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,)

Who’s On Your Marketing Team?

Marketing Ingredient # 005

Leadership in marketing

Photo: Svilen Milev

Your marketing team … your advisors … your marketing champion. Who are you listening to? Is the advice birthed out of strategy?
Be careful, everyone has a opinion about marketing, and you know what they say about opinions – everyone’s got one!

Also, do you have a champion that spearheads your marketing – the creation of demand for your offering? Marketing counsel needs to be strategic, profitable and proven!
“If your marketing champion cannot clearly clarify the distinction and the correlation between marketing and sales in a single sentence – fire them!”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

(Photo: Svilen Milev  http://efffective.com )

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

Discontinuous Change or Incremental Change?

Discontinuous Change or Incremental Change?
by Andrew Szabo

(Originally authored in September 2000)

Alvin Toffler, in his introduction to Future Shock, said, “Change is the progress by which the future invades our lives.” September is often a month of change, the future is invading our lives a little … our children are back in school a new year – new teachers – a new grade. You may find the rhythm of business changes, and of course, we have all been hoping that the weather would change!

Well we finally got a brief respite this week with our first rain in 70+ days! But then it went back to 90-degree heat and no rain – unfortunately that was only an incremental change – we went from the 100s to 90s. No inspiration on change there. A perusal through my collection of business and marketing books was a little disconcerting. The problem with books on change: books are static; change, by definition, is dynamic. There is, then, almost always a lack of synchronicity between what the reader knows of change in life, and what he or she experiences on the page. It does not help that the topic seems to attract writers who–in many instances–never oversaw any change efforts at all. Thus, most books on change are stern little sermons about pulling up your socks and looking for opportunities in adversity, peppered with snake-oil aphorisms, mantras of dubious efficacy (“Reframe, restructure, revitalize, renew,” comes to mind).

Another popular approach is anecdotal: a story of how people did–or didn’t–survive whatever grisly processes a particular company was going through. Many strategic leaders at companies, abetted by a sense of urgency and bevies of willing consultants, have convinced themselves that all they need to do to change is to decide to do it and then tell the troops, in the manner of “Star Trek’s Captain Picard, to “make it so.”

But isn’t the urge and the ability to “make it so” two separate things? Any kind of change is an organic process composed of many competing elements, an inevitable, unavoidable force with a life of its own. “Discontinuous,” as opposed to incremental, change is especially so. It is shaped by external forces–technological, competitive and regulatory innovation or the decline and rise of whole industries and regional economies–that engineer a radical break with the past. I have found that my strategic work in the last five years increasingly deals with clients facing discontinuous change brought on by external forces. Naturally, the commercial applications of the Internet have been a pervasive driver to change.

Why are we so resistant to change? Is it the fear of moving from that which is known to that which is unknown? I have seen many companies go through: “rational” resistance to change; the search for people to blame; increased informal communication, faction formation; the emergence of informal leadership; realignment of relationships, etc. However, the radical redirect that discontinuous change heralds, often requires a transformation of the culture in an organization. It means changing the values and worldviews of its people. People don’t come by their values lightly and they don’t check them at the company door, so they surely don’t give them up easily. Psychologists argue that people experience change as loss — even if they accept the need or inevitability of it. Change, like loss, requires time to repair.

An interesting collection of s: “Discontinuous Change: Leading Organizational Transformation” was compiled by consultants from the Delta Consulting Group in New York. No one will be surprised to learn that C.E.O.’s loom large as change agents, though they might be surprised that the authors zero in on senior management, rather than the much- maligned middle management, as a major source of resistance to change. In addition, to believe they have a stake in the future and in not being an obstacle to change, middle-level employees must feel that the discomfort is being spread around equitably and that the company is willing to help them gain skills and opportunities they can use to move forward in their careers, wherever they end up.

In counseling our clients in branding and marketing matters, a quote from an esteemed colleague often comes to mind: “it’s like trying to ask a goldfish describe the water they are swimming in.” Discontinuous innovation compounds the problem in that they are often no longer in the gentle creek they knew so well, but they are about to merge into the perils of the Amazon River! Bon voyage — the future is about to invade your life!

Back to the Future

Back to the Future
by Andrew Szabo

Often I find myself counseling our clients to market with a customer-centric approach versus a product-centric approach. This thinking is supported by the results of a survey of global companies that I recently came across. The Economist Intelligence Unit and Andersen Consulting contend that “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM) is becoming central to corporate strategy. While only 18 percent of businesses surveyed are currently organized around customer type, the figure is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2002.

Since the Internet allows the (already unpredictable) customers to exercise even greater freedom of choice, major corporations must therefore craft a clear customer relationship strategy. Businesses are shifting their attention from attracting new customers to retaining profitable ones and fully realizing their profit potential. And, in some cases, they will “choose-to-loose” unprofitable customers.

“Focusing on customer needs seems the most basic, fundamental tenet of business. Yet, major corporations are just now beginning to blend strategic thinking, management resources, front-line support and technology to better understand and serve more sophisticated ers,” said Dale Renner, global managing partner of Andersen Consulting’s Customer Relationship Management practice. “In the wake of relentless cost-cutting, organizations are developing long-term customer relationships as a path to enhancing profitability … this shift is nothing short of revolutionary.”

Other major findings of the survey include:

  • Companies are becoming more sophisticated at tracking customer profitability. Nearly 50% said that customer profitability would be a critical measure by 2002, up from 26% today.
  • By 2002, 83 percent of companies expect to have customer data warehouses, up from about 40 percent today.
  • More than 60% of businesses believe that “changing customer demographics and needs” and the “pressure to customize” their offerings in light of these changes, now have the most profound influences on their business
    strategies.
  • This new sophisticated approach will be aided by the evolution in interactive technology, specifically the soaring popularity of the Internet. Companies predict their use of the Internet to collect customer data will surge 430% by 2002.

Since not all customers are created equal companies need to build viable relationships to intelligently gather more data and discern the differences among customers. This “customer knowledge” can shape their offerings and marketing propositions based on the relative value these customers bring to the enterprise.

At The Marketing Chef we are particularly excited by the Internet’s capability to build customer knowledge. In my previous life in direct marketing we were able to build databases over a few months using mail, within weeks by telephone, but now with the Internet we can literally help our clients build at the speed of light! In addition, not only is it faster but also it is qualitatively far richer. New levels of customer learning lead to an increased ability to communicate with relevance to a targeted audience that is interested.

So the future lies in developing intelligent relevant relationships …  a premise that dates back to the prehistoric dawn of communication.  Back to the future.

Do You Know Your Right Mix?

KNOW YOUR RIGHT MIX?
781 words – Less than 5 minutes to read

Most of you are familiar with the U.S. food pyramid — you know, that pyramid of recommended amounts of the different types of food: so many servings of fruit and veggies, so much meat, a certain amount of grains, a bit of fat. Today we’re going to talk about its business equivalent: the marketing mix.

The food pyramid tells us the variety and proportions we need to achieve to be healthy. A marketing mix tells us the same thing for our companies. There are thousands of types of food, but they all fit into the categories on the pyramid. While there are over 160 marketing instruments in use today, they too fit into categories. Just as there are different food groups (dairy, meat, fruit, etc.), there are different marketing groups, and each meet a different requirement that companies need to stay fit.

Now, while the food pyramid shows the general guidelines, different people may have different needs. A pregnant woman will need to eat differently than an elderly heart patient. A child has different needs than a teenager; a weight lifter must eat differently than a marathoner. Likewise, different companies have different marketing needs.

Group 1: The Basics
The Basics are…well, you know. These things are foundational, they come almost as soon as you decide to open your doors and sell something to somebody. Examples of basic ingredients include a name, business card, logo, tagline, graphic identity, stationary, URL, etc. Every company should have these type of Basics as the foundational level of their company’s marketing mix. You can’t do business without these prerequisites.

Group 2: The Interrupters
Most companies must fight for their target audience’s attention. Individuals receive more information, messages and images now than ever before in history. To be heard, marketing has to interrupt. You know you have a good interrupter if your prospect does a double take, clicks on your banner ad, or stops flipping through channels in order to watch your commercial. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your marketing mix is if you never get their attention, so this should be a large portion of the pyramid for most companies. You say you’re fortunate enough to be completely unique or selling to a captive audience? Then bless your heart, you don’t have to worry about this one as much. But for the rest of us, Interrupters are critical.

Group 3: The Informatives
Some products need no explanation. What you see is what you get, there’s nothing mysterious or different about them. Most businesses have to work for it, though. They have to convey information about their product, service and/or company before people will . Informatives might be a big proposal, a video demonstration or a slick brochure. But it could just be the word “NEW!” on the packaging. Informative ingredients establish your credibility (think a radio interview or website), display your unique status (the only organically-grown wart-remover!), increase interest (wow, a widget can do that?) and move the conversation from your weakness to your strength (we may be more expensive, but only because we refuse to use sweatshops). If your product’s distinction isn’t immediately obvious, your pyramid needs enough Informatives to establish you as the clear choice.

Group 4: The Interactors
This could also be called the “Nordstrom” group. The Interactors are all about the customer experience. Obviously, it includes the level of customer service your employees show your clients, but it also includes how clean your store or office is, the on-hold message they have to listen to when they call (and how long they have to listen to it) and how easy and understandable your manuals, policies and website are. If you’ve ever walked away from a purchase, frustrated that you couldn’t find a cashier, or vowed never to return to a company that didn’t stand by its guarantee, you know the importance of the Interactors.

Group 5: The Closers
Every salesperson knows the importance of “The Close”. Your local bookstore probably has three shelves of books about how to present, negotiate and close the sale. Here’s where it all pays off — but it’s too crucial to coast now. Even businesses whose customers initiate and drive the close can build relationships, get contact information or up-sell during the close (“Would you like fries with that?”).

Trying to use all 160+ marketing ingredients would be as absurd as eating a single bite of every food at the grocery store. Instead, determine the marketing mix that best suits your business, then handpick the choicest selection of ingredients to ensure your company is strong and continues growing. Here’s to your marketing health!


Additional informaion about the different groups of ingredients can be found on the Strategy disk (disk one) of my recently released 5 CD set, Foundations to Irresistible Marketing.

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Super Bowl Ads

SUPER BOWL ADS
955 words – a little over 4 minutes to read

How do you measure the success of Super Bowl Ads? Some measure by a laugh-o-meter. Others go for big graphics. I would put forth that success is based not on cheap laughs or expensive art, but what the viewers remembered about the brand itself days after viewing the commercial. Last week, I dissected the Super Bowl ads with students from Dallas Christian College, where I was a guest lecturer. Here are the 10 top ads we chose, and why.

Best Storytelling
Human minds zero in on stories. We love them, remember them, internalize them. And, if the story is truly connected to the brand, the feelings produced by the story are transferred to that brand for years to come. Here are our picks for best storytelling:

1. Taco Bell – Date
Taco Bell presented an entertaining story, as we watched a hyper-drive man move with supersonic speed from meeting a woman at a party to introducing her to his parents.

2. Bud Light – Meeting
We’ve all been there: the budget meeting, brainstorming session on how to reduce big corporate costs, the young guy in the corner who comes up with an idea. In this case, however, the idea (stop providing Bud Light at every meeting) gets him ejected — literally. Companies may need to cut back, but cutting Bud Light is unthinkable. The best part? The last line from the injured golden boy: “I was just kidding”. Even a green kid like him knows better than to touch the Bud Light budget.

3. GE – Wind Energy
A young boy tries to catch wind in a jar somewhere in Europe. He runs to a quaint cottage to join a birthday party of his grandfather. Warm tones, music from the old country, European farm life warm viewers’ hearts. Grandpa can’t blow out all his candles, so the boy has adorably tried to help. He opens the jar and woosh — gale force winds escape. Capturing the wind is suddenly a powerful thing. Well done, GE.

Top Pick for Ongoing Marketing
Jack in the Box – Hit by a Bus

The witty, good natured Jack is talking with a staff member when suddenly, out of nowhere, pow! Hit by a bus. Overly dramatic clichés mock TV dramas. The key, though is the ongoing campaign at www.hangintherejack.com. Visitors can watch “home videos” from inside the bus that hit Jack, leave a message wishing Jack well and see “In lieu of sending flowers, please order anything on the menu, anytime of day. Jack would want it that way.” Now that’s ongoing marketing.

Top Pick for Citizen Marketing
Doritos – Crystal Ball
An office worker brings in a “crystal ball” — really a snow globe — that tells him the future. Of course, this is a DIY destiny, so “I see free Doritos” is followed by the guy throwing the globe through the vending machine glass. Sadly, his co-worker’s attempt fairs less well. This ad was a great piece done by an amateur filmmaker and some of his friends, and deserves the buzz it produced. However, the real payoff for Doritos is the attention it gets for the contest. Over the past 3 years, thousands of amateur producers have tried to create winning Super Bowl commercials. Well, these friends did just that and were awarded $1 million for their efforts.

Top Pick for Putting a New Product on-the-Map
Hulu.com – Alec Baldwin
Whether a Super Bowl ad is worth the money is debatable in many cases. However, one of the best uses of a Super Bowl spot is to introduce a new or previously unknown company. Hulu introduced itself to over 151 million viewers at once and put itself on the map. Overnight, Hulu became the place to go to watch your TV favorite shows on your computer. Traffic on the website has skyrocketed. Web information company Alexa says Hulu’s 3-month visit percentage is up 32.1%.

Top Pick for Best Offer
Denny’s Thugs – Free Grand Slam
Denny’s “serious breakfast” ads weren’t superior, but their offer was. During America’s most watched television event, Denny’s announced that it would give a free breakfast to every person in the country. They made a big gamble, and the following Tuesday, America showed up. I waited for 25 minutes, while some in California waited for 2 hours.

Top Pick for Best Commercial
(that wasn’t entirely dependent on humor)
Audi – The Chase
While most of the ads depended heavily on humor, Audi stood out with an action sequence. Jason Statham, star of the Transporter movies, is being chased. He moves from car to car, disappointed each time, until he finds an Audi. He zooms off, finally in a car that performs as needed.

Top Pick for Most Memorable
Career Builder.com – Tips
There’s a reason kids’ songs that repeat and build every verse are popular: they’re really easy to remember. Career Builder did it’s version for viewers unhappy in their jobs and few people have forgotten it. The punchy visuals and emotion that you can relate to if you’ve ever been in a really horrid job. Career Builder had us anticipating the next verse and trying to remember each repetition. Kudos for getting the audience involved, and kudos for getting us to remember.

Top Pick for Continued Greats
E*trade – Talking Golf Baby
This ad was another good one for the guys at E*trade. The talking and trading baby, who debuted at Super Bowl XLII and continued to be a hit all year, joined us again for XLIII. This time he was joined by a friend. He was also joined by the great audio-visual synching, writing and punch lines that made this campaign famous.

All of these advertisers saw increased web traffic and/or business almost immediately. They created buzz both offline and on. They were memorable, well-done and will generate positive return on investment. Super Bowl Ad money well spent.

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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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Building Relationships with Customers

Building Relationships with Customers
by Andrew Szabo

The nineties heralded the shift from product-centricity (selling what a company has) to customer-centricity (fulfilling customer wants and needs). This has allowed firms to not only serve large market segments but also small niches and thus increase their target market universe.

What does this take? A new value-exchange proposition, the development and management of customer relationships and loyalty, and marketing to the individual  potentially on a mass scale. To succeed in this new environment of constant change and instability requires new information, a new level of customer knowledge. Knowledge that is generated expressly for the decision at hand, not information created for another purpose entirely and then massaged on a “best can do” basis.

At The Marketing Chef we are strong proponents of relationship management and the role of strategic marketing communications to effectively support our clients’ marketing goals. In the last six years much has been written on the subject. From Peppers & Rodgers seminal work: “The One to One Future”, first published in 1993 to Bain & Co’s Frederick Reichheld business classic: “The Loyalty Effect”, and from the relationship marketing guru of Silicon Valley, Regis McKenna’s “Relationship Marketing” to great HBR articles by Professor Len Schlesinger: “Realize your customers’ full profit potential”, and W. Earl Sasser’s “Why satisfied customers defect”.

I know it’s hard to keep up in this day and age, so here is a good primer that I came across that summarizes several of the aforementioned authors’ work. It is located on a German Website at the University of Mannheim:

http://webrum.uni-mannheim.de/bwl/grether/Alba.html#_Toc362507130

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 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.

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.

The Power of Promotional Products

THE POWER OF PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
650 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

Companies invest almost $17 billion every year in promotional products, and with good reason. Used correctly, promotional products are seen 10 times as often as a billboard, have triple the recall rate of banner ads, get increased referrals and result in sales over half the time. Unfortunately, most companies misuse this advertising ingredient and waste both their money and the tool’s potential.

The key to harnessing the power of promotional products lies in communicating the right message to the right people through the right product. Many companies use a shotgun approach to promotional products. They large quantities of items and distribute them liberally at tradeshows, parades, and in the course of daily business.

Donna Bender, president of the Donna Bender Company and recent guest on my radio program the Marketing Point, says this approach squanders the potential of the medium. Ms. Bender worked for brand giants like Eddie Bauer, Laura Ashley and Salvatore Ferragamo before starting her own promotional product company. She was dedicated to the idea that promotional products used properly result in improved relationships and ultimately, an impact to a company’s bottom line. And what constitutes proper use? Three points: Brand Consistency, Targeted Audience and Value.

BRAND CONSISTENCY
If you’re a Marketing Chef regular, you know this point: Every marketing tactic you use should come out of a unified marketing strategy (in Marketing Chef parlance, your Marketing Recipe.) Promotional items must follow the rules of consistency just like any other advertising ingredient. As Ms Bender says, what makes a successfully branded company is that “everything they do, and everything they give out speaks exactly to who they are.”

Your promotional items need to fit your brand, whether that brand is based on dependable security or youthful energy. A company known for refined luxury giving away cheap refrigerator magnates, or a hip clothing company presenting staid leather-bound planners would not only be ineffective. It would actually undermine those company’s respective brands. Therefore, when using promotional product, find items that reinforce your message.

TARGETED AUDIENCE
In using promotional products, more coverage is not necessarily better. Gaining name recognition with the wrong audience is a waste of your effort and budget. Just like your other advertising efforts, the promotional product’s audience should be closely targeted.

Most often, the target will be the decision maker within your niche market. However, promotional products can be creative ways to get past roadblocks, through what Bender calls, “Romancing the Gatekeeper.” A useful gift to an overworked (and normally overlooked) admin might just result in years of good feelings, and more concretely, in getting appointments that your competitors can’t get.

VALUE
Narrowing your audience has another benefit: the ability to give more valued gifts. While it’s true that a gold pen set costs more than a cheap ballpoint, you actually make a bigger impact with a smaller quantity of highly valued gifts. Rather than spending your budget on unwanted trinkets for people with little ing potential, you can invest in your relationship with a few top clients or prospects.

The longer, more often, and more prominently the recipient sees and uses your gift, the more he or she thinks good thoughts about you. With a little thought, you can put something truly appreciated on the desk or in the home of a person who can influence your business for years to come. That appreciation becomes tangible—the value the recipient places on your gift can translate directly to loyalty, to a sense of reciprocity, and ultimately, to sales.

So rather than spending your promotional product budget on inexpensive items that you can distribute widely, invest in the relationships that matter by giving items they’ll keep, use and see for years to come. Finding a gift that’s consistent with your brand and that will be appreciated by your targeted audience is the key to unlocking the power of promotional products.

POSTSCRIPT For more on promotional products email me at
info@TheMarketingChef.com. You can also call The Marketing Chef at 972.444.9310 (direct), or toll free (US) 877.252.2995.

When is it the Right Time to Market?

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO MARKET?
1256 Words – Less than 4½ minutes to read

BOOM OR BUST?
Yesterday, CNN reported the Feds were still concerned the US economy was overheating; this morning NPR news quoted an economic pundit “fearing” an economic downturn, and multiple media outlets were reporting on Cisco’s better-than-expected earnings and bullish 12 month forecast as a positive indicator that the technology sector is healthy and growing. So what are we to make of all this? How do you react to economy changes both real and forecasted?

The news caused me to pause and return to the perennial question about timing one’s marketing activities. When is the best time to market & how should one respond to economic upturns, downturns, plateaus and valleys?

Ideally, you want your business to thrive irrespective of the economic climate and clearly some businesses do much better than others. History bears witness to the successful organizations that thrive when the economic tide wanes and outperform others when the tide raises all boats. I believe three key principles stand between the triumphant and the regretful:

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
I am amazed how few organizations can accurately describe their ideal target audience.
We all know that we can’t be all things to all people. Yet out of fear from alienating a particular group or segment, we try to accommodate all, diluting our message to the point of irrelevancy. Instead of being 20% relevant to 80% of your audience, I suggest become100% relevant to your ideal audience, the center of your target, the golden circle.

Although this “bulls-eye” may only represent less than 10% of your universe, your marketing arrows will invariably hit the red zone that possess 70-80% of the “ideal” attributes and can be excellent customers nonetheless. By focusing on the center you will nail BOTH the ideal and those who closely resemble the ideal. Such penetration marketing is like cutting through butter with a laser knife as opposed to dusting the outside with a little hot air.

Practical application tip #1: Paint the picture of your ideal customer. Analyze your past customers to see how they match up to the ideal. What are their attributes? What made them such good customers? What are their needs, issues, challenges, and decision-making criteria? Then target your marketing accordingly to attract more prospects that look like your best past clients.

P.S. Sometimes your ideal clients in a downturn are different from those in an upturn. For example, in the travel industry, the business client is critical for airlines in a downturn; without them they are “toast”. In a boom, the marginal traveler provides additional revenues with incremental better margins.

ZIG WHEN OTHERS ZAG

Following the herd means you are destined to forever be a part of the herd. The alternatives
are twofold: Lead the herd or Leave the herd.
This is one of the key principles ensconced in Trout & Ries’ classic marketing tome: 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. If you can’t take a differentiated leadership position, then create and lead a new category (or sub-category). Hence the rise of “fusion cuisine” restaurants in the last 20 years. Asian, American and European culinary traditions have been brought together to create unique combinations heretofore not seen on the planet. Anyone for salad with crisp nori topping, and a misocilantro vinaigrette?

New categories and sectors are being created regularly. For example, ten years ago, categories like broadband, online music, online dating, online training, e-commerce, e-learning and e-books had yet to be formulated … and that’s just naming a few. Now we have mobile commerce, many category components to the virtual office and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group vying to be the leader in commercial space tourism.

Another approach is to create a radical point of differentiation through innovation and /or marketing. Despite the fact that most physical-therapy treatments are reimbursable by health insurance, more than 90 percent of massage therapy sessions are paid out of the client’s pocket. One local Registered Massage Therapist, Dan Puig (RMT), not only has a nine-year trained background in the health field in anatomy, physiology, and surgical procedures, but he took the trouble to create the necessary strategic partnerships to receive third-party insurance reimbursement. The result? He has carved out a niche for himself as a registered medical massage therapist who not only is qualified to fulfill a doctor’s for a massage but also will make the necessary insurance claim on a person’s behalf so he or she only pays the deductible.

Practical application tip #2: Define your category or niche leadership.
ALWAYS BE MARKETING
One of the greatest failures in marketing businesses and organizations is the lack of consistency and continuity.he strategic objective of their marketing is to have their clients, prospects, referral sources and other stakeholders thing of them first, often and well. One of the three key factors to achieve this is to constantly invest and build into the relationships through relevant, persuasive and compelling communication.

I constantly stress to my clients that that the strategic objective of their marketing is to have their clients, prospects, referral sources and other stakeholders thing of them first, often and well. One of the three key factors to achieve this is to constantly invest and build into the relationships through relevant, persuasive and compelling communication.

It’s like a marriage relationship. It is my objective that my beloved wife, Melissa, thinks of me first, often and well. If she does not, then I am in deep trouble!

This takes a constant investment in the relationship. After all 20+ years ago, I made a promise. “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s Holy ordinance.” Well our marriage has been best when I have invested in it irrespective of whether times were good or bad. Likewise, our marketing cannot be “episodic.” It needs to have the continuous “drizzle” of good communications to keep the relationship healthy and for our target markets to think of us first, often and well.

Like in a marriage or family relationship, don’t just think of the obvious … I often recommend to husbands to surprise their brides with flowers not just on their wives’ birthdays or anniversaries. Likewise, “surprise” your clients with a handwritten note or an article you came across that is relevant to them. I can almost guarantee you will be one of the few in their business relationships that do that and you will be well remembered.

Practical application tip #3: In the next 48 hours send a client or prospect a trade or magazine article that pertains to them, (and share the result with us!).

FINAL THOUGHTS

So my counsel is …don’t worry about the economic pundits … market in the good times and in the bad. You can take away significant market share from your competitors in a declining economy and you can take more than your fair share in an expanding economy. It all depends on the quality of your market. Your target market might need refinement and your message might alter. But leaders, by definition don’t follow. In marketing that means you must carve out new categories and niches. Final examples … in the early 80’s downturn, I worked with Hyatt Hotels and I marveled at how they grew at the expense of their competitors. Also, I had the good fortune to work with several hi-tech companies in the late 90’s such as Symphion and others. Their marketing was intelligent and as a result they did not crash when the bust came – they retrenched, re-positioned and survived when 99% crashed.

So it all comes back to an intelligent comprehensive marketing strategy that will make your marketing effective in good times or bad.
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“.. people like Ralph Larsen at Johnson & Johnson, Richard Ziman at Arden Realty, Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide Financial, and Chad Holliday at DuPont—exhibit a highly sophisticated degree of business cycle literacy. They have built and run organizations that are strategically and tactically business cycle sensitive, and they are quite willing to engage in countercyclical and often contrarian behavior in anticipation of economic turbulence.” ~ Peter Navarro,
The Well-Timed Strategy
: Managing the Business Cycle for Competitive Advantage

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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.