April 16, 2014

The arcitecture of marketing

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:56 am

Marketing Memo from A. Starr –
When people want to construct the best commercial or residential building for their specific needs, the intelligent approach is to design and build it with the help of an architect. To achieve the best results, it simply wouldn’t be reasonable to go forward without a set of plans, instead merely hiring one or more subcontractors independently.

. . . The same should hold true for building a brand, in which case the architect/builder would be a qualified marketing specialist and the “sub–contractors” might include:

Printers
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Graphic Designers
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PR People
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Photographers / Videographers
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Website Designers
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Media Buyers
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Radio / TV Stations
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On-air Talent

For best results, marketing initiatives should reflect an overall strategy; one developed with the help of a proven-qualified marketing expert, with specific client objectives and outcomes in mind. A common misconception is that this approach is more expensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. What truly are unaffordable are results that fall short of serving the best interests of the brand.

Well established marketing firms – those with a track record for success – are, among other things, “good shoppers,” with well developed relationships among – and first–hand knowledge of – marketing product and services vendors (the “subcontractors”). Understanding of “the whole” and an ability to select vendors that are the right fit make using a strategic–marketing consultant cost effective.

The next time you have a campaign or project in mind, consider calling in someone who has “earned their chops” in marketing. Initial consultations usually are cost–free, and can at least lead to a proposal that will start things off in the right direction, with plenty of foresight.

 

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April 8, 2014

10 communication tips

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 12:36 pm

Communication is at the core of all of our relationships, both business and personal. As the year (and decade!) winds down, let’s take a look back at 10 defining moments in communication. You’ll recognize some because they made news. But I believe you’ll relate to all of these tips and lessons. 

1. Your attention is a hot commodity. Back in the dark ages of 1971, Nobel Prize winning economist Herbert Simon wrote: “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Did Simon have a crystal ball? How did he know the attention tsunami was coming? In ’71, there was no Google, information superhighway, or text messages. Guard your time, attention, and mind carefully.

2. The word “I” doesn’t have to be self-serving and arrogantArt Petty, who runs a management and leadership consulting firm, says we can use the word “I” for empowerment, active listening, and accountability. “I am responsible for this outcome.” “Here’s what I understand about your opinion on this matter. Am I correct?” ”I could use your help.”

3. Understand the emotions of communication in marketing. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why writes about “The Golden Circle” and how most companies and people try to sell their ideas based on their product or service. Then they talk about how it will work. But the most successful are those who are able to connect with the public on an intimate level. These folks begin at the center of the circle. That’s where the why resides.  The why creeps into the core of a lifestyle, emotion, and belief that people latch on to. The what and how come later.

4. Whoever has the message has the power. This is what social media has become in the past year. The news and the way we consume it have changed significantly because of technology and Twitter. The immediacy of real life can be broadcast around the world by someone with a flip cam or cell phone. An angry customer at the Hertz counter in Florida suddenly puts on his “news hat” and reports on shoddy customer service. You don’t need the media to capture the public’s attention.

5. Communication must be H.O.T. That’s honest, open, and two-way. That’s according to business writer and blogger Dan Oswald. He says the H.O.T. approach is an effective and powerful force. Amen, Dan.

6. Bullies suck. Criticizing, judging, and making people feel bad sends negative energy into the world. We have too much of that. Common sense and common courtesy in our communication—in person and online—is always appreciated. Snarky comments and dirty looks are included here. Remember, mean people have little mean people.

7. Rapport is critical in conflict and camaraderie.  In our ‘crazy busy world’, it’s essential to know how to connect and engage with all types of people and personalities. This  is especially true if you want to resolve a conflict and build consensus. Rapport is the bond that brings us together.

8. Authenticity is priceless.  Just ask executives at BP, Toyota, and Goldman Sachs.

9.  Influence comes in many different forms. It may be a quick Tweet, a blog post, a speech, or a handwritten note. Our words wield power. With social media and other technology, be aware that your influence (impact) can affect people in other countries. People you’ve never met and never will. Choose your words carefully.

10. Embrace a creative community.  Being an introvert won’t serve you well in our interactive, engaged world. This year I’ve learned to appreciate that life demands our participation. Force yourself to learn, watch successful people, and develop your own creativity and style. Meet one person at a time to build confidence. You must begin now or you will be left behind.

- With thanks to Susan Young

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April 1, 2014

Are you getting media attention?

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 1:42 pm

 

To achieve the media attention, fame and target-market awareness you and your   business deserve

  .  .  . take advantage of Marketing Partners’ Authoritizing™ program.

  • ·        You don’t have to just sit back. Why let your competitors get all of the glory and recognition? Why not leverage your knowledge and excellent products and services?
  • ·        Why not gain the recognition that comes with being an authority in your field? Getting media-  and prospect-attention for your business is not a matter of chance. It is the result of an expertly conceived and effectively executed, continuous campaign.
  • ·        Is your marketing area local, regional or national? Whether you want to hit your local media outlets, the national trade press or leading business publications like Fortune, The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal and Inc Magazine, the Authoritizing™ program can be tailored to the specific needs of you and your business. You can’t always get a full-page media story, but tangential mentions have an accrual affect and, thus, can also be extremely beneficial in keeping your prospects aware of your name.                                                                           
  • Suppose that when the media needed an expert source, they called you. Imagine if, when people thought of your field, yours was the name that popped into their minds? Think about the business potential, the lead generation, the referral pipeline, the speaking and talk show engagements. Being “the name” in your industry could push your business and professional experience to a whole new level.
  • More media attention and prospect-awareness mean more sales. So why should you care about getting more press attention? What will it really do for your bottom line? In 160 studies utilizing 10 million press clippings, it has been proven that a client’s share of positive media coverage correlates directly to sales. So, the better your press, the better your chance to reach your bottom-line business goals.
  • Positioning yourself is the key. Becoming known as the expert in your field, “the name” the media and your target audiences go to, can be very valuable. Whether you’re a politician or executive, a doctor or a Webmaster, a consultant or a merchant, you and your bottom line can be raised to a new level through the Authoritizing™ program.
  • Authortizing™ can make you a name brand. Does it bother you that even though you have expertise in your field, someone else seems to be getting all the headlines? Do you ever think to yourself, “I could have given that quote,” but you never had the chance because the journalist or show producer never called you? It’s not that you don’t have the expertise. You probably just aren’t positioning yourself effectively to get the attention you and your business deserve.
  • You are attention-worthy. Take advantage by becoming a valued, oft-quoted source of information; one easily brought to mind by your most-valued business prospects. Contact Allan Starr for details. 602-266-4121 or astarr@markpart.com        
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March 24, 2014

Do three favors in 30 days

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 12:20 pm

In the next month, contact three of your favorite customers/clients and give them something they can use, i.e. an idea, a suggestion, a special offer, a hot tip, a sincere compliment, a congratulatory note, an invitation to lunch, etc. Use your imagination because you are in a unique position to “deliver the goods.” Put on your thinking cap. If you really set your mind to the task, the only problem you will have is trying to limit it to just three.

 

 

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March 17, 2014

Drucker: The two basic functions of business

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 12:06 pm

 

          “Business has two basic functions: Innovation and Marketing.

           These produce results. All the rest are costs.”

                                                                       -  Peter Drucker

Peter F. Drucker–writer, management consultant and university professor– was born in Vienna, Austria in November 1909 and died in November of 2005.   

 

He published his first book, The End of Economic Man, in 1939.  He then joined the faculty of New York University’s Graduate Business School as Professor of Management in 1950.  Since 1971, he has been Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.  The university named its management school after him in 1987.

 

Drucker has written 35 books in all: 15 books deal with management, including the landmark books The Practice of Management and The Effective Executive; 16 cover society, economics, and politics; 2 are novels; and 1 is a collection of autobiographical essays.  His most recent book, Managing in the Next Society, was published in fall 2002.

 

He was a regular columnist for The Wall Street Journal from 1975 to 1995 and has contributed essays and articles to numerous publications, including the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Economist.  Throughout his career, he has consulted with dozens of organizations — from the world’s largest corporations to entrepreneurial startups and various government and nonprofit agencies.

 

Experts in the worlds of business and academia regard Peter Drucker as the founding father of the study of management.

 

For his accomplishments, Peter Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on July 9, 2002.   

 

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March 10, 2014

Give your brand a self-exam by answering these questions:

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:42 am

 

1. What are your top four primary communication objectives?

2. Are there any secondary communication objectives?

3. In detail, describe your target audience(s)?

4. How does your target audience perceive your brand?

 5. What issues need to be addressed in order to better appeal to your audience?

 6. Who are your core competitors?

 7. Who are your secondary competitors?

8.  In relation to your competitor’s brand(s), how would your audience rank your   company?

 9. What is your competition doing right in your opinion?

 10. What are they doing wrong?

11. What are the key points of differentiation between you and your competitors?

12.  What is your ultimate desired brand position or status?

13. List as many adjectives as possible you would use to describe your products and  services.

14. If your company where an automobile what would it be? 

15. What brand of automobile would you like your company to be?

16. What color would you use to describe your company?

17. Are there any elements of your current brand or symbol that need to be maintained?

18. Are there any mandatory creative elements associated with this assignment (such as the need to keep a certain color or design element)?

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March 3, 2014

Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 10:20 am

There’s no better way to dissect the how-to’s of branding than to dig deep into the companies everybody knows and trusts. To accomplish this, Entrepreneur teamed with The Values Institute at DGWB, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based think tank that focuses on brand relationships, on a consumer survey that explored the reasons some brands manage to stay on top.

1. Get personal: Amazon

The online retailer of, well, just about everything, ran away with the list, posting the highest scores not just in overall brand trust but in every individual trust value.

That’s no surprise to Brad VanAuken, chief brand strategist for The Blake Project consultancy. He says Amazon’s exceptional product accessibility, functionality and customer experience all converge to create a strong brand that consumers trust.

“With millions of products, 24/7 access, superior search and browse technology, user reviews and many other sources of in-depth product information, Amazon.com offers a superior purchase experience,” VanAuken says.

He adds that the brand–with its low prices and free shipping on orders over a minimum total–is seen as offering value, while its one-click ordering and quick-shipping options help shoppers save time. Consumers also rely on Amazon to have all the products they’re looking for, thanks to partnerships with other selling channels such as Partner Count merchandise.

While such a vast array of offerings could be perceived as impersonal, VanAuken says Amazon does an exemplary job of fostering relationships with consumers by helping them make decisions through recommendations of items based on past purchases, user reviews and ratings and suggested complementary purchases. Consumers also have many options for forging a personal bond with the brand, including user profiles, reviews and ratings, wish lists and Listmania lists for recommending favorite products.

2. Sell happiness: Coca-Cola

Ice-cold Sunshine. The Pause That Refreshes. Life Tastes Good. Since its inception, the promise of the world’s largest beverage-maker has been to delight consumers. “Everything they do is inspired by this idea of, How do we promote, develop and create happiness?” author Stengel says. Coca-Cola pushes this message across all points of customer contact, from Facebook to its custom vending machines, which allow consumers to concoct their favorite combinations of flavors. “They take the ideas of spontaneity and delight and infuse [them] into everything,” Stengel says.

Putting aside the ’80s branding debacle that was New Coke, Stengel adds that the company backs up its focus on happiness with a consistently strong corporate identity based on longevity and heritage. “They have a deep and healthy respect for their past and for the people who have gone before them,” he says. “They never forget why they started and where they came from, which means a lot to consumers.”

That trust is evident among respondents to our survey, who did not give Coca-Cola a single negative remark.

3. Live up to your promise: FedEx

With a straightforward passion for the task at hand, FedEx has created a strong corporate identity. Not surprisingly, the company received its strongest ratings in ability, specifically for being able to achieve what it promises and for the efficiency of its operations.

In addition to providing what is seen as a reliable service, the brand has engendered trust through initiatives such as its “We Understand” campaign, says Kari Blanchard, senior director of strategy in the New York office of FutureBrand. “They’ve elevated the brand by recognizing that it’s not just about the logistics of moving packages and boxes,” Blanchard says. “They appreciate that it’s people’s treasures, livelihoods and futures, and that the contents of those packages mean a lot to people.”

To further deliver that message, FedEx engages with consumers through its personalized rewards program and by interacting on social media channels. “When you’ve already nailed attributes like trustworthiness and reliability–things that are essential to the business but don’t exactly make you fall in love with a brand–that’s where thinking of your customer as a person and not just a number becomes crucial,” Blanchard says.

4. Keep it cool (and fun): Apple

What other company has the public and the press waiting breathlessly for each new product release? The bottom line is whatever that new Apple product is, consumers trust that it will be smart and sleek and that it will improve the way they communicate, work or spend their leisure time. What’s more, they’ll enjoy the experience of making the purchase.

While Apple has always been about creativity and expression, the brand has kicked up the emotional quotient by creating retail stores that foster a sense of collaboration and transparency between customers and sales staff. “They hire empathetic people, and they don’t measure their sales associates on sales,” Stengel says. He calls Apple’s approach to its stores “the best retail endeavor in history. They really want people to come in and be inspired, build confidence and really feel better about themselves from the experience they had in the store.”

Apple uses its retail outlets to show, not tell, consumers its brand philosophy, from the large tables, open spaces and walls of windows to its well-trained associates (Apple’s biggest brand advocates), who are armed with handheld checkout scanners that enable shoppers to make purchases without having to stand in line.

Some sour bits: The brand got lower than average scores for a sense of connection to Apple’s corporate side, as well as for the perception that the company doesn’t value customers’ business or reward them for their loyalty. Those sentiments may simply be the result of Apple focusing on its core functions.

“Steve Jobs just thought about what was right for the brand and the consumer,” Stengel says. “That focus is part of the reason they’ve done such a good job of creating new categories and products that continue to distance themselves from their competitors.”

5. Design an experience: Target

It’s easy to forget that Target is a discount store. With its sleek, stylish ad campaigns and collaborations with high-end designers who create limited-edition merchandise that sends fashionistas into a frenzy, Target’s public face often belies its mass-merchant status.

Further distinguishing it from its superstore brethren, Target consistently delivers an exceptional retail experience–from store design to merchandise selection to price and customer service.

“Target makes a real effort to provide an enjoyable shopper experience, but you still get quality merchandise at a good price,” says branding consultant Rob Frankel. “As part of their brand persona, they make an effort to be warm and human, and that resonates with people and drives them to embrace it.”

Thanks to easy-to-maneuver layouts and a consistent design, Target’s retail outlets are easy and intuitive places to shop, giving customers confidence they will be able to find what they want, even on a vast selling floor. “It’s not only more pleasant than their competitors; people actually enjoy being there,” Frankel says.

Target customers also appreciate the brand’s ability to design attractive yet affordable merchandise–most notably, an ever-changing array of trendy clothing and home accessories. “Target says [it's] going to give you a decent alternative that can hold up against more expensive fashion brands,” Frankel says.

Customer service is friendly and consistent, as several survey respondents noted, from the way “cashiers look for people in line and direct them to a less crowded line,” to the perceptions that “they always have enough employees in the store at one time” and that “their customers are considered guests.”

Frankel says businesses should recognize that providing a warm, human experience will foster the kind of trust that lets them command higher margins, drive traffic and enjoy better brand perception than their competitors. “No matter what you sell, if you don’t give people a reason to go, they’re not going to figure it out by themselves, because price alone just doesn’t do it,” he says.

6. Stay consistent: Ford

In an era when the only thing that seems certain is change, Ford’s consistent branding has established the company as a beacon of reliability.

The Blake Project’s VanAuken points out that from its simple, one-syllable name to its iconic logo and emphasis on founding father Henry Ford, the company’s brand identity stands the test of time.

“Everyone knows and admires the Ford story,” he says. “Of the three Detroit-based automakers, Ford has the most consistent brand, product strategy and execution.”

Ford also listens to and acts on its customers’ needs, VanAuken adds, noting that CEO Alan Mulally is actively involved in interacting with customers through social media.

Those attributes forge a strong connection: The brand ranked high for stability and dependability, and respondents gave it the strongest average ratings for concern, specifically for behaving responsibly and caring about the well-being of employees and customers. Several respondents cited Ford’s refusal to take government bailout money as evidence of the company’s integrity.

VanAuken emphasizes that consistency needs to reach all corners of any business. “Changing the logo, tag line and messaging on a frequent basis will ensure that nothing about your brand sticks in your intended customers’ heads,” he says. “Once you have developed a unique and compelling value proposition for your brand, repeat it again and again.”

7. Can-do attitude: Nike

On its website, Nike declares its mission to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” adding, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

It’s that aspirational message and mainstream appeal that connects the athletic apparel company to consumers worldwide, according to branding consultant Kevin Lane Keller, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. “Nike’s always been extremely customer-focused, with a broad access point that makes the brand relevant to elite athletes as well as the everyday person,” Keller says. “It’s about self-empowerment and being your best, and the brand really does invite everyone to ‘Just Do It.’”

Nike’s constant product development, including introducing technologies such as Nike Air cushioning and Dri-Fit fabrics, is one of its biggest strengths, according to Keller, who says that consumers tend to equate innovation with expertise.

“When you’re innovative, consumers are more trusting, because they think you really know what you’re doing,” he says. “Nike’s first product was just the first step on this journey that’s allowed them to completely transcend their roots as a quality running shoe to be everything athletic, all over the world, in all kinds of sports.”

Keller says Nike gains trust points because celebrated co-founder Phil Knight is still involved with operations, a fact noted by one survey respondent who claimed to be “confident that [Knight's] company would always behave responsibly.”

Notes Keller, “When the founder is still there, people respect the brand in a way that doesn’t happen when the reins have been handed down over and over. Having his voice and persona still associated with the company keeps it closely connected to the consumer.”

8. Forge connections: Starbucks

After suffering a slump a few years back, the world’s leading specialty coffee retailer has perked up its business and its brand by getting back to its original promise of bringing people together. “Starbucks has gotten much more in touch with the reason they’re here, and that’s to help create connections,” author Stengel says.

From the free Wi-Fi to the in-store music to the large tables with room for groups and meetings, the company’s stores are designed to help customers interact. “Go into any Starbucks, and business is happening and people are sharing, and the company understands that,” Stengel says. “Everything in there is about connection, discovery, inspiration and creation.”

Startups would do well to note the company’s innovative approach, which has enabled it to set the agenda in a category that has been around for centuries. “They carved out this dynamic niche with their brand and became very successful, and there’s still nobody else like them,” Stengel says.

The key, he says, is to thoroughly understand category norms and competitors’ strategies, and determine how to direct those toward your advantage. “If you’re an entrepreneur entering a category, maybe you can’t set the agenda, but if you can redirect that agenda, that’s how you win,” he says. “If you’re going to enter a category and be a ‘me too,’ don’t bother.”

9. Serve up the quirky: Southwest Airlines

This low-cost carrier has consistently set its own route in the airline industry, creating a distinct personality through everything from open passenger seating to flight attendants who sing the safety demonstrations.

“Southwest has always been a very independent brand that’s quick to break the norms of the airline industry,” says Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “From the seating assignments to the fact that it doesn’t list in many of the big online reservation systems, it has always prided itself on being very different.”

Calkins says much of Southwest’s brand success comes from the fact that although its operations and corporate culture are idiosyncratic, those differences support the company’s central function.

“Southwest has a fun, energetic corporate culture that’s unique in the airline industry, but at the core they are a very proficient operation that gets travelers from point to point in an efficient, affordable manner,” he says.

While the airline received low ratings for not sharing information on decision-making, those protective measures may be among the reasons it continues to thrive. Several of the big carriers have tried to follow Southwest’s model with low-cost subsidiaries (think Delta’s Song and United’s Ted), but none have been able to maintain them.

“You can see what [Southwest] does–they fly one kind of airplane, they don’t charge for baggage and they have friendly employees–so you’d think someone could replicate that, but they can’t,” Calkins says. “The magic of Southwest is that even though the brand has many unique elements, all of the different pieces work together to serve its customers in a unique way.”

10. Focus on the customer: Nordstrom

When mythic stories circulate about your company’s awesome customer service, you know you’re doing something right. That’s the hallmark of this upscale department store, which is rumored to have once graciously accepted the return of a set of tires, even though the store has never sold tires.

“Nordstrom is all about the power of delivering exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond a typical service experience,” Northwestern’s Calkins says.

Nordstrom scored strongly among respondents for concern for the customer, as well as for the quality of the products in its nearly 230 stores. Attentive service–which includes a liberal return policy, e-mailing digital photos of new items to regular customers and sending thank-you notes after purchases–frees the Seattle-based retailer from having to focus on competitive pricing, which helps keeps profit margins higher.

“They don’t pretend to have the lowest prices, but they don’t have to,” Calkins says. “When people go there they know they may pay a little more, but the service is so good that it makes it worthwhile.”

Respondents criticized Nordstrom for not providing consumers with much information about its corporate decision-making policies, but Calkins contends that when building a brand identity, it’s OK for your proposition to focus on one principal element, as long as you do it right.

“What makes this brand tick is the service experience, not the approach,” he says. “Nordstrom has never focused on its company or its people; all of that positive energy is directed at the customer and the retail experience, and it’s the secret to their success.”

Cincinnati-based Paula Andruss has written for USA Today, Woman’s Day and numerous marketing publications.

About the survey:The Values Institute, which conducted the study, identified five values that influence trust in a brand: ability (company performance); concern (care for consumers, employees and community); connection (sharing consumers’ values); consistency (dependability of products/services); and sincerity (openness and honesty).

A total of 1,220 U.S. consumers were asked to rate each trust value on a five-point scale, from “very unimportant” to “very important.” Additionally, five consumer perceptions were measured for each value; these included statements such as “They respond to feedback about their products and services,” and “They value my business and reward me for the loyalty.” Each respondent rated two randomly selected brands; those who felt strongly were also asked to provide individual comments. The result is the “Trust Index,” a composite score that indicates the level of trust respondents had with each individual brand in relation to the other studied brands.

This article was originally published in Entrepreneur.

 

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February 25, 2014

Banding campaigns create business equity

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 11:41 am

In addition to income creation, the recognition — and strength — of your brand is a major factor in creating equity for your business and adding value in the event that its future sale may be an issue.

Branding campaigns help companies define and communicate the essence of their business by giving it a personality and more clearly conveying what a company is all about. The core concept behind a branding campaign is that if you put a positive message about your company in front of your target market for enough time, potential clients will think about you when it comes time to make a purchase.

Your brand is essentially a promise – a link between your name and what it stands for -to those you engage through your marketing campaign. It will help your patrons and consumers or potential clients/customers distinguish your product/service from others.

The following steps are a required starting point in making the kind of assessment that will help ensure success of your branding campaign:

  1. Know your strengths. What is your core competency? What does your company do better than anyone else? What is your niche? What is your competitive advantage? Why would a prospect choose your product/service over another company’s? What is the first thing that comes to mind when consumers think of your company? 
  2. Know your customers/clients. Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach? What do they want? Why should they choose your product or service over your competitors? Where do they come from? What do your clients need? How can you better serve them? What may they need in the future?
  3. Determine how you can reach your customers/clients. Where are they? Do they read, shop online and attend events? How do they prefer to communicate? Will they complete surveys, respond to e-mails or open regular mail?
  4. Develop and implement a marketing plan. Once you know your strengths, who your customers are and how to reach them, putting together a marketing plan should be the next step in your brand-awareness campaign.
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February 18, 2014

Building brand equity takes “balls.”

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 11:06 am

There are three balls that need to constantly be juggled in order to at least maintain the value of a brand. These are:

a) customer acceptance

b)  a reasonable level of employee contentment, and

c) fiscal viability.

The first of these is, of course, product/service driven. The second, in addition to their getting a paycheck on a regular basis, has more to do with employees’ general job satisfaction, working conditions, self-image, etc. The third is required because relatively few people want to buy a “loser.”

If maintaining the brand is Business 101, then building equity in the brand requires, not only doing things right, but, doing the right things. Key among these tenets, and a fourth ball one must keep an eye on is business growth.

In other words, if your brand equity today equals “$$,” would the sale of your business net you a comfortable retirement or even an adequate down payment on that cottage in the woods or another business venture? . . . I was afraid that would be your answer! The remedy: build your equity to (at least) $$$$.

How to do this?

The late Peter Drucker, who during the whole of the 20th century was the foremost business management guru of them, all has put it this way:

          “Business has two basic functions: Innovation and Marketing.

           These produce results. All the rest are costs.”

It may not surprise you to learn that I agree with the renowned Mr. Drucker, whom I hasten to underscore was not a marketing person, but, rather, a management expert. Indeed, unless you are that notable exception (would you believe one in 100,000?) whose business grows sort of  “organically” at a rate (and of a quality) significant enough impact the bottom line, you can count on the fact that effective marketing will need to be your key engine in achieving results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a sale of your business is a goal

 

If preparing an exit strategy and “cashing in your chips” have become more dominant factors in your thinking, it would make sense for you to start a dynamic marketing program with specific objectives and benchmarks, sooner rather than later. If your timeline is to put your business on the market within the next couple of years, it certainly is not too late to mount an aggressive marketing campaign aimed toward making the sale date a bigger pay day (keep in mind that the average business sale easily can take 12-18 months).

 

Such a campaign most likely will involve direct marketing (probably e-mail) and your online presence (attracting traffic to your website) because that’s where the action is these days. This should not be left to chance or random efforts, but, rather, should be based on an effective marketing plan featuring strategies to meet your objectives, and tactics through which to implement those strategies. And there should be an ongoing review of your exit plan so necessary adjustments can me made throughout the process.

 

Following these guidelines will help to ensure that the results of what may be the biggest sale you will ever make will meet or exceed your goals.

 

 

 

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February 10, 2014

Customer service failures can undermine marketing efforts

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:11 am

Is customer service in decline, or have I just been un lucky lately?

For more than 37 years, our Arizona-based marketing agency has preached the gospel of excellent customer service, yet recently I have experienced three separate incidents in which the customer service I received was, to put it mildly, deficient. Two of these times involved auto repair situations (when it rains, it pours!), one at a highline dealership that speaks with a decidedly Teutonic accent and one that involved my (heretofore) trusty Oriental machine. One encounter was characterized by seeming indifference seasoned with a pinch of arrogance and the other featured a frustrating blend of incompetence and undependability.

One case involved a repair bill just north of $1200.00 and the other – though it has yet to be estimated six days later! – will (just a guess) probably come in closer to $3,000.00. The latter will be entirely covered by a warranty, but, silly me, it seems expenditures on this scale (and the fact my P______ died in the middle of an intersection merit just a little bit of TLC.

Yet another incident involved a purported “help desk” attendant at a well known, maybe “not-so-super” market chain, who for several minutes ignored me, then snapped at me when I asked politely if anyone was on duty there.

The lesson

The point to all of this, as I’m confident any advertising or public relations professional would agree, is: If major (or, even, minor) marketing budgets are not complemented by good and caring customer service does marketing serve its purpose? Or, to put it more succinctly, if a company makes a brand promise to attract customers, shouldn’t that promise be kept?

One of these cases has caused me to strongly consider taking my future business – which may even involve a new car purchase – to a dealer 12 miles away, rather than this one, conveniently located only two miles away. And, rest assured, I am doing this neither out of spite nor as a demonstration of masochistic tendencies. It’s just that I need to be able to count on a vendor, and trust their word. 

Granted, these may be isolated incidents, but when three crop up in a matter of three consecutive days, it feels more like a trend. Well, now that I’ve vented, please heed the lesson imbedded within these stories. It is this: Treat customers like precious possessions, ones that once lost may never return.

Not only will this leverage your marketing expenditures, it likely will convert them to lasting relationships and — that most valuable of all results – good word-of-mouth advertising.

Marketing Partners of Arizona (MPA) was founded in 1976 by Allan Starr, and serves a local, regional and national clientele with diverse services including strategic marketing, advertising, public relations, sponsorship procurement, e-mail marketing and online initiatives. Starr is former governor of the Southwest District of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), two-term president of The Arizona Small Business Assn. and is serving a sixth term on the board of directors of The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

 

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