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Of Madison + Main Fame … Among Many Other Successes

Dave Saunders

David Saunders is our friend, trusted advisor and all things marketing!

Dave is President & Chief Idea Officer of Madison+Main, an integrated communications agency that provides creative marketing solutions for emerging companies.  Based in Richmond, Virginia, Dave is a nationally recognized expert in branding & interactive marketing. He frequently speaks to businesses and organizations about the power of the World Wide Web and he is often quoted in print publications and on radio and television news programs.

Dave has taught us, as well as many others, the importance of making marketing a priority for most companies. In a series of conversations with him, Dave shared his guidance and direction based on his real-world experience in:

  • Marketing as a priority for small businesses
  • Social Media
  • Brand Sentiment

Marketing as a Priority for Small Businesses

Early in his career, Dave arrived at the conclusion that marketing is not a priority for most companies. He maintains that, “Most small businesses stay small because they’re thinking small. As they say 98% of all business is small business, and the reason most stay that way is because they don’t make marketing a top priority. Most companies make sales their top priority and don’t know the difference between sales and marketing. I’ve worked with a lot of companies over the past 25 years, and it finally hit me this week. Companies that make marketing a priority get bigger. Those that don’t, don’t.”

Social Media StrategySocial Media

An increasingly critical channel to maintain high visibility in the marketplace is social media. Dave is regarded by many as the foremost expert on weaving social media into the marketing fabric of businesses, professional practices and not-for-profits. Here is a summary of our conversation.

The most important media at any point in time is what people are currently paying attention to. Historically, you can point to flyers, posters, newspapers and other print forms of communication. That was followed by, and often replaced by radio and TV. In this digital age, social media is the platform of choice with an emphasis on delivery via mobile devices.

Social media marketing is to engage customers, prospects and referral sources on interactive media platforms, notably LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others. The payoff is a free flow of media and content that may be a two-way communication vehicle or shared with literally hundreds of people who may find the information valuable. Articles, blogs and curated pieces may be repurposed to a variety of media, e.g. LinkedIn/Facebook groups as well as the publisher’s website.

The objective is to position you and your company as a thought leader and industry expert. Dave refers to this as being accepted as an “influencer”. Invest 3 minutes to learn more

Those of you that like to quantify the effect of marketing exposure will find a couple of statistics shared by Saunders of interest:

  • The average American spends 47.1% of the day on digital devices – increasingly mobile.
  • Fortune 2,500 companies now allocate 60% of their marketing and advertising budgets to digital. That’s double their allocation of just 5 years ago. Small and mid-size businesses, take notice!

Dave offers some specifics on determining the ideal media for both B2B and B2C enterprises. He speaks of the 3 key channels for each as the “Holy Trinity” – attention-getting and descriptive.

Business to Business Entities (B2B): For this category, the “Holy Trinity” is deemed to be LinkedIn (the Father), Facebook (The Son) and Twitter (The Holy Ghost – cause no one understands the concept). In the case of Facebook, the average time spent by visitors is 34 minutes! That surpasses time spent on Google and outpaces the alternatives 10:1.

Business to Consumers Entities (B2C): In order, the “Holy Trinity” is Facebook, Twitter and fast-gaining traction Instagram. B2C marketers must show visual physical evidence through pictures and videos that demonstrate the use and value of the product or service.

What to Do … and Not:  We asked Dave what is the rules of the road in using social media. Not surprisingly, the key is to do what Mom and Dad taught you to do. Be courteous and respectful of your audience. In that sense, online networking runs parallel to what you would do in-person.

Deliver content that is fun, engaging and interesting to the viewers. A good formula is to provide 50% “we content” and 50% “them content”. In other words, it’s not all about you and your products or services. Perceived value is the order of the day.

For sure, keep your content to company oriented and not what you might post personally on your individual social media page. And hopefully it goes without saying, no content that refers to sex, drugs, politics or religion.

The Trends: Consider your audience when determining your social media content. It is not a one-size-fits-all judgment. For example, Boomers and Gen Xers will read content that is perceived to be valuable. In contrast, Millennials prefer pictures and videos, in Dave’s words, “As they experienced on their mother’s ‘laptop’.

The major trend is to provide rich media content that includes visuals such as videos, graphics, slide shows and motion. Of course … all packaged for mobile access.

Click here for a comprehensive view of the evolution, current status and likely future of social media in the marketing mix.

Brand Sentiment

Dave Saunders describes “brand sentiment” as … how others perceive your company. He asks, “Do you have a good reputation or a bad reputation?”

Dave explains that “there are only three kinds of brands:

  • Brands you know and love
  • Brands you know and don’t love, and
  • Brands you’ve never heard of. 

People want to buy products and services from brands that they know and that they love. For brands they don’t love, they avoid. Unfortunately most companies, fall into category No. 3 — You’ve never heard of them. You cannot form an opinion as to their reputation if you’ve never heard of them, right? Companies like these tread water in the sea of sameness, never getting anywhere, always fighting for margin, and sometimes fighting for survival.” 

Bottom-line: The priority for most companies is to create a positive brand … and then maintain its awareness in the marketplace.

The Reward: Recognition, credibility and trust that generates new business, repeat business and referrals.