Tag Archives: strategic

Recession marketing

In an interview with Marketing magazine, Nick Smith at Accenture talked recently about the four key things that businesses should be focusing on in order to safely navigate the recession. They are value, innovation, expectation and organisational ethos. Here’s my take.

1. Value Fundamentally are you overpriced for what you offer? What do you stand for and offer? What service, experience, add ons and extras can you or do you provide that make your offer more competitive from a total package perspective?

How does your value proposition sit when compared with the competition and the perceptions of your customers?

2. Innovation Despite recessionary economics suggesting that we ‘regress’ and seek out brands that remind us of more prosperous times, there is a data supporting the proposition that we’re attracted to innovation and the idea of the new, exciting and different. There are countless examples of companies and products (including Apple) that start up in recessions, capture the imagination of an audience and ride it out.

Where you can innovate in your product/service without losing focus? Perhaps on value?

3. Experience/expectation Nick says high performing companies understand the customer experience. What is undeniable is the power of the Internet, broadband, the mobile revolution and the viral nature of communications now means that businesses have to think much more strategically about their marketing communications. Brands like Vodafone map brand touch points well to ensure consistency and clarity.

Have you mapped your brand touch points? How do customers find you, engage with you, convert and keep coming back for more?

4. Organisational ethos With the Internet at the heart of everything, non responsible behaviour, or poor or non-response when a brand is under the spotlight, is amplified. Strategy, speed, impact and a feel for emerging technology are all key if today’s marketers are to make the most of opportunities and to head off potential crises.

Is your organisation ahead of the curve or behind the times? Surviving the recession depends on it.

Image watblog.com

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B2B Marketing Principles 10: Ultimately, think consumer!

The driving force behind this blog series has been to expose the common challenges that affect and afflict B2B marketing. It is clear that planning is critical to succeeding with a B2B marketing campaign.

You must, as a B2B marketer, understand your target audience, understand what they need rather than what you have to sell them, understand the complexity of selling to specifiers as well as users, create a value proposition to differentiate yourself from other providers, use all data you have as fully as possible, create ways of measuring how your business and its brand is performing, use eye catching, interest-grabbing creative campaigns and adopt the latest, and most relevant digital and online marketing techniques.

Interestingly, this often means rethinking your complicated marketplace and your complicated customer with their complicated needs and complicated multi influencer, multi specifier team dynamics, and your complicated product/service solution. But that’s unnerving so we tend not to.

Maybe we should ignore everything that has come before on this blog about why B2B is different to B2C and approach your challenge from a different perspective. As mentioned right off the bat in B2B Principles 2, we are entering the people-to-people era of business communications.

Approach it from a consumer perspective. You are a human being working within a team providing solutions to another human being or a team. Regardless of what it is you’re promoting, rethink the value proposition you give to this person or team. Are you the fastest, the widest choice, the most customised, the expert, the biggest, the specialist, the best quality, the best service, the best after sales care?

It would be great to hear what you think. Please leave your feedback on the blog, contact me on Twitter @renepower to engage further.

B2B Marketing Principles 3: The specifier

We know that there is more than one buyer involved in most B2B transactions, and that positioning your offer to the right people is critical. Different influences come to bear from different perspectives, and you as the marketer are missing a big trick if you don’t try to convince them all to select you.

Whilst in some B2B transactions, the rise of procurement may be the biggest challenge to some suppliers, I think the biggest and clearest opportunity sits with the specifier. Convince them that you have what it takes and you are on to a winner.

There are often two types of specifier to consider, the specifier within your customer company, and industry specifiers. I’ll explain what I mean and why you need to target both.

Take construction for example. You want to supply materials to the major house, school and hospital building contractors in the UK. Going direct is tricky because of the decentralised structure of materials procurement in most of these companies. Why? They have regional project managers who source what they need on a project or site basis. But they draw information and recommendations from architects, surveyors and other industry professionals. These professionals provide thought leadership on building standards, sustainable building and the contractors take their recommendations about materials very seriously.

Given the preferred supplier nature of this market, and the need to tender and get a place on the list, advertising and direct selling is only going to help suppliers so far. That’s why testimonials and credentials selling is more relevant and the key to this is using third party endorsement of your offering. In construction the architect and surveyors (designers and specifiers) are key players.

But what about the specifier standing between you and a sale? ‘He’ responds to your marketing and sales messages and seeks to balance this with impartial information from the community. He often knows what he wants and needs to validate his selection to the other influencers on the decision to purchase. He needs to present cast iron benefits for why your product or service will meet his company’s specific requirement. You need to solve a particular problem, and more commonly, provide some form of return on investment or reduced exposure over a given period of time. That way he knows he is making the right decision for himself and his company.

So, knowing who the user is not enough. Find out who the specifier is, meet their needs, support them in advocating your solution, and you stand a better chance of business success.

Do you actively target and develop relationships with the specifiers and best practice leaders in your market?

Image: http:// salesmanage.com

Excellent client service

Agencies sometimes get the concept of client service confused with maximising client profitability. They are linked from the perspective that happy clients are often spending clients but a good client service strategy shouldn’t unduly impinge or impact on your client relationship.

Clients can be confused and concerned about sudden changes in agreements, retainers, rates and personel so minimise any risk by putting in place a client service plan and then deliver against it.

1. Introduce Standard Agreements / Service Level Agreements for all new clients only, and roll them out gradually to existing clients of a certain size. SLAs are different to contracts (unless a retainer is involved) as they should talk more about service, responsiveness, policy and process.
2. Create tailored KPIs for each client (internal KPIs for the agency as well as KPIs you can share with the client to demonstrate your superior focus on measurement and their ROI). See my post in Principles on KPIs.
3. Create and then review a rate card of staff rates and include a transparent discount structure based on specific and quantifiable volume of work.
4. Evaluate and continually re-evaluate each client’s pricing based on the previous and predicted levels of support.
5. Produce rolling annualised internal plans, linking in to deliverable KPIs, with a quarterly focus.
6. Agree status reporting intervals and level of telephone and face to face contact with each client.
7. Provide transparent financial reporting and regular billing intervals. This helps to create more frequent billing where appropriate (to aid cash flow). Ensure invoices link to quotes and have all the right information to be quickly processed.
8. Working on a retainer basis provide long term security but often on reduced rates. Decide if retainers can work in your business and migrate larger clients to them.
9. Develop client optimisation plans (internal documents highlighting opportunity areas for each client) with the express aim of locking them in with additional and previously unused services.
10. Install effective, regular and added value customer relationship management with all clients & prospects (can be as simple or complicated as you choose).
11. Create a referral reward scheme and encourage referrals (this is the easiest way to secure new business).
12. Encourage trial & take up by providing a limited number of taster workshops, white papers, meetings.
13. Provide proactive reiews of clients, their business and challenges once a year.
14. Put in place a rigorous client feedback process right from first project, to six month and twelve month reviews, compiled in advance on both sides and discussed face-to-face.
15. Overhaul your website – bring in external support (most agencies are poor at managing their own site), add a client login area, add a blog that anyone can post to, and use social media to provide and promote incoming links.
Some small, some large, most relevant and at the heart of delivering excellent client service in the information age.

Comfortable in your own skin

Has your business rushed to diversify in the last twelve months because of the economic downturn? Has your management team realigned business objectives into new areas? Has your company overstretched in a bid to simply stand still?

Experience tells us that some recession innovators do ultimately stand the test of time. But what companies like Apple also have, and continually refine, is a compelling proposition, an unwaivered strategic vision and a serviceable market. Without these, most companies and brands can not last long term.

Most of us do not work for an Apple. But we should follow their lead and create and work to the same strategic framework in order to ensure durable long term business success.

This means we have to be bold, we can’t pretend to be something we’re not, we can’t try and land business we have no experience of delivering well, we can’t diversify into sectors we have no expertise in, and we can’t enrol new recruits without giving them the agreed destination and the map of how to get there.

In essence, we need to be comfortable in our own skin. Are you? Is your business?

Marketing lessons from the Football League

Football clubs in the UK often come in for a rough ride from the business community due to their lack of strong commercial focus and acumen. At the lower end of the spectrum clubs are getting into financial trouble due to their falling gates, spiralling costs and lack of qulity sponsorship agreements. At the higher end, top clubs are over-spending on players to try and compete at the top level.

I think it is interesting that the recent round of FA Cup games demonstrated how clubs across the leagues in the UK have come to prioritise the tournaments they enter, and to that extent show how clubs are now considering the bigger picture and the longer term.

There were expected to be a number of dicey ties for a number of struggling Premier League clubs including Burnley, Sunderland Bolton and Wigan but all sailed through as their opposition picked teams bearing in mind important league games.

Fielding weakened teams is nothing really new in the modern game, whether it is to win a league, gain promotion or even fight to stay in a league. It shows a commercial and strategic focus which provides a powerful lesson in staying fixated on your business goals, whatever type of business you are in.