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.

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.





February 4, 2014

Is there power in being an optimist?

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 10:36 am


.  .  . We guess not, so long as it remains an attitude rather than basis for planning the future. Even JFK described himself as an optimist without illusion.

 Flense Hawkins, my uncle who had a horse named Sally, and once plowed the soil on his mini-spread up in Heber, AZ (when he wasn’t playing poker and “chasin’ cabaret girlies”) may have been the black sheep of the family, but he was blessed with considerable wisdom.  He told me something when I was a barefoot boy with cheek of tan, something that I never have forgotten. With a prominent wad of chew in mouth, he proclaimed, “Ya know, it costs no more to be an optimist, Allie.”

 On many occasions that conviction has been proven correct, especially after wrong turns we might have taken in our life were it not for The Power of Positive Thinking (and, didn’t Norman Vincent Peale cash in handsomely on that line?)

  Old Flense never seemed to be stressed, and his favorite time was “Bud Time” (which could be any time of day). But even at that, he did die . . . at 101 years of age.

 Be that as it may, the important thing to consider is that, much like the pilots, we seem to get better mileage in business with a tail wind rather than a head wind. And, as heads of our companies, leading by example is a proven technique that trumps most others we may practice.

 Here comes the commercial:

 That said, instead of letting conditions chew us up and spit us out, I subscribe to the principle that being a victor is better than being a victim. This process starts with acting like a winner by being proactive. And what better place to start than through the adoption of a well-conceived marketing plan; one that is conducive to success rather than drift?

 Someone has said failing to plan is closely akin to planning to fail. Go forward with a smile on your face; one that everybody, not the least of which are your close associates, can see and emulate.