Marketing At Every Touch Point

An Apple - One ingredient doesn't

Marketing, like in cooking, isn’t any singular ingredient

Every Touch Point is a Marketing Opportunity

 “What do you think of Twitter?”

“Are traditional websites are thing of the past?”
“Should I be replacing my brochures and one-sheets with YouTube® videos?”

Three typical questions I hear when giving marketing speeches. But underlying these and many other similar questions is a mistaken singular focus on a specific marketing ingredient as if it’s going to be the panacea of one’s marketing. It would be like asking a chef,

“What do you think of pomegranates?”

Or, “Is goose liver passé?”

“Shall I get rid of the cauliflower and broccoli and replace them with broccoflower?”

Both sets of questions don’t make a whole lot of sense. Marketing, like cooking, isn’t any one thing you do. The power of marketing, as in cooking, is in the appropriate selection, combination and deployment of ingredients.

There are over 175 marketing ingredients in your “marketing pantry” – there’s plenty to select from! The key is strategically selecting the right ingredients for your particular business. Marketing ingredients are not just the obvious things like your business card, website or advertising, but everything in your business. Because everything you do, (and don’t do), sends a message: how you answer your phone, the quality of your service and the cleanliness of your facilities all send a message. [Read more…]

Tagline – Your Positioning Slogan

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

The Marketing Chef Logo

STIRRING UP SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE  BUSINESS

Part 2 – Tagline Keys

In the last post on marketing taglines and slogans we covered their importance as a marketing ingredient to position your product or service offering in the mind of your target market. To be memorable it needs to be:

  1. Short
  2. Distinctive – unusual combination of words, but
  3. General enough to be applied in different contexts

The Cornell University study also discovered that memorable marketing slogans, quotes and phrases use:

  •  More present tense verbs, versus past tense
  • Few pronouns (other than you),
  • The indefinite article “a” rather than the definite article “the”,

These all contribute to taglines that are more general than specific.

So let’s put this to the test. I took the first ten of Forbes List of 20 Best-Loved Taglines: [Read more…]

Brand Taglines – Your Key Marketing Ingredient to Position your Offering

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

Marketing Ingredient # 015 - Your Brand Tagline

Photo: M. A. Makky

Part 1 – Tagline Basics

When you think of a company, product, or service, what is one of the first things that come to mind?  Probably the tagline With so many business names out there and many more goods and services, memorable differentiation is key. Think about it, can you remember the name of your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant?  You will more than likely remember it as ‘eggs and bacon’, or ‘the nacho platter’.  This applies to many things we spend our money on.

Taglines that are memorable position your offering in the mind of your target audience.  Taglines are the key ingredient that will make your business, product, or service memorable above all others.  Taglines are what make certain cereals stand out and sell better than others.  Taglines position particular automobiles to be dependable: “Built Ford Tough” or perhaps the exceptional: Land Rover “Go beyond.

It’s unclear when the first tagline was ever used. However we do know that in 1907, a coffee company used a slogan stating their brand was “good to the last tiny drop.”  That slogan was used well into the 1980s. Maxwell House proved a great tagline withstands the test of time.  Others have had similar success stories following a few simple principles.  [Read more…]

Graphic Identity – Marketing your Brand Visually

Marketing Ingredient # 014 - Your Graphic Identity & Palette

Photo: Dave Di Biase

Food that’s colorful and visually appealing is more tempting.  Is your brand identity and color palette visually stimulating?  Or unappetizing marketing?

Your graphic identity is the visual representation of your brand.  It includes the logo, fonts, your color palette and any other tangible imagery such as photos, packaging and signage.  It’s visually marketing your brand through imagery. Brand identity reflects in every graphic display of your organization: Web site, printed materials, social media headers, golf shirts, and even your physical facility and vehicle fleet, (if you have them).  Your graphic identity is not your brand, (how you are perceived by the marketplace), but it is an important element of your branding.  Your graphic identity will probably be the first impression, the first message received by the outside world and your target market.

A strong brand has a graphic identity that is simple and distinct.  But is must also be consistent, relevant to your target audience and spark an emotional connection.  Think of robust brands such as Apple®, Starbucks®, Target®, Coca-Cola®, NBC® and Amazon®.  Can you see these brands?  What do you feel?  Each of these brands possess a level of simplicity combined with an instinctive emotion.

So what makes for a superior graphic identity?  [Read more…]

Strategic Marketing Action Plan

Marketing Ingredient # 013

Your Marketing Action Plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”, declares the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The Marketing Chef states “too much marketing is wishful goal-setting.” Why? Absent an explicit actionable marketing plan, many well-intentioned marketing activities descend into a haphazard mixture of marketing ingredients hastily thrown together. A bizarre concoction – a quick repast to satisfy the immediate craving for more business rather than a well-planned, systematic formal spread that is “simply irresistible”. [Read more…]

Your Marketing Calendar Prevents “Marketing Episodes”

Marketing Ingredient # 012

Photo: Maxime Perron

The key marketing ingredient that facilitates the success of your marketing goals is your marketing calendar. It helps you prioritize all the other ingredients and sequence them just like a recipe.

After all what is a recipe? A list of ingredients in specific portions accompanied by a sequence of strategically oriented actions.

Implementing your marketing calendar effectively, will not only enable you to coordinate all your marketing, but also assists you in budgeting your efforts.

A marketing calendar will strategically systemitize your marketing efforts and eliminate “marketing episodes” – when the panic sets in and you say – “We need more business, lets _____(Fill in the blank)*___ “ and causes more wasted marketing dollars than anything else!

* Redo our website / do a direct marketing campaign / launch a Facebook page / create a marketing video / and many more!

What’s Your Story?

Marketing Ingredient # 011

Is your message as bland as spam?

Photo: Joe Gough

Every person, every business, every organization has a story to tell. Sadly, most are as bland as spam!

Children and adults alike, love stories. A good story is the underpinning to great movies, sermons and life! And your core story is a key foundational ingredient to your marketing, just as a tasty stock is foundational to an excellent soup or sauce!

Find your story. Structure it as a story. Begin with an irresistible set-up; the middle holds you with fascination or action, and the end builds to climax and resolution.
In addition, make sure it’s relevant to your target audience. Ensure it is persuasive (moves the heart, mind and soul), and it’s compelling  … ignites action!

What’s The Personality of Your Brand?

Marketing Ingredient # 010

Branding iron

Photo: Shutterstock F.C.G.

Every brand has a personality – what’s yours?

Every automobile brand has a particular personality … actors, singers and great speakers all have a distinct personality.

What are the five words you want to be known by?

Test it:

* Is it emotionally evocative?
* Is it authentic?

* Is it aligned to your vision?

Whether the brand is for an organization or for yourself – make it intentional and explicit – don’t let it be accidental and implicit!

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,)

Competitive Differentiation with Relevancy & Value

Marketing Ingredient # 008

Competitive Differentiation

Photo: Liz West

 

Competitive Differentiation – What make you different from everyone else? What attribute, specialty, service experience or customer preference uniquely belongs to you? Find it – communicate it – and you will command a premium in the marketplace … with a caveat.

There are many way to differentiate yourself: features, service, performance, pricing, target audience. BUT, it only matters if it matters to your client or customer. If they don’t appreciate the differentiation then don’t bother! Competitive differentiation is a step in the right direction – differentiators that your customer actually cares about and values is an ingredient to Irresistible Marketing™.

… I’m curious … what’s your competitive differentiation? Share here and pass it on!

Competitive Assessment – How do you rate relative to your competitors?

Marketing Ingredient # 007

Competitive Assessment

Photo: stock.xchng

A common pitfall among entrepreneurs and business executives alike is underestimating the competition. It’s a crowded and noisy marketplace – to be different you have to know what’s out there! (And please don’t tell us you have no competition!)
Also, don’t forget that two of the biggest competitors are apathy and the incumbent.
Key question: What are the key product – service attributes that are important to the customer? How do your competitors rate? How do you rate relative to your competitors? Plotting the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses relative to yours is a key marketing ingredient.

Target Market – Who’s The Ideal Target Audience

Marketing Ingredient # 006

Target on apple

Photo: Jay Lopez

Your target audience – Your best customers and clients are probably your most profitable … what attributes make them ideal? Who are your “ideal” customers? What do they look like? What are their attributes? Their needs? What’s their core issue? What is the fundamental problem that keeps them awake at night … which you can uniquely solve?

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …
“To hit the target you must aim for the center – therefore start by defining the 100% ideal client – the bulls eye!”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

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

Your email address – What does it say about you?

Marketing Ingredient # 003

Email Address @ Symbol

Photo: Zoran Ozetsky

 

Your email address –  What does it say about you?
Does it support your personal brand?
… especially if you’re in business for your self?
Using @yahoo.com, @att.net, @gmail.net, @hotmail.com etc., while appropriate for a personal email, for business sends the wrong message! Invest the ten bucks – get an appropriate domain name (URL) and set up a professional email account.
Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

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

 

 

 

Effective URLs – Irresistible Marketing Starts Here …

Marketing Ingredient # 002

Your URL www

Photo: Svilen Milev

 

 

Your web address –  What does it say about you or your business or organization? Three things to consider:

1. Does it add or subtract from your brand?
2. Is it memorable?
3. Does it help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

 

(Photo: Svilen Milev)

Business Name / Organization name – What Does it convey?

Marketing Ingredient #001

Marketing Ingredient # 001 - Your Business Name

Photo: Bill Davenport http://lightnshadow.blogspot.com

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here  … Marketing Ingredient # 001 – Your name – What does it convey  about you, your organization or business?

 

 

 

Marketing, Innovation and the Branding Disasters of 2010

The power of a ubiquitous commanding brand is undeniable. It gets our attention. We find them irresistible. Large companies invest millions into building and protecting their brand. But in the “everything you do sends a message” department, the higher you climb the bigger the potential fall.

24/7 Wall St. published a list of top ten name brands that have appear to have lost over $100 billion, (yes that’s a “b” not a typo) since the beginning of the year. The selection criteria was based on evaluations from top branding companies: Interbrand and Brand Z’s brand valuation methodology and a whole host of other market and financial criteria.

There are the obvious reputation management disasters: the oil spill of BP (BP), Toyota’s (TM) vehicular debacle, the SEC investigation of Goldman Sachs (GS) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recall calamities.

But then there are brands that have lost their way – companies once known for their innovation: Sony (SNE), Adobe (ADBE), Dell (DELL), Research in Motion (RIMM), Nokia (NOK). The lessons to their fall are a reminder to all of us, (in Peter Drucker’s words): “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

It is interesting that Drucker chose to put marketing ahead of innovation. After all, a decent product that is well marketed will always outperform a great product that has only modest marketing. A lesson for all of us. Pay attention to your marketing, especially your reputation. And never lose your streak of innovation.

Click here for the full article “The 10 Biggest Brand Disasters of 2010” in Daily Finance.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management

This Recession is not My Recession

This recession is not my recession
Practical suggestions on not behaving like a lemming.

by Andrew Szabo

(First published as an exclusive article for “Progressive Distributor”)

Few would argue that we are now in an economic recession. The pundits’ endless debate now centers onwhether it’s going to be long or short, the landing hard or soft, the impact on the financial markets, the effect on other economies and their effect on America and so on. My first question is: so what? The problem of this macro-perspective is that it speaks little of your business or mine, yet we often wallow in the media’s doom-and-gloom forecast.

Like lemmings, too many business leaders accept these editorials as a foregone diagnosis of the state of their business. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: They become a contributing statistic to the depressed economy. Like lemmings mimicking another’s behavior, they react identically and fall off the cliff together.

Yet every downturn, crash, recession, or even depression has winners that succeed. Companies not only survive, but thrive, in the negative environment. What are they doing differently? If misery loves company, do the joyful seek a different path? I would suggest two key ideas that can significantly contribute to making this recession not your recession.

Stay out of it
First, resolve not to contribute to the recession. Make a choice not to suffer like everyone else. Instead, be proactive and prosper. Hyatt Hotels in the early ’80s is a classic case study in this behavior. The recession, never good news for luxury hotels, hit its peak during 1981-1982. Several cities already had a glut of hotel rooms but Hyatt resolutely went after new guests, rewarded loyal clients, made cuts only where they were not visible to the guest experience. They opened new properties, hitting the competition hard in several new markets where aging competitors were unable or unwilling to reinvest in their existing properties.

Get on the offensive
Second, take business away from your competition, which will increase your market share despite the total pie shrinking.

Sounds simple enough, but the challenge is in the implementation. There are only three effective ways to get more business.

  • Gain share of wallet. Increase business from your existing
    customers.

  • Promote loyalty. Encourage clients to continue to engage
    in profitable behavior.
    Target customer acquisition. Acquire new business from
    your competition that looks like your best customers.

Effectiveness in each of these areas is highly dependent on the quality of the relationship. Customer relationships are no different from marriages or friendships. They require an understanding of the other party (which entails investing time and other resources). Understanding your customer requires knowledge – gathering comprehensive information, behavioral knowledge and transactional data. It requires a disciplined investment of time and resources in an intelligent process. The technology that holds this all together is often categorized as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Practical solutions
Working with Sony soon after its successful launch of PlayStation, we ascertained that to increase market share and sell more games (their bread-and-butter in terms of margins), Sony would have to learn about their customers. Since it sold both the hardware and software through retailers, it had no direct contact or knowledge of its customers, except for the few warranty cards that purchasers returned.

By developing a cutting-edge relationship program that tapped into the psyche of gamers, we challenged the gamers to tell us who they conquered in what game. As a reward, they were admitted into the PS Underground, a “stealth” Web site and loyalty program that gave them inside information on new developments and tips on existing games.

Within 12 months, Sony built a base of 40,000 customer names into a comprehensive customer knowledge bank of 500,000 enthusiastic gamers with known genre preferences. This information was then leveraged into targeted, personalized, marketing campaigns that both gained a greater share of wallet and engendered loyalty, making them resistant to new game launches such as Nintendo 64. Sony crushed Sega, and greatly mitigated the threat from Nintendo’s launch of N64.

Although the implementation specifics are certain to be different from your industry, the underlying principles are directly relevant. Understand your customer by investing in the relationship: leverage the knowledge relevantly.

So how do you go about this?

  • Walk in your customer’s footsteps. What does a day (or days) in the life of your customer look like? By analyzing the interactions between your organization and the customer, you can identify key touch-points where data and information are gathered or exchanged.

  • What would the ideal path look like? Dialogues with an organization’s different stakeholders yield mission-critical customer knowledge requirements. Interviews with customers breed greater understanding of the customer’s needs.

  • Perform a gap analysis between the current and the ideal.

  • Throughout the process it is important to identify the systems (both processes and technology) that may aid or hinder the relationship and the ability to assimilate or leverage customer knowledge.

  • Finally, isolate key points of inflection, areas that are critically important and have significant economic impact. Improving these areas will yield the best return on investment.

Technology is not the ultimate panacea for cultivating effective customer relationships. Technology implementations, like CRM solutions, must be accompanied by a strategic process that examines the organization’s customer relationship practices and incorporates communication.

Whether you are a veteran player or a new entrant, experience reveals most have yet to master this combination of art and science called CRM. For example, the marketing department of a relatively new bank entered vital information about their customers into a contact management program. Loan information was entered into a custom-built system, and the regular banking information was entered into a third application. Despite professing a client-centric philosophy, the systems were disintegrated. No one performed a comprehensive analysis of the bank’s customers.

In summary, make this recession not your recession by choosing to grow your business wisely through the intelligent practice of effective customer cultivation.

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.

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 through Online review monitoring services. 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, considering if the user gets more motivated to shop when there are offers and discounts available on websites like Raise. 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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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.

More Business Decisions Occur Over Lunch…

“More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.”
~ Peter Drucker