7 free tools every brand or marketing manager should use daily

July 16, 2009

As I have been making the transition from being a brand manager for a large company to being a brand strategy consultant in the last few months, I have had a thirst for information in a way I never had before.  As part of my quest to become a better, more informed, and up to date resource for my clients, I have been leveraging a lot of free information and tools.  Some of these tools (such as newsletters), I collected in my inbox for years while I was a brand manager and rarely opened.  Other tools are ones that people have introduced to me in the last several months.

Recently, some of my friends in brand or marketing roles for companies have been asking me how I seem to be so ‘in the know’ about marketing trends, new products, or the latest technologies.  They know that this is information that they should and would like to know, but they don’t think that they have the time it would take to stay on top of it.  They are too bogged down in managing their brand projects and fighting daily fires, and they don’t know where to begin.  If this sounds a little like you, read on. 

Below is a list of 7 free tools any marketing or brand person at any company should use on a daily basis. 

  1. Marketing Daily News– Email newsletter every weekday that summarizes breaking news across industries in branding & marketing.  Published by MediaPost which also has many other free newsletters for various industries, targets, trends, technologies, and types of marketing professionals.  I subscribe to about 8 or 9 in total from this source.
  2. Brandweek Daily Insider – Email newsletter every weekday summarizing new brand campaigns, new products, latest research across many industries.
  3. GMA Smartbrief – Email newsletter every weekday summarizing top news in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry.  Even though it is focused on the CPG space, there is still a lot of learning to be leveraged from this publication for all marketers.
  4. Adweek Creative — Email newsletter weekly covering all news and trends in advertising content and messages.
  5. Google Alerts— Monitor your own brand and company as well as your competitors in the news and in blogs using this tool.  You receive an email with all of the clips daily, weekly, or as they happen.  Set this up under Google News.
  6. Use an RSS feed like Google Reader for blogs– Set this up to monitor your favorite marketing, industry, or customer target blogs.  In a future post, I will have a list of my favorite marketing and brand blogs to subscribe to.
  7. Twitter Search and an RSS feed — Monitor what people are saying about your brand, company, competition, industry, and category by setting up searches in Twitter.  Once you set these up, you can have them come into your RSS feed.

Going through this list will probably take about an hour to get through per day. 

I know that this big time investment, but I guarantee that the time investment will generate a positive ROI for the brand and your career.   You’ll naturally leverage new case studies and best practices in your marketing plans.  You’ll be better positioned to preempt the competition.  When your competition does act, you will be able to respond more quickly.  You’ll have a better idea of what is going on with your customer.  You’ll be the first to bring new ideas to the table.  You’ll be considered very well informed and a thought leader.

Try out these tools and let me know what you think.  And if you stumble across any other tools that you find useful that should be added to this list, please post a comment.  I’m still learning too.

The tragic irony of cutting marketing in a recession

June 4, 2009

Do you ever have one of those days when it seems that the things you read and the conversations you have revolve around a particular theme?  I am having one of those days.  The theme is the tragic irony of companies cutting marketing spending during a recession.

 This theme surfaced this morning in a conversation I had about the unfortunate tendency of not for profits eliminating marketing spending during a recession, and then again when I was reading an article in AdAge warning CMOs about the dangers of cutting marketing resources

I call this theme a tragic irony because it really is about a company’s well intentioned actions bringing about a fatal result.  A company might decide to cut investment in marketing in an attempt to save money, but in doing so, it cuts off its ability to drive revenue. 

 What you are really cutting

At its most basic level, marketing is all about communicating with your consumer to understand what he needs and then to help him satisfy those needs.  You can satisfy his needs by either showing/telling him how your product or service helps him or by developing new products or services that better meet his evolving needs.  If a company decides to stop or reduce marketing in a recession (when consumers are reviewing every purchase with more scrutiny than ever before), how can it expect to keep its current consumers and revenue streams, let alone appeal to new ones?  More importantly, if a company decides to stop or reduce marketing, but its competitor continues marketing, it is likely to lose consumers to the competitor who is better engaging them.

 Consider reallocation before cutting

With all of that said, I definitely understand and recommend the idea of directing marketing investment towards the most efficient and effective marketing tools in a recession.  A recession isn’t necessarily the time to get overly ‘experimental’ with marketing tools to see what works.  Investing in the tools that are proven to work with your consumer is a strong strategy when money is tight and the future is uncertain.  The key is that a company continues to invest in marketing, and perhaps just chooses the very best tools.  This is about a reallocation of dollars within a marketing budget, not a reduction of the marketing budget.

To companies out there who are currently considering making cuts to their marketing investments, I urge you to reconsider.  You are taking a treacherous path.  Marketing is your way to keep your relationship going with your consumer.  Cutting off or reducing that relationship will cut off or reduce your revenue, and that seems tragically ironic.