Friday, 28 October 2016

SMstudy and the Post-Advertising World

We recently read that “We are living in a post-advertising world.” The claim was made by John Horsley, director of Digital Doughnut, a global digital marketing community. Horsley should know, so we took notice.
Horsley explained his claim in a LinkedIn group forum: “Conversations have replaced campaigns, engagement trumps reach, and brands are no longer built by above-the-line agencies, but at every touchpoint the business has with its customers. And the thread that links all these elements is social media.” This resonates with us at SMstudy. We have included a lot about touchpoints, engagement and social media marketing in A Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge, also referred to as the SMstudy® Guide.
Horsley was using his claim to incite and invite members of the group to take part in a survey being conducted to explore the current status of companies and social media and contribute to his work “New Report: Social Media’s Impact on Customer Experience.” He says “businesses have been slow to respond, often hampered by outdated structures, siloed thinking and a lack of strategic understanding.” Now, that really resonates with us because we wrote an entire book on Marketing Strategy as one of the six aspects covered in the SMstudy® Guide and we offer certifications in marketing strategy.
His claim did not resonate so well with others, however. One group member commented, “Social media channels are simply another way to touch someone, as is and remains advertising. Effective communications usually consist of multichannel or cross channel strategies.” We had to agree with several points here. Our Digital Marketing book says, “Given the nature of the online world, which is constantly evolving and expanding—new channels are developing with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content—digital marketers must regularly assess and reassess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness and applicability in helping achieve the company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.”
Social media provide many opportunities for delivering messages that advertise. Within Marketing Strategy whole sections have been dedicated to planning and developing social media as well as other digital channels.
The term “posting” (as it is used in advertising) comes not from posting mail but from a time when fences, street lamp poles, telephone posts and any available urban wall space were festooned with advertisements for products, shows, soon-to-arrive circuses and political candidates. When the rampant postings got out-of-hand, a new posting appeared saying, “Post No Bills.” Now, many marketing and advertising messages are being posted online and in social media. Perhaps we should say we’re living in a post-post-advertising world? Well … maybe not.
Another commenter added, “effective marketing communication is always a delicious idea (whatever it might be) served on many different (multichannel) dishes.” And that’s an idea we can relish.
To get more insights about sales and marketing, register for the free SMstudy subscription today -

Thursday, 27 October 2016

How Information Finds You: Hyper-relevant Content Marketing

“If the news is that important, it will find me.”
This (in)famous declaration was made by an anonymous college student in 2008 during a focus group conducted by Jane Buckingham, founder of the market research company Intelligence Group.
Since 2008, this remark has made the rounds. It’s been quoted and discussed in both media and marketing worlds. It’s even been cited by the New York Times. And if you have to ask why, you haven’t been paying attention. This statement, which seems like a throw away (let’s be honest) has proven to be the number one guiding principle in both media dissemination and marketing in the new digital age.
As Joshua Benton remarked in a recent piece for NiemanLab, “If the news is that important, it will find me. I can’t tell you how many conferences, how many symposia, how many gatherings of worthies I’ve been at where some version of that line has been tossed around.”
It’s true! I’d heard it mentioned during a class on 21st-century journalism in 2009. At the time, old time journos scoffed at the student’s “laziness” or “lack of interest” in the wider world. But today, no one scoffs at the idea of providing valuable, relevant content, served up directly to viewers through the various social media channels. This is now the expectation. If it’s important, it will find you.
Marketers, like the media, have adapted. And one of the methods hyped over the last few years is content marketing. But with massive quantities of information bombarding us daily, we are reaching what is referred to as “Peak Content” or “the point at which this glut of things to read, watch and listen to becomes completely unsustainable,” according to author Kevin Anderson in 2014.
With Peak Content looming and with the understanding that a story (or content) MUST be important enough to reach the reader/viewer, successful marketers are turning to extra relevant, extra valuable content that will cut through the fracas. As this happens, the question then becomes “what’s relevant?”
Relevance often depends on individual circumstances and numerous other factors that may be at play at any moment in a person’s life. But there are some general assumptions that can be made. For example, most people will be thinking about breakfast in the morning. Or, if someone is awake late at night, information on insomnia might be something they’d like to see.
Enter the hyper-relevant content marketing plan, predicted by some to be a major social media marketing trend in 2016. Hyper-relevant content marketing takes into consideration the season, time of day or other societal factors that may be affecting a person’s need for a specific type of information.  
One such marketer, Amanda Todorovich, manager of Digital Engagement for Cleveland Clinic, is achieving major success producing hyper-relevant content by fine-tuning her organization’s marketing to maintain “evergreen” value for everyone and then offering it wisely within marketing channels.
“We are trying to put content in front of people at the right time,” Todorovich said. “We try to marry the best times of day on each channel with the best content and what people are using those channels for. Not everything gets posted on every channel we're on.”
By assessing the relevance and value of the content being used within a marketing strategy and utilizing the channels as well as season or time of day effectively, a marketer can be sure to hit the target more directly and at the same time find they’ve contributed something of genuine value to the online community.
For more resources and information on sales and marketing visit
Peak Content: The collapse of the attention economy, Kevin Anderson. Jan. 4, 2016. e
“If the news is that important, it’ll find me.” But what determines if it’s important?, Joshua Benton, Feb. 20, 2014.
Behind the Scenes of the Cleveland Clinic’s Content Marketing Strategy, Brianne Carlon Rush, Dec. 2, 2014.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Play Poker, Not Chess with VMEdu

How many articles on leadership include advisories to “Play Poker, Not Chess” and “Blow up the Enterprise”? Not many, and certainly not as many as this author would like. However, in a series of articles on leadership for Forbes Magazine in 2012, Alex Knapp gave these two bits of advice using episodes from the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises as source material.
Knapp used Starfleet captains James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard as positive leadership examples in articles titled “Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk” and “Five Leadership Lessons from Jean-Luc Picard,” respectively.  For negative examples, he visited Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s nemesis in an article called “Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire.” Besides an affinity for the number five, Knapp gives an interesting twist to traits of leadership that are far from unfamiliar territory. His unique insights, dead-on applications and intriguing examples give this well-discussed topic new spirit and made reviewing some old saws interesting and enjoyable.
Giving well-discussed topics new spirit and making them both interesting and enjoyable is the challenge for all writers and educators.  While writers are more or less on their own, there is help for professional trainers and educators.
The Internet provides opportunities for new ideas and new discussions of old topics. It also simultaneously presentsmultitudes of people talking about these same things. Ideas, terms, and examples are bound to be repeated and repeated and repeated. The challenge for professional trainers is to keep their material fresh, relevant, and attractive. This requires knowing one’s students and this is where playing poker instead of chess comes in. Knapp writes, “For all of its intricacies, chess is a game of defined rules that can be mathematically determined. A far better analogy to strategy is poker, not chess. Life is a game of probabilities, not defined rules. And often understanding your opponents [students] is a much greater advantage than the cards you have in your hand.”
This isn’t to say that the “the cards you have in your hand” are not important; trainers and educators put most of their attention on them, and rightly so. However, in addition to knowing one’s subject matter, professional educators must share it in evocative and effective ways. And those are not the only things professional training providers must do. Each must also prepare knowledge assessments and track student progress. Aligning tests to the requirements of appropriate, associated certifications is often more than a trainer can handle. For this, the educator needs to follow the advice one learns from Jean-Luc Picard, “When you’re overwhelmed, ask for help.” 
                Knapp observes that seeking help “is a hard thing to do.” Because of this, there are organizations making it easier for professional training providers to get help, especially with tasks such as preparing and giving exams and tracking student progress. One such company is VMEdu, Inc., a leader in the professional training and certification industry that has developed a versatile course delivery platform and back office support. During the seven years it spent creating its Learning Management System (LMS), the company used it with its PMstudy and MyITstudy brands, whose students have achieved 98.7 and 99.2 percent pass rates, respectively, on professional certification exams. The LMS system helped PMstudy grow to be the largest PMP trainer worldwide and the SCRUMstudy brand to become the global accreditation body for Scrum with a network of more than 800 training partners. VMEdu now offers its platform and back office services and products to professional trainers across the globe.
For professional trainers in its VMEdu Authorized Training Partners (V.A.T.P.) and VMEdu Authorized Content Providers (V.A.C.P.) programs, it also develops apps designed to generate additional leads, provide immediate feedback on courses and lessons and generate up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, according to VMEdu. The training apps VMEdu has already created include interactive case studies, specialized glossaries, games, flash cards and practice exams.
                Using an episode in which Captain Kirk, a 23rd century space explorer, mixes and uses gunpowder to save himself and his crew, Knapp points out that there was no need for Kirk to know this information because “Starfleet officers fight with phasers and photon torpedoes.” However, Kirk is a voracious learner and develops expertise outside of his primary field of focus. Knapp applies this to leaders saying, “In the same way, no matter what your organization does, it helps to never stop learning. The more knowledge you have, the more creative you can be. The more you’re able to do, the more solutions you have for problems at your disposal.” During World War II, General Eisenhower of the Allied command used a group of officers to increase his own knowledge base and put more solutions at his disposal.
Creating mobile apps and databases for following student progress may not be your primary area of focus, but they are two solutions for problems facing the trainer in the technological age. Knapp tells his readers that “Kirk’s reputation at the Academy was that of a ‘walking stack of books.’” Where Kirk had Starfleet Academy and General Eisenhower had his officers, today’s professional trainers have companies such as VMEdu.
Keeping one’s training fresh and interesting with unique insights, engaging mobile apps, and intriguing examples is a huge challenge, but NOT a challenge the modern professional educator must meet alone.
Works Cited
Knapp, Alex. (5 March 2012) “Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk.” Forbes. (3 January 2014)
− ­− − (13 March 2012) “Five Leadership Lessons from Jean-Luc Picard.” Forbes. (3 January 2014)
− ­− − (13 February 2012) “Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire.” Forbes. (3 January 2014)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Get the SMstudy, not Nuts

When creating a brand for your company do not use an American celebrity to shoot chocolate bars at innocent bystanders. Apparently Mars, the company who produces Snickers chocolate bars, did not get the memo.
In July of 2008, Snickers UK launched a commercial starring Mr. T, an American actor and one determined (and brave) speed walker. In the commercial, Mr. T crashes through a building, in what appears to be a supped-up pickup truck, and pulls up alongside a young man wearing tight yellow shorts. Mr. T proceeds to open fire with what appears to be a Gatling gun, pelts his victim with Snickers bar “bullets” and yells, “Speed walking?! I pity you fool. You a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man.”
The commercial was pulled after just one week.  The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group, criticized Mars for spreading, “the notion that violence against LGBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.”
Mars could have avoided this marketing failure by taking a look at Marketing Strategy, book 1 of the SMstudy Guide®. According to the book, “Brand perception refers to how prospective and current customers react to seeing or hearing about a company’s product or brand and how the company is perceived within the market. Leading organizations across industries realize that a powerful brand is one of their most important business assets, so they work hard to maintain a positive brand perception as it helps to increase sales and improve profitability.”
This was the second commercial in a three-part campaign entitled, “Get Some Nuts.” Mars had envisioned Mr. T as the face of the Snickers brand, but instead they were branded the company with the face of homophobia. Snickers could have avoided this issue by performing surveys as explained in Marketing Strategy. “Brand perception can be measured using a variety of approaches, but it is mainly measured via research surveys that question participants about the perceptions of the company and/or its products. Surveys typically gather quantitative and qualitative data. They are conducted to help companies understand how their brands are viewed in the market and to identify the brand attributes that are preferred by customers.”
The intention of the “Get Some Nuts” campaign was to target men and their masculinity. In order to be a real man you need to be tough and aggressive like our good ole pal Mr. T. Mars could have avoided yet another blunder by sticking to Marketing Strategy. As stated in the book, “Once a company has identified all market segments, explored the competition, and then compiled the details of competitive products, it should then analyze the various segments and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the company in order to identify the target segments in which the business would be most competitive. This process involves identifying the type of customers a company plans to target and the product categories under which it intends to create products.”
In this case, the campaign did not just humiliate homosexual men, which makes up 1.8 percent of the male population, but also men perceived to be “wimpy”. The campaign only targeted men that are rugged and tough, which does not help a company when it comes to forming target segments.
Companies can benefit from providing their employees with the knowledge that can be found in the SMstudy Guide®. If only Mars had been aware of what a Sales and Marketing certification can do for its company, they may have eluded a very big marketing fail.
For more information and resources about Sales and Marketing visit

Friday, 21 October 2016

SMstudy : Your Way Up

When you leave the sales floor, where do you want to go?
Some people will just head to the lounge for a cup of coffee, but others will advance to new positions in marketing and management. What will make the difference?
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education began finding ways to encourage, facilitate and fund student participation in “alternative certifications.” As America and the global community moves to meet the needs of twenty-first century business, this is seen as a move to help training schools and companies that prepare students for professional certifications. The move is toward certified professionals that business and industry can trust.
There are many certifications available to programmers, project managers, automobile mechanics and more. Now there are certifications designed for professionals in sales and marketing. These certifications and complementary training come from VMEdu, Inc., the global training company that has trained more than 400,000 students worldwide. Through its association with SMstudy it offers a range of certifications in six Aspects based on the six most common and often distinct career fields related to Sales and Marketing.
For those who want to move into helping companies develop plans for making their products and services dominate the marketplace, SMstudy offers four certifications in Marketing Strategy. SMstudy says that marketing strategy makes the difference between startups that last beyond the start and those that falter a few steps down the track. These certifications lead to management-level careers and opportunities.
For those who have the desire to harness the power of the Internet and social media, SMstudy offers certifications in Digital Marketing.
And for those who like to know the inner workings of what makes people buy what they buy, there’s a path from a Marketing Research Associate certification to Marketing Research Expert.
Training and certifications are also available in Corporate Sales, Retail Marketing and Branding and Advertising.
More than 30 percent of the American workforce and similar percentages worldwide are involved in sales and marketing either directly or indirectly. It is an exciting field that drives every industry, business and profession. Training and certification organizations such as SMstudy can help retail clerks become sale professionals.
For interesting articles about Sales and Marketing, visit

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Why it is Better to Wear More Than One Hat and How SMstudy Helps You

A “soup-to-nuts” attitude is the best way to approach any career. Demonstrating an intense interest in a subject and presenting a thorough understanding and a “can- do” work ethic are all feathers in your professional cap.
While in some fields extreme specialization is still required, there’s a growing trend toward job consolidation or the combination of what was once two separate careers into one. And in fact, as the trend doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon, broader skillsets may be a requirement in the future. Thus the need to wear more than one hat (at least professionally speaking) will continue to be increasingly important.
One of the main reasons for this shift is the impact from technology. Over the last decade advancements in technological solutions have transformed the way companies do business. The opportunities technology provides for streamlining workflow, such as automation or software application utilization, is a movement that’s been noted across industries.
Using sales as an example, Stuart Leung of said, “Technology is transforming the world of sales. Going forward, only organizations that use powerful tools and technologies such as big data, social media, mobile technologies, and the cloud to streamline the sales process will remain profitable and competitive. Those who choose to retain outdated sales techniques may ultimately cease to exist.”
The rise in technological advancements has also been noted in the trend toward streamlining staff as well. As technology provides tools that allow for greater efficiency, a staff member is freed up to handle more aspects of the process…not simply one small part. In many fields this has led to the combining of jobs when it’s seen as beneficial and appropriate.
There exists a natural symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing departments. Streamlining and job combining between the two allows for a more efficient workflow and optimizes the sharing of objectives and the continual free flow of communication.  Of course this is good news for a company, but it also opens growth opportunities for current or future staff members as well.
For a sales and marketing team member, there are clear benefits to possessing knowledge of both the sales and marketing processes. It sets you apart as someone who can offer comprehensive critical thinking. It also allows the “left hand to know what the right hand is doing”, or in other words there is smooth communication and understanding between the two sides of the sales and marketing spectrum. To be well versed and authoritative on the workflow of connecting potential customers with valuable content and to provide knowledgeable sales skills to assist customers in finding solutions can set you apart when out on the job hunt, working toward greater responsibility within a company or even considering striking out on your own (ala the entrepreneur).
Whether you’re seeking to align your skill set with the new professional landscape or planning to move into a sales and marketing field and want to show a comprehensive knowledge of the continuum of sales and marketing, SMstudy can get you there.
SMstudy offers training and certifications on its own platform available through the SMstudy website.
  • SMstudy has gathered expert instruction and guidance from all over the globe to offer a vast library of information on the various aspects of sales and marketing.
  • SMstudy is budget friendly. Many courses (and Associate certifications) are free to all.
  • SMstudy is a major opportunity for networking with others who share an interest in sales and marketing.
  • SMstudy offers the opportunity to share sales and marketing knowledge and insight through the SMstudy platform that allows the creation of training materials such as videos, study guides, mobile apps and more.
For interesting articles about Sales and Marketing, visit

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Various types of Primary Data in the context of Marketing Research

When a researcher collects new data for a specific research project, the data is considered primary data. On the other hand if the data is already available in house i.e. historical data or data received from some other external sources (e.g. industry reports, internet searches, government published reports etc.), the data is considered as secondary data. 
The research requirements will vary from project to project, with many research projects requiring both primary and secondary data to solve the research problem. Some research projects can be solved with the sole use of existing secondary data, while in other cases no secondary data exists and the research project can only be solved with the use of primary data.
As a rule, a researcher should always try to collect and analyze secondary data before moving to the collection and analysis of comparatively costly and time-consuming primary data. In some cases secondary data may be inadequate or unusable. When the needed data do not exist or are outdated, inaccurate, incomplete, or unreliable, the researcher needs to collect primary data.
Let’s take an example to illustrate the need of collecting primary data. It is a common HR practice to keep the employees satisfied for most of the medium to big sized companies as studies show that engaged employees are more productive and are better contributors to their employer’s goals and objectives. Employee satisfaction surveys (popularly known as “ESAT survey”) are done to evaluate the satisfaction of employees on key parameters such as satisfaction with senior management, immediate managers, company policies, work environment, hygiene factors and other facilities, training and development, opportunities for personal growth etc. In this case collecting primary data is a must as it is meaningless to use past ESAT survey data for the current workforce.
There are various forms of primary data. Some common types are illustrated as follows:
Demographic Data—Demographic data are related to characteristics such as the gender, age, income, education, occupation, marital status, ethnicity, and social status of the target group. Demographic primary data categorize the target market into different customer segments each having some common attributes which help marketers to focus on a specific segment or create segment specific marketing strategies. For example a fast food (e.g. pizza, burgers etc.) brand may find that preferences of people in the 20–30 age group are different from the preferences of people in the 30–40 age group.
Psychographics and Lifestyle Data—This kind of data is related to personality traits, interests, lifestyle, values, and opinions of the target respondents. Marketers often combine psychographics and lifestyle information with demographic information to obtain an important perspective of the target market.
Intentions—Intentions refer to the anticipated future behaviors of an individual. This is a subject of interest to marketers who want to solve a research problem related to future consumption rate or demand.
Attitudes—Attitudes refer to a person’s feelings, convictions, or beliefs toward an object, idea, or an individual. Since attitude impacts behavior, it is of great importance to marketers.
Awareness/KnowledgeThis data refers to what subjects do or do not know about an object of investigation. Information influences behavior and marketers often want to know how the behavior of customers changes with their level of awareness regarding a particular product, brand, object, or industry.
MotivationsA person’s actions are the reflection of his or her inner state. Marketers often want to know the motives that direct specific consumer behavior. Motivations can include users’ category, brand-purchasing motives, value systems, and perceptions among others.
BehaviorsBehaviors are the actions taken by respondents. Questions regarding respondents’ behaviors toward a particular situation can be asked to them directly and can be included in a survey. However, the responses may not represent the actual behavior of the respondents. Observation techniques are more often used to understand the actual behavior of respondents. Purchase behavior is also an important factor; when considering purchase behavior, marketers might categorize consumers as non-users, potential users, first-time users, regular users, or former users.
To know more about primary data, visit “SMstudy”.