Posts Tagged ‘Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association’

How Specialty Retailers and Small Brands Can Enlist Influencers

I just got off the phone with a excellent journalist in the outdoor recreational markets. He is writing an article about how specialty retail and smaller brands can get traction in the social media space.  He is writing it for the Outdoor Industry Association Newsletter called WebNews, and I encourage you to look for it. The general feeling in the industry, apparently, is that specialty retail and the smaller brands are at a disadvantage compared to the larger retailers and brands when it comes to engaging with the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

I don’t agree with that assumption, but we will stay focused here.

Small specialty retail is, by definition, local or regional. So, they should focus on the local and organic way of doing things. And that means attract the local athletes that have local influence. And that means these folks show up at the local races and events, compete and generally do well. They are the “go to” people locally when consumers have questions about bikes, hiking shoes, climbing gear…you get the idea. Now, if these people have a blog, are on twitter, or publish in some other way…all the better.

The focus for specialty must be on local…local events, local athletes and creating local buzz.

Now, for the smaller brands. They should attract Influencers, but here is the criteria at Channel Signal. If a person:

1. Publishes

2. Has substantial Followers or Friends

3. And is Authentic, meaning that his/her followers are authentic and the content is wanted/needed…

then these are true Influencers. Now, who else are Influencers. Retail salespeople. Published media. And national blogs. Why? Because  consumer traffic is either driven to them, in the case of retail salespeople, or people read them because they are in big daily or weekly publications.

Now, both specialty retail and small brands can attract Influencers by publishing useful, interesting content. And that means “how to” pieces on being better at road biking, mtn. biking, climbing, hiking, trail running, minimalist running…and the list goes on. Consumers are excited. They want to learn. They want the best equipment they can afford. And they want guidance.

Retail specialty can do all of these things through their web sites, by publishing content that appeals to consumers (and therefore) to Influencers…and is then picked up by Influencers and gets widely distributed within the region. And it drives consumers into the store.

Small brands must also publish great content, attract genuine Influencers, engage them by asking questions about how to improve the content, how to get better, and how they would like to engage with your brand. Do not try to sell them. Repeat: do not try to sell them.

So, that’s my two cents on Influencers. Have much more to write, but that should do it for now.

Oh, and one more thing. I too want to throw my hat into the ring, already crowded with every imaginable politician, and proclaim that I too believe that Moms work really hard.

Peace and out.

 

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

The Ever Increasing Roar of the Crowd

The public is now being heard loud and clear. And it won’t stop.

On the world stage the cry for freedom is being heard in Syria. It has been somewhat realized in Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. Syrians seem to believe that the power of guns displayed by the the Assad regime won’t win the battle. The revolutionaries will keep fighting and throwing bodies into the battle. As Ho Chi Ming once famously said, “ You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.”

And the videos and tweets keep coming. From cell phones, they are telling the story of the struggle. Real. Raw.

Here’s a great graph of the Arab Spring Revolution. The Guardian Graph

And now back to the corporate world. Things aren’t going so well for companies who make promises and don’t keep them, create new pricing, back the wrong horse or change the rules in midstream. I have included a great piece from Mashable about the recent troubles companies have had when they ignored the publishing power of the consumer. Coke. Go Daddy and The Bank of America heard the roar, ignored it, and lived to regret it.

Consumers are judging brands on products, brand performance, brand promises, advertising, grass roots events…everything. This isn’t just social media anymore. Think of this as Consumer Sentiment, and they have opinions on everything a brand is doing.

Consumers don’t believe brands just “make products” anymore. That is because brands have come out with sustainability studies, environmental stances, corporate opinions on the behavior of entertainers (think Limbaugh), and have backed legislation they believe is good for themselves and their industries.

It’s a new world. And brands are being held responsible for their products, actions and opinions.

Here are some examples of corporate stumbles in this Mashable Article.

 

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

Breaking Through the Clutter

Bots(robots), affiliate marketing sites, discount sites and link farms are all making the conversation very crowded for brands trying to get their message heard online. All the entities have one purpose and that is to sell product. Some of it is discounted. Some of it isn’t. Some are names of sites you have never heard of, and some are names like Amazon.

Recently, we were asked by a leading brand in the outdoor and ski markets to search for it and see what we find. Well, it wasn’t pretty. Channel Signal search engines, which have blacklisted over 10,000 authors and sites, still came up with a ton of junk surrounding this brand.

Why? Because the company had not delivered good online content and sales pitches (selling primarily discounted product) had taken  over the brand’s identity.

We searched Twitter…could barely find any content about the actual brand.
Blogs…junk everywhere.
YouTube…better content here.
Online traditional media…not much.

To be clear, all of this sales noise is not all bad. A retailer, Amazon, posted 1,900 customer review ratings in the past year on a product produced by the brand with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Now, if you figure 20 percent of the customers who bought from Amazon wrote a review, that means about 10,000 sales in one year. Not bad from the online retailer.

However, the brand is being drowned out by the sales pitches. Can’t really call it noise because it does move product.

What to do?

First a brand must sharpen its identity online. Advertise to your target market about where to go…on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, your blogs, etc. In short, drive consumers to where you want them to go for your content. Then…

Fill these places with good content. Not content that sells stuff, but content that educates consumers. How to layer? Why a hat is important. Goggles and what they can do for you. Breathable socks. And make this information directly applicable to your product lines.

And then, build online relationships with your retailer partners.

1. Support online retailers with content they can push out and reprint on their own sites.

2. Train retailers to understand how to do things like embed a YouTube video, update their blog and utilize basic search engine optimization techniques.

3. License content correctly for reprinting/republishing through retailers with photographers, writers, video producers.

By building a grassroots content strategy through retail partners, brands can deliver better content online, serve their customers and drive sales with key accounts.

So, break out of the noise by building your content and building your partnerships with retailers.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

Channel Management

channel-management

Companies in the sporting goods business are now coming out with their growth plans, many of them 3 years or more. These plans are aggressive and this signals a change in the landscape. For at least ten years the sporting goods business has been consolidating. This means that stock holders and stake holders want healthy and sustained growth from the new larger company.  And it’s up to senior management to plot that growth.

Here’s the challenge.

Where will that growth come from? The traditional sales channels are specialty retail, large specialty retail (REI, EMS, Dicks, Cabela’s,etc.), and huge retail (Walmart).

Specialty retail is averaging growth of between 3-5% over a six year period ending at the beginning of 2010.  Large specialty and the big retailers are growing, on average, in the area of 8-10%. These numbers won’t change much. It takes a lot for any of these channels to plan for the explosive growth demanded by the brands. A lot of money will be needed for expansion, inventory and salespeople.

Brands realize that traditional retail can’t supply the lion’s share of the growth, unless many of the brands go to the very big boxes and most brands still believe that Walmart will dilute the authenticity of their product offerings.

The explosive growth will come from two relatively new channels, branded stores and online sales. Online sales have grown, on average, about 20% a year in the last 4 years.

New Balance, Nike, Columbia, The North Face, Merrell, Icebreaker, Marmot, and many others, have announced they will be opening retail stores across the country. Why? Because they can offer wider selections and fulfill inventory faster, which means a bigger upside.

Same thing with the Online Sales Channel, aka, the company web store. Brands are selling merchandise at full price, can replenish inventory instantly, and offer the entire collection. There is a lot of profit margin here.

So, online sales and branded retail stores will be  joining the landscape of Channel Management.

Here’s Channel Signal’s guess as to how Brand’s will position the Channels.

  • specialty retail will be used to create momentum and maintain authenticity.
  • large retail…less of the same but bigger numbers for the brands.
  • Walmart, Kmart, etc…look for the brands to open this channel in limited amounts to move merchandise that is lower end. Numbers are good here.
  • Branded stores…good margins, good selection and success will fuel more stores across the country.
  • Online stores… great margins, great selection, and more money pumped into the web site to make it more of a shopping experience.

One thing we haven’t addressed and that is social media. My guess, the brands will find ways to build this channel as a sales channel or use it to drive traffic to the other sales channels.

Channel management will be critical moving into the future. And so will tracking what channels are generating the buzz and how that translates into profit.

Thanks to Leisure Trends for the growth stats.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

A Cause

This is a three-part series that I am writing on the importance of finding the Purpose of Your Company…the Cause. I first tackle a growing problem in social media…pumping up traffic by using the wrong tactics.

Channel Signal is picking up more and more evidence of companies building traffic by using hashtag Twitter and then incenting people to join by offering the chance for new product.

This is “discount-linking” and it doesn’t work. Companies doing this are attracting sweepstakes sites (sweepstakes bots), discount sites, link farms…all retweeting and retweeting about what?About your discounted products.

Is that what a company wants to be known for? This is like throwing a cocktail  party and advertising it by posting free drink notices in all the local dives. You’ll get a crowd all right, but you’ll have no silverware at the end of the night.

So companies are lowering the barrier to entry, incenting, and building traffic. But it is the wrong traffic. These people don’t really care about a company’s products. They won’t be having adventures in these products and then writing about them. And they won’t be telling their friends about the quality of the products and suggesting a buy. They only want to broadcast the discounts.

The upshot. These people come for the discounts, and quickly disappear when there are none.

Now, maybe one person in 30 buys a discounted product, starts hiking, loses weight, and becomes an enthusiast. Fine, but that is one out of 30. Not good odds.

At Channel Signal we have extensive filtering hooks that grab these sites and knock them out of the search. Companies should increase their value-propositions by complimenting good product with good content.

Building traffic the fast and easy way, through discounting, is not a sustainable strategy.

And be known for something.

More about that next time.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

Choose Two

320px-Project_Triangle.svg

Channel Signal loves the article Real Time, Real Discussion, Real Reporting-Choose Two by Tech Crunch. This, of course, is a take-off on the old adage: “Do You Want it Cheap, Fast or Good. Choose Two.” Here’s the article.

Choose Two of These

Author, Devin Coldewey, explains that there is only so much that a certain channel of media can provide. Twitter is real time discussion. Broadcast media is real-time reporting. (NBC, CNN, ABC radio,etc). Print and other delayed media is delayed reporting and discussion. (NY Times, etc.) All media is quickly evolving, but for the moment we believe these premises basically hold true. The author points out that blogs, in this mix, are the wild cards. They can be real reporting, real-time discussion and delayed reporting and discussion.

Here’s a new perspective on the premise of choosing two.

Twitter- Real-time discussion. Blogs-Thoughtful analysis. Facebook-Customer engagement and storytelling. Choose two.

We believe a company should engage in just two. Concentrate on doing one very well, and support it with the second channel. For example, concentrate on Facebook but support it by broadcasting its content through Twitter. Or concentrate on Twitter but provide in-depth commentary of the conversation flow via a Blog. What channels are chosen should be matched with what best reflects your company’s voice.

Here’s the run-down of the three major Channels.

Twitter. The commitment to real-time discussion is time consuming and its demands are relentless. A company must assign a person to Twitter and that person must not only tweet (and make sense) , but retweet great content, and stay up with the conversation. Zappos has done real-time conversation very well by encouraging all employees to tweet. This strategy is revolutionary because many Zappos employees are broadcasting and a part of the brand’s collective voice. This requires that a company let go, something many brands can’t do. I attribute the Zappos success to the CEO, Tony Hsieh, who has provided the freedom for employees to talk, engage and make mistakes…all in real-time.

Employing Facebook means your employees and your customers are engaging in storytelling. This is really a scrapbook about the customers who have stories to tell about their experiences with a brand’s products and events. The brand needs to provide the products and events…and then encourage consumers to tell their stories on its platform. Time intensive again. A brand must respond to customer stories, encourage them, and, at times, reward great storytellers with product. A brand should assign several employees to this task. They speak for the brand, are encouraging, provide content which sponsors reaction, and customer interaction. Vibram does a great job on its FiveFingers FB page. 70,000 friends and growing. Customers who are now barefoot runners go to this FB page because it is a true community. Vibram FiveFingers

Blogs. Thoughtful analysis. Again, time intensive.  They must, at times be controversial, edgy and logical. It takes work, and guts.  Here’s the problem. Many in senior management have accepted the challenge of a blog for the company website only to find that they don’t have the time to devote to it. Or they don’t have the writing talents or thought processes to engage readers. Consequently, many of these blogs have fallen by the wayside. Or the posts degenerate into a pep rally for the brand, which is boring for everyone. A rock climbing blog we like is this one: rockclimbergirl. Sara Lingafelter does a good job of covering the climbing landscape and occasionally takes on tough topics with an honesty that is refreshing.

Why not include YouTube,Vimeo or the other video platforms as channels?  Because they can be easily incorporated into the other three major platforms.

So, choose  two. Real-time discussion. Storytelling by your customers. Thoughtful analysis. Why no more than two? Because most brands engage in all three but invest the human resources to do a good job on just one, with another channel as support.  And one channel normally fits the brand voice the best. Engaging in a second platform will push and pull viewers to the primary communication channel.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

All of the Noise

noiseChannel Signal has been bombarded lately with noise. Now, part of our job is to filter noise and there is much to filter: worthless posts like “Just on my way to work. What a beautiful day. Wearing my brand sandals.” or “50% discount here on all brand product. Buy. Buy. Buy.”

I would say of the 400-600 posts a day that we receive for each of our clients about 80% is noise.
And when we send it through our second “human” filter we filter out about 80% of that and deliver only about 20% of that to our clients.

Recently, there is a new type of noise, and it is just confusing the issue. This noise is all about the new software coming online to help companies sort through new media, help them develop content, and then help deliver content. Soon, there will be software that will write the content for you and all the brand needs to do is put its name here.

This improved software will help a company make new media easier, faster, more efficient and cost-effective.

Don’t believe it.

It’s just like the great Smith-Barney ads used to proclaim at the end of its thirty-second spots.
“We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.”

And you must. Brands must earn the respect of the Influencers in new media. Must earn a loyal following. Must earn a strong community. Sure it starts with the product; however, it doesn’t end there. That is only the beginning.

It’s the communication and feedback loops that you must now build. And yes, software packages can help; however, the basics can not be ignored. Here are some of the basics.

1. Pick just one channel and do it well. Not just by getting yourself up on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr…and saying, “well, that’s that. Let’s talk about our product and see if we sell more.”

2. Sorry about this, but it needs to be said…because this is the phrase, “shit in, shit out.” Searching and receiving raw new media data, and not filtering and accurately assigning sentiment means a brand is getting crap. And now crap is being analyzed. And the analysis is crap. And management decisions are being made based on crap.

Channel Signal delivers “finished” data and this is data that is relevant and worth consideration by our clients. We then analyze that data, and measure it. Now management (and its pr/marketing partners) have clean data, a clean report, and good information to consider.

3. Engage. I come from a family of talkers. My Mom always used to say, “well Paul, if you aren’t listening and talking, then how will you know what others are thinking?” Brands must first listen, and then talk. Engage with good content, and then enter the conversation that it sponsors. And if doesn’t sponsor any talk, then change what you are writing about. Get them talking.

Publish and talk. Don’t be shy. New media is not the place for wall-flowers.

And, ignore the noise. An old African saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Take this in bites. Choose a channel. Concentrate on it. Make it successful. And then use that knowledge to build.

And believe that this will be hard work. Building content that attracts a strong community starts with knowing your voice, your audience, and what they want. And that’s where “finished” data comes in. It is the feedback loop that allows you to accurately gauge, and correct.

It’s your compass in a whacky world.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

An Orca Sparks a War

shamu

A few days ago I got a call from a lawyer who has ties with Sea World. Not direct ties but close enough to be concerned.

So the conversation goes like this…
Lawyer: “Are you aware of what happened yesterday at Sea World?”
Me: “Yup. Read about it.”
Lawyer: “I want to suggest that they call you because this is an incident that could blow into a crisis. They need Channel Signal to monitor this.”   Me: “Thanks. We would love to help. Based on a little searching around it looks like its heading into crisis now.”

Well, we didn’t get the call, and the message was, thanks we have it covered.
Good for them. Hope it goes well.

It’s not.
All major news outlets carried it. Predictable. Major animal rights sites were on the offensive. Predictable. And Sea World and animal entertainment advocates were on the defensive. Predictable.

And here are the unanswered questions which brought heat to the debate:

1. Why was this whale in question (Tilikam) involved in the shows after killing other people?
2. Is the use of predators for entertainment just a game of chance?
3. Why did the shows resume so quickly.
4. And are these predators merely prisoners for fun and profit?

Pick your side and pull out your firearm.

CNN sponsored a raging screaming match between an orca trainer and an avid environmentalist. Other news talk shows followed. Actors and actresses got involved. PETA has set up a Free Willy Facebook Site and already has over 6,000 followers.

Twitter, Facebook, and the blogsphere lit up about the poor handling of the situation.

And standing in the middle of this traditional and social media storm is Sea World.

A couple of things to remember here.

When an incident blows into a crisis, immediately start monitoring…on both sides of the issue.
1. Learn what is critical to answer and answer those questions…rapidly.
2. Address and even attack false statements rapidly.
3. And have people available 24/7 for all questions from all quarters.
4. And don’t stop listening, and responding until the crisis is past…well past.
5. And no attitude.

Now, I realize that, according to reports, the Sea World team is tight and losing a trainer to another family member (Tilikam) has to be devastating.

But, that is why you bring in a communications team that knows what they are doing. To protect the Sea World team. Provide guidance. Get to the facts. And appoint an authentic Sea World spokesperson.

And some of these people on the communication team should have news training because first and foremost this is a news story. The facts…that’s what reporters want. And if they smell that facts are being withheld, then they will dig harder and look for angles.

And reporters will then report those “angles” and that information will be picked up by the blogs. And mis-information becomes fact.

Sea World finds its very business model now being questioned. Will parents risk a show knowing that something terrible could happen? Will people  find it detestable that these carnivores are kept in tanks for life, when in the wild they travel over 100 miles a day in open ocean?  And is this just about money, since the show opened 3 days after the tradegy?

Free Willy has taken on a whole new meaning for Sea World.

And some of this could have been avoided with a communication strategy laid out in advance. And a new key to that strategy is 24/7 monitoring of the crisis so that opinions are quickly uncovered, and then covered with facts.

Before Social Media, you could count on a crisis having a limited shelf-life. After all, the media had new things to cover and its attention was taken elsewhere.

With Social Media, every crisis has a long tail. So, Sea World and its handlers will be dealing with blogs, tweets, YouTube, and Flickr for the forseeable future. And with every new fact about the story will be thousands of opinions.

“We’ve got it covered.”

Clearly, Sea World underestimated “it”.

And what it would take to “cover” it.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

The Wrap-Up of #ORWinter

By Channel Signal Analysts James Mills, David Sweeney and Paul Kirwin

At the 2010 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market boosters of specialty products and services had a unique opportunity to participate in a conversation about the show, brands and events. Broadcast over the #ORWinter Twitter feed hosted and monitored by Channel Signal, even outdoor professionals who couldn’t attend the event were able to login and share the flow of information
“From my perspective, it was great to be able to participate with OR, without being there,” said William Roth (@williamroth), social network coordinator of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. “I liked seeing twitpics with new/conceptual products. I was able to learn about #guerillapanel and build my outdoor industry base of twitter users. It also made me realize just how much I need to be attending OR in the summer.”
By simply including #ORWinter in their entries of 140 characters or less Twitter users shared photographs, videos and abbreviated links to blog web sites. Anyone on the planet with Internet access could see and follow the comment stream in real-time throughout the four-day event, including the on-snow demo. And on the show floor, exhibitors and key industry influencers were able to use the power of social media to generate excitement and drive traffic to their booths.

Those brands that hosted exciting industry events generated the most traffic. Teva’s live music party on the 2nd night of the show raised the conversation quotient among Tweeters with large followings, posting 29,250 social media impressions at the show. For each Tweeter who shared information about Teva, an equal number of their total followers got the word. Keen Footwear also had an impressive showing with 24,241 impressions during the show. In-booth promotions to benefit Haitian earthquake relief as well as several videos posted to YouTube were likely contributors to Keen’s success. The brand encouraged its fans to become engaged throughout OR and for a few days afterward
“We wanted to keep it simple and authentic so that people could have real-time interaction with our brand, “said Keen spokesman Chris Enlow. “ We wanted to come up with creative ways to reach our fans and not just the people at the show. If we just focused on ‘Orwinter’, the hash tag, we would have missed out on an opportunity to build our community.”

But it wasn’t just the big brands that did well in the social media rankings. The company Naturally Bamboo was ranked 4th with 18,754 impressions. Owner and exhibitor April Femrite aggressively used the #ORWinter channel to talk up her business and she enlisted the help of others. For example this message was posted by leading outdoor industry social media influencer Sara Lingafelter AKA @theclimbergirl: “Wardrobe change thanks to @naturallybamboo. This dress is so incredibly comfy, I feel like I’m running around naked. #orwinter”  Original messages like this one about @naturallybamboo were shared repeatedly across the Internet. It’s likely that a conversation about a naked @theclimbergirl was passed around peer to peer with more than a few chuckles. And with each re-tweet was also sent and received a message about the comfort of a dress made by Naturally Bamboo. “I hope this proves to be a social media success story,” said Femrite. “I don’t have a huge marketing budget. All I have is social media, Facebook and Twitter, to build buzz and bring my brand to the attention of my customers.”

Two of the most talked about exhibitors weren’t brands but non-profit organizations, 1% For The Planet and The Conservation Alliance. With the help of key influencers who support these groups the issues of wildlife conservation and environmental conservation became top-of-mind.

“Social media makes the connection between brands, causes and adventurers clearer than ever before,” said Emily Nuchols, an industry influencer and a principle at Under Solen Media. “It’s not about who gets the most action on Twitter, it’s about who uses their social media to take action on things that matter. We believe in the power of social media to make positive change, and we believe in people who are passionate about their causes — be they businesses, advocates or adventurers.”
Nuchols posted information about the groups bi-annual breakfast meeting and spread the word on several promotional fundraising events held on the Conservation Alliance’s behalf at the booths of many different exhibitors.

On the other side of the issue, Malcolm Daly, founder of the climbing equipment company Trango has been attending OR since the 70’s and is a self-described skeptic. “I have high hopes but low expectations for the #ORWinter channel,” he said in a blog post a week before the show. “It’s already inundated with 140 character versions of the 40 year old press release, posted (tweeted) up by people and companies who don’t get it. Why would I bother to take notice of those if I never even bothered to take notice of them before?”
To Daly’s point if users of social media employ traditional techniques of one-way communications to connect with their audience very little of the conversation will change. But those brands and individuals who actively engage in a dialog, sharing and responding to pertinent and compelling information, can indeed use networks like the #ORWinter feed to their benefit.

Many will likely ask: “Was the #ORWinter experiment a success?” That’s like asking if a conversation at a cocktail party was successful. The more pertinent questions are: Was the discussion lively and informative? Did you discover anything new? Did you come away with the knowledge that you were not only heard but also listened to? Would you engage in this kind of conversation in the future?
Social media neither succeeds nor fails, it simply is. In the free exchange of ideas one will only get out of a conversation as much as he or she is prepared to put into it. Those who created meaningful content, those who responded directly to the questions or comments of others and those who shared what they discovered with the conversation at large will inevitably be the most successful users of social media.

Below are the top tens in both Brands and Influencers.

Note: Possible impressions= the number of  mentions of that brand by unique users (X)  their followers. This number excludes retweets, ( people who were passing a tweet along).

Top Ten Brands                                                           Impressions

@TevaMeansNature (Teva)                                                        29,250

@keen_shoes ( Keen Footwear)                                               25,241

@conservationall (The Conservation Alliance)                   21, 252

@naturallybamboo (Naturally Bamboo)                               18,754

@DfaDogs (D-fa Dogs)                                                                9,981

@hardwear (Mountain Hardwear)                                           9,633

@1PercentFTP (1% For The Planet)                                         7,276

@haikubags (Haiku)                                                                    6,780

@montrail (Montrail)                                                                   4,917

@chacousa (Chaco)                                                                      4,045

Total generated by the Top Ten                                             118,375

Top Ten Influencers                   Mentions                           Followers

@theclimbergirl                                 15                                  3,370
@PembaServes                                   12                                  1,123
@Eliz_Castro                                      11                                  1,662
@undersolen                                       10                                     461
@wude72                                             10                                11,181
@saralingafelter                                 9                                      549
@canoelover                                        9                                       461
@RepGirl                                              8                                       215
@TheGearJunkie                               7                                    3,191
@highsteph                                         7                                    1,758

Total number of Followers                                                   23,971

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal

When the Funnel Becomes the Bucket

Recently I wrote that the distribution of information had always been a funnel but it had now turned right side up.  The mouth of the funnel is wide open and consumers are publishing because it is easy and they have opinions.  The good brands are building these funnels, advertising their communication portals (Facebook,etc) , attracting consumers, collecting opinions, engaging, finding their voices and constructively inviting/channeling consumers further down into the brand storyline. During this process the brands are quietly measuring their effectiveness, learning, and becoming much better communicators as consumers elect to engage more deeply.  They are collecting excellent data on Influencers, athletes and active consumers as the information travels down the funnel.

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In recent conversations I have been painfully reminded that many me-too brands in the Outdoor Industry are not building solid funnels but building buckets with holes and no bottom.

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How? Well, these companies crow that they have a Web Site, Facebook Page, are on Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

And consumers are initially engaging…entering the bucket. But they are not directed or invited to go anywhere.  They  just sit in the bucket, quickly draining to the bottom…without direction.

And then an analyst from Channel Signal investigates. We find that they had good sign-up for the Facebook page, a decent  following on Twitter, and that YouTube and Flickr had good traffic, but that it fell off quickly.

Why did the traffic fall off?  Because these companies did not allocate the resources to engage. Employees were not assigned to respond to consumers, and direct them to the next point of interest. Consumer questions and comments went unanswered. They were not invited to go to Facebook or the Website, or YouTube, or a User Group. And because there was no natural momentum of engagement, no funnel, consumers were stranded and then took the easy way out….quickly out the bottom of the bucket. They were invited to the conversation and then nobody talked to them.

So they didn’t stick around. And  they took all of their knowledge about the brand with them.

A study by the Chief Marketing Council shows that 38 percent of the 480 executives in the industries surveyed say their companies have no programs in place to track or propagate positive word of mouth among customers. And only 29 percent rate highly their ability to handle and resolve customer problems or complaints

All that money to make products that attract consumers. All that money to sell into retail. All that money for advertising to attract consumers. All that money to set up conversation channels.  And then the pay-off…consumers responding online by engaging in one of the channels. And…

And silence. All that wonderful potential data about consumers and what they like and don’t like about your brand and products…out the bottom of the bucket. And all those potential Influencers, gone.

Never to be captured again.

Say goodbye to measuring ROI.

Paul Kirwin

Paul Kirwin, Founder and CEO of Channel Signal