Monthly Archives: November 2009

Good v fast v cheap

You can have things fast and cheap, but the quality will be compromised (like economy airline tickets booked in advance online with brands like RyanAir and EasyJet or purchasing a mainstream car).

You can have high quality fast, but you’ll pay a premium (off the shelf technology like Apple MacBooks).

And you can have high quality cost effectively but be made to wait for it (like hand made products or buying Ugg boots etc from abroad to save on price, tax and exchange rates).

I’ve seen a number of marketing agencies give away their creative cheaply as they’ve jumped through the hoops of a pitch, and have sat with clients who have built businesses forged on delivering good quality, quickly for next to nothing.

The simple truth is unless you’re Subway, if you deliver quality, quickly and do it for peanuts, you need to urgently re-engineer the proposition of your business because you are not developing value and are doing yourself long term harm.

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Principles of marketing 10: Brand touch points

What influenced your decision to buy an Apple iPod?

Was it following the TV ad with the ubiquitous dancing silhouette? Or the press ad in last weekend’s newspaper? Were you seduced by the glamour of the Apple Store? The intervention of one of their Genius’s or the high street window dressing or in store point of sale display elsewhere?

Maybe it was through a great Internet experience or word of mouth, or perhaps it was you saw someone on the train and decided enough was enough.

Whatever it was, it was a touch point, an opportunity for you to engage with the Apple brand and buy into it. Whereever it was, the message was exactly the same with the product carefully propositioned in the same way.

Managing your brand touch points – all the points at which customers might come into contact with you – increasingly differentiates the average from the good, and the good from the great.

Customers are increasingly more fickle. Power is no longer in your hands as a specialist as there are more specialists. Providing an excellent service from enquiry right through to aftercare is a prerequsite not a nice to have.

Think about your stationery, signage, reception areas, sales letters, brochures, website, the people who answer your phones, how you present/demonstrate what you do.

Are you consistently delivering your brand proposition in the same uniform way?

Principles of marketing 9: Exploding the 7Ps of marketing

Classic marketing approaches like the 4Ps (or service marketing 7Ps) retain their validity today because they still provide a useful framework for marketing regardless of platform. As an example, I recently conducted an exercise to apply the 7Ps to an online marketing plan for a consultancy firm I’ve worked with.

Product: The act of providing consultancy (in this case risk consultancy) can only effectively be delivered in person. The Internet provides incredible reach, allowing companies to position, package and promote their offer directly to target customers worldwide. Websites can be developed to include engaging multimedia content, white papers and digitally distributed material to reaffirm their expert stance.

Place The Internet provides speed and convenience which is fantastic for a niche service provider. All available traffic and enquiry generation tools can be used, from search engine optimisation (natural and pay per click), to link building, social networking/media, digital PR and the use of banner ads on key sites.

Price Companies operating in this area typically operate a ‘clicks and mortar’ or mixed mode approach where customers use the Internet to research and shortlist suppliers before making an offline purchase through a bid/tender.

Promotion Effective measurement supports using the online channel. Customers search online so companies need to be located through search, advertising industry portals, trade associations and websites for influential trade publications. High visibility in these areas will stand companies in this area well.

People Most in-house marketing teams are small, so websites need to be automated as far as reasonably possible. Most benefit from functions such as FAQs, live chat, MyXXX login, forums, downloadable scoping documents to save time and provide customers with the information to ‘self serve’. This allows consultants to respond more quickly and decisively when customers make contact and also free them up to spend time on complex, high value contracts.

Processes Effective enquiry management systems should be established, with a strong case for automating many of the required steps in the enquiry handling process, adding the ability to quote/spec/tender online.

Physical Evidence Consultancies need to reassure customers about the integrity, safety and security of their website and doing business online by adding reviews, testimonials, certificates and privacy policies. Regular opt in email communication, focused around news, comment, tips and advice will demonstrate expert and trusted positioning.

There are reasons why the simple, tried and tested approaches in marketing stand the test of time.

Propagating your personal brand

You’re an expert in what you do.

Online, you might have a profile on MySpace or Facebook. You’ve realised it is important joining the debate on Linkedin, using it as a way of building your credibility and reach. You post the occasional blog, answer a question and contribute to some industry facing groups.

You may have a Twitter account and post links to content relevant about what you do to people who may be following you.

If you’re more switched on you might have some content lodged on sites like YouTube, Vimeo or Slideshare.

But do you have these listed on your business card? Are they in your email footer? If not, you’re missing two golden opportunities to propagate your brand and expertise.

Don’t settle for guidelines dictated to you by the corporate design police in your company. Extol the virtues and importance of these things to senior management and encourage their use.

Promoting your use of these technologies demonstrates your understanding, shows you are forward thinking as an individual, as well as a business, and that you are prepared to engage and enter into a discussion with your customers.

Principles of marketing 8: Defining your proposition

What is unique about what you offer? Why should someone switch allegiance and buy from you?

Call it a value proposition, a unique selling point, whatever it is, you need to clarify what you do, who you do it for and what makes it different from everyone else into a simple, clear believable statement.

I think that to create a relevant proposition, you need to strip a product or service down to its most basic functional, emotional & appealing components. That means avoiding best price, best value and best quality statements and instead focusing on what it does for the customer and the pain it eases.

Domino’s Pizza used the hook of pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it was free to draw in millions of households where kids were hungry and mum and dad were too tired to cook. By being specific and offering proof, they ensured that customers are not sceptical of your claim.

The challenge then is to condense it all into one line and integrate it into all your marketing. As a guide, you’ll see mine at the top of this blog.

What’s coming up from The Marketing Assassin

Keep registered. Between now and the end of the year, topics coming up on the blog will include:

– Defining your marketing proposition

– Exploding the 7Ps of marketing

– Introducing Chaffey’s 5Ss of internet marketing

– Brand touch points

– Tactical planning

– Briefing and managing agencies

– Staying in control

– Evaluation & KPIs

– Propagating your brand online

– Marketing budgeting for 2010

– Ogilvy’s How to be a good client

Specialist vs. Generalist?

specialist marketing assassinI’ve been involved in enough agency pitches and met enough clients and consultants to be able to offer an opinion on whether career marketers should specialise or be a generalist.

There are clear advantages in coming at a marketing challenge from both perspectives.

Being a specialist means you have tangible, recognisable experience within a given customer sector (construction), a specific type of marketing (b2b) or a dedicated tactic (like PR). Customers and clients outsource services like marketing because they want expertise and specialists can provide this in spades, drawing on experience from similar customers. Experience brings credibility and makes business development easier.

But this is also the downfall of this approach. Being a specialist can lead you down Niche Alley.

I personally favour the generalist approach because I believe that marketing is fundamentally the same discipline whether you’re shifting printers, toothbrushes, cars, ipods, cough syrup or legal services.

Experience from working with b2c brands can provide b2b marketers with real creative impact and help them stand out in staid markets. An understanding of how retail marketing works will help companies who embark on their own sales promotion drives. Public sector and b2b experience, where real thought has to be given to the process, contracting, tendering and meeting the needs of multiple audiences demonstrates the ability to operate in complexity.

But as a contracting client, a freelance consultant or an agency, what do you think?