Marketing Consultants…they like to Watch.

Marketing consultants like to observe company brand positioning and how it changes over time.

We like to compare the efforts of those companies with explicitly stated brand positioning against those that imply their brand positioning and do not use a positioning statement.

As a business owner or marketing manager it pays for you to watch these very things.

Marketing consultants like to watch the progress of companies and how they communicate with their target audience - how their positioning allows them to make their message stand out through creativity because marketing consultants start most new engagements by reviewing the positioning of the brand  they are going to work with.
No where is this comparison between brands easier to make than in the medium of print, especially one is on a plane, killing time reading an inflight magazine. Here’s my exploration of a high interest category - men’s luxury watches.

The following ads provide a gamut of the good, the bad and the ugly of brand positioning and creative communication:

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"Live your Passion" - The positioning statement slogan of this brand together with the vintage classic car - says follow your dream and tells me this is a watch for leaders not followers, people who are into style which is timeless rather than fashion which changes.

The short copy explains the features of the watch, namely it’s display of lunar phases. Would you pay $4,500 or if that makes you a lunatic I can not answer, but the ad certainly gets my attention and tells me what the brand is about, which is important as I and assume many of the readers have not come across this Swiss before.

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"Engineered for Perfection" - not sure whether this is the official slogan / positioning for this Swiss brand or just a headline for the ad, but the ad backs up it’s claim of durability by telling me about it’s revolutionary anti-shock system.

The design tie to BMW is obviously an attempt to target the car maker’s well to do target audience and tap into the equity of the global German brand.

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"Real Watches for Real People" - This well known Swiss has at first what seems like a great slogan / positioning statement but is it?

It only takes a second for one to ask:

1. Are all other watches not real and are all non Oris wearing people fake or do they simply not exist?

2. Do only real people go scuba diving to depths of 500m?

Maybe for this product Oris should have focused on the diving enthusiasts instead?

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"Precision is my inspiration" - probably the most well known of the lot, this Swiss probably thinks that their brand name and product shot is enough to grab attention. They do provide a QR code for more information on the product and maybe this is enough, however I can’t help but think their slogan means much more to their marketing team and advertising agency than their actual target market.

Precision may impress someone, it maybe something we rely on, but “inspire”…really?

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"Watch Your Style" - a bit lame and cutesy when you think about the target audience. Telling them they “need style” is almost offensive. The  attempt at building on the 40 year history is also not something that will win over the prospective buyer when most of the category players have 3 times that under their belt! At least the watch itself, the ad, and it’s placement on the back cover of the magazine will get attention.

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"Dedicated to Perfection" - the positioning statement / slogan for Seiko and
"You are the Power" - the slogan for the watch model “Kinetic”

The first non Swiss in our evaluation, presents a real problem - MIXED MESSAGES! And based on my limited understand of watches there are plenty that are “self-winding” although this maybe a real point of difference in the non-Swiss category at a price point that is much lower than most of the European rivals.

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No slogan - this advertisement tells me that this is the first Swiss Made automatic time piece - still not sure of what this is, even after a quick look at Wikipedia, the biggest issue I see with this ad is the actual product - a watch that you have to tune yourself, but that’s only me…if I was to part with a small fortune, this would be the last thing on my mind. If I was the ad agency I’d be focusing on other features of this timepiece.

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"You Deserve a Real Watch" - again pretty lame for a slogan, which is not in any way supported by the copy in the advertisement.

The headline is catchy and the watch features certainly make it unique.

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No slogan - this double page spread feels like a waste of space. They could say something, tell us a story, inspire us, explain why this is a classic timepiece, but all we get is 3 features, none of them terribly exciting in my humble opinion: rose gold, automatic movement, and a Hermes alligator strap.

No headline, just the brand name, oh wait the headline / slogan maybe in French, something clever about measuring time, but that is only a guess, which means only the French speaking will get to understand this attempt to gain credibility in the category.

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No slogan - ok, so this is probably an unfair comparison. A great, old fashioned Direct Response advertisement.

A brilliant headline, great copywriting telling a very interesting story that delves into a fascinating time in history - the roaring 1920’s and the rivalry between two of the world’s richest men!

Of course in this type of advertisement all features of the product can be described in great detail and I couldn’t help but read this ad from start to finish. Would I buy a replica? Probably not, but for at least 10 times less than the average price of a premium Swiss timepiece, I bet a few will, just for its value as a conversation starter and general trivia.

Marketers are often divided about Direct Response and Brand type ads. I believe there’s no reason to be - both are possible with a bit of planning and creativity!

Fishy Pricing that’s on the Nose!

Why does an Australian Tuna brand cost less at a Canadian IGA supermarket than it does in an Australian Woolworths?

Once again Australians are ripped off by the uncompetitive retail market.

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The Zero Overhead Principle - Just Use It!

Wouldn’t it be great if all products and services could be designed in this way? The best most powerful brands are!

Here’s an article that discusses one of the most important parameters for successful products.

Although I disagree with the author that training for LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ is not required, it is, his point is absolutely spot on! When was the last time you took training to operate an iPhone?

I know of some complete technophobes who are over 60 who took to an iPhone faster than being able to operate an old Nokia!

Usability and user experience are critical.
Here’s one example: My (free) invoicing software is about to close operations and wants all “customers” to switch to a $40/month paid version! But it’s not the price that put me off, it was the opportunity cost - the time it was going to take to learn the software.

So I began my search for replacement software, at first free, then paid. 4 days later, spending around 2 hours at a time, having tried to set up my account and to generate just a few invoices, I progressed  from free software to paid versions. Yet after trialling 12 different software packages both download and cloud versions, I was still frustrated as none of them met my somewhat simplistic requirements. And you have to remember I wasn’t looking for an accounting package just a simple invoicing solution.

By absolute chance I came across Wave Accounting - a free cloud solution that immediately struck a chord with me, from the simplicity of the home page to ease of the sign up. What was even better was the simplicity of setting up the account and generating invoices. Having a complete accounting solution that even a dummy like myself could use was an absolute bonus! And that’s the Zero Overhead Principle - no down time, no learning, no training, just use it!

Now all of the time we are going to save not learning how to use software, we need in our daily business lives, we can spend on re-engineering our own brands to make them as sticky as some of these leaders or just spend it on being glued to our screens being anti-social in the physical world by being social in the virtual one.

Why Do Great Brand Owners tell us that Branding is Not Important and the 7 not so Secret Rules for Success in Business.

Simply because they have got their definition of what branding is completely wrong. They have pursued brand building and developed great brands, but they just don’t call the process by its correct name like brand development.

Why is this important you ask? Because then business owners will find it so much easier to find the right information and educate themselves on the stuff that can make or break their business - marketing!

Here’s a case in point.

I’m reading yet another “Secrets to Business Success” article aimed at small business owners. It’s in the My Business Magazine July 2012 edition, that reviews Mark Bouris’s (the founder of Wizard home loans and subsequently Yellow Brick Road as well as the boss in the Australian version of The Apprentice) speech and advice to the SME business owners given in May 2012.

What gets under this marketing consultant’s skin is that SME business owners are still looking for and hoping for a silver bullet, a magic pill to fix all of their problems.

So what are the secrets and advice given by one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs especially to the SME sector?
To be fair in today’s live presentation, that I had the privilege of attending in Melbourne, Mark Bouris, a great and inspirational speaker, states that there are no secrets, but it makes for a great headline that publishers love and readers can’t get enough of - something for all entrepreneurs to keep in mind when trying to generate their own publicity.

Before I provide a summary of Mark’s speech from My Business magazine, I have to get passionate, or in Mark’s words “fight” for what I know to be true - the fact that he has inadvertently stuffed up his definition of Marketing and Branding!

As a marketing consultant, I’m amazed that someone like Mark Bouris, can in the same sentence say that "…you’ve got to have something that’s unique. It’s not about marketing and branding; these three things are really important: the idea or concept, how hard you can work and are you more skilled in your area or is your product better?"

The actual word brand is all about being unique. Branding IS differentiation. Branding is already the most misunderstood word in the business language, so having someone who is a brilliant and successful entrepreneur and marketer, someone who has the influence and mass media exposure, muddy the waters, is only contributing to the confusion faced by SMEs!

Branding is what people think and feel about when they experience your product or service. Like most business owners Mr Bouris’s definition and use of “marketing and branding” is completely wrong, in fact the 3 things he refers to ARE what marketing and branding is all about! Marketing is simply about satisfying needs not selling or promoting which is just how most business owners use these terms. In the words of Peter Drucker, businesses about two things and two things only; marketing and innovation.

Now to summarise the rest of the inspirational article.

1. Understand why you’re in business.
-Working for yourself?
-Being successful?
-Helping people?
Ultimately the question is about what drives you, what gets you out of bed in the morning?

2. Sheer hard work.
A self-confessed workaholic Mr Bouris concedes that his work habits have cost him two marriages (and a fortune in divorce settlements) and advocates that hard work is the key to being better than your competitors through ongoing improvement.

Although I agree that there is no escaping hard work, unless you enjoy it you simply will not be able to do it day in day out, and this is certainly no secret. The real secret should be to work smarter not harder and focus on the things that will make the greatest contribution to business. And it is this focus that is so damn hard to achieve for most of us, with emails and calls, and more distractions than ever before.

3. Understand what business you are really in.
This is a critical way to examine your business. Is Yellow Brick Road in the financial advice business or the mortgage business? No, that’s how they execute the actual business. Their actual business is helping people achieve their dreams and hopes. It’s the old ‘sell benefits not features’. To paraphrase Max Factor, who when asked what businesses he was is, replied by pointing to the factory and said “…in there we make creams and powders and then pointed to the street and said out there we sell hope to women.”

4. Be involved in an environment that’s a rising tide.
In other words go where the demand is, don’t try to generate it, as that’s not only to hard but also too expensive. Inventing something new and then trying to sell it to everyone is extremely hard to do.

5. Having the right culture is critical.
Without a team that is able to have fun together, take risks and stay together through good times and bad, there is no business.

6. Failures are successes too because they provide an opportunity to learn and adjust your course of action.

7. Having the right business partner, someone you can share highs and lows with, someone to bounce ideas off and to make decisions together with is critical.

I would add that having clearly defined roles will also make a partnership much more effective with each partner being in charge of a separate area will minimize disagreements.

13 Critical Steps To Using Linkedin To Generate Leads and Accelerate Sales

95% of the professionals on Linkedin are not realizing anywhere near it’s potential. Potential that allows you to:

  • Promote your personal brand
  • Be a Proactive Networker
  • Check References and Backgrounds
  • Look for a Job, Seek and Hire Candidates and be better prepared for interviews
  • Generate Leads and Accelerate Sales
  • Ask for Advice from your own network as well as “Crowdsource”
  • Find Experts and Partners
  • Improve your Personal Productivity with all of the different LinkedIn tools, Widgets, and Apps.
  • Research trends and industries, gather opinions by running polls as well as track company news.
  • Finally and most importantly, LinkedIn can provide you with the perfect and simple platform for a Referral System, which we all know, is critical to success in business.

You can read more here about WHY LinkedIn is the Greatest Personal Branding, Publicity and Sales Tool for B2B Markets here.

If you want to be a ‘power user’ and maximize your time investment into the most useful B2B Social Medium, then you’ll need to get the basics right:

1.     Develop a unique profile; if your profile reads like everyone else’s then it will be much harder to stand out! Be creative, controversial, funny, but most importantly be yourself. Make sure that your profile is still considered ‘professional’ by your intended target audience; prospective employers, recruiters, prospective clients. What works in the advertising industry maybe simply too much for the banking industry.

2.     Make sure you complete your profile; it’s likely to be your most public face to the world. People spend so much effort on their resume that they use intermittently yet their LinkedIn profile contains barely any information. If anything, your LinkedIn Profile should be more detailed than your resume. Today it’s absolutely fine to be an accountant by day and a fashion blogger by night. Your LinkedIn profile can easily and professionally reflect your many pursuits and passions.

3.     Optimise your profile. From the way you personalize your Public Profile and Website links to optimizing your keywords to make sure you appear in searches that matter when prospects look for professionals that have your skills.

4.     Develop a Company Profile and make sure your entire team connect to it.  Due to the simple and free nature of LinkedIn with all of its benefits we now recommend that start ups, from consultants to trade professionals, develop a great personal and company profile, especially until such time that they can afford a website that is professional. The result is a very basic but powerful online presence, while the website is being developed.

5.     Connect with clients, suppliers and prospects. Make sure you personalize the invitation and provide a reason to connect when you invite people you know or just met. Make sure you have a policy on who you connect with, your network is a reflection on you.

6.     Use the LinkedIn Productivity tools: Web Browser Toolbar, Outlook Widget, Events, Polls, etc.

7.     Ask for Recommendations, they are your testimonials and are vital in developing trust and credibility.

8.     Participate in Groups, make sure to listen first, and add value rather than sell! Social Media is about communication and education not promotion! Success comes from helping people achieve their goals.

9.     Answer questions in Answers section.

10. Build relationships, try to meet people over a coffee, pick up the phone if you are in the same geographical location.

11. Social Media is about developing unique content and then promoting it. Make sure you do both. There are multiple ways to promote your content on LinkedIn, which is why it is an amazing online PR tool!

12. Get in front of the people you need to get in front of, through correctly using the search function and then leveraging your existing relationships to make the appointment by asking for Introductions or asking the connector to forward your message to the intended recipient.

13. Test LinkedIn Mail as well as LinkedIn Advertising.

If you don’t use it, you lose it! Start with 10 minutes a day, track your progress and get LinkedIn or become Locked Out!

If you need assistance with your LinkedIn Profile, or are looking for LinkedIn Training or LinkedIn Coaching then check out http://www.influenceyournetwork.com/linkedin-training

 

 

 

The Most Asked Question in Marketing – How do I Set My Marketing Budget?

One of the most important decisions that a small business owner will make is how much money to set aside for the marketing budget.

Successful and profitable small businesses understand that they need to allocate adequate funds for marketing their business.

Prospective customers always ask, “How much should I spend on marketing?”

The answer we give them is this:

1.     No matter how much you have it will never be enough! Having worked in large corporate environments our marketing consultants know that companies with $30m budgets these big brands always want more; more advertising dollars, more sponsorship dollars, more PR dollars, more salary dollars for the marketing department and the list goes on.

2.      Marketing Budgets will be much higher in competitive business categories and lower in general in less competitive ones.

3.     The more unique your business or product / service offering, in general, the easier it will be (and cheaper) to promote it IF you are tapping into existing demand as opposed to trying to educate the market, which will always be horrendously expensive and most small businesses just don’t have the sort of marketing budget required to do this. In these unique cases actually having new entrants / competitors may actually be a benefit as together the task of educating the market is made easier.

4.     If you are the new entrant in the market, you will have to spend more to take some share away from your competitors or create new demand in the market.

Here’s a great article discussing the different criteria for setting your marketing budget http://www.imageworksstudio.com/blog/how-set-marketing-budget-your-smb/index.html and a summary for your convenience:

1.     Counselors to America’s Small Business (SCORE) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) define the variable for a proper marketing budget to be between 2% and 10% of sales, noting that for B2C, retail and pharmaceuticals can exceed 20% during peak brand building years.

2.     You have to spend money to make money, yet most small businesses are completely under budgeted when it comes to their marketing. Worse still when they do spend on marketing, much of the expenditure is wasted and becomes an expense instead of an investment. 

3.     The article goes on to provide some guidelines based on revenue quoting an average of 4-6% and making the usual disclaimer that many circumstances can warrant an increase or reduction in your marketing budget as a percentage of revenue.

4.     Looking at what your competitors are spending can be useful

5.     In the end your marketing budget should be properly allocated to position your organization, trump the competition, raise awareness, generate quality conversion and of course increase revenue growth and this is the most important point and exactly how a marketing budget should be considered.

6.     On the subject of organic growth - Many small businesses start out and grow their clientele by word of mouth alone and are very successful. But they usually hit a brick wall. That’s where building a powerful brand is critical. When you rely on organic growth alone, you risk losing revenue from business you did not get because a % your target audience were never made aware of your product or service!  And you cannot underestimate the lost sales from those prospects who perceived your current brand negatively and left your website without you ever knowing about it. This is why it is so important to build the brand correctly. Why risk millions to save thousands?

Finally I’d like to use 3 examples we can all learn from:

1.     The highly successful Real Estate Agency Hocking and Stuart entered the market by investing around 20% of the Net Sales back into marketing and became one of Australia’s most successful real estate agencies.

2.     Swisse feels better by increasing its marketing budget! Millions of dollars spent sponsoring sporting events and paying high-profile celebrities to spruik its products has paid off for Swisse Vitamins, which has more than doubled its profit.  

a.     131 % rise in net profit to $8.9 million for the year ended June 2011.

b.     Swisse revenue climbed to $77.2m, up from $45m the year before.

c.      Annual marketing expenses doubled to $26m, accounting for 94% of the total cost of sales at the fast-growing company. In contrast, market leader Blackmores, which made sales of $234m last year, spent just $22m on marketing and sales activities.

So Swisse allocated approximately 34% to marketing as a % of Total Revenue whilst Blackmores allocated only about 9.5% to marketing as a % of Total Revenue.

3.     LinkedIn, the world’s biggest professional-networking website, is expected to reach around $900m in sales and marketing and sales expenditure more than doubling in the last 12 months to around $76m or 8.4% of Total Revenue in a category that sees LinkedIn play in 3 different markets with varying levels of competition:

a.     Professional Networking – subscription fee model where they have little or no competition other than that of consumer attention deficit caused by every other social medium

b.     Advertiser Media Dollars excluding Recruitment, which is an incredibly competitive category dominated by Google’s Adwords

c.      And finally competing for recruitment advertising dollars that LinkedIn is vying for by hoping to take share away from other recruitment portals.

Regardless of your industry or stage of development “You’ll Feel Better If You Budget For Adequate Marketing Investment” and invest your marketing budget wisely!

What is a brand and the AIDA model of advertising according to Dale Carnegie – Action

“Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment”, part four of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  provides a path for changing attitudes and behaviour, which is after all the main objective of advertising and marketing communication.

Whether we are discussing leadership in an organisation or thought leadership in an area of professional expertise, great brands are leaders in consumer advocacy in their product or service category.

Here’s the original list compiled by Dale Carnegie:

1.   Begin with praise and sincere appreciation.

2.   Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

3.   Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.

4.   Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5.   Let the other person save face

6.   Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.

7.   Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

8.   Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9.   Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

One of the most powerful techniques in selling, be it in person or through communicating in any media, is asking questions and either letting the audience arrive at their own conclusion or suggesting one for them! “Tired? Stressed? You’ll Feel Better on Swisse”.

Brands that have admitted their mistakes and promised to learn from them tend to have recover quickly but those that try to defend their actions and shift the blame tend to lose trust and damage their brand reputation.

Things will go wrong in business and mistakes will happen, and today in the world of social media, where there is nowhere to hide, the strength of a brand’s relationship with its customers is about how it deals with failures.

Domino’s pizza did this in 2011. In the ads, Domino’s admitted that its pizzas were terrible, explained that it redesigned them, and asked people to give them a try.

“Viewers of these ads described them as “bold” and “refreshing,” and gave the company credit for acknowledging what everyone already knew. More important, people tried the pizza and found they liked it. The result: store sales rose and quarterly profits doubled. Domino’s took a failure point — its horrible pizzas — and made it a rallying point. The company saw negative comments as a gift from customers, an opportunity to improve the product, rather than a liability.”


Ref: HBR Blog Network: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/the_art_of_admitting_failure.html

What is a brand and the AIDA model of advertising according to Dale Carnegie – Desire

The Interest and Desire parts of AIDA model go hand-in-hand: As you’re building the audience interest, you also need to guide them to understand how what you’re offering can help them and the best way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs and wants.

“Fundamental techniques in handling people”, part one of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  provides a great recipe for generating desire:

1.   Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

2.   Give honest and sincere appreciation.

3.   Arouse in other person an eager want.

Here in the immortal words of Dale Carnegie, is the main reason you will rarely see advertisers go into direct “comparative advertising” and tackle their competition head on.

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”

Carnegie goes onto quote B. F. Skinner,”… the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment. The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.”

And this is the basis of all loyalty and reward programs that have been implemented for the last 100 or so years primarily by retailers ranging from coupons to points! Simple – reward good behaviour!

Some brands don’t even realise that they inhibit their brand development by criticizing their audience behaviour without even knowing it! Can they still be incredibly successful – sure, after all the brand slogan or it’s positioning statement is not the sole success factor of a business! And I for one believe that the extremely successful Specsavers optical chain could be even more successful with a slogan that does not implicitly berate it’s target audience – “You should have gone to Specsavers”.

Being myopic and hence the ideal prospect for Specsavers, I’m ready to dispense some long-sighted brand building advice!

What is a brand and the AIDA model of advertising according to Dale Carnegie – Interest

Interest is one of the most challenging stages of the AIDA model.: You’ve captured the attention of your target audience, but you now need them to understand your message beyond the initial headline or sound bite.

Gaining the audience interest is more challenging than grabbing their attention and the message must stay focused on the needs of the audience.

“Six ways to make people like you”, part two of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  provides a great recipe for generating interest, after all it’s much easier to interest someone when they like you, your company or your message:

1.   Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

2.   Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

3.   Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

4.   Become genuinely interested in other people.

5.   Smile

6.   Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

What is a brand and the AIDA model of advertising according to Dale Carnegie – Attention

In the last blog "What is a Brand in the Words of a Few Good Men?" we discussed why we need to go back to basics and not hide behind jargon, call a brand for what it is – a person’s or an organization’s reputation.

So how do you build and manage a reputation, in other words a powerful brand that connects with your customers and prospects by being unique and satisfying their physical and emotional needs?

Brand Building is Reputation Building
You say what you do and then do what you say. In other words, building a reputation is about effective communication and keeping your promises to earn trust.

Effective marketing communication is first and foremost about getting ATTENTION! Without it, your message will simply never have a chance. This one of the reasons headlines, regardless of the media they appear on are paramount. If the headline doesn’t grab attention then the rest of the article, story, blog, tweet, video, billboard, etc will not have a chance to communicate the rest of the message.

There are many different techniques advertisers, PR people, journalists, writers, educators and anyone in the communication business use to get attention, but in the very simplest form, “How to Win Friends and Influence people” summarises it perfectly in the section titled “Win people to your way of thinking”:

1.    Dramatize your ideas. Most great advertising dramatises ideas, as do great speechwriters and script writers. Great ads for example manage to tell an emotional and engaging story in just 60 seconds.
2.    Throw down a challenge. From shampoos to household appliances or overnight deliveries, a promise or a guarantee is way to challenge the status quo and grab attention!
3.    Appeal to the nobler motives.
4.    Begin in a friendly way.
5.    Let the person feel that the idea is his or hers
6.    Let the other person do a great deal of talking
7.    Get the other person saying ‘yes’ immediately
8.    Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of views.
9.    Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
10.    Avoid Arguments.
11.    Show respect, never say “you are wrong”
12.    If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.