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Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Dan Parsons

Dan_Parsons

At Cox Media Group Houston, we believe in the power of relationships. We also believe in the potential of connecting with individuals and businesses with synergistic goals to succeed – especially those who make a career out of making Houston better. And that is precisely why we couldn’t be more honored to have a friend in Dan Parsons – President at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Metropolitan Houston and South Texas.

Dan’s team at the BBB and the rest of Houston’s city leaders are on a perpetual mission to ensure the growth and vitality of Houston’s business community and economic health. And it turns out – folks like Dan happen to be really good at it. But don’t take our word for it – take Forbes’.

~Enjoy. 

Meet Dan Parsons – President

Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Metropolitan Houston and South Texas.

Maintains 32+ years of experience in media and business.

CMG: How did you decide upon your current career path? What were some motivating factors that led you to where you are today?

DP: It kind of found me. I was planning to be a Band Director…as I have a great passion for music. But in college, before one could be a “DJ”, he had to cut his teeth in news. And voila! I got the media bug. In 1983, I faced a forced move to either Washington D.C. or New York.  At that point in my radio career, I also found out the BBB wanted somebody to “chase” people originally in the Witness Protection, now relocated here running scams for credit repair…timeshare scams, etc….and that was that!  From chasing politicos to con artists! [And sometimes they are pretty close in comparison!]

CMG: What are the most important lessons you would share with other business owners on how to grow and maintain a viable business in today’s economy? 

DP: Very simple….everybody wants growth.  But with it comes responsibility. So does “growing” customer service along with [increased] marketing, sales and market penetration. Failure to do that is 95% of what generates our complaints. That and basic communication.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

DP: My first BBB mentor, then-President, Dick McClain. He hired me in 1983 and showed me the beauty and purity of the self-regulatory world.

CMG: Which of your marketing or business experiences are you most proud of?

DP: Leading new generations of BBB leaders and therefore new generations of informed customers and reliable businesses.

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative or strategic ideas?  

DP: I have a never ending flow of ideas as I am always thinking of our model and what the best, next innovation will be. [I’m] always keeping in mind our core mission and avoiding sudden, violent turns of the tiller…that is what kills organizations!

CMG: What is one word that describes you?

DP: Passionate.

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

DP: What the Houston Press coined on me in 2001 – “The Most Honest Man in Houston”.   Note – it did not say smartest, richest, or nicest.  But the truth is purity unto itself and of that I am constantly focused on.

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing or business in general?

DP: There are always two sides to a story, and sometimes three or four or more and one must strive to find the right one…

CMG: What is your secret weapon?

DP: Mentoring future generations by setting a role model of ethics and having those new leaders as my allies.

CMG: Describe Houston’s business landscape 10 years from now. 

DP: Wow – what I HOPE?  Increased business diversity (as the current downturn will test us) and maturing to be a city that is proud of what it IS…not what some self-appointed “elitists” would have us be. Also, comfort in our skin, even if it is a little rough at times – and remembering we are all Americans and not at war with the rest of the country, just because it is way to blow off anger.  

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A 101 on Mobile Geo-Fencing for Houston Businesses

Technology has opened new doors and broadened the ability to reach customers. In particular, geo-fencing, a mobile marketing technique, has become a go-to strategy for many Houston businesses. Understanding the intricacies and abilities of geographically based mobile advertising techniques and the latest in geo-fencing best practices can open up new opportunities for business to connect with customers on a more personal level.

What is Geo-Fencing?

Over the last five years, advertisers have increasingly looked to mobile technologies to push their products, drawing on a phone’s ability to provide data on a customer’s real-time location data. This has provided invaluable information, such as when and where consumers shop, to help marketers target users in real-time as they shop. Marketers began drawing data from cell tower pins, WiFi data, and GPS locations to advertise to customers when they are physically present at a store or business—a technique known as “geo-conquesting.”

Geo-fencing takes this one step further by hyper-targeting the location. In this case, the person at the shoe store would not just see an advertisement for a different shoe business, but the advertisement would be for a shoe store within walking distance. For Houston marketing, this includes “fencing” off an area within a quarter mile of a business. When the person’s phone data indicates they have stepped into the “fenced” area, they will receive targeted advertisements for the business.

Geo-conquesting and geo-fencing directly increase the chances that the shopper would be willing to modify his or her behavior in real time. It also ensures that targeted results are even more specific to the intended customer while continuing to push for advertising the provides clear ROI.

Geo-Fencing Strategies for 2015

Before jumping into geo-fencing, there are some basic best practices that will especially be relevant in 2015. First and foremost, Houston marketers should understand the format and the limitations of the mobile geo-fenced advertisements in order to select which type will make the most impact. Currently, geo-fencing marketing placement are used in content, display ads, and through SMS (text) messages.

However, not all geo-fencing strategies are created equal. While a SMS or push notification message may be direct and to-the-point, many users opt not to sign up for these alerts. On the other hand, the subtlety of display ads may be lost when a person is distracted.

For 2015, mobile marketers should try tapping into the market via applications that capitalize on a person’s location specifically. For example, Uber, the socially driven car service, uses geo-fencing to target customers who have landed at an airport. When the consumer enters the geo-fenced location, the consumer is greeted with a message welcoming them to their new city and asking if they would like a ride. Other apps, such as those that suggest restaurants or stores, could be invaluable for pushing out messages without being directly from the source.

A Must for Mobile Marketing

For Houston marketers interested in mobile marketing, geo-fencing is the best and latest strategy to effectively target a consumer group. By using real-time data mixed with a knowledge of a consumer base, geo-fencing and geo-conquesting will only improve as the technology expands and consumers become more amenable to such targeted advertising. For Houston marketing, geo-fencing, when done smartly, could bring a major change to how advertisers and consumers connect.

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How Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Really Works

You’ve spent countless hours working on an amazing product and you’re finally done. Sadly, no one knows about it. What can you do to let others know about it? The Internet is a very big place. Should your Houston business advertise on a specific website or a social network? There are no guarantees with these options.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could guarantee your marketing dollars will have maximum impact? You can with a PPC campaign. (Shameless plug => Cox Media Group (CMG) has an established SMB partnership with Google and has extensive knowledge about having successful PPC marketing campaigns.) You pay for results from customers, not for an ad that may or may not be reaching an audience.

Let’s break this down further to look at how PPC campaigns work:

1. Compare and Contrast Using an Expert.

PPC campaigns work directly with search engines. Because of this, a search engine marketing (SEM) expert can optimize results and ensure the right audience is being reached. Remember, if this is not your area of expertise, it will take more time and money to do this on your own. Consider hiring an expert like CMG from the get go. Vendors like CMG already have a full-time team of experts trained and ready to support your PPC campaigns.

2. Choose the Platform(s) You Will Use.

Typically this is Google (which uses AdWords) Yahoo or Bing. (Note – the last two are now the same platform, called BingAds). Google is the market share leader in search but in many cases it is best to advertise on all three search engines for maximum reach.

This will also help with specific geo-targeting, demographic targeting, or exact match keywords. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant in Sugar Land and someone types in “Italian Restaurant Sugar Land” on a search engine, using geo-targeting and Adwords or BingAds, an ad for your restaurant will come up on search engine results pages (on the top or along the right hand side).

If utilizing the exact match keywords of “great Italian restaurant” your ad appears only when those words are searched. Remember, the more platforms you use, the more time will be needed to spent analyzing and updating the information.

3. Starting Your PPC Campaign.

The next step is to implement the PPC campaign using the specific keywords needed for your ad. This can be very difficult at times as it requires strategy and focus. A PPC campaign can be very time consuming especially if this is the first time going through the process. Research is also required to find the keywords being used match up with wording used by the intended audience.  These are all the more reasons to hire a digital media firm to assist!

4. Analyze the Results.

Once the PPC ads are in place, it is essential to measure and analyze the results and make appropriate changes. A PPC campaign requires constant monitoring. It will take time and some trial and error to be sure the keywords are targeting the right audience and to adjust for changes.

Some of the metrics which are likely analyzed include:

  • Clicks: The number of clicks on the ad placed.
  • Impressions: The number of times the ad is seen.
  •  Click Thru Rate: The number of clicks divided by number of impressions.
  •  Conversions: A click and action taken by customer.
  • Conversion Rate: The number of conversions divided by clicks.
  • Cost Per Conversion: The cost spent divided by number of conversions.

Once these metrics are analyzed, the keywords are fine-tuned to achieve better results. Negative keywords may be inserted which help define when the ad appears. An A/B version testing campaign may also be implemented to see what specific keywords achieve the best results.

Again, this can be a very time-consuming process for many, so it is best to get the help from an expert like Cox Media Group so you can utilize your pay-per-click campaign for optimal success with your customers.

Houston Businesses: Do You Really Know Your Target Audience?

Knowing your target audience in Houston is considered step one in the implementation strategy of a successful advertising campaign.

Your Houston business is most likely marketing to a variety of different audiences so why would you use the same message for different audiences?

Defining your target market and then segmenting your message to differentiate audiences is critical to the success of a Houston marketing campaign.

How You’re Hurting Your Business

You’re not doing your business any favors by not having a defined target audience.

Many Houston businesses believe that knowing your audience means knowing their age, salary range, and basic demographics. To really make an impact in the Houston market with your messaging, you need to go deeper and understand their buying behaviors and psychographics.

Women in the age range 25-54 are too general of a demographic to really make any definitive and conclusive insights. Psychographics look into your audiences’ values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle. All of these factors can have a positive or negative impact on your messaging, which is why it is important to tailor your message depending on your target audience.

The difference between demographics and really understanding buying behavior can often be the difference between a successful advertising campaign and an ineffective one.

How to Define Your Target Audience

So how do you go about actually defining your target audience?

The Marketing Donut does a solid job of explaining how to define your target audience. It’s important to go above and beyond the basic demographics of your customer and understand their lifestyle. Are they married? What are their hobbies? What are their values? What are their concerns and how can your product help them?

The biggest key in defining your target audience is to understand the problem your product solves. By doing so, you can then seek out who is most likely to suffer from these problems, and you can market directly to them.

How to Segment Your Message for Different Audiences

Chances are your product is marketable to lots of different audiences. The message you send to one audience most likely won’t work to reach a different audience.

For the most effective marketing impact, Community ToolBox recommends segmenting your marketing message for different audiences. This ensures that your target audience hears the message that is best suited for them.

Some examples of different ways to segment your audience include demographics, geographic, psychographics, and behavior.

Demographics: The very basics of your consumer, such as gender, age, marital status, which can be gathered through census data.

Geographic: Where does your consumer live?

Psychographics: This focuses on lifestyles, beliefs, and values, including political views, and morals.

Behavior: This focuses on a customer’s buying behavior and their brand loyalty.

Why It’s Important to Segment Your Audience

While it may be cheaper to utilize a single message across all your marketing, you’ll have the biggest impact on your consumer when you tailor the message specifically for them.

This can ultimately help you improve market penetration and drive sales.