Monthly Archives: July 2009

In for a penny or a pound?

pile_of_bank_notesLets cut to the chase. You don’t need a big budget to market your business successfully and effectively.

Start with a remarkable (read Godin’s Purple Cow), differentiated product/service that takes a customer’s pain away, and a clear strategy on how to promote the benefit. Mix in some and time and resource and simmer gently.

The Internet and emerging technologies have given you unparalelled scope and tools to cost effectively and efficiently showcase yourself.  If things don’t work, you can change them, quickly.

Google, MSN and Yahoo all have an array of search tools; free use open source software, promote via groups on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. Write a blog, write a white paper, set up a forum. Host webinars, seminars. Work with trade associations, suppliers and co-partners and reciprocate with links and offers.

Are you in for a penny or in for a pound?

Time to dump your agency?

a large invoice, yesterday

A large invoice on your desk, yesterday

I’m kickstarting the Marketing Assassin blog after a two week break, with a great link to Revolution Magazine’s ‘Is it time to dump your agency?’ test, first posted in March 2009.

Check it out http://tinyurl.com/qa7u4j 

I hope it gives you food for thought, especially if you’re finding your agency fees on the high side and the service and returns on the low side.

There is a bewildering selection of agencies large and small, generalist and specialist out there. If yours isn’t working for you, give them notice and find someone who will.

Five things customers look for

hand shake

The Marketing Assassin is on a mission to cut cost and eliminate poor marketing, helping businesses to better meet customer needs and consequently profit more from their marketing.

Regardless of the size, scale or perculiarities of your business, considering these five factors will focus your mind and give prospects what they want.

1) Make information gathering easy for them.

Everyone likes quick answers, and everyone has their own reliable sources. Become a reliable source by understanding what prospects are looking for and providing it – if online make your website easy to navigate with obvious signposting.

2) Talk their language (not yours) simply.

If you are targeting a professional service, like accountants, you need to let them know you understand their world, but also need to explain your offer (from a benefit not a feature perspective) in simple terms, supporting with case studies and third party testimonials if necessary.

3) Understand their buying position

Particularly relevant to b2b marketing, there will be a number of people involved, user, specifier, buyer, senior management to position your offer to. Understanding their place in the process and understanding what they are looking for will position you in a positive light and leave them feeling like you have considered the requirements of the whole team.

4) Accept they probably don’t want to talk to you straight away

Establish preferred communication channels. Few of today’s business people have the time to talk to everyone who calls them. Email, though growing, is an unobtrusive option which can be dealt with at a time convenient to the recipient.

5) But stay in touch

If you have positive engagement, strike while the iron is hot. Re-confirm the discussion, your offer and confirm next steps. Keep them up to date on order status and delivery when an order comes, and follow up to monitor satisfaction. Seek permission to make related offers and communicate with them, and this prospect can be quickly transformed into a customer and then an advocate.

Ask yourself, how do you meet your customer’s needs? What good and bad experiences have you seen as a customer?

Does your digital marketing sizzle?

standoutEmerging technology brings tremendous opportunities, choice and challenges. The ability to reach wider audiences, tailor products,  services and communications, and have better visibility of what works, all make digital marketing a must for most enterprises.

It is important however that companies consider long term, customer focused, permission based marketing strategies which position them as valuable in the eyes of their customers. B2C brands like Dell and Amazon do this supremely well butB2B marketers can take the best from their models and apply them cost effectively to their own operations.

Ask yourself, are you running an eMarketing programme (online marketing in tandem with other methods), running an eCommerce business (online marketing with transactional capability) or running a true eBusiness (with the front end seamlessly linked and automated into the back end)?

Once you know, your strategic requirements differ. They will all, however require you to consider the following model to evaluate your existing digital strategy:

Does what you are doing digitally help with the following?

1. Sell – growing sales by satisfying needs, easily.

2. Serve – add value and customer satisfaction with good delivery, regular communications and order updates and other online services.

3. Speak – starting a proactive two way dialogue helps identify and anticipate customer needs.

4. Save – doing it all efficiently and effectively, reducing overall administration, warehousing, logistics and distribution costs.

5. Sizzle – providing an enjoyable brand experience that creates positive word of mouth (buzz) and leads to return visits and purchases. This is brand building, creating an emotional tie with the customer.

If your digital marketing doesn’t sizzle, doesn’t stick people to your site, doesn’t get them to talk about it, recommend it, bookmark it and return to it, you’re wasting your time, money and effort.

Principles of marketing 1: Know your customers

Segmentation

Marketing. Some say it is about having a great product, competitively priced, well promoted and well distributed (classic 4 Ps).  Some say it is about turning a profit.  Some say it is about being unique and offering something no one else can. Others say it is about satisfying customer needs.

Truth is, marketing is all of these things and more.

But it starts with customers and their needs. For 99% of companies, innovating brand new products and creating a whole new need (like Apple did with iPod and iTunes) just isn’t a viable business strategy.

What is viable is identifying an unmet need in a group of customers you probably already know something about; segmenting that group to understand how different clusters of customers perceive value (e.g speed of delivery, high specification – quality, trust, reliability – good price, availability, support) and consequently tailoring an offer to meet their differing needs at a price they are prepared to pay.

Ask youself, are you promoting an emotion driven, direct to consumer offer, or a more complicated sell into a multi-audience business customer?

Do you understand their motivations, the process they go through, how they like to receive information and communication, and the behaviours and decisions they make as they work through awareness to interest to decision to action (AIDA)?

If not, you’re wasting your time, resources and money marketing to them because you’re not respecting them and you’re not showing how you understand their needs and motivations.

This is the first in a series of bitesize blogs looking at the marketing planning process – check back to the Principles section for more.

Co-promote your way into new markets

copromotion

As a brand owner, there are often times when the attraction to co-promote with another brand to leverage their audience and brand values can be overwhelming and seemingly foolproof.

Every day you can read about companies joining forces to promote to related and/or new audiences. Only today, Diet Coke are launching an Ugly Betty bottle which will be available only through Selfridges, so picking off a number of segments in one swoop, putting distribution exclusively through the aspirational high street chain.

This is nothing new. PCs have come with Microsoft software for decades, Nike and Apple successfully co-promote running-friendly iPods which track your performance online.

It can be surprisingly simple and effective for businesses of all sizes to consider co-promtion opportunities.  For example, florists and wedding car hire companies could easily reciprocate as could office cleaning & office equipment suppliers. 

The greater challenge perhaps faces the b2b marketer, where brand and the emotional purchasing decision is removed. But this shouldn’t stop you looking. Where can you either add value to customers by adding an outside service to your offering, or extend your brand into a new niche by working with another provider, or take advantage of an association?

Always think about amazing your customers so they keep coming back.

Remember, there has to be something in it for both parties. In some respects some of the rules that apply to celebrity endorsement (see June 2009) apply here to.

1. Agree objective and ideal outcomes.

2. How will the call to action by managed? Where will the customer be directed?

3. Who controls/accesses customer data? (To that end, agree what the customer is signing up for and with who?)

4. Who controls response?

5. Who controls management/fulfilment/followup?

Co-promotion undoubtely offers another lucrative avenue to prospects, but protect your brand and your values at all costs.

B2B marketing – undervalued again!

unfairAs a b2b marketer, just imagine the rage I felt when I saw these two roles advertised side-by-side this week. Reinforces all those nasty stereotypes we’ve all been working hard to break down over recent years.

Product Manager – B2B Online, E-Commerce, Website £40K

Town/Region: Manchester Salary: £35k – £40k pa + Bonus, P Contract: Permanent My internationally renowned client is currently looking to put in place an experienced B2B Online/E-commerce/Website Product Manager. Based from their prestigious Manchester HQ’s you will ideally have solid experience in… delivering Web based projects through your m marketing background. Excellent client focused skills are required along with presentation 06/27/2009 in Jobsite

Senior Product Manager – B2C Online, E-Commerce, Website £65K Town/Region: Manchester Salary: £55k – £65k pa + Bonus, P Contract: Permanent My internationally renowned client is currently looking to put in place an experienced B2C Online/E-commerce/Website Product Manager Based from their prestigious Manchester HQ’s you will ideally have solid experience in… delivering Web based projects through your m marketing background. Excellent client focused skills are required along with presentation 06/27/2009 in Jobsite

Very bad form, especially when you consider some of the biggest companies in the world like Google, Virgin Atlantic and Sony market to b2b audiences.

B2b marketers and agencies: Value what you do. It’s specialist. If you undervalue it, everyone else will too.