Your Marketing Value Proposition – What Makes It Irresistible?

Marketing Ingredient # 009

Ahi Tuna & Wine - Irresistible

Photo: Shutterstock

What makes what you offer irresistible? A four part recipe:

  1. Novelty – What do you do or offer that is different and important to your prospect or clientele?
  2. Utility – What’s useful to your target audience about what you offer?
  3. Dependable – How can you demonstrate consistency & dependability to your target audience?
  4. Economic benefit – How does your target market gain an economic benefit from your offering?

Getting N.U.D.E. is the answer to your irresistible positioning!
(Acknowledgement: Adapted from Scott Degraffenreid’s research on referral marketing,)

The Totality of Your Product – Service Offering

Marketing Ingredient 004

A quality offering!

Photo: Daniel N. González

Your Offering? The quality of your product or service sends a message. How is it innovative? How does it address the customers’ core issues? Quality commands a premium and begins to create differentiation. Without a quality offering you have little to market. The quality of your product-service offering is in itself a powerful marketing ingredient.
Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

“Everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message.”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

Advertising that Clicks!

Advertising that Clicks!
by Andrew Szabo

If the “Internet changed everything,” then by definition, advertising on the Internet changed how we market. Brand-building is passé and straight selling is in; we’ve moved from “spray and pray” to ROI; from boring banners to targeted, content-rich communications; users tune out the irrelevant and engage in “permission” marketing.

“Like almost everyone else, advertisers are logging on. Advertising spending on the Internet will rise from $3.3 billion in 1999 to $33 billion by 2004, roughly 8% of all advertising, according to predictions by Forrester Research, a high-tech consultancy. A third of this will be spent outside North America, compared with 15% today. Whereas television audiences are falling, the popularity of the Web is rising rapidly. Three years from now, as many as 250 million people may well be online around the world.” – The Economist, October 1999

Everyone in marketing today is talking of the Web as a new advertising medium, but few appear to know how to make the best use of it. Most still “spray and pray,” throwing money at the Web in the hope of reaching a mass audience and building a brand, just as they did in the broadcast world. Unfortunately, this diminishes one of the Internet’s most powerful attributes: that it is interactive and relational by nature. By allowing users and marketers to talk directly with each other, in real time, advertisers can discover what someone browsing on the Internet is looking at and, by tracking such behavior, what their real interests might be. They can instantly put forward a custom-made offer. It is my contention that the Internet will on an unprecedented scale become for many organizations the delivery mechanism that truly delivers on the original 1:1 marketing promise.

The Internet may also instantly reveal whether an advertisement is working. Although this idea terrifies some agencies and marketing consultants, not The Marketing Chef! We are eager to measure something that has in  traditional marketing been largely guesswork. For the first time, we can truly  measure a client’s marketing return on investment. And by more effectively  communicating the right message, to the right target audience efficiently,  you should also save money.

How people use the Web is changing. Now that the novelty of randomly exploring the World Wide Web has diminished, “click-through” rates (CTR) on banners have dropped to as little as 0.5% of the times a banner is displayed. Susan Bratton, a vice president at Excite, a Web portal, complains that the worst advertisements are “endlessly looping, strobing, cheesy banners that obnoxiously scream out a free offer.” But users are more interested than ever in content. Some of the most effective advertisements are such examples as links in book reviews to the website of Amazon. People are starting to use the Internet with more purpose.

Yet novelty on the Web is easily imitated and soon wears off. Most marketers will continue to rely on offline media to build their brands. IBM, the second-biggest advertiser on the Internet in 1998, says that those who think the Web is for building brands are “kidding themselves.” Dot-coms and Dot- bombs especially, found that branding needed coordinated on- and offline campaigns. New brands need to be promoted where most of the people are:  offline.

In addition, we are beginning to see a new phenomenon: “Website distribution.” Instead of attempting to lure users to one’s website, marketers are placing the relevant parts of their site in a rich-media banner or an e-mail sent directly to the target audience. The banner, e-mail or content/link is the “electronic envoy” of your business. For example, users can see video clips and views of the different Lexus models, get a brochure and find the nearest dealer, without ever visiting Toyota’s main website. Similarly, Sony Pictures promoted their film, “Muppets from Space,” using a banner that allowed users to download a free Muppets screensaver, shows a trailer and offers a game, all within the banner.

To direct the right message to the right audience requires what I call “customer knowledge.” As collaborators with our clients, we need to understand not only the target’s demographics (details such as age, income, address, position, etc.) but also the psychographics of the user’s browsing and shopping habits, which technology can certainly support. As a consequence, the phenomenon of “permission marketing” is becoming a driving force in attainment of customer knowledge. It empowers the user to enter into an interesting new advertising value proposition: the exchange of personal information and preferences for receiving advertising that is personally relevant. Several examples of these alliances between advertising and the consumer have become very successful: My Points, ClickRewards, as well as individual websites like E-trade.

In conclusion, it is apparent that marketing using the Web medium not only requires a paradigm shift in new thinking but an adaptability to the very nature of the way the Web behaves. Just when we begin to gain understanding of the medium, we can fully expect that it has or will change. The Web changes everything or everything within the Web is changing? We look forward to being your collaborators in thinking and creatively making your Web strategy an integral part of your marketing success.

Leveraging The Basics

LEVERAGING THE BASICS
409 words – a little over 2 minutes to read

Recently, I blogged about the Marketing Mix. Now let’s talk about the first category in the mix: The Basics. Remember that this category includes those attributes so fundamental that people often forget that they really are marketing ingredients: your company’s name, business cards, stationery, payment methods you accept and more. Chefs will tell you that the “boring” steps of the recipe are often the most important: choosing the best cut of beef is more important to the meal than the fancy tomato rose that adorns the plate. Chefs spend time combining butter and flour and cooking it just enough to create a smooth base called the “roux” (pronounced “roo”) before adding ingredients to make a gravy or sauce. Creating a smooth roux isn’t exciting, but if you get it wrong, there’s nothing you can do to fix your gravy later. In the same way, the “marketing basics” aren’t as glamorous as a 3D ad or a slick brochure, but they’re the most crucial.

This year, Cars.Com spent about $3 – $4 million on their Superbowl ad. The commercial, in the style of The Royal Tennenbaums, was full of wit and focused on the message.

Now imagine that millions of car ers go to the site in the week after the game. Imagine that the site is sloppy, unhelpful or even frozen. What if it contained biased opinions or information that was just wrong? Imagine if some prospects tried to contact the company and didn’t hear back from them for several days, or weeks, or not at all. Like the smell of a steak grilling, great ads draw prospects to you. Once they’re there, The Basics – the quality of the steak – are what keep them.

Before you blow your budget on a slick campaign, ask yourself if you’ve covered The Basics. What do your people wear at work? Do their clothes underscore or fight your company’s message? At networking meetings, do your elevator pitches result in referrals? What do clients hear when they’re put on hold? Are you annoying them with bland music or using that time to upsell, introduce new offers or entertain them? Is every piece of communication (printed, digital, visual or audio) professional, on-message and proactive?

This week, spend some time looking at your company the way a prospect or client sees it. Remember, roux may not be anyone’s favorite food, but it’s the foundation for some of the best culinary experiences out there. Go do your roux!

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Making Pay-Per-Click Pay

MAKING PAY-PER-CLICK PAY
790 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

For large and small business alike, pay-per-click advertising can be a nimble marketing instrument with high ROI. It can also be a huge waste of money. A few tricks make all the difference. This week, we’re talking to Mark Shead, President of Xeric Corporation about capitalizing on pay-per-click’s flexibility, feedback and focus.

First, let’s have an overview of how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads work. PPCs are advertisements that are tied to certain keywords and phrases. For instance, a company that makes a seasickness patch might display a banner ad above a blogger’s tirade about a horrible cruise. Many PPCs are linked to Internet searches. If you’ve ever seen “sponsored links” at the top of search engine results, you’ve seen a PPC. And if you’ve ever clicked on one of those links, you just made that search engine some money, because (you guessed it), the advertiser pays per click. The order of appearance is determined by auction, where the highest bidder would appear first, followed by the second, and so on (but remember, they only pay that amount when and if the ad is clicked on.)

FLEXIBILITY
Pay-per-click sounds intimidating to many people who haven’t investigated it, so they’re often surprised to find that PPC is remarkably responsive and a great bargain. In the realm of marketing, there are sculptures skillfully chiseled in stone, like your brand identity. There are masterpiece paintings, that aren’t quite as hardy as a sculpture, but also take time to craft: an ad campaign, perhaps. Then there are your 2 year-old’s scribbles, created in seconds, prolific in number, and at best, destined for a few weeks on the fridge. PPC, then, is the refrigerator scribble of the marketing world.

There are several reasons it’s so flexible. First, it’s cheap. I mean, really, really cheap. You can test an ad on the web for a few days for, say, between $1 and $5 per day, then scrap it or change it, and throw it back on the “cyber-fridge door” to see how the new version does.

FEEDBACK
How do you decide whether or not to keep a certain “ad-scribble”? Feedback, of course. I’m not talking about the “No, really, I did like your ad, honey,” comments that your supportive spouse gives you. I’m talking analytics: hard data, numbers, statistics, facts and trends. OK, breathe. You don’t have to do this part. The nice techies at your search engine company will have an analytics package that will tell you things like how many people are clicking on your ad, how many clickers reach your predetermined goal (usually a sale, but perhaps the completion of a form or subscription to a newsletter). This allows you to test keywords and phrases to find the ones that maximize profits for you.

Interestingly enough, Mark points out that you don’t have to understand the trends, just use them. “The Analytics find patterns you can’t explain, but can use,” he says. You might find out that one phrase “crimson feather boas” works better than another, “red boas.” You may never know about all the snake lovers who clicked on your site with dreams of red-spotted constrictors, only to find your precious plumes, but it doesn’t matter, because now you know which phrase connects you to your customers.

FOCUS
You know that I’m a great proponent of targeting your audience, but PPC takes this to new levels. When you think keywords, Mark recommends brainstorming with the thoughts “If I were looking for this product, how would I describe it?” and “If I had a problem, and I didn’t know that this product was the solution, what would I search for?” Be specific, because the more you narrow your keyword phrases, the more on target you are (and therefore a higher sales to click ratio).

Focus on narrow slivers of internet users, but choose several of those slivers. For instance, if you sell super glue, you might want to attach an ad to the phrases “super glue” “adhesive” and “Cyanoacrylate.” But Mark points out that you also might want an ad with the key words “teacup” “broken” and “fix.” And for the CSI lovers out there, “super glue fuming,” “criminal investigation” and “latent fingerprints.”

You can focus PPC ads by geography, too, so your concert is only advertised to computers operating in your region, your grocery store only to your city, and your babysitting service to your subdivision. And you can limit when the ads run, so your nightclub ad only shows up on the first Thursday and Friday of each month (after people just got paid and are planning their weekend) to the hippest neighborhoods in the city. Talk about targeting!

So get out there and stick something on Google’s refrigerator door!

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Taglines – Ask About Them at Work

TAGLINES – ASK ABOUT THEM AT WORK
760 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

You try harder. You have passion for excellence, and care enough to send the very best. Like a good neighbor, you’re there. For all you do, taglines are for you.

Taglines (AKA slogans) reach out and touch someone. A tagline is the one-line (ideally 5 words or less) marketing ingredient that’s not just for breakfast anymore. It’s everywhere you want to be. Easy, breezy, beautiful marketing, because you deserve a break today. Get a tagline: it pays, so don’t leave home without it. Now, let’s look at how to create a great tagline for your company.

Bring Good Things to Life.
Taglines should focus on the benefits (always from the customer’s perspective.) The most direct way is an educational tact (especially important if your name isn’t descriptive.) You let people know about your unique selling proposition by simply saying it: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” “99.44% pure.” “Pick Enterprise. We’ll pick you up.” One of our clients, a property tax lender, has a benefit tagline that makes people do a double-take: TaxEase–We Pay Your Property Taxes. Benefit-focused strategy has even more authority with the addition of experts: “Oral-B. Brush Like A Dentist.” or “Max Factor. The make-up of make-up artists.” This strategy can also be achieved by pointing out what your competitors’ don’t have: “Where’s the Beef?” “Orange juice direct from oranges, not from concentrate.”

Rather than focusing on the direct benefit, many great taglines focus on psychological benefit, reinforcing the customer’s image of who he or she would like to be. Some of the angles to do this: lifestyle (“Las Vegas: What happens here, stays here.”), health (“I could have had a V8!”), status (“Shouldn’t your baby be a Gerber baby?”), values (“Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”), or problem-solution (“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”).

Have it Your Way.
A tagline should show off your unique selling proposition—whatever makes you different, desirable, more attractive to your particular niche. If you can substitute your competitors’ names and the tagline works just as well, it doesn’t work well at all. The mustard in the yellow plastic bottle could never use “Pardon me, do you have any French’s?” The stuffiness was Grey Poupon’s distinctive. Only Wheaties, with athletes on its box, is “The breakfast of champions.” Not just any amusement park could be “The happiest place on earth.” Rides plus the Disneyland magic made it so. Two cosmetic companies take totally different approaches to selling lip color: “Dress your lips in Armani” alludes to Armani’s fashion line. On the other end of the spectrum, “Smackers. All the flavor of being a girl” appeals not only to young girls dazzled by the flavors and sparkles, but also to their mothers, who nostalgically remember their first Smackers.

Contrast these with “Use Sapolio”, “Mobil Oil. We want you to live,” “Studio One. When Only The Best Will Do!” and the beauty salon slogan “Satisfying our clients.” None are specific or unique, and all illicit yawns.

We Love to See You Smile.
If the tagline adds no information, connotation or emotion, it’s a waste of space. “We’re Exxon” was a tagline that was met with “so what?” Equity & Law’s “Need we say more?” begs the answer, “Yes, you do.”

Wordplays (“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”), alliterations (“Intel Inside”), twists on clichés (“When it rains, it pours.”), rhyme (“See the USA in your Chevrolet”), surprise (“I liked it so much I bought the company.”), irony (“The toughest job you’ll ever love.”) and deep-seated values (“The few, the proud, the Marines”) increase memorability of your tagline and your identity.

This is the punch. Belgian lager producer Stella Artois went beyond snob appeal, and playfully combined it with humor that makes the customer a willing participant in the joke: “Stella Artois. Reassuringly expensive.” Aquafina’s twist makes the listener stop and think: “So pure, we promise nothing.”

True, not even “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” could make consumers believe that Oldsmobiles were—well, not their fathers’ kind of car. And “I think, therefore IBM” probably wasn’t run by any 8-year-olds before it was adopted. And Burger King most certainly wouldn’t have introduced it’s “Home of the Whopper” tagline in Australia if they’d know that “whopper” is an Australian euphemism for flatulence. That said, a tagline that demonstrates your benefits, uniqueness and punch is a powerful ingredient in your marketing kitchen. And you’re worth it, because you’ve come a long way, baby.

What’s the Point of Marketing?

WHAT’S THE POINT OF MARKETING?

873 Words – Less than 3 minutes to read

 

A NEW DEFINITION

I believe the marketing profession in the last 20 years has made marketing more complicated than it needs to be.

If I asked ten of you to define marketing, you would probably come up with ten different answers. Actually, you do, every time I conduct a seminar or workshop I ask everyone to give me their definitions and no two are ever the same.

If you all can’t agree on a simple definition, how can we all effectively set strategic objectives and implement measurable tactical execution? Or, even agree on why we need to market in the first place.

Successful organizations, large and small, have inculcated a branding message into everything they do. Everybody inside and out knows exactly what the organization does, stands for and is well thought of. Think about Apple, Hyatt Hotels, Nike, The Gap or George Forman’s Grills. What about that local restaurant you keep going back to and recommend to others. The dentist who makes you so comfortable. Or, the accountant that you trust and wouldn’t imagine ever leaving. All these firms and practices market but in highly differentiated ways, what is the commonality?

I suggest the beginning of the solution is to widen our view of marketing as merely advertising, promotion or collateral. It’s not any one thing you do … marketing is much, much more.

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
~ David Packard, Hewlett-Packard

EVERYTHING YOU DO …

Very simply, marketing is everything you do. Because everything you do sends a message. Every action has a communication dimension and can influence another.

For example, the telephone is one of the most powerful marketing instruments, if properly used. The number of rings before answering sends a message. The demeanor of the receptionist’s voice communicates something. Your voicemail greeting may need some work. How are you leaving messages for others? What do your prospects or clients hear when they are on hold?

Also, marketing is everything you don’t do. Because everything you don’t do also sends a message, that’s how small business marketing starts, people just need to understand what is a small business to start off. Every inaction has a communication dimension and can influence someone, usually for the worse. For example, a littered disorganized workplace sends a message. Grammatical mistakes in an email or spelling mistakes in your marketing convey a lack of care or attention to detail. What about that telephone call we didn’t return promptly?

So if marketing is everything we do and don’t do, what is our desired outcome?

FIRST, OFTEN & WELL

The strategic objective of marketing is also very simple. The whole point of your marketing is to have your clients, prospects, suspects, referral sources and other stakeholders think of you first, often and well. If they think of you first, often and well, then your clients are always giving you more business. You have first crack at your prospects’ business and you are getting a stream of referrals.

So why isn’t this happening consistently?

1. They have not heard about you. This is often due to a lack of marketing or your marketing is ineffective. It is drowned out by the 20,000 other marketing messages the average person receives daily.

2. They have not heard about your value-added claims. They may have heard about you, but don’t know or understand what you do. How many people, even in your own circle of neighbors, friends, church or gym truly know what you do? This is a great litmus test. Today ask five people you know and see how accurately it reflects “your marketing.” If you are not marketing effectively to those closest to you, do you think you are any better to those who do not know you well?

3. They don’t believe you. Sometime the problem is not a quantitative or qualitative issue of marketing. They simply do not believe you. You have not backed up your claims or made your messaging sufficiently relevant to the audience.

One simple way to evaluate your key messages is to imagine a thought balloon above your client’s or prospect’s head. Whenever you say anything, or give them a piece of marketing collateral, see the balloon. They are either thinking “So what?” In other words, how is this relevant to me? Or, “Prove it!” Back up that statement with facts, figures or other evidence.

4. They don’t remember you. Often, the failure in marketing is to convey a message that is sufficiently differentiated, relevant, or action-oriented. A compelling, unique communication that moves heart, mind and soul will cut through the clutter of insipid rubbish that the many colleagues in the industry generate.


FINAL THOUGHTS

So in reality you are already marketing, the key question is what is the message you are sending in all you do, and don’t do?

It has been my experience for over 25 years that all too many organizations are wasting too much money, time and other resources into marketing that does not yield the return they should be getting.

An intelligent comprehensive marketing strategy will make ALL you do in marketing more effective. Otherwise, it is like an orchestra without the musical score, the movie without the script, the chef without a recipe, or the battle without the plan.

In conclusion, I suggest you cease to view marketing as any singular activity but the sum total of all your activities in having your clients, prospects and others think of you first, often and well.

Procrastination – Why Start A Blog?

PROCRASTINATION – Why Start A Blog?
(535 Words – Less than 3 minutes to read)

Well after a little procrastination and a shift in thinking, I have finally launched the official Blog for The Marketing Chef.

So Why Did I Start A Blog?
I knew about blogs and blogging for years before I actually ventured into my first blog. So why did it take me over 5 years to start my first blog?

And, why would I want to blog at all? Is there anyone really out there? Aren’t blogs just for techno-geeks exchanging the latest developments, teenagers blathering about boy/girlfriends? The elections of 2004 brought out the best and worst in blogs from an effective political and fundraising tool to the cadre of self-opinionated political zealots proselytizing hot air agendas. Then there are the technical journals full of nomenclature understandable solely by rocket scientists and brain surgeons. So for some time I decided blogs were not for me and I paid scant attention to the “blogoshere”.

Then about a year or two ago my thinking changed. I began to see others effectively use the blog as a bona fide marketing instrument for:

  • A tool for SEO – Search Engine Optimization
  • An additional information resource for clients and prospects
  • Another “entry point” for suspects and prospects.

So today, the first official entry for the Marketing Chef, will tackle the blog as a support mechanism for SEO. If done properly, it will get your website pages spidered almost immediately and indexed in less than a week.

Blog and Ping
The basic method is to connect your blog (I recommend and use Google’s
http://www.blogger.com/) to your website. (If you don’t have a Website yet, set up a myYahoo page). You add the RSS or Atom link from your blog to your Web page or myYahoo page, so that your blog feeds into your website. You then write an entry to your blog with links to the Web pages that you want Google and Yahoo to find and index. After publishing your new blog entry, you then ping your website or myYahoo page to tell it that there’s a new entry at your blog. Then you go to Yahoo, open your myYahoo page, and the blog headline should be there.

The assumption is that Yahoo would spider all feeds going into it’s myYahoo pages and because Google owns Blogger.com they would spider all new blog entries at Blogger.com and I have seen this happen with the successful blogs and that’s why The Marketing Chef is following suit.

Feed Me Seymour!
So start a blog, add frequent entries, and in less than a week it will be getting spidered almost as you post to it. But you must frequently post to your blog, preferably daily. Posting daily communicates to the search engines that you are a serious content generator. Search engines then realize they can rely on you to publish fresh content every day. Brand new content is the life blood of search engines. Without fresh content search engines users may look elsewhere.

Feed the search engines and you will be rewarded with almost immediate listings in their directories. How well you rank by keywords and will be the subject matter for another day.