Select the Right Marketing Weapons, Instruments or Ingredients

Ineffective Integration

Select the Right Marketing Ingredients, Marketing Weapons, Marketing Instruments

Major Marketing Malfunction #5

Strategically Select Your Marketing Ingredients

Yesterday we discussed how marketing is not any one ingredient and that every touch point is a marketing opportunity. Since there are over 175 ingredients to choose from, the strategic selection of appropriate marketing weapons to maximize this marketing opportunity is critical. In evaluating clients’ marketing strategy, I frequently see that in the haste to “put something out there,” organizations undermine their marketing effectiveness by not being more discriminating and shrewd in their selection of marketing instruments.

Imagine walking into a kitchen, you survey the spice rack with its plethora of dissimilar seasonings, spices and herbs. The pantry is teeming with an array of ingredients of differing tastes, textures and aromas. The refrigerator and freezer contain yet more ingredients – dozens more. Each ingredient possesses distinct attributes. Some are sharp and tangy, some soft, sweet and seductive, some have more meat than others, and yes some are junk! [Read more…]

Positioning Products & Services – “The Battle for the Mind”

Poor Positioning

Unappetizing Positioning

Photo: Tobias Pohler

Major Marketing Malfunction #2

Part 1 – The Issues

Positioning your organization or offering: irresistible or unappetizing? No distinction has no appeal. Trout & Ries in their classic manifesto: Positioning calls it a “battle for the mind”. Furthermore, I would suggest if you don’t position yourself, the marketplace will position you … and it won’t be appealing! Just as a stock is foundational to making a soup or a sauce, positioning is foundational to marketing. In my thirty plus years of business experience I see poor positioning as one of the fundamental flaws in organizations’ marketing strategies.

Your organizations’ offering or your particular product or service offering must “own” a space in the marketplace that is uniquely yours. Your positioning must also be credible, defendable, and sustainable.

  • Credible positioning means when challenged with the words: “prove it!” you can back up your claims.
  • Defendable positioning means no one else can easily lay claim to your “space.”
  • Sustainable positioning means that it works today, next week, and next year.

A simply irresistible™ positioning starts with your Extraordinary Value Proposition; don’t just have an ordinary boring value proposition. Literally make it “extra – ordinary!” [Read more…]

The Most Powerful Marketing Action You Can Take: A Strategic Trip

THE MOST POWERFUL MARKETING ACTION YOU CAN TAKE: A STRATEGIC TRIP
983 words – Less than 5 minutes to read

Imagine for a moment that you’re planning your first trip to Greece. You call a friend, who says “Greece — wonderful! I just took a cruise there. All you need are a few swimsuits!” A business associate hears where you’re going and says, “I love Greece. Be sure to bring hiking boots.” The professor who lives next door warns you, “I went for an archeology conference. Take enough paper and several pens — I almost ran out.” You take all the good advice and pack your suitcase. When you arrive, you don your swimsuit and hiking boots, and grab your paper and pens — for your ski trip on the slopes of Parnassos.

I know, you’re thinking the whole scenario is absurd. Nobody would spend that much money, have that much time to plan, and have this once-in-a-lifetime trip, and blow it by making inappropriate choices based on other people’s trips. But people do it with their companies — where the stakes are a lot higher than a ruined vacation — all the time.

A business will see a “great deal” on a newspaper ad and feel like they can’t pass it up — even though the company’s prospects don’t read that paper. Somebody at a network lunch mentions they got great results using a late night infomercial, and four different CEOs call their marketing departments on the way to the office. A retailer gets on the blogging bandwagon, and the unplanned blather tears down the image they’ve cultivated for years.

What’s the cause for these missteps which, at best, are a waste of money and, at worst, do irreparable damage? The lack of a marketing strategy. A company’s strategy is foundational. If you don’t have one, go clear your calendar for the rest of the day and get one. It’s that important.

In order to determine your company’s marketing strategy, do our 2×5 analysis: two topics, five questions each. They seem simple, but dig deep. Call in people from your office — heck, call some of your clients or vendors if you need to. Do what you must to discover the answers to these questions.

Topic 1: Your Company
Ask yourself the following questions about the business:

  1. Who are we? What is your brand personality? What’s your company’s identity? Look at your key people, your culture, projects where the company has excelled, the clients you attract and why. Craft a brand identity that is compelling to your ideal customer and that authentically fits who you are and what you do.
  2. What are we selling? What are you offering? What are the products, services, benefits and emotions you provide?
  3. Why are we in business? Go to your mission statement, vision, values and goals. Examine the unspoken values as well as the published ones. Compare the original vision to the ideal the company aims for today. How do these fit in your marketing plan?
  4. Where is the competition positioned? What positions have been taken by competitors, and what haven’t? What characteristic are already “owned” by a major competitor? How do you differ from the competition, and how are you similar?
  5. How do we differ? This is your Unique Selling Proposition — or better yet, your Extraordinary Value Proposition. What do you do that is credibly, sustainably, energetically your own?

Topic 2: Your Message
Ask yourself these questions about what you should communicate.

  1. Who is our target audience? Do you know who your ideal client is? What does a qualified prospect look like? Do you know their demographics? If it’s an organization, what are its characteristics? Most importantly, what “pain” does your ideal client feel that you can help cure?
  2. Why are we communicating? Why are you talking? What is it that you want to say? Develop your message and your core story. Everyone in your organization should be able to communicate your core story in 30 seconds and 5 minutes, with key players able to deliver it in a 15 minute conversation and a 45 minute presentation as well.
  3. What are we going to invest? Time to put your money where your marketing is. How much are you willing to spend now, and how much on the long term?
  4. How should we communicate? Given who you are and who your clients are, what marketing ingredients make sense? What media matches your message? What media conflicts with the image or message you’re trying to portray? Commit to a “hands-off” policy for whatever doesn’t fit — no matter who talks it up, no matter how good a deal you can get.
  5. When will we use the methods? Figure out your priorities. What’s urgent, what should be done in the next 6 months, what needs to be done sometime in the future? I suggest creating a rolling 90-day marketing calendar to keep the momentum going.

A marketing strategy will save you money, because it prevents throwing money into ineffective marketing tactics. It will prevent public perception missteps, because it will give you and all your employees guidance on who the company is and who it’s not. It will help you uncover opportunities, spend wisely, communicate consistently and attract your ideal customer over and over again.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll tell you outright, strategy is my passion. Nothing excites me more than to see an organization transform through my proven strategic process. And the process generates results. Whether it’s opening up a whole new market for a credit union, taking a portable air conditioning company from 8 straight quarters of declining sales to a 42% increase in sales over 12 months or helping a technology company obtain 7 million in new business, it works. If you don’t have a comprehensive, authentic marketing strategy, or if yours needs to be updated, take care of it now. It’s the most important thing you’ll do.

Here’s another action step you can take: Start your year off right by getting MORE business! Watch your sales soar as you apply the ideas, concepts and practical action-steps from Andrew’s newly released “Foundations to Irresistible Marketing,” a 5 CD set and 180 page workbook. The secrets to Strategy, Publicity, Referrals, Networking and Sales are revealed to make your marketing irresistible. In addition, your purchase will provide 720 meals, enough to feed 24 orphans for 1 month at a designated Children’s Hope Chest Care Point facility in Swaziland, Africa; which has the highest AIDS rate in the world. So, when you invest in “Foundations to Irresistible Marketing,” you will not only transform your business but you will transform the lives of starving orphans. Click here to learn more.

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Building a Powerful Brand

Building a Powerful Brand
by Andrew Szabo

So what is marketing?

Marketing is not sales, although marketing supports sales by  generating qualified leads and effectively communicating who you are, what you do in the minds of customers, prospective customers  and other stakeholders.

Marketing is not advertising, although advertising is only one of the  100 weapons in the marketing arsenal. Your marketing strategy will dictate whether or not it is an appropriate for your business.

Marketing is not your brand, although branding is key to your marketing success.

Marketing is EVERYTHING you do. Everything you do, (and don’t do), sends a message to the marketplace. Although these messages vary in their communications impact, your brand is the assimilation of these varied messages in the mind of the audience.

A key essential of the marketing process is to build a brand in the mind of your target audience. Wouldn’t it be wise to decide what the message should be and ensure that all communications reflect this message?

So what is a brand?

A brand is not your logo or tagline. A brand is more than a mere label and more than the product itself. It is the combination of values, promises and guarantees that frames the relationship between you and your (prospective) customers. A brand is the expectation of certain benefits between you and your (potential) customers.

According to Regis McKenna, famed consultant to Apple, Intel and others and the author of Relationship Marketing, “a successful brand is nothing more than a special relationship.”

Where’s the proof in the above quote? Ask any competitor, and they will tell you that customer bias, or loyalty to an established brand, is one of the biggest obstacles they face in increasing their share of market.

But what makes a brand powerful is the effectiveness of your branding strategy, your ability to create a mood, thought, feeling, and definition for that brand in the mind of your target audience. The power of a brand lies in its ability to influence purchasing behavior.

Since a brand exists within the mind of the customer, it can be affected positively or negatively by intentional and unintentional messages from you. Also, it cannot be arbitrarily changed, improved or “managed” without the participation of the customer.

Highly effective branding can be so impactful that consumer sees the brand synonymously with the product … tissues have “become” Kleenex, antiseptic first aid bandages “are” Band-Aids, Coke “is” cola. Branding can be so effective that the name itself is unnecessary, Nike’s swoosh logo is often unaccompanied by the company name. And yet, we all know exactly what is being advertised. Nike clearly conveys “action,” with powerful emotional appeal. Other brands have also become indistinguishable from their emotional appeal: Volvo with “safety”, Ivory with “pure and gentle.”

So if the perception of your brand is the assimilation of any received message that you send (or are not sending), wouldn’t it be wise to first plan what is the message you want to send and then ensure everything you communicate supports the key messaging?

All too often companies relegate the importance of branding and thereby lose the opportunity to give clients and customers a frame of reference when making purchasing decisions. People will buy brands they recognize, regardless of whether or not they know or believe the claims, simply because there is comfort in that which is known.

How powerful can a brand be? The most powerful brands of all are those that create a need in the mind of a purchaser that was not there before. Take for example, bottled water. American tap water is clean and drinkable, yet Evian is worth millions today. A 1.5 liter bottle of Evian sells for 20% more per liter than Budweiser, 40% more than Borden’s milk, and 80% more than Coca-Cola. That’s the power of a brand.

Strategic Branding

Since you cannot be all things to all people, effectively addressing customers’ needs, which are then re p resented by your brand, will require differentiating yourself from your competitors and identifying your target market segment.

The Marketing Chef utilizes a three-step process to develop brand strategy:

  • brand positioning,

  • brand personality and

  • core proposition

Each element requires choices. This in turn results in a number of tactical branding communications vehicles, addressing both your target audience needs and enable you to achieve your objectives. Strategically controlling your branding messaging and vehicles can raise your offering beyond the mundane, to give your brand ‘wings’ and an enduring ability to stand out from the competition. In addition, your brand must be sustained through consistent communication to internal and external audiences and stakeholders and allowed to evolve as your target audience needs develop.

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