

Research tells us that branded editorial not only drives organic search to your website, but also influences the reader.  Editorial content must be married with a mobile and social distribution to your company’s relevant network. Everything else is simply fluff.  So companies will seek to better align their mobile and content strategies to keep their products more in reach and top of mind.

We’re never wild about business terminology, but we just came across one that fits this prediction: “Newsjacking”!  Simply put, brands and companies must generate their own news and become their own publishers.  Sales professionals and dentists are a smart bunch, so companies who position their content in a way that they can be perceived as a resource will win over time.  Last but not least, companies will create once and publish everywhere!


More Digital Bounce to Engagement, Branding & Sales

According to a 2012 study cited by Hubspot, one-third of CMOs say more than half of their budgets have shifted from traditional to digital marketing in the past year, yet the same study showed companies with 50+ employees spend almost 20% of their marketing budgets on tradeshows.  Where’s the intersection?  Companies in the dental space will begin to integrate digital strategies into their tradeshow presence to carry relationships formed at tradeshows well beyond that event.  Companies will go beyond email, to engagement on social and through peer-to-peer activities and brand story telling via mobile microsites. Companies who engage in this space will also see more earned media as a result of organic search.


Company Website Shall Be Responsive or Be Gone

Since all data is pointing towards the supremacy of mobile search going forward, dental companies who are seeking a competitive position in the digital space – and who isn’t? – will make their websites responsive. Since mobile devices vary in screen sizes, users will grow increasingly frustrated in viewing a traditional website on a mobile device, and if the experience is frustrating, research tell us that they will find an alternative in about 4 seconds.


Move to Big Data in Dental

Companies will look for strategic edges through integration of big data. Companies in the dental space will demand more access to fragmented data either to help access a market or make better decisions on how to drive sales.


Social Media Will Break Out of Its Silo

Brands will understand that likes and followers mean very little unless they are engaged. Companies in the space will capture mindshare by recognizing that will no longer place their brands in social media silos but develop a more integrated approach to telling their stories and engaging their audience. Companies in the dental space will use social media to drive inbound marketing strategies and not simply for branding purposes.  Mobile will drive access, meaningful content and the platforms will drive engagement.  Social media will evolve in the space to serve as a key platforms for brand KOLs and media engagement.


Advertising Still Useful, Not Dead, Monetize to Digital

The era of branded print and digital advertising is over in our opinion, but that doesn’t mean that the medium is dead. In fact brand print and digital advertising can be quite useful if integrated with their digital cohorts.  Successful companies in the space will drive print to web, drive print to social, and drive print to mobile and more.  The integration will deliver more data to help CEOs and CMOs make better decisions as they look for growth in 2013.

Finally, No doubt technology will continue to transform how brands communicate their value proposition in 2013 and beyond. It’s important to note that, regardless of technology, the basics of integrated marketing communications strategies still apply. That’s one prediction that we know will last through 2013 and beyond.

Abe Kasbo is the CEO of Verasoni Worldwide a fiercely independent marketing and public relations firm located in Montclair, NJ. Follow the company here: @twitter or facebook.



GLSIssue: Global Linguist Solutions (GLS) in Falls Church, Virgina is a provider of linguistic services to the United States Government.  GLS needed a marketing firm who understands both the Middle East and The Arab-American Community because of its focus on Arabic language speakers.

Idea: Verasoni’s creative team developed culturally appropriate visual and written messaging, identified media outlets in the United States and around the world to distribute GLS’ brand.  Verasoni Worldwide carefully crafted language in English and Arabic to ensure that GLS made appropriate cultural connections which were the first and important steps to helping GLS achieve its goals.  Stories were placed on air and in print in various cities around the US including New York and Detroit.

Impact: GLS saw a significant increase in the target market interest in its services and brand. Verasoni achieved over 2 million impressions within three months.

Introduction:  Dentistry 2.0

For many Americans the Internet has become a credible source of health information.  Medical sites like WebMD,,, and others offer unprecedented access to health information to feed this growing consumer appetite for health information.  According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 61 percent of Americans turn to the web for online medical advice and information.  This trend will certainly grow as the penetration of the Internet and mobile devices continue to grow and change the way Americans demand, search, and consume media.

At the same time, healthcare professionals, including dentists are seeking the best possible position online by developing websites for their practice, and increasingly using tools like search engines (organic and pay per click), blogging, and social media.   Although dentists have been using the web to promote their practices in the United States by spending thousand of dollars each year on the medium, aggregate data on quality of dental websites in terms of user experience, search engine friendliness, and patient conversion rates are not readily available in the marketplace.   Now dentists are speeding ahead into the wild west of social media and staking their claim on properties like Facebook.

Enter Social Media: Facebook and Social Media for Dentists

Social media has had a profound impact on virtually every business sector including dentistry. The swift rise of social media is reminiscent of the rise of the rush to the Internet about 15 years ago.  And while we understand that social media as transformation and is here to stay, and will continue to revolutionize the way people connect and do business, its impact on the dental industry and the dental practice in particular is still not understood primarily because of lack of data.

Dentists are now allocating marketing dollars and / or resources to promote their practices on social networking sites like Facebook.  Dentists have quickly come to recognize the power and usefulness of Facebook as a marketing platform.  Data show that people are spending more time on Facebook and taking the opportunity to find what their friends and family like, their interests, and social circle.

In September, 2010, Facebook surpassed Google in terms of time spent online.  According to a joint study by Citi analyst Mark Mahaney and ComScore that looked at the percent of time spent by people on the top 5 sites in August, 2010. The study found that“ Facebook, for the first time took the top spot with 41.1 minutes followed by Google with 39.8 minutes.” As more people spend time on Facebook, the more attractive the site becomes to advertisers, like dentists who seek to monetize on Facebook’s platform and phenomenon.  We believe that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more they may use Facebook’s search box in the upper portion of the site to search for good and services, including dentistry.  In essence, for many people Facebook has become an integral part of their daily desktop activities.

In the case of dentists and their utilization of social media to promote their practice, here too, there is a dearth of data on how dentists use Facebook to promote their practice. Qualitative observation tells us that dentists appear to be using Facebook as their choice social media platform to promote their practice. They are setting up profiles, pages and groups for their practice on Facebook.  Questions still remain about what dentists are doing on Facebook and how they are doing it.

This Study: Its Methodology & Rationale

In this study, we seek to better understand how dentists across the United States are using social media, Facebook in this case, to promote their practice. The study period took place between December 1, 2010 and December 21, 2010.  We used human observation because we have found no software or automated program that was able to assist with this study. We looked at dentists in all 50 states in the United States.  We searched Facebook for dentists by state.  Using Facebook’s search box at the upper portion of the site and high value search terms from Google, we sought to mirror similar searches on Facebook for dentists. For example to search for a dentist in New York State, we queried Facebook search for “Dentist NY” or “Dentist New York.”

Terms Searched

We searched for the “state” and “dentist.”  We used the full spelling of the state and its most common abbreviation, for example: “Florida” as the full name of the state and “FL” as the abbreviation. We used human observation because we also wanted to better understand not simply if we can find a dentist on facebook, but what these dentists are doing, how they are using facebook to promote their practice.

We employed human observation because there is no software or service that allows us to achieve our goals. The most prolific Facebook measurement, research and statistics service, Socialbakers –, currently does not measure Facebook activities related to healthcare.  As stated above, because social media and Facebook is a medium of engagement, we wanted to better understand not simply what dentists are doing to promote their practice on Facebook, but how they are doing it.

Limitations of the Study

Based on pre-study observations and through experience, we found that many more dentists than this study yielded with personal profiles; although to access personal profiles one needs to request these dentists as a friend.  We believe personal profiles on Facebook for dentists, if they are intended to be used, to promote their practice, is a barrier to search in the sense that we know it.  Certainly anecdotal search behavior tells us that people that ease of access is important to the searcher and in this case, if people are searching for dental services on Facebook, they may be unwilling to send a friend request and wait for an answer in order to learn more about the dentist. Therefore we excluded personal profiles from this study.

Other limitations include that this study reflects a period in time, and therefore it is likely that additional activity may have occurred on those dentist pages whom we observed.

Findings: Search Query

We searched Facebook for the term “dentist” by state. We searched every state in the United States and the term dentist. In the search box we searched in two ways, the full name of the state, ie: New York and its abbreviation, NY.  We combined the full name of the state with the word dentist, and in our subsequent search we combined the common abbreviated name of the state with the word “dentist.”

The reason we used the search function is because it is the easiest way for someone to find a dentist. It is far fetched to surmise that people will seek to “friend” a dentist that they do not know simply to become their patient or to find out more about their services.  It is much easier if someone searched by state or city for a dentist and were provided with unfettered access to the group or the page.

Though this method we found a total of 229 dentists in the United States.  The highest concentration of dentists that came up in Facebook’s search by state were in Texas (18), followed by New Jersey (17), while many states yielded zero dentists, such as Connecticut and Alaska.

The Table below provides the numbers of dentists by state for the query “Dentist, Full Name of State,” or “Dentist, abbreviated name of state,” n=229.

Table 1: Facebook Search Results for “Dentist” and “State” Fully Spelled Out and Abbreviated


# of Dentists




































































































We wanted to look at how dentists in each state were positioning themselves on Facebook.  It would be reasonable to assume that the Facebook’s search mechanism would have yielded results for the terms searched, but it did not.  We were surprised by the results of this query (Dentist, State, [full name and then abbreviated].  When the results came back, we believed there was an error in Facebook’s search mechanism. We attempted the query again and achieved the same results.

As a result we added major cities and metropolitan areas to the search to explore the search. For example in Texas, we chose and Houston and Dallas, in Illinois we chose Chicago, while in Idaho we selected Boise and so on.  Results of the cities are included in the final State count above.

We also know that that there are many more dentists on Facebook.  There are many dentists whose profiles are set up as a “person.”  These dentists were excluded from this search because one must first know about the dentist, then request them as a friend and wait. We believe, based on experience and nothing more, that it is highly unlikely that potential patients would take this route.

Facebook Property Types: Fan Page vs. Group

We wanted to see the prevalence of facebook presence type, whether dentists are using facebook “groups” or “fan pages.” Of those dentists who had facebook presence that appeared in our search, 48 (20%) established a “group,” while 181 (80%) established a “fan page.”

Chart 1: Number of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Chart 2: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Understanding The “Social” Network

Facebook is a social network allowing people to connect with people, goods, services, brands and more.  The number of relevant people in a dentist’s network is only one, yet critical element, of success on Facebook.  The more people in a network the greater the influence and ripple-effects a dental office will achieve on Facebook (introductions, friends of friends joining a group or fan page, and so on).  Of course, engagement is just as crucial, and that will be discussed later in this study.

We broke up the number of “friends” into four categories as follows:  0 friends, 1 – 100 friends, 101 – 500 friends, and more than 500 friends.   We found 6 dentists with zero friends (3%), thirty-seven dentists had at least 101, and no more than 500 friends (16%), 181 or 79% of dentists had between 1 and 100 friends, and five dentists representing 2%, had more than 500 friends.

Chart 3: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Chart 4: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Measuring Activity: Relevance The Key to Engagement

Facebook, by nature, is a medium of engagement, providing businesses, in this case dental practices, the opportunity to engage the audience with relevant information and activities.  Activity on Facebook, like elsewhere, and especially in marketing, does not necessarily translate into productivity.  Activity must be relevant to the network. The more relevant engagement, the better a dental practice positions itself with its members or friends.

We measured both how often a dental practice posted to Facebook over the past 3 months. We defined the time intervals as follows:

  • Never – no posts
  • Seldom – less than one post per month
  • Monthly – At least one post per month
  • Often – At least one post per week

To our surprise we found 108 dentists (47%) did not have any posts on their Facebook page or group, while 30% of dentists in this study seldom posted on their Facebook property.   Only 37 dentists representing 16% posted monthly while 15 dentists or 7% posted often.

Chart 5: Frequency of Posts

Chart 6: Percent of Frequency of Posts

Moreover, we wanted to better understand the type of posts dentists were utilizing on their Facebook properties.  Since frequency, type and quality of posts matter when engaging a Facebook audience, we define both the type and quality posts as follows:

  • Providing dental care information
  • Soliciting feedback from patients
  • Games / Contests
  • Incentives
  • Other Social Networking Integration to sites such as Twitter, Youtube, or blogs
  • Advertising integration – integrating any offline advertising with Facebook
  • Links to the practice’s website

We found that 159 dentists or 69% had links to their websites, 3 dentists or 1% included offline advertising integration, 13 or 6% integrated other social media properties such as Twitter or Youtube, 7 dentists or 3% offered games or contests, 6 or 2.5% solicited feedback, 34 dentists or 15% offered incentives to use the dental practice’s services, while 7 offered health and dental information.

Chart 7 – Integration of Other Media / Engagement Mechanisms

Observations & Outcomes

Lack of Robust Search On Facebook Hinders Search For Dental Practices

Facebook’s growth continues at a staggering pace and as does time-spent on Facebook. With that said, dentists must recognize its power to drive traffic to their websites. But they must also recognize that Facebook, at this time, is devoid of robust search capabilities.  The lack of robust search on Facebook appears to hinder dentists’ abilities to growing their Facebook presence.  While Facebook’s meager search capability presents a serious issue to dentists, it is incumbent upon the dentist to grow his/her network organically through strategic campaigns. The larger the relevant network, the more brand footprint.

According to MediaPost’s SearchBlog which cites a J.P. Morgan report, “Google currently generates about 36% of all online ad revenue by being at the center of the ecosystem…but Facebook proves to also do its share. Citing comScore, the report notes Facebook traffic to the New York Times rose 66% in October 2010, up from a year-ago month, while traffic from Google fell 2% during the same time period. Traffic from Facebook to Amazon sites rose 328%, compared with traffic from Google fell 2%, and traffic to eBay from Facebook rose 81%, while traffic from Google fell 3%.”  It is crucial to understand that these brands work diligently and actively to grow their Facebook properties organically, through relevant posts, engagement campaigns, and advertising on facebook, thereby increasingly their traffic yield.

As more dentists become aware of Facebook’s search inefficiencies, they must adjust their social media strategies accordingly.  Because of Facebook’s search deficits, dentists are forced to grow their networks organically, by adding or “friending” people manually, or advertising on Facebook to promote their practice.


Dentists must adopt a “network growth” model.  They must be strategic about increasing the number of people in their relevant network on Facebook and offering the network sustained content to keep members engaged.  It appears that Facebook’s search function will pick up the exact search only if the title of the group or the fan page has the same terms used for search.

Small Audience, Little Effort

Our sample revealed that a majority of dentists on Facebook have a small audience with 79% having between 1 and 100 friends.  Audience size matters in any media, and Facebook provides the opportunity to develop a relevant, targeted audience. Our findings show a relatively small audience and it appears that there is also little effort in developing content to make dental Facebook pages more “sticky,” and therefore engaging to members.

Lack of Relevant Activity Hinders Engagement With Dental Practices

From our sample, we noticed a lack of relevant activity. Almost half of the total dentist Facebook properties we observed had no posts.  Facebook is a medium of engagement, and dentists must develop a strategic plan that is on-brand to push out to their network. Dental health information, not related to sales, may better position a dental practice’s Facebook presence as a source of information, and may allow members to share that information, which may include, the Facebook page with others, thereby exponentially exposing that particular dental group or fan pages to people it otherwise may not have touched previously.

Social Search Implications

Facebook provides a forum for conversation where people often ask for recommendations, opinions, and so on. Social recommendations are part and parcel of daily life on Facebook, and recommendations are asked for and given freely.  Facebook CTO Bret Taylor echoes that idea in a blog post. According to Taylor: “Your friends have liked lots of things all over the web, and now instead of stumbling across a new movie or having to look at a friend’s profile to see which restaurants they like…” Similarly, someone may look at friend’s profile and find a dentist’s page and may inquire about that dentist to their friend.

Having a robust Facebook page or group goes a long way to appropriately representing your practice in a professional manner.  Offline implications come into play here as well, treating a patient in a manner that they expect offline, will affect they way a dental practice is portrayed online in social network.

Serious Brand Implications

There are serious brand implications in any and every marketing communications campaign, on Facebook or off.  Like a website, magazine or television advertising, Facebook properties offer visitors insights to the dental office.  How a Facebook page is organized, the types and frequency of posts will convey certain messages (positive, negative, or neutral) to the visitor. Appropriate maintenance of information and content, or lack thereof, do have implications on the name and brand of the dental practice.  In addition, Facebook provides dentists with a key platform to achieve integration of off and online marketing efforts by bringing together offline advertising, including television, billboards, and brochures, etc.


While social networking or marketing can help advance the marketing agenda for dentists, social marketing must be seen through the prism of strategy.  In this case, we continue to advocate for integrated marketing and public relations strategies for dentists, in which social media, is one element.


Copyright Verasoni, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

As technology continues to grow and the internet becomes a more common platform for business (believe it or not, many businesses still haven’t harnessed the internet), the amount of money spent on online ads has become, as you can imagine, fairly substantial. Although online advertising can be a more efficient way to target certain demographics than traditional media outlets, this does not always lead to greater results. According to a new study from MIT Sloan School of Management, the same search, and other technology, that has enabled advertisers to target particular audiences, such as men between 25 and 35 who work on Mac computers, is also creating greater online competition for the same audience, thus reducing profitability of advertising on any targeted web site.

If you think about it, this all makes all the sense in the world. And it isn’t enough that many online advertisers have only themselves to blame for fragmenting their own markets by hopping from one sexy technology or site to another, but now there is evidence that there is a finite amount of scree-estate available to compete for the attention of the viewer.

MarketingVox data suggest that the study’s findings take on greater relevance as vertical and hyper vertical ad networks continue to grow. Adify’s Vertical Gauge for Q3, brand advertising CPMs for various verticals continue to rebound from early 2009. Also, food CPMs are up 91% from last quarter and Real Estate CPMs are up 17%. As far as vertical brand advertising, both automotive and healthy living and lifestyle verticals contracted substantially.

Clearly this article suggests to advertisers and consumers alike that targeted ad dollars don’t necessarily create more efficacy or revenue, in fact, evidence, in this case, shows more targeted ad dollars are less profitable. It is critical that advertisers note the importance of integrated marketing strategies in their marketing communications campaigns…more to come.

By Abe Kasbo and Kim Reydel

Social media was a huge buzz word in 2009 and the hype will undoubtedly spill over into 2010.  Without a question, social media is now the new mass media (television still dominates…for now), and while businesses are still scrambling to figure out how to maximize their investment, social media delivered the following important points to the market:

1. Aggregation

2. Segmentation

3. Revelancy

As companies continue to embrace social media to grow their businesses, expand their brand footprint, and utilize the medium for PR purposes, some are still struggling to optimize social media to its full potential. According to the Social Media and Online PR Report, 86% of companies plan to more money on social media in 2010. Conversely, 54% of those surveyed say the biggest barrier to better social media engagement is a lack of resources. So, although many are plugged in to various social networking outlets, about half of them see a hurdle in using the tools to their full capacity. In addition 60% of companies say that they have gained “some benefit but nothing concrete” from using social networking. Let’s be honest, when using a tool to grow your business it’s crucial to see the results and reap the benefits. Until you know how to properly engage in social media, it’s not an essential tool for your business.

According to a survey by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia in the B2B world 11% of respondents were heavily involved in social media while 23% were not involved and 65% experimented only. In the retail business 10% of respondents were heavily involved, 27% not involved, and 63% of retail respondents only experimented with social media. Like any other business strategy you must follow through with a plan, and a short presence on facebook is sure to generate zero business for any company. The concept of social media may have been an experiment, but building your company’s presence on a social network is a business strategy that requires a commitment and understanding of the platform. The majority of companies agree that major benefits of social media include; increased brand awareness, customer engagement, communication with key influencers, and better brand reputation. Additionally 54% of supply side respondents say their clients are incorporating video and video sharing in their use of social media. It’s superb that so many companies have hopped on the social media bandwagon but truth be told, it might as well be obsolete unless you are using it as a tool to engage your audience.

So, although statistics show that companies know how to use social media, there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the value of engagement. In other words, any company has the ability to create a fan page on facebook and populate the group, but often times it stops here. Companies have to keep in mind that those who join your network on twitter or facebook or linkedin are looking for something and it’s your responsibility to give it to them. The social networking platform allows you to offer coupons, contests, news, videos, promotions etc to ENGAGE your audience. It’s important to bring people together via your social network but it’s crucial to keep your site functional and relevant. As another year is about to begin, let’s make a resolution to remember to engage engage engage!

Now you can listen to us on our new web radio show “Hey Marketing Genius!” You can listen by clicking here

Today’s show discusses branding. Our guest is Erik Kent, President of

I find myself broaching this important subject again. Where ever I speak, during client presentations, in the coffee shop, online forums, list-serves, etc., the hype about social networking continues.  Sure, in many important ways, social networking lives up to the hype, given the sheer numbers (people participating and their activity of course). Sadly, living the hype is not like hyping the hype, living the hype is less glamorous, I can assure you.

Here’s Why. It makes all the sense in the world to play in this space, but what good is it if you are not growing your network. Yes, there is value in being in touch with your customers, and social networking, gives you the opportunity to be exposed to your clients’ network. But isn’t the idea to grow your potential network so the influence of your brand, ideas, products, and organization grows?

My next post will be on the idea of dependence on social networking and the implications / complications that may arise…I’m also working on 10 ways to grow your network.

More to come…

So it’s been about fouryears since facebook redefined networking (MySpace fans, I do recognize that your site came first, but I’m on a roll here) and since, the world has come to see things just a bit differently. So here are some thoughts on what we have and have not learned about the new world.

1. Rush to fools gold – believe it or not, people still believe that you can get rich through social networking. This is Fools Gold 2.0. Yup, this is reminiscent of what happened with “the internet” about 15 years ago. The fact is, social networking takes time and work…one other thing, it’s not free. The medium may be free, but the work is not.
2. Who you tweeting to? – “I can get someone right out of college to do this stuff,” one of my current clients said to me when I was pitching his firm. “Certainly, you can.” I replied, “But will this person have the strategic background to build your network because if your network is not relevant, then there’s no reason to do this. Oh, and how are you going to keep your network interested in your firm.” Guess what? We got the account and the client is happy :)
3. Protect Your Brand – We now know that we need to protect our brands, products, and services on social networking sites. So it’s important that we secure these accounts even if we don’t intend to use them.
4. Your Network is Key – Building your relevant network takes time, but once it’s build it will serve you well, but only if you keep your network engaged. Are you measuring network growth? Are you measuring engagement? What are you doing for your network?
5. Social networking is the tip of the iceberg – It’s about integrating all the tools that the web offers and doing it well. Social networking is not a silo, it’s not an activity, and it must be a key part of your overall marketing communications strategy. And if it’s not, you’re probably dropping marketing bombs.

More to come.