Why Responsive Design Is Marketing’s Greatest Challenge

ALT="Mobile Friendly, Soulati Media"On April 21, 2015, Google will begin to label websites ‘mobile friendly.’ That means your website must be responsive and work on all sizes of screens and most of all smartphones and tablets. As is customary, Google is highly likely to label a site ‘non-mobile friendly’ in SERPS and ding your traffic, too. Is your site mobile friendly? You can test your site if you don’t know; click the link I just shared.

Two years ago, the call to make websites mobile responsive was rampant; yet, few truly new what that meant. I can tell you from experience two years later only a handful know the inside and out of responsive design. Responsive websites are marketing’s greatest challenge.
In my blended marketing firm, websites are one of the service offerings. From message mapping and copywriting to photography and design, a website is a critical component of a company’s marketing. And then there’s the backend of the site that now includes responsive design. It’s the latter that’s wreaking havoc among all businesses because it’s so new.

Perhaps the biggest developers for the largest corporations know what it takes to execute responsive design right, but what about the little guy?

There are thousands of businesses of all sizes caught in the responsive-design maelstrom right now. We consultants MUST do a better job communicating the intricate details and requirements of this burgeoning arena.

The Basics of Responsive Design for WordPress

In WordPress, a responsive design means your site will automagically resize for the 80+ screen sizes throughout the world. You know – all the smart devices and tablets, plus computer screens and now internet TVs. And when the user visits your website from a mobile device (not from a hardwired computer), your website is presented with all the navigation and calls to action neatly positioned on top.

If you elect not to take the plunge into responsive design, then you lose. You turn away traffic, you will not convert leads, you are ignorant of mobile marketing, and basically the finicky and demanding consumer will pick your competitor down the street.
Responsive design is here, now. It’s the ONLY way to code a website today; yet too many companies are still saying NO.

Communicating About Responsive Design

When you migrate your website from a WordPress template to a responsive template or custom build, there are a ton of coding, testing, sizing, more testing on all the devices, hosting, and security issues. How do you vet a web designer who has this knowledge? Is there any way to tell if you’ve hired the right team? What about the actual template selected? How do you know if it’s the right one?

Let me share the lightbulb moment:

Your clients DO NOT UNDERSTAND RESPONSIVE DESIGN. Guess what — NOR DO YOU.

Now that we’re all on the same page with utter chaos, let me share a few examples why I’m qualified to write about this topic.

Soulati Media Can Do 90 Percent Of Your Website

That’s an astonishing statement, right? If you hire me to do your website, I can do 90 percent of it extremely well. The other 10 percent not so much. When you read the examples below, you’ll see what I mean about that 10% that won’t go according to plan. It’s the gray area that no one has control over, and it’s the area causing the most headaches.

Client 1
A client recently spent $20,000 to get a website designed from scratch in WordPress (I know, crazy, right?). Turns out that spend did not include responsive design although it was promised. The team hired used coders in Brazil and each time they touched a page it was developed in a hodge-podge way. Two years later, the client agreed to spend another $2,000 to redesign the site into a mobile responsive custom build. The designers, BlueHost Design, did a phenomenal job. Alas, the client did not like how the new site looked although it was nearly the same as the original site, and she demanded her original site be restored. The site is now no longer responsive, and the new responsive site is sitting dormant on a development server.

Client 2
A small business had a six-year-old dormant website being hosted with a reseller. The reseller refused to turn over access to the domain registrar to transfer the site to a true host and has convinced the client this is not necessary. Upon the build of a new website using a WordPress template and its uploading to the business’s host, the site was the subject of a total hack attack from Turkey. At one point the entire site was replaced with Islamic music and Turkish gobble. The hackers left their identity on the site, and I reported them to Facebook and government agencies. The original team installed an older template that was not properly responsive. It took a second developer team to uncover all the issues with the site and recode the backend. Once the security plug in, Wordfence, was installed, the site did not work with Internet Explorer/Bing, and the developer had to call for technical support to fix this. The client insists on using IE as their preferred browser, although among the four browsers, IE is the least reliable and is being rebuilt. The site was tested on all the screen sizes, and it took two weeks to consistently test and recode parameters to address all the responsive issues. For now, the site is secure, quiet, responsive, and stable. It works on all screen sizes and with all browsers. It took my team three weeks to fix design, update code, work through a 7-day hack attack, improve security issues, and address daily issues with the technology.

Client 3
I have consistently rebuilt my website and invested in advancing my brand to follow industry trends. The point is that everyone is learning at the same time. When I thought I bought a responsive design, it turns out it was merely mobile ready. So, it was back to the drawing board to re-invest again to add the appropriate bells and whistles. My website has gone through about six iterations each with new back-end upgrades demanded by technology disruption.

My biggest piece of advice is what anyone will tell you – you get what you pay for. If you try to scrimp on the edges, then the inside deflates. Please invest the proper amount of budget into your website and be very happy with the outcome.

Tips to Communicate With Clients About Responsive Design

To wrap this up, here are my tips on how to prepare a client for a responsive design project. Each is very important and this should ensure everyone is tracking and prevent misunderstanding.

1. Ensure your client knows the definition of responsive design and why it’s a requirement
2. Let a client know that the entire site is going to be rebuilt with new code
3. Ensure the web host is qualified to handle new site designs, has server security, is accessible to the web team 24/7 for support, and all passwords are in hand to access cPanel and ftp
4. Discuss each step in the process to migrate an old site to a new template or custom build
5. Review the budget required for re-coding and migration; testing; security
6. Review the timeline for this migration and ensure additional what-if time is built in
7. Address the browser issues and ensure all browsers are up to date among all users
8. Ask the client to test the site and help find broken links or unresponsiveness
9. Review the budget and ensure there is enough to accomplish all of the above!

Questions Marketers Should Ask The Web Team

These are the basic questions to pose with ANY web developer team you hire. If the answers are not to your satisfaction or your instinct is flaring, then please trust yourself and move on. Finding the right web partner is so critical.

1. How many WordPress responsive design websites have you built?
2. Were they template migrations or custom builds?
3. How do you know a template is the most current version for responsive design?
4. How will you inform me a template is out-of-date, supported by a developer or ready for responsive design?
5. Are you a designer only? Who on your team is the developer? How deep is your web team?
6. How long have you been in this business?
7. Have you ever managed website security issues – hacks or malicious files?
8. Are you accessible for crisis management evenings and weekends if there’s a hack?
9. Once a site launches live, what do you do immediately following during transition?
10. What security plugins do you recommend for WordPress sites?
11. Share the most challenging responsive design project you’ve ever completed
12. What are the top three risk areas you will be watchful for?
13. How will you bill for this project? At what point are you going to nickel and dime and what’s the best way to make this relationship mutually beneficial?
14. I don’t want my site held hostage because you’re waiting for money. This happens all the time and I need to hear your philosophy and work ethic.
15. Why should I hire you over another developer?
16. What size of customer are you comfortable working with?

These issues will continue to plague marketers and clients. Only when everyone can get on the very same page and understand all the ins and outs will an experience go well. Over communicate and over explain and overdo the due diligence.
The reason above are real and true and based on solid, direct experience. Managing that 10 percent gray area is where the headaches reside. And, here’s the final nugget — it’s technology, folks! It’s going to break and get fixed.

Who Knew Developing Brand Persona Included Bathroom Humor?

ALT="Heart Of Marketing Podcast Logo--Soulati"I’m jumping the gun and skipping ahead to Episode 007 of The Heart Of Marketing podcast (available for download on iTunes) during which John Gregory Olson and I chuckle our way through potty humor while attempting to be serious about developing brand persona.

OMGosh! This episode brought tears to my eyes, well almost…I was just trying to get you to listen…whence I listened to it to prepare my blog post. I can’t stand not to laugh in these podcasts, otherwise I’d fall asleep!

What is Persona?

Everywhere you look, someone is suggesting that persona development is critical for brands. I dive in to three hot resources in Heidi Cohen, Vincent Messina and Tony Zambito who each know a thing or two about buyer persona versus buyer profile. They’re different!

In public relations circles from where I come, we liked rather to look at target audience as it relates to demographics. Marketers, on the flipside enjoy creating stories about who that buyer is, what they do every day and how they live. I wasn’t a fan, until I was. [Read more…]

The Heart Of Marketing #Podcast Debut! @Soulati @DigitalJGO

ALT="Heart Of Marketing Podcast Logo--Soulati"It’s with the greatest of #RockHot pleasure I introduce a new product I’ve been dying to publish for several years. With my co-host John Gregory Olson, a peer in the marketing sector and blogger extraordinaire, I’m so pleased to announce the debut of The Heart Of Marketing Podcast!

In our first 6.5 episodes already available on iTunes for your listening pleasure, we explore a variety of topics oriented to heart marketing, marketing with heart, who’s doing marketing with love, and how a mid-tier business gets to the heart of the matter.

Care to listen in to our pre-launch episode where we do the intros and giggle through the whole thing? Well, I do the giggling and John lures me back to center!

Episode 000 of The Heart Of Marketing Podcast

You Subscribe And We Give!

Our official launch is today, February 9, 2015 and it’s Heart Month, Valentine’s Day and, yep, Jayme Soulati’s birthday. There’s a special promo we’d like to share. When you subscribe to our podcast in iTunes (Stitcher is coming soon!) and  (see below how to do that), John and I will donate $1 per subscriber up to $500 to The American Heart Association! W00t!

When you listen and give us a rating (we like 5 stars!) and review, there very likely could be a special something saying thanks and we love you coming your way. Of course, that’s not a definitive because that would be like buying votes! Gahh!

Open For SuggestionsALT="Podcast menu for Heart of Marketing, screen shot"

There is so much we can talk about in our 30-minute show, but it’s no fun coming up with the topics without your input. So, please, in the comments below or via my contact form on my site, send along your suggestions for show topics.

If you’d like to be a guest on the show, feel free to send along a pitch, too.

The OMGosh we did it still amazes us both. Our show has been in the works since September 2014. While the barrier to entry is pretty high for a podcast, the medium is so fun and natural for us both, and we’re really jazzed to share with you.

How to Rate, Review, Subscribe to The Heart Of Marketing Podcast

1.Click on this link in iTunes.com to get to the home page of our podcast. Open in iTunes via the app.

2. Listen to an episode — I like Episode 000 above (introductions), and I also like Episode 001 about Taylor Swift.ALT="Heart Of Marketing podcast ratings screen shot"

3. Click on the ratings and reviews section (we like 5 stars if you can afford them!) and drop in a few words in the reviews section.

4. Click Subscribe and you won’t miss an episode!
ALT="Subscribe screen shot for Heart of Marketing podcast"

Real-Time Marketing Is A Snappy Technique

alt="24-hour news"

One of the undisputed advantages of the Internet is that it runs 24/7. Internet time means that things happen faster than they do in real life — conversations continue ‘round the clock, information is continually compiled and ideas appear at any time. Internet time is advantageous to marketers because you can participate in discourse in your industry, build awareness and aggrandize branding efforts by putting up content.

Technology is apparently a limitless tool, but what about connecting with customers and prospective client right now? Real-time marketing is a snappy technique that takes advantage of Internet time and the far reach of the medium via various platforms. Real-time marketing, or RTM, is a method of participating in Internet news and trends by fitting the topic to your own marketing needs.

Newsjacking

Whether or not you’ve ever heard of RTM, the concept is a similar one to newsjacking, a term conceived by David Meerman Scott. Newsjacking refers to the adoption of a piece of news as a vehicle for driving a marketing agenda. This agenda may include a particular product or service, or simply relate your company in a more general way. Newsjacking is a common enough practice that can be applied across online media, from the company blog to social media networks.
[Read more…]

Is Twitter’s Messaging Enough For Wall Street?

ALT="Twitter Wordle"Twitter, my former-fave social media app, is suffering from low mojo amongst Wall Street analysts. Since its IPO one year ago (November 2013), the honeymoon is over and tough questions are more the norm.

Twitter has had a recent spate of lackluster messaging being disseminated via tweets and blog posts versus the accustomed 1:1 analyst interview.

Message Mapping By Soulati

Perhaps Twitter should’ve engaged Soulati Media for a message mapping exercise? Hey, Twitter, it’s not too late to give me a shout!

That’s my shameless plug, and why not? Don’t forget to see my infographic on message mapping here!

Back to Twitter

Upon review of The New York Times Nov. 13, 2014, “Twitter Speaks Up With Growth Strategy Intended to Soothe Wall Street,” it seemed Twitter’s dog and pony for financial analysts had the right messages. What also seemed to be the problem was the reception of those messages.

Revenue is weak; plans to raise revenue are average; users aren’t visiting as much as prior; there is management turmoil; the future looks bleak for the company (according to the story); and, new features aren’t being launched fast enough.

In my view, Twitter really messed up by not communicating in the last 12 months about its plans to shore up the publicly traded company and keep share price growing to investor satisfaction.

Seems to be Twitter’s problem may be its messaging and its messaging delivery; that’s called public relations. When you open the doors as a public company and invite all kinds of scrutiny, investor relations is critical. [Read more…]

Confused Messages Driving Catch-22 Brand Marketing

ALT="Pink  Campbells Soup Cans, Soulati"The headlines in national newspapers and trade ‘zines are a mixed bag of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Consumers are taking the biggest hit amidst the confused clutter of brands’ messages.

Let’s take a look at several finger-in-your-eye examples and see if you agree:

Price Drop Tests Oil Drillers, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
In this front-page story, you already know the gist. If you’re like me, you’re likely ticked off about it, too. Consumers have not even realized the benefit of one week of under $3/per gallon of gasoline and the analysts that cover the oil industry are bitching. If oil being fracked in Bakken sells for less than $84/barrel, then fracking is uneconomical. What does that mean for consumers? Another squeeze in oil supplies due to the cease in fracking, the loss of jobs and a price increase.

It’s that supply and demand thing, and the consumer conundrum remains for marketers — do we continue to pinch the customer and force higher prices so we make our margins and keep stakeholders happy, or do we risk losing market share and influencing a nose dive in local economies dependent on the jobs created from oil exploration? The media love to report on oil companies emotions

Pay TV’s New Worry, “Shaving The Cord,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Do you subscribe to a television provider where the most favorite and in-demand channels cost the most money? Is your bill for satellite or cable television in the hundreds of dollars monthly? YES! Consumers are looking elsewhere for entertainment to try to cut frivolous expenditures. and the pay-TV companies are none too happy. Upon further examination, consumers are not totally ditching pay TV, they are shaving dollars off the monthly fee and leaving the big channels.

What’s the impact? No surprise, it’s the brand marketers seeking the subscriber base to feed us advertisements on CNN, USA Network and ESPN. If the subscribers aren’t there, ad dollars disappear and BAM! pay TV just got pricier as there’s no one left to subsidize programming. And, who’s responsible for the story behind this headline? A research firm probably dueling as an industry analyst seeking buyers for reports like this.

Smile! Marketers Are Mining Selfies! Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Ahh, the ubiquitous selfie soon to grace a Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook near you. And, if that selfie is a smiler complemented by a brand logo, then look out consumer! You’ll soon get more advertising messages from the brand that bought the image catching you in the happy moment.

Guess how? [Read more…]

Mobile Marketing And The Ubiquitous QR Code

03B33818It’s everywhere, right? The small, black, squiggly, nonsensical square that adorns objects all over, and it’s called a QR code. A few years back, these were all the rage; a trend that made first-mover marketers excited.

Today? Not so much, based on this personal mobile marketing story that happened this weekend.

I’m having shower woes; the master shower leaks, and I’m relegated to the extra basement shower which needs some TLC. At Lowes Saturday morning, I spied a really attractive end cap featuring four designs of Oxygenics shower heads.

The one I wanted had a QR code that when scanned promised:

1. See the Force (sic) spray settings in action
2. View a quick install video
3. And much more

Because the end cap wasn’t digital (the company should use Coloredge) and I couldn’t see a video in the display, I pointedly got out my QR code reader on my iPhone to immediately scan to help me make a purchase. [Read more…]

Message Mapping: 40 Reasons Why #Infographic

ALT="Message Mapping Book, Jayme Soulati,"When you hear the words, Message Mapping, what comes to mind? In my experience with executives about positioning to external audiences, messaging and the map oriented to a suite of approved messages, is not at the forefront of strategic thinking.

In my new infographic right here, I provide “40 Reasons Why You Need Message Mapping.”  See if any resonate, and then perhaps you’ll share on your blog and social channels! [Read more…]

Message Mapping The Philip Morris E-Cigarette

ALT="ecigarette"Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30 percent over the last 20 years, according to Forbes, “The Future of Smoking Lies Somewhere in Here,” June 16, 2014.

Then why is Philip Morris International (PMI), the subject of the story, interested in developing a new next-gen cancer stick with all the perks and pizazz of nicotine for the addicted?

The answer is simple. Cigarettes are a lucrative business for the global giant, and in spite of the intense taxation on cigarettes the world over, PMI paid $48.8 billion of $80 billion in revenue to the tax man in 2013, smokers are eager to adopt a new, “healthier” alternative to cancer-breathing smoke sticks.

To give you more of a sense of how widespread smoking remains, 6 trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year and “Serbia and Eastern Europe nations out smoke the competition despite having tax rates over 50 percent,” according to Forbes.

PMI is spending $650 million on research to develop an electronic cigarette (and various prototypes) with a battery heater in black that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder. Tobacco is heated within a paper cartridge with a filter just below the burning point. The smoker gets the nicotine and flavors with “fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.”

The Philip Morris Quandary

This Forbes story grabs you from the first paragraph. How many nonsmokers gag when confronted with the offensive exhalations from peers who smoke? And, how many smokers secretly wish there was an alternative to their bad habit and the opportunity to be welcome in public?

That puts Philip Morris International (and its industry peers) in a particularly challenging global position. Does it continue to output cancer-causing smokes to the tune of 6 trillion annually, or does it do the right thing to try to find a healthier alternative?

PMI is well on its way to the latter; however, hold your applause. In the last 10 years, 540 million people have died from cigarette smoking (do the math from the first sentence).

Still, it’s a intriguing public relations challenge with high levels of complexity. Let’s see how a PR team would craft a message map for Philip Morris and its new e-cigarette. I don’t work for any company associated with cigarettes; however, this is the recommended approach to a message mapping challenge for the global behemoth.

ALT="Message Mapping book by Soulati" E-Cigarette Message Map for Philip Morris

The first step in developing a message map for PMI about its new smokeless cigarette is to look at the categories required (there may be others):

  • Research
  • Product
  • Investment/Earnings
  • Consumers
  • Competition
  • Health
  • Industry

What we’re going to do is work backward from what’s been published in Forbes to map the messages within each of these categories. As I was reading the article, I circled the relevant facts that were obviously obtained from PMI and other industry sources and competitive data.

While the published article does not match the message map PMI would create for its e-cigarette, it’s pretty darn close. You’ll get a solid sense of why message maps are important for your own business, product or service.

What I’m doing below then, is to highlight the themes and the associated “messages” from the published article in Forbes about Philip Morris. All of these statements are taken directly from Forbes; the attribution and wording are exact and credited to Forbes. For the sake of length, I’ll only include a few in each category. Ready?

Research

  • Studies in various countries show that e-cigs have close to 100% consumer recognition among smokers and 20% to 50% have tried them at least once–but less than 10% use them regularly.
  • Filters, says Calantzopoulos, simply can’t remove the dangerous by-products of burning tobacco that cause lung cancer emphysema and heart disease.
  • PMI is conducting tests in Petri dishes and on human cells using the cutting-edge technique known as systems biology to try to assess how the new devices affect known pathways to cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

The Product

  • The first new model is an electronic device that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder, which heats tobacco to just below the burning point to release the nicotine and flavor of tobacco with fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.
  • Consumers will try a thin black device that holds a paper tube, while a software-controlled, rechargeable heating element raises the temperature to almost 400 degrees, creating a vapor from the tobacco to release nicotine and flavors. The smoker exhales vapor that quickly dissipates in the air.
  • In 2002, PMI gave up on developing a safer version of the combustible cigarette.

Investment/Earnings

  • Six trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year; if PMI’s tobacco heater attracts even a 5% share, that would boost profits, already a hefty $8.6 billion, by more than $1 billion a year.
  • PMI has invested$650 million with the current expenditure ramping up past $200 million annually to try to help the world’s smokers.
  • Of PMI’s $80 billion in revenue last year, $48.8 billion went to taxing authorities.
  • PMI has doubled earnings every 10 years since Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO, joined the firm in 1985, and investors have earned 122% since the spinoff in 2008, compared with 67% for the S&P 500 index.

Consumers

  • PMI is betting that smokers prefer the taste of real tobacco.
  • PMI is trying to prove to regulators that its great new product won’t actually attract new customers.
  • Consumers buy 6 trillion cigarettes worldwide each year.
  • Serbia and Eastern European nations outsmoke the competition despite having cigarette tax rates over 50%.

Competition

  • Lorillard is all-in on e-cigarettes, having purchased Blu, now one of the largest U.S. brands, for $135 million in 2012.
  • Altria, PMI’s former U.S. parent, is test-marketing MarkTen e-cigs.
  • Reynolds American introduced Premier in 1988 but withdrew it months later after the American Medical Association urged the FDA to ban it. Reynolds tried again with Eclipse and was sued by the Vermont attorney general.

Health

  • “These products can bring the biggest single benefit in a short period of time, in terms of public health,” said Andre Calantzopoulos, PMI CEO.
  • Cigarettes smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30% over the past 20 years.
  • If PMI proves successful, the new products will surely save the lives of tens of thousands of their customers. But they could also make smoking less scary to those who don’t smoke, creating new nicotine addicts.
  • If the product is 80% safer and used by the 20% of U.S. adults who smoke, that’s a public health win.

Industry

  • The tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo believes consumption of e-cigs and other delivery devices deemed safer could eclipse conventional cigarettes by 2030.
  • Past president of the American Lung Association supports e-cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off their favorite smokes.
  • Anti-tobacco activist with University of California thinks the FDA should block new tobacco products until cigarette manufacturers remove traditional cigs from the market.
  • American Lung Association says,”The most heavily marketed brands by the major tobacco companies are the most heavily used ones by kids.”

The Message Map

  • I can only imagine Philip Morris International has about two dozen message maps for the categories and business units it serves.
  • In your company ensure you have one! Get the first corporate map done to help fuel your communications strategy. Not only does a message map bring clarity for the entire leadership and marketing teams, it forms the basis of factual storytelling, just like the exercise above.
  • As you grow and announce new initiatives, a message map should be the first tool developed to help map out strategy and message from the outside-in.

About the Author

This article originally appeared on Soulati.com, “Soulati-‘TUDE!” by Jayme Soulati, a message mapping master and public relations marketer.

Tips For #ReturnOnOptimism

ALT="Jayme Soulati, Mini Cooper"In the face of adversity, there is only optimism. In a survey YOU can take by Xerox called #ReturnOnOptimism, it helps you find your return on optimism score so you can work on finding and feeling optimistic in spite of world affairs.

This sponsored post is really intriguing because optimism is a trend right now. Have you noticed that everywhere you read, another story is being written on the topic? What Xerox has done is create a website, with a neat and graphically pleasing quiz to score your optimistic emotions. I’m generally optimistic; however, everyone needs a push now and again. (I share personal tips on how I get through negative vibes below.) Once you find your score, you can stick around the site and find tips and resources the experts suggest on bettering your emotional quotient. It’s pretty cool.

The differentiator for this story, though, is that you can take the quiz to see just how optimistic you are at work. Maybe you need to do a bit of work on boosting the happy vibes?

Read on and see what I did to get through a very trying time… [Read more…]