Metrics that matter

October 16, 2019

One of the most famous quotes about advertising is from a merchant named John Wanamaker and he said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Back when I started in the business much of the work we did was difficult to measure all the way through the sales cycle. For example, if we bought a TV spot during a Cheers episode, we could count on certain demographics and the size of the audience but that was about as detailed as we could get. We often tried to link exposure to the message to a behavior but unless they were redeeming a specific offer or calling a campaign-specific phone number, we could only hypothesize that a surge in sales, inquiries or some other behavior was tied to the marketing efforts.

Today, we have the opposite problem. The volume of things we can accurately measure is staggering, especially if you are communicating digitally. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the data because you can’t possibly sift through it all before making a decision.

One of the phrases I’m sure MMG clients get sick of is “Just because we can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters.”

I thought it might be useful to identify some digital metrics that are actually worth watching and using as a bellwether for decision-making. We’ve previously discussed the importance of owning your own digital hub. For most organizations, that’s your website. I’m going to assume you’ve built your marketing strategy in a hub and spoke model, with your web site being one of your core hubs.

Given that assumption, let’s talk about metrics that matter for most organizations. You may find that one or more of these aren’t relevant to your business so don’t assume you should track all of them. But for most of us, these are pretty spot on.

Let’s look at metrics focusing on two factors – are you bringing the right people to your site and once they arrive, what do they do there?

Prospect attraction: Are you capturing the attention of the people you’d like to talk to about your products and services? Are you holding their attention long enough to get on their radar screen?

To measure your effectiveness in this area, you might look at:

Bounce rate: Bounce rate is the statistic that measures how many of your unique web visitors go to your home page and then immediately leave the site, rather than digging into the site to learn more. Your goal should be 30% or less.

What do people do on your site: Odds are you have a lot of pages on your website. Do you know which ones get visited most often? Or which ones capture the attention of your visitor for the longest period of time? Do you understand the traffic patterns (people go from what page or link to what page or link) that show up again and again?

To get that kind of insight, you might look at:

Page depth: Page depth is a stat that shows you the average number of pages your visitors view during a single visit.

Top viewed pages: As it suggests, it lists the individual pages of your website in the order of visit frequency.

In-page analytics: For your top viewed pages look at this report and analyze the click patterns. It will help you understand navigational patterns and issues on your website. You’ll also get some insights into your visitors’ intent.

Marketing is all the better because we use data to be more helpful to the people we want to serve. But to do that well, be careful that you’re looking at the right data and not drowning in meaningless numbers.


Digital isn’t a department

October 9, 2019

Many companies are trying to “manage” the onslaught of changes brought about by today’s digital trends by creating a department to deal with all of the new technologies, social networks, web trends, marketing automation and other aspects of this quickly changing landscape.

I get it. It’s a lot to wrap your arms around. It’s comforting to know you don’t have to keep up. But the truth is – you do. I’m not suggesting that everyone in your organization needs to have the same level of knowledge – but everyone has to understand digital isn’t a department. It’s a mindset.

The question is about the shift in thinking when it comes to the word and the idea of digital. As social media and content marketing emerged – organizations scrambled to either hire people with skills in all things digital to create digital departments or in the case of some of the larger companies – hired agencies and just outsourced the whole thing.

Fortunately, we’re winding down the “shiny object” of the digital invasion and now saner heads are prevailing. When it comes to marketing, digital is a medium, just like print and broadcast. Like all mediums, it comes with its own set of etiquettes and rules but at the end of the day – a good marketing strategy should be driving companies to/through all media options and executions.

But digital isn’t just about marketing. Digital has become this overlay – that literally touches every aspect of daily life for most people.

Because digital is so ubiquitous – there isn’t a person or position in your company today that shouldn’t be taking it into account with every business decision they make. Even if you are using traditional media to drive a message, there is a digital play or connection.

It’s really those two moments in time colliding – companies getting a little maturity under their belts in terms of their digital chops and consumers weaving digital technology into every aspect of their life that is forcing all of us to re-think how we position our digital skills.

Assuming you buy this logic – how do you help your entire team stay current and fired up?

Assign expert roles/areas of expertise: Things in the digital space are moving too quickly for any one person to stay on top of it all. So you’ll need to assign different team members to different aspects and hold them accountable for staying current.

Lunch and learns: To spread that expertise throughout the entire organization, there should be a regular schedule of lunch and learns, where the internal experts can share the latest updates and agency successes.

Hire the right partners: Be wary of any agency that offers to simply handle all of your digital needs, without involving you and your team. While it’s tempting to just hand it all off, you need to weave your company’s culture and vision into how you present yourself digitally. Look for a partner who will do the heavy lifting but keep you in the mix.

Be choosy: Part of what makes digital so overwhelming is there’s so much to learn and everything changes in a blink. The good news is – most of it is irrelevant to your business. Having a digital strategy that actually contributes to your bottom line is about understanding your customers, their digital footprint and how you can interact with them there. You figure that out and you can eliminate a lot of the noise and distractions that can derail your marketing efforts.

The digital landscape is now woven into every aspect of your company from sales to customer service to accounting. That means that everyone, not just the marketing team, needs to be committed to embracing these trends and leveraging them to serve your customers how/where they’re spending so much of their time.


And action!

September 11, 2019

It seems simple on the surface. You sell something awesome that people really need and want. In theory, all you should have to do is let them know you’re open to selling it to them, right?

And yet we’ve all experienced the frustrating situation of having someone tell us that they genuinely want what we sell and yet somehow, they can’t get over the hurdle and actually take action. Even after you’ve removed all the barriers (“why yes, Mrs. Smith we will deliver that to your home” to a payment plan) it still seems to take people a long time to take that final step.

I often read that for most people, the scarcest of resources is time. I don’t disagree, but I think the kissing cousin to time is attention. We are rarely alone anymore. Even if we are physically alone – because of our devices and technology, we really aren’t. Someone is always pinging, poking or prodding us through email, apps, or even the old-fashioned phone call. In fact, we don’t really know what to do with ourselves if we get a rare moment of silence. It’s why you see everyone grabbing their smartphones every few seconds.

We literally spend the entire day filtering. We filter our emails, skimming over them and quickly deleting the ones we think we don’t need. We filter calls with caller ID and even text messages can be ignored and/or deleted without reply.

Given all of that – how in the world do you get people to take action and buy what you know is a valuable product/service?

First, I think we have to accept the reality that they’re in control of the situation. They will buy (or not) when they’re ready. Yes, you can do things to make it easier or more compelling but at the end of the day, they will take action when it suits them. The most destructive thing you can do to your sales opportunity is to demonstrate your frustration and get pushy.

Which means you need to adjust your expectations about your sales cycle. When you’re setting your goals for 2020, go back and really analyze the time span between your first connection to a new customer and their initial purchase. I’m guessing it’s a lot longer than you think.

It’s not uncommon for me to have a prospective client say, “Oh, I’ve had one of your columns pinned above my desk for years.” The longest so far has been 8 years. But you know what – they just weren’t ready. And there’s nothing I could have done to make them get ready any faster.

Given both our lack of control and the unpredictability of when a prospect will finally be ready to make that first purchase – the reality for us is that we need to think of marketing like dollar-cost averaging investing. According to this philosophy – since we can’t predict when the market will go up or down, we put in a little bit every day. Some days we’ll buy high and some days we’ll buy low but in the end, on average, we’re going to come out ahead.

Marketing and sales work pretty much the same way. Unless you can accurately predict the day your prospect is finally going to be ready to buy – you’d better be out there consistently so you’re still top of mind on that day. As you work with your 2020 marketing plan, make sure that consistency is there.

In today’s marketplace, your competition isn’t just the other company who sells what you sell. The real competition is for the prospect’s attention; and in that race, you’re running against every email, TV show, billboard, phone call, and ping.


Don’t forget your media mix

August 21, 2019

media mixBack in the good old days, you could advertise in the daily paper, an outdoor board, on one of the local radio stations or one of three TV channels – a media mix.

Today, of course, we don’t have the luxury of that simplicity. Instead of three TV channels, there are over 300. Radio and print have undergone a similar explosion with niche publications, satellite radio and of course, there’s the whole internet and mobile world as well.

It seems like every time something new comes around, the inclination is to abandon the old. It would be much easier if that were really the wise course of action, but just because we have more options doesn’t mean the old ones don’t add value.

I was reviewing numbers from a recent Nielsen study that looked at our electronic media usage. (So print and outdoor were not included). One of the elements of the study was to look at how consumers spent their media time.

First – we are consumed by the media we consume. The average American spends 11 hours a day with electronic media. We’re only awake about 16-18 hours a day, so that’s a staggering number.

It may surprise you that television remains on top – by a three to one margin over smartphones/tablets or the internet. But as you might expect, the TV number is dropping and the smartphone/tablet number continues to rise. Interestingly, watching something off your DVR or what has been dubbed “time-shifted TV” is also on the rise.

Live TV viewers are watching less, but it could be argued that they’re really just watching it differently, as more and more households are streaming and that is influencing how/when they watch. As smartphone/tablet usage goes up, using the internet on a computer has declined. Again, it’s not that people aren’t accessing the internet as much; they are just doing it differently.

Maybe what will surprise you even more than TV being on top is that radio is #2 in terms of hours spent. The study didn’t differentiate between local/satellite, so I can’t help you there. This number is declining like TV usage, but it’s definitely a more popular media than our phones, tablets or the internet at the time of this study.

What does this mean to you? It means a few things:

What you do isn’t necessarily what the rest of the world does: One of the most dangerous assumptions business owners and leaders make is that because they personally do or don’t do something – that’s the norm for the rest of the world. Unless you are utterly average in every way – that simply isn’t true. Don’t let your bias get in the way of good decision making.

Every medium might be the right choice: There isn’t a media out there today that isn’t still a viable choice in terms of reaching the audience you want to talk to. There may be other factors (price versus value, the kind of message you want to deliver, the need for interactivity, etc.) but don’t dismiss any media with a “no one uses/watches/reads XYZ” because it simply isn’t accurate.

Your best bet is a media mix: If you can afford it, spreading your media investment over more than one media is always going to be your best bet. You need to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin and jeopardize frequency, but your media budget needs to be adequate enough to buy more than one outlet.

Media buying is both art and science. Just remember to consider all the options in your media mix before heading to the latest trend or fad. You absolutely can’t ignore the digital world when it comes to advertising today. But don’t think it’s the only choice to consider.


The power of personas

July 3, 2019

personasPreviously, we noted that content marketing is hardly a new methodology. Its origins trace back to the late 1800s, but it certainly has evolved as technology and access have made it possible for just about anyone to claim and prove authority and expertise. But it takes well-researched personas to create successful content.

In looking at the content marketing trends report produced by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), I identified some trends worthy of more in-depth exploration. They included:

  • Well-researched personas can help teams create successful content; however, too few content marketers (42%) are actually talking with customers to understand their needs.
  • Nearly all of the successful B2B content marketers (90%) prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message, compared with the 56% of the least successful.
  • B2B content marketers primarily use email (87%) and educational content (77%) to nurture their audience and may be missing other opportunities (e.g., only 23% are using community building/audience participation to bring new voices to the table.)

Today we’re going to invest some time to talk about persona best practices. A persona is a fictional composite created by looking at a set of your prospects or customers that would react to your product or service similarly. Think of this “person” as a fictional character that makes it easier to craft your marketing because you can envision yourself talking to them, rather than addressing a static set of demographics or statistics. Creating personas helps a brand create more effective messaging, create emotional connections with the intended audience, and anticipate that audience’s questions, needs, and barriers to the sale.

The danger in creating personas is that if you get it wrong, you can take your marketing in a direction that ranges from ineffective to downright damaging to your brand. You know the adage about what happens when we assume. Well, that’s the inherent risk of using personas if you don’t base those personas on research. Going back to the CMI trend report, the key takeaway from their findings is that well-researched personas can help teams create successful content. The study also found that most marketers were skipping that crucial step. If you don’t conduct the research, your personas are based on bias, assumptions, and guesses. Not the stable foundation you need.

You will want to do both formal and informal research as you develop your personas. Along with audience segmentation studies, you might consider focus groups, customer intercepts or interviewing your front-line staff, salespeople and call center reps. The more angles and viewpoints you can include, the better.

Once you’ve used the data to define your personas, you’ll want to go into a testing phase. The trick is to assume nothing. Test everything. What messages resonate with each persona? What triggers an action or reaction? It could be anything from a specific word in a headline to the color of a button on your website. The more you test, the more you can narrow down the choices, so you are left with only the most effective options.

As you’re expanding your data set for each persona, be sure that you’re working off a template to help you gather the same information and insights for each persona. Then begin to build out the customer journey maps. Each persona will have their own, so don’t stop at one. As you create the journey maps, you’re going to find they’re a blend of the facts, stories and personality traits you uncovered during your research.

One of the most significant benefits of properly creating your personas is that as you go through the effort, the marketing opportunities and messages will become very clear. The more you get to know them, the easier it is to communicate effectively with them.


Trends in content marketing

June 26, 2019

trends in content marketingContent marketing is not new. It has its origins back in the late 1800s, but for most of us, it became apparent during the infomercial era. There have always been trends in content marketing.

If you’re 40+, you might remember the Tony Robbins infomercials. They were thirty minutes of TV programming that was a blend of useful information, testimonials from famous people and the opportunity to learn more through the purchase of books, cassette taped coaching and live events.

Tony Robbins, way before we coined the term content marketing, was a content marketer. He was positioning himself in his books, infomercials, coaching products, and live events to be a personal and professional growth subject matter expert.

Many people found him obnoxious and changed the channel. But millions of people did not. I remember reading that he bought an island to conduct his highest costing private retreats. So clearly, his sales methods were working. That’s the power of content marketing. It repels people who are not likely to be your customers and attracts those who are. You’re not wasting dollars or effort on an audience that will never be relevant for you.

When the internet emerged, content marketing became more democratic and more B2B friendly. You didn’t have to have a budget or product that was suitable for TV or any other mass media. Now anyone who was willing to create compelling content and share it had the opportunity to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. The goal remained the same — earn their confidence and trust so that when they were in the market (a day or decade later) for certain products and/or services, you’d be in the consideration set.

The technology, as usual, was available long before the audience had adopted it. Back in the early 2000s, you could have produced videos, podcasts, and other vehicles but the internet and our cell phones weren’t ready to make those channels easily accessible. Remember, YouTube didn’t come into existence until 2005. So, the early days of content marketing were primarily the written word in the form of blog posts.

We were one of the early adopters, launching our agency’s blog in 2006. Thanks to the fact that we were very consistent in publishing and that there were very few out there doing it, we were catapulted to a national stage, earning a position on prestigious lists like AdAge’s Power 150 and garnering the attention of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and others. Blogging is still an incredibly effective way to earn your prospect’s attention as well as influence your position on the search engines, but it’s hardly our only choice in 2019.

Content Marketing Institute, which is arguably the world’s premier authority on all things content, looks at and reports on trends in content marketing. There are some big takeaways that I’d like to unpack over the next few weeks as I think each is worthy of a deeper dive as you think about your marketing plan for the coming year.

  • Well-researched personas can help teams create successful content; however, too few content marketers (42%) are actually talking with customers to understand their needs.
  • Nearly all of the successful B2B content marketers (90%) prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message, compared with the 56% of the least successful.
  • B2 content marketers primarily use email (87%) and educational content (77%) to nurture their audience and may be missing other opportunities (e.g., only 23% are using community building/audience participation to bring new voices to the table.)

As you begin to think about your 2020 marketing plan, be sure that content is a part of the mix.


How do you recognize transparency?

April 17, 2019

transparencyTransparency seems to be everywhere in the media lately so it has been only fitting that we have been discussing it.  We’ve been studying “mea culpa” ad campaigns and how the marketplace’s expectations around transparency play a role in that. We scratched the surface of how that same expectation influences buying decisions – both from a consumer and an employee point of view.

To round out the discussion, I’d like to wrap up by identifying how transparent organizations behave so you can not only determine your own level of transparency, but you can also make sure your key audiences recognize your efforts.

They have, share and live their mission and vision statements: I’m not talking about the seven-paragraph, jargon-filled, committee-written and approved mission and vision plan. I’m talking about a battle cry – a single sentence or a short series of phrases that defines who you are as a company, what you value and how those values shape your choices and behavior.

Every employee, and ideally, your customers should know what it is and be able to recite it. More important, they can give examples from their own experience of how you actually live it.

They speak plainly and truthfully: When a transparent company screws up, they own it. They don’t hide it behind legal trickery, fancy language, or hide. They out themselves and they focus not only on what happened but why it happened, and why it won’t happen again.

They’re accessible and open to questions and concerns: Whether it’s a monthly employee meeting with open Q&A or an active Twitter account that fields questions from consumers – a transparent company is present and ready to listen. They don’t always agree or say yes, but they respect people enough to give them a voice.

They take the first step: Transparent companies don’t wait to be asked. They know what people want to know concerning pricing, quality, and guarantees. Rather than waiting to be called out, they offer up the information before anyone can even think to ask.

They are the same in every venue: When you lead with your brand (another way of thinking about transparency), you’re the authentic you. Sometimes that’s playful you, showing employees enjoying an informal beer o’clock gathering. Sometimes that’s helpful you, sharing a blog post about how to best use your product. But it also means being candid you when you mess up.

It’s not about being one-dimensional, which is another word for being manipulative by putting on a front. It’s about being all of you and not trying to hide any of it.

They’re willing to make someone mad, leave, or stop being a customer: Being transparent as an organization isn’t about being a people pleaser or trying to make everyone happy. It’s about knowing yourself as an organization and being very clear and upfront about that, knowing that it will attract some and repel others. This is about wearing your organizational heart on your sleeve and letting your audiences decide for themselves if they love you or not.

Just a reminder – a genuinely transparent company behaves this way internally and externally. Again, there’s no faking it. You accept and celebrate who you are organizationally, keep trying to get better, and own up to the mistakes along the way.

This is one of those easy to say you do it, but hard to live it sort of things. You’re not going to get it 100% right. But own that and keeping living your goal to get better out loud so your employees, customers and potential customers can see you’re trying.

That’s what they really want. They don’t expect perfection, but they’re hungry to find organizations who are genuinely willing to try.


The hidden benefit of transparency

April 10, 2019

transparencyLately, we have been focusing on the “mea culpa” ads that we’re seeing all over the media. Wells Fargo, Facebook, and Uber are some of the big brands that have actively run apology campaigns.

The absolute expectation of total transparency is one of the factors driving the need for these campaigns, but that expectation falls pretty heavily on all of us, whether you are a local business or a big international brand. According to recent studies, up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.

And, by the way, that’s transparency inside and outside your walls. Consumers expect you to be just as forthcoming with your employees as they do for themselves. Here’s the upside of that, beyond that you want to be honest and trustworthy – it’s an excellent recruitment and retention tool when it comes to building and growing your team.

If you are like most organizations, your biggest worry is your employee base. With the unemployment rate as low as it is, finding qualified candidates who are looking for work is difficult. Even if you can find someone who is a good fit, their salary demands are often astronomical, compared to what you are already paying inside your company. Those prospective employees know they’re a scarce resource and they are applying the law of supply and demand to their pricing model. If you want them, you’re going to pay a premium for them.

As if that’s not a big enough challenge, you are also being ravaged by poachers who are plucking your best people from you. They are offering them huge raises, better benefits, more flexibility and in some cases, signing bonuses like star athletes get.

Why am I talking about employment issues in a marketing post? Because this scarcity is affecting your bottom line. We have some clients who are putting the brakes on driving new sales because they don’t believe they can service the increase in customer needs. That’s crazy! You know there are people/companies out there that you can help and yet you don’t invite them in because of a staffing challenge.

But here’s where being a transparent company has its added value. It’s one of the critical factors that make someone want to come work at a specific business or gets them to stay, even when they get another job offer that would pay them a higher wage or offers them other perks.

The job search site Indeed recently did a study that showed that Insight into company’s reputation and trustworthiness (translation – transparency) is essential for 95% of job seekers—and Gen Z won’t do without it. In the good old days, if you wanted the truth on what it was like to work at a specific company, you had to know someone on the inside.

But now that job candidates can crowdsource this information through online reviews, watch your social channels and assess your culture long before they apply – you need to actually walk your talk.

Indeed said when disclosing their study’s results, “Those who have grown up in this era of transparency are most determined to research a company’s reputation when looking for a job. Of millennials, 71% said this was “extremely important,” compared to 55% of baby boomers. Even then, a clear majority of boomers agree that this is essential information.”

Next time, I’ll outline some ways that you can spotlight your transparency both for your team and your customer base. Being transparent without getting credit for making that choice is an expensive marketing and employee recruitment mistake you don’t have to make.


How to say I’m sorry

April 3, 2019

sorryPreviously, we examined the reasons why more brands are feeling the need to say they are sorry in a very public and expensive fashion these days. I want to take a minute and dissect one brand’s attempt to offer a “mea culpa” that will resonate with their audience and smooth over the wave of negative public sentiment.

Wells Fargo does a lot of good in the communities they serve. In 2016, they donated over 9 million dollars to nonprofits, schools and community organizations in Iowa alone. In that same year, their Iowa-based employees volunteered for over 178,000 hours.

But even all of that goodness couldn’t protect them from the flood of media attention they received when it was revealed that some Wells employees were opening accounts for existing customers without their knowledge so the employee could win sales incentives. Wells Fargo was fined $185 million dollars when the regulators uncovered this transgression. Unfortunately, shortly after the first issue was revealed, CEO Tim Sloan had to acknowledge that the company had charged nearly 600,000 customers for auto insurance they didn’t need and a few other fee missteps.

It’s easy to see why the public’s confidence in Wells Fargo is a bit shaken and why the financial institution decided they needed to address it.

In response to all of the negative news, Wells Fargo launched a new advertising campaign, which is clearly an attempt to turn the tide of public sentiment.

The TV spot’s voiceover says:

We know the value of trust. We were built on it. Back when the country went west for gold, we were the ones who carried it back east. By steam, by horse, by iron horse. Over the years, we built on that trust. We always found the way.

Until we lost it.

But that isn’t where the story ends. It’s where it starts again. With a complete recommitment to you. Fixing what went wrong, making things right and ending product sales goals for branch bankers.

So, we can focus on your satisfaction. We’re holding ourselves accountable to find and fix issues proactively. Because earning back your trust is our greatest priority.

It’s a new day at Wells Fargo, but it’s a lot like our first day. Wells Fargo. Established in 1852. Re-established in 2018.

Let’s look at this spot and identify some best practices. First, let’s recognize what they did well.

Don’t deny or try to explain anything. No one wants the excuses or “yeah buts.” The spot recognizes that they made some mistakes that cost them the trust of their customers.

Define the fix. The public already knows what happened but what they often don’t understand is how you are going to fix the problem, so it never happens again. This spot gets very specific about some of the changes Wells is making as a result of their misstep.

What they missed:

We’re sorry. There’s no substitute for those words. The spot acknowledges what they did wrong and that they are going to fix it. You can feel their embarrassment but not their remorse. That’s a big miss. The bigger the institution, the more critical the actual words “we’re sorry” are.

Let me vent. When a company you love lets you down, you’re angry and hurt. You also have questions. A big miss in this spot is that they don’t provide a way for consumers to address their concerns. At the end of the spot, there’s a URL, but the contact information provided is about setting an appointment with a local banker.

In our 24/7 news environment, more brands of all sizes will have their mistakes exposed and will need to apologize. Doing it well could decide your future, so be mindful of doing it well.


The era of “we’re sorry” advertising

March 27, 2019

We're SorryThere’s an interesting trend that speaks to a significant change in how brands are evaluated and how quickly they can go from hero to goat. I want to explore the origins of the trend and next time we’ll look at some examples and best practices in response to this new normal and the best way to say “we’re sorry”.

Three factors created the trend that I’m calling the “mea culpa” trend.

  • The 24/7 exposure to news, not only from official news sources but also from our social media connections
  • The transparency that consumers expect from brands
  • The influence of being a good corporate citizen on purchase behavior

Remember when you were a kid and you had to wait until five or six o’clock in the evening to find out what happened that day? And if it was a really big story, the newspaper would write about it the next day or vice versa – you’d read about it in the paper that morning and then see it again during the evening news.

Either way, if you didn’t read the paper or watch the news, you might never know what happened. Sure, a few happenings were such a big deal that it was water cooler conversation at work. But we were not subjected to the same news multiple times a day like we are today thanks to social media and our 24/7 news cycle.

Not only is the news being distributed by new outlets but pretty much by every Tom, Dick, and Harry in our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, not to mention the private forums, chat groups, etc. that we all belong to today.

That constant information flow has made it much more difficult for brands, their leaders and employees to hide any transgressions. Whether a company experiences a gaffe or is actually caught intentionally making decisions that feel or are unethical, we know about it immediately, and we fully expect them to explain themselves. Consumers no longer accept or tolerate the idea that not everything is their business or that organizations have a right to conduct business how they choose and it’s not our place to express an opinion about it.

In fact, not only do we demand transparency and the right to the details, we sit in judgment of those organizations and their choices. We express that opinion by broadcasting and discussing their behavior, and we either show up in droves, or we boycott their products or services. Remember the Chick Fil A hubbub? If you supported the CEO’s stand to support anti-LGBTQ causes financially, you stood in line to buy a chicken sandwich, not only because you were hungry but because you were voting with your dollars. If you disagreed with his stance, you haven’t been to a Chick Fil A since it became public.

Consumers are much more likely to express their support or displeasure with their wallet than ever before. The #GrabYourWallet movement that erupted after some of the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments targeted Ivanka Trump’s brand, and as boycotts erupted, sales plummeted and stores stepped away from her brand. All of that triggered a 32% decline in sales.

The concept of the apology campaign is not new. After the big oil spill, BP launched a media campaign. Toyota did the same thing after their recall in 2010. But they were few and far between. The confluence of the 24/7 news access, the consumer’s expectation of transparency and the quick to judge reaction to businesses who don’t behave in a way they deem acceptable means we will see more of these apology campaigns.