Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Does looking powerful make you powerful??

Excellent research paper by Harvard Business Review on the psychological effects of assuming a powerful stance. Long story short, the raising of testosterone and lowering of cortisol means that by making yourself look powerful, you're not only fooling others, but tricking yourself as well.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Community or Individuality??

It's one of the greatest paradoxes in the human psyche, but what your customers want is what I will call "Community Niches." A niche, as I'm sure most of you is aware, is a specialised area in which few, if any, companies provide the specific service or product and so the customer is receiving pretty much benefits customised to their exact desires.

A niche is the epitome of the modern individualistic, isolationistic society. It provides each individual the chance to be different, specify what they want and not follow, or interact, with others who's desires do not match their own.

However, this is in direct contrast to human nature. Our brains are hard wired to instinctively seek community, based upon thousands of years of knowing that the only way to survive was to create communities which provided security and who's experience could be fed off.

The answer is "Community Niches." Whilst your customer wants to show how individualistic they are, they are also drawn to sharing these personalised traits to a community. If you have managed to create a product/service which allows individuals to display their individualism, make sure you provide them with a community to share this with, be it on-line or real world.

As an example, look at Harley Davidson. There core audience consists of middle aged males, who are seeking to express their individuality and personality, yet Harley Davidson clubs where vast groups of the brands customers meet and ride are extremely popular. This is an example of Harley Davidson creating a "Community Niche," where they allow their customers the feeling of being individuals whilst also allowing them a like minded community to enjoy this individuality with.

Whatever your product is, remember that whilst it's important in this day and age to allow the consumer to be as individualistic as possible, we still follow our basic instincts, and they still seek community.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Up to 90% of the value of your company is the brand!!

Seems like an extremely high figure doesn't it. But if you really think about it, it's the only aspect of your company that cannot be replicated by your competitors, that attracts true customer loyalty and that truly differentiates you from every one of your direct and indirect competitors.

You may have a better product, but that can be copied. You may have superior staff, but they can be enticed elsewhere. You may have the best business model, but there's nothing stopping your competition from using it. The only true differentiator that consistently keeps your customers coming back and brings in new custom is the experiences they've had with your brand, the conscious and sub-conscious connections and connotations they have of your brand from advertising, marketing and word of mouth and the expected value they will receive from your brand. This is where your company is different from every one else, and where you can create true market value.

This is why every strategic business decision made should be based around the question "What does this do for the brand?" Does it have the potential to weaken the brand? Such as bringing in a product extension that could go wrong, or signing up the wrong sponsor. Is it consistent with the brand? I.e. if the brand is based around innovation, would using outdated marketing techniques reinforce this image or damage it? Does it position the brand in the wrong market? Such as advertising a premium brand in a discount store etc.

Considering how much of your companies worth is incorporated in the brand, it's clear what the implications of making the wrong decision for your brand could be.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Carrot or the Stick?? Which do your customers react to??

When promoting your products in the market place, what do your customers react to? Do they need incentives and the constant promotion of how the product will benefit them and all its great features, or do they need you to promote the consequences of not purchasing your products?

As an example, imagine you're marketing for an insurance company. You can promote all the benefits of being insured with your company, peace of mind, good interest rates, convenient, etc. Alternatively, you can promote the risks of not being insured, the cost if something does go wrong and you would need the insurance. Our brains don't generally function in the way that we can take both messages in succinctly within one advertisement, and so the key for the marketing department of that company would be to undertake thorough market research to determine which message, the benefits or the risk, works better with their target audience, and the implement that message in order to create a resonant and effective marketing campaign.

If you're marketing for a shoe company, should you promote the benefit of how the shoe can improve your performance or warn that the audience will fall behind their competitors if they don't purchase the shoe? Local cafe, the benefits of fresh, good tasting food or the risk of going about your day without proper nourishment?

Finding the answer to this question will allow you to create consistent and memorable marketing campaigns which will drive sales and create a distinctive brand ethos.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Purple Cow effect

The best name I ever saw for Unique Selling points, or USPs, was Purple Cows. If you really think about this metaphor, it will open your mind about the opportunities available to truly differentiate your business.

Consider the scenario. You're driving in the countryside, past field after field, seeing normal cow after normal cow, bored out of your mind and probably distracted by a hundred and one other thoughts. Then all of a sudden you see...a PURPLE COW!! All of a sudden you're alert, you're intrigued, you're not going to forget this moment in a long time, probably ever, and you're more than likely going to investigate/enquire.

This is the type of unique selling point you should have in your business. What is it you do different, that is unique enough to get people to stop, pay attention and remember what you do?

The number one task of a marketer these days is getting consumers to pay attention to your message, especially when they receive on average over a thousand different advertising messages each day. If you don't have a USP, it might be time to start considering ways to make your product stand out from the crowd, or your audience will continue to drive past bored.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Are you educated in the art of mistakes??

There's a famous story about a Marketing Executive who makes a mistake, costing his company 20 million pounds. When he asked his manager whether he was going to fire him or not, his manager replied "Why would I do that, when I've just invested 20 millions pounds in your education?"

The saying goes making mistakes isn't criminal, making them twice is. In marketing, and in business in general, it's extremely important to learn from your mistakes, and the mistakes of others, and ensure those mistakes aren't repeated.

The largest companies have made huge mistakes, but the reason they're in the position they are in is they learnt from them. If that form of market research didn't work before, don't try it again, at least not in the same way. If those customers weren't responsive to your product, find a new range of customers to target. If noone responded to advertising in that new form of technology, find a new one.

The cost of your mistakes has an incredible return on investment, so long as you learn from them.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Are you listening?? If so, are you paying attention??

How many companies out there claim to listen to their customers?

Pretty much all of them.

How many pay attention to what their customers say?

Quite a different story.

Companies claim to listen to their customers, then provide services, updates etc that are not at all in tune with what their audience is saying. With so many new forms of real time interaction that companies integrate within their marketing strategies, such as social media etc, there’s no reason why companies shouldn’t be providing services more adequate to their customers needs and desires.

What’s the point in paying money to listen if you’re not going to pay attention?

Friday, 8 October 2010

The unknown - A necessary fear

Why do businesses fear the unknown to such extents they cling to the current regardless of whether it’s practical or not? The unknown may be scary, may mean a lot of hard work and is by no means going to be successful, but it’s a lot more likely to be successful than maintaining flawed and outdated policies which may be keeping the company in the market but are by no means enabling growth or providing customers with a reason to stay.

Taking risks is an essential part of business. Your business strategy may have worked for you in the past, but if you’re not constantly reviewing and updating it, it will soon become outdated and a burden upon the companies chances of success. Keep up with technological breakthroughs, trends, changes in the social structure, laws etc to ensure that your business strategy is up to date, relevant and efficient.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Digital Marketing is the way forward…isn’t it??

Every new piece of contemporary marketing literature seems to point towards the same consensus…that digital marketing is the way forward and anyone not embracing it as the corner stone of their marketing campaigns is bound to fail. This is due to it being cheaper, interactive and easier to target towards a segmented audience, to name just a few benefits.

However, new research conducted by functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) scanning of brains at the University of Bangor has shown that physical direct mail, such as flyers etc, stimulates the emotional parts of the brain to a further extent than that of digital media, and as so are a more potent medium when strengthening a brand and creating brand awareness. The tangible materials allow the individuals sense of touch as well as sight to be stimulated, creating a further effect making the material seem more “real.”

For more information check out the research paper from Millward Brown http://www.millwardbrown.com/Libraries/MB_Case_Studies_Downloads/MillwardBrown_CaseStudy_Neuroscience.sflb.ashx

This isn't to say that digital isn't important, but it is important that Direct Mail isn't forgotten or condemned to the history books, because that will be at the detriment of brands looking to create lasting salience and relationships with their customers.

For more on Neuro Marketing check out http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/

Monday, 4 October 2010

Getting into your audiences mind

It’s been estimated that up to 90% of purchasing decisions are made sub-consciously. That means that up to 90% of what you buy, you don’t know why you’re buying or why you’re attracted to it.

The question to marketers is how to use this information to their advantage. The answer is by creating positive associations of their brand that will resonate in the minds of their target audience and create an unknown desirability which will encourage them to act and choose your brand above your competitors.

A common experiment by neuro marketers is to create several company names and show them to a sample group, with half of the names shown with a positive word flashed before the name, so fast that the audience’s conscious mind can’t take it in, and half with negative words. What happens a considerable amount of the time is the companies with positive words are seen with positive connotations by the audience, the names with negative words negative connotations. The audience sees the companies in these ways because their sub-conscious has taken in the positive words even if their conscious mind hasn’t, so the individual doesn’t realise they have the information in their brain and doesn’t realise why they feel that particular way about the company. Imagine how strong a brand you can create if you can develop strong positive feelings in your audience that they don’t even know are there?

I’m not suggesting you put subliminal messages in your adverts, which by the way is illegal, but what you can do with strong PR, well placed and consistent adverts, positive word of mouth and a consistent brand message is create a positive reputation for your company which will stick in the sub-conscious of your audience and work to your advantage the next time they are deciding which company to purchase from.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Going the extra mile

At which point do you say that’s a good enough service to the customer and stop? At what point do you say that’s all you’re getting?

It’s important to have that limit in order to ensure your services are in line with your balance sheet and not too resource draining, but it’s also important to ensure that your competitors aren’t drawing that line way after you. If you’re offering limited after sale service, extras or advice, whereas your competitors are “going the extra mile,” which company do you think your audience will choose? Where you can, show your audience they’re appreciated. If you’ve spent so much marketing money advertising to get their custom in the first place, why not go the extra mile to keep them.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

What is Brand loyalty?

Have you ever wondered what Brand loyalty actually is? A lot of companies and their marketers will go on about how they have such a large base of loyal followers who will only consume their brand, but how true is that. Or is it simply the case that they have the best offering? That they are the cheapest, most convenient, hold the most prestige or invest the most in marketing?

A consumer is only truly loyal to a brand when they have viable and attractive alternative options, and still choose the stated brand over them. This only happens when a lasting, interactive and deeply resonant relationship has been created, developed and nurtured by the organisation. Creating a loyal brand following is costly, time consuming and detrimental to short term goals, but in the long term business strategy it is consistently the best way of ensuring survival and long term stability, regardless of your competition or what obstacles are thrown at the company. Creating experiences, a sense of community and the feeling that the consumer is appreciated and loved all create the level of intimate relationship which creates strong brand loyalty.

Companies such as Nike, Apple and McDonalds have spent fortunes on developing brands which create communities with their consumers and in which they can experience direct relationships with, and as such have extremely loyal followings who wouldn’t even consider consuming their rival’s offerings. How can you create and develop relationships that will create the same level of true loyalty?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Good Marketers are Psychologists

What is it that makes a good marketer? Being a good sales person? Being able to read markets? Being able to intrigue journalists? Being able to create a strong and desirable brand?

Being a good marketer involves being consistently good in various disciplines, but in my opinion the most important is being able to read minds, actions and incentives, and act appropriately. In other words, being a good psychologist. If you can step into your audiences shoes, consider what makes them tick, what motivates them, what scares them, what they desire, which specific language they will react to, etc, then you can create advertisements which they will react to and you can create offers and promotions which they are likely to purchase.

There are numerous complicated and resource draining neuro-psychological techniques that marketers can use that analyse and assess consumer decision making, but as a basic and simple technique, just look at your target audience and consider what makes them tick, what they’ll react to and how they can be reached effectively.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Luck - Way too important to leave to chance

                Have you ever noticed some people just seem to get all the luck. Picking the right stock to trade in at the right time, happening to have an umbrella before it starts raining, finding the bargain buy in amongst the rip-offs. Well, the same applies to organisations. However, rarely is luck as simple as it seems, lucky companies know the art of creating their own luck through insight and preparation.
                Some things in life are just too important to leave to the roll of a dice. The success of your business definitely counts as one of these. If you aren’t looking to the future in times of calm and prosperity, to potential threats and opportunities, then you’re steering your ship blindly in the hope you’ll get lucky and ride into a golden lake. Whilst this certainly has happened in the past, a far more common repercussion of following this strategy is to ride into an iceberg. To make the golden lake option more likely, proper evaluation of the opportunities and dissecting of the threats of the following factors is essential;
 -          Political - Are there specific political factors which may be beneficial or detrimental which can be used to your advantage or prepared for? I.e. trade restrictions, tax laws, labour laws 

-          Legal - Can you foresee any new laws/regulations coming into motion which may affect your business and how you run it? If so, what can you do to pre-empt and negate the negative effects or use the positive effects to your advantage?  

-          Technological - Any new technologies which can be used to the companies advantage, or that may make any aspect of the companies offerings obsolete

-          Social - Any trends that can be foreseen, i.e. changes in average age, career attitudes etc. How can these be pre-empted in order to use them to your advantage

-          Trends - Any trends such as the popularity of specific past-times, popular T.V. shows, clothing styles etc.

Whilst some of these factors seem hard to pre-empt, companies have made millions and created strong and sustainable brand equity based upon their ability to foresee the potential and threats from the stated in their marketplace and so act and counter-act appropriately. Profitable companies are very rarely in that situation because they are lucky. They are in that situation because they have the insight to evaluate their marketplace diligently and prepare for any scenario, like a ships captain steering through calm waters preparing for any unseen obstacles ahead. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Loyalty schemes

     Many large organisations such as Supermarkets, Airlines, retailers etc have loyalty schemes such as club-cards, vouchers etc aimed at promoting repeat purchases from customers and so gaining long term brand loyalty. These schemes are a brilliant way of showing customers that they are appreciated, creating a fear of loss and switching costs if they want to use a competitor and creating a level of comfort for them. However, it’s not just large organisations that can utilise this strategy to their benefit.
     Whatever the size of your organisation, as long as you have customers, you can treat them to a loyalty scheme. If you are a small coffee shop, why not have booklets which you stamp every time a customer has a coffee and after so many visits they get a free beverage? If you are a local taxi company, why not add discounts for customers regularly booking? If you supply to local businesses, why not add incentives for them to repeat purchase from you, such as added products? It may create an initial cost which seems unattractive on the balance sheet, but the intangible strength added to the relationship with your customers in the long term will create a very profitable return on investment.

     What is often not considered by companies is that customers want a relationship with their brand, even as far as they will actively seek such relationships. Having a company they consistently use creates a sense of security and comfort. They know what they are expecting, they have an emotional attachment and they do not have to worry about the risk of an inferior product or paying for a service they are not content with. If you can give them a reason to return, they will usually take it, and the longer the relationship is strewn with incentives the stronger it will become, creating an invaluable level of true brand loyalty.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Where is your product positioned??

    What I consistently see as one of the main problems companies have when bringing a new product to market is not knowing where to position their product, and so not knowing what pricing policy to implement which best portrays the tangible benefits and intrinsic values of the product to the customer. Having a clear understanding of the proposition you are providing to the customers you have decided best to target and how this proposition benefits them should be one of the core issues for companies when entering new products into any market place.

    The two main issues to consider when deciding where and how to position your product should be;

• How are you different to your direct and indirect competitors (Do you provide anything more, added benefits, more capabilities etc)

• What is the buying capabilities/priorities of your target audience (How much do they value what you’re providing, to what lengths would they go to purchase your product, do they have the means to purchase what you’re providing)

    Once you know the answer to these questions, you can decide where in the market your product should be positioned, and so using which pricing strategy and via which mediums. Some basic pricing strategies are;

Budget - Look at Ryan Air, Lidls etc. They offer no thrills basics, but at low prices, aiming for the market of conscientious buyers wary of spending above their means and so willing to sacrifice unnecessary luxuries which would make them feel cognitive dissonance (buyers guilt).

Competition based - Take into consideration the competition and how much they charge, and keep your prices similar. This is especially important when dealing with commodities with little room for brand building and so no means to distinguish your product from that of your competition. If you raise your prices too high, then the market has no reason to choose your product above that of your competition, and so you will lose a large share of the market. If you lower your prices too excessively you will also be lowering your profit margins, meaning, depending upon your structure and how much it costs to make and distribute your product, even if you sell vast amounts you will still be making minimum profit.

Premium (Also known as "Skimming") - Look at brands such as Harrods, BMW, Haagen-Daas etc. They charge a premium price because they specifically target an audience that won’t hesitate to pay extra for quality, sacrificing a high number of sales for high profits from specific affluent individuals, and therefore "skimming" the market. If you can position your brand in such a way that people desire it enough to pay excessively beyond its worth, you are looking at a very lucrative pricing strategy. However, if you charge top price for a product which doesn’t meet the expectations of the price then you’ll lose customers quickly and be left with a product you have to discount heavily, taking away the exclusivity and potentially damaging the brand beyond any hope of profitable equity.

Market Orientated - Undertaking vast amounts of research in order to dilligently evaluate the current marketplace and so set prices according to demand. This is the strategy most likely to enable the company to engage with its audience and so create demand, but is also the most costly and time consuming, seen as relevant and appropriate market research can be resource draining.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Marketing in the Boardroom

Marketing has for a long time been seen as a peripheral discipline in organizations. Instead of a way of increasing the companies standing in its marketplace, increase short and long term sales and developing brand loyalty, it has stereotypically been seen as an expense which the company could do without and that minimum revenue should be allocated to. This view is short sighted, naïve and when taken by high ranking members of companies, potentially damaging to the organizations chances of success.

Marketing is an investment, but when the right personnel are undertaking the marketing and they are using the right strategies, there is no better way to develop the company in the long term. Relationships being forged and reputations cemented means companies will see customers returning, instead of making short term sales and then seeing those same customers buying off their competition.

In order for companies to see marketing as being as important and relevant as it is, it is important that all marketing departments be held accountable. Accountable for every penny spent, and every strategy implemented. When marketing departments can start showing where the money is being spent, and what is working, what isn’t working and what they’re doing about it, companies will start considering the discipline with the importance it merits and as the most effective way of reaching their audience and understanding their marketplace.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

New ACA Code on Greenwashing

The ACA (Advertising Association) has implemented changes to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) forbidding what is known as “Green Washing," exaggerating environmental claims. If you're promoting the benefits your products have on the environment, or promoting how certain actions harm or benefit the environment, make sure what you're saying is correct in order to avoid being caught up in these regulations.
The basic premise behind ensuring that environmental claims are correct is that when the average person does something good…they then believe they have the license to do something bad. For instance, should Joe from down the street use your product because it’s good for the environment, he then feels he has a license to fly tip, as all its doing is evening things up. If your product doesn’t do as good for the environment that you claim, then it’s actually had a negative effect on the environment. Obviously if you do good by the environment you shouldn’t feel like you can then even it up, you should just be glad to have helped, but unfortunately the psychology of the minds doesn’t work like that for the average person.
This may seem like the type of regulation that will only really affect or be implemented against large corporations, but the repercussions if you are caught can be very serious, so keep this in mind guys.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Who are your best customers?

Do you know who your best customers are? Instead of trying to market your products/services to everyone, why not try and sell more to your main customers? Depending upon your business strategy/logistics, it may well be more cost effective targeting developing key customer relationships above having a large and diverse customer base who only buy from you once.

Customize what you provide to the needs of these core customers and ensure the best possible customer service, as well as the best product/service, and unless their needs/desires aren't alligned to what you provide they will return.

Marketing research has in the past pointed towards up to 80% of many companies revenues coming from their loyal customer base. If you can keep these key stakeholders happy, you're on to a winning strategy.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Communicate with your customers!!(even the bad news)

It may seem obvious, but the amount of companies that don’t sufficiently communicate with there customers is both shocking and the cause of most business problems. You may not be communicating good news, your message may not seem that interesting, but finding a level of communication the customer is happy with and finds informative but that they don’t find overly encroaching is often the difference between customer loyalty and customers switching to your competitors.

Consider the situation; you’ve promised your customer to deliver a product to a certain deadline, but can no longer make that deadline. The obvious next point of action is to communicate with the customer through whichever medium you usually would and inform them of the situation. They may be extremely disappointed, they may not use your services again and they may bad mouth your company. But not nearly to the extreme they will if you were to not inform them of the problem, and then leave it until the last minute with your fingers crossed that a miracle will happen. This will attain you a reputation as unreliable and dishonest and damage your brand equity far beyond what the initial mistake would have created.

This is the same whether you’re a large multi-national serving millions or a small enterprise serving a local market. Even if you own a restaurant and there’s been a mistake with an order, communicating with the customer and explaining there will be a delay will make them a lot less irate than just bringing the food out when it’s ready. Communication and honesty are what creates relationships, without them problems just build up and relationships are destroyed.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Book Recommendation - SWAY

The first Marketing book I would recommend is not strictly a Marketing book. “Sway, The Irresistable Pull of Irrational Behaviour”, was written by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman, two Israeli brothers with education in Business and Psychology respectively. It delves into the human psyche and creates an understanding of what makes humans act the way they do, and make the decisions they make. From a Marketing perspective the ability to cipher what will make consumers act in particular ways is the industries version of gold dust, and this book is an excellent starting point for any marketer looking to build an understanding of consumer psychology.

If a charity were to ask you to give up your time to help them, say in a raffle sale, or were to offer you a nominal sum to help them, which offer would you more likely accept? Basic economic theory states that some money, even if it is nominal, is better than no money. However, as explained in SWAY, two parts of the brain are at play that cannot function at the same time. When asked to undertake an activity for charity, the Altruism Centre of your brain is in function. This is an area that does not take a lot of stimulation. However, whenever reward is added to an equation, the Nucleus Accumbens part of the brain takes over, which is stronger than the Altrusim Centre and in essence closes this part down. This part of the brain takes a lot of stimulation, and so mediocre rewards will not suffice in order to make it accept an offer. This is what made the citizens of a town in Switzerland agreement numbers to allowing nuclear waste being dumped in their town go down when offered monetary reward, and what makes you more likely to do your friends a favor if they don’t offer you money.
The next time you've created a questionnaire, or need any consumer feedback, consider how's best to get them to cooperate? Is it through offering them a meaningless prize...or through appealing to their Altruism Centre?

This is just one example of the widely researched psychology theories used within this book. If you want to learn a basic understanding of what makes your customers act the way they do, you could do a lot worse than logging onto Amazon and looking up this book.

Monday, 2 August 2010

People Lie, Numbers Don't

You go to all the effort and cost of organising, collecting and collating market research, so why not listen to what your marketing data has to say? A number of companies that undertake market research, which is very important in determining opportunities in the market as well as your current footing and many other purposes, then completely disregard undesirable results.

If you’re going to the cost of running the research, it’s important to take heed of what the data has to say. If the results of the research say you’re new product improvements aren’t needed or wanted, your market is telling you not to produce them, and it certainly wont increase sales if you do. If 90% of answerers say they haven’t heard of your company, you’re being told to increase your brand awareness activities. If 70% of answerers say they’d purchase from your company if you increased your green credentials, guess greens the way to go.

The worst thing a company can do is make excuses for the results. “It wasn’t a big enough sample group,” “it wasn’t the right audience” and “the questions weren’t clear enough” are just some common excuses for unfavourable results. If you’d had the results you wanted, would you be making the same excuses?

It’s extremely important you interact with your market, and assuming you’ve done your homework and asked the right questions to the right people, the results you’ve received represent what the markets currently feelings and desires. By ignoring these results you’re ignoring your audience, who will grow disillusioned with your organisation and make their purchases elsewhere.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Why do chips from a chippie taste better??

Have you ever wondered why chips from a chippie taste better than chips you’ve cooked at home? They’re cooked in exactly the same way; you put the same salt and vinegar on them and eat them the same way.

The difference is with your cognitive association of what chips from a chippie are, and your pre conception of what they’re going to taste like. What you enjoy from the chip shop is the experience because it reminds you of previous experiences by taking advantage of your sense of smell, bringing back the memories and associated joys of growing up and eating out in these locations. This is the reason, even though regulations now forbid chip shops from wrapping their chips in news paper, they use paper that creates the same smell and taste in order to continue to utilise their advantage of a distinctive smell to differentiate them from regular chips.

Whatever your company is selling, how can you take advantage of your consumer’s senses in order to create positive pre-cognitive associations which will become a differentiator between you and your competition? Estate Agents bake bread in the oven when showing potential buyers around to create a homely smell and elicit positive associations, companies play soothing music in the receptions of their offices to create a relaxing atmosphere which customers are prepared to buy in, hotels create extravagant looking receptions to their complexes so you’ll remember them and desire to return in the future.

The main aspect which makes utilising the senses such an important and subtle marketing tool is it is largely sub-conscious. Whilst if consumers take the time to consider it they will realise the effect these strategies are having on their purchasing decisions, it is a rare occasion they do. It remains largely below the surface of their conscious mind, creating a sway towards you product greater than price or any attained benefits could attain.

Look into how you can utilise any of the five senses, taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch, for your product and you will be able to differentiate yourself and create brand loyalty, desirability and recall.

Brand Consistency - What it says on the tin

   The old saying “When you try to be something to everyone you end up being nothing to no one” is very true when it comes to marketing your company. You go into the marketplace with a specific audience in mind, you create a product that’s desired or needed by this audience and then you try and sell the product to everyone, sporadically changing the style of communication, the message and the medium. All this does is create confusion, and makes every audience, including your target, unsure about what your company stands for, what you can provide them and whether you are the right company for their particular needs or whether you are too preoccupied trying to attract different audiences.

   If you look at your key audience and analytically decide what is the best way to reach them, and with which message, then this should be consistently utilised at all times in order to ensure your company is seen on the merits it can bring to the table, as well as coordinating the marketing budget in the most cost effective manner as possible. When you bring your product to market, and when you decide on what budget is required for marketing, it’s extremely important you decide on your brand message and which mediums to articulate this message through and then consistently remain with these decisions.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Are you marketing or selling?

A lot of people will answer “What’s the difference.” Whilst the two are commonly portrayed as the same concept, they are in fact major differences between the two, differences which are important to take into account when deciding your business strategy.

Sales is largely about increasing the number of consumers purchasing your product, regardless of whether it’s the right product for them or whether they’re going to buy again. Marketing starts before a product has even been created. It starts when the first research into a potential product and market is being conducted, when potential consumers are being asked what they desire. It then follows the process all the way to deciding which mediums to use to promote the product, with sales being one of these mediums, and then ensuring the customer is content with the service provided and will provide repeat custom, as well as favourable word of mouth.

Peter Drucker, the Godfather of modern marketing, stated “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” This sums the difference up perfectly. Companies whose idea of marketing is just getting someone on the phone or cold calling, without considering who they’re targeting, whether they’re using the correct medium or putting emphasis on ensuring they’re likely to want to purchase again are missing the big picture. They are in essence making the selling process unnecessarily difficult. In times of economic uncertainty, such as the current recession, a strong brand built from consistent and prevalent marketing activities over a vast time period will be the difference between companies succeeding or failing.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Selling McDonalds to Vegetarians

Whatever product or service you’re marketing, the most important thing to keep in mind is the answer to; “Who is your audience?” If you were selling high tech computers, would you aim for the over 90s market? If you were selling Lamborghinis, would you be putting your flyers up in the YMCA?

Knowing who your audience is and then finding the most cost effective method of reaching this audience is one of the key bases of marketing. Interacting with this audience allows you to determine and organize your supply and demand, as well as increasing short term sales and long term brand awareness with a participative audience. In theory if participating with a “pull” strategy you should know who your target audience is through your research before you even create whatever you’re supplying, but this is not always practical or realistic, especially in the current fast paced marketplace. But before you start selling, you should have a clear picture in your mind of who your audience is.

Demographics is the name given to the key characteristics of your audience. This includes age, income, geographic, nationality, whether they drive a car or not, even as far as which newspapers they buy. As much information as you can collect on your target audience can be used to promote your services to them. If you are selling to 20-50 year old males in a high income range, finding which newspapers they buy or radio they listen to is invaluable in targeting them with selective and relevant advertisements.

A common issue many marketers have with targeting particular audiences is they feel it alienates other audiences who are willing to purchase the product. The aim of audience segmentation is not to segregate audiences but to ensure the audience most likely to desire or need the product is made aware of its presence and then allowing viral marketing and word of mouth to carry the message to further audiences, creating brand awareness in the most cost effective manner mass marketing has to offer.

The next time you are about to launch a promotional campaign, ensure you give deep consideration to who your audience is, which are the best mediums to target them through and which message they’ll respond to.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The effectiveness of Social Media

Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, is often seen as in the domain of the younger individuals in society, and as a medium through which only large organisation can effectively target a segmented audience with an appropriate, attractive message. Neither of these statements is true. Whatever the size of your company, be it a one man sole trader or employing hundreds of people, you can leviate social media effectively to increase brand and product awareness, interact with your audience in a two way conversation and scope the local market place for an idea of what your audience wants.

It's free, easy and not overly time consuming to create a social media page. I’m sure some of you found this blog through my Twitter page, which is an excellent way to point your audience in the direction of literature/promotions/products etc which may be relevant to them. The same is true for Facebook, MySpace, Ecademy, Linkedin, Delicious, Digg and many more.

What is important when utilising social media, as with any advertising medium, is to keep your message consistent and relevant. If you want to create resonance in your audience’s minds once they have seen your message, it’s important they associate your brand with the key brand values you want to portray, whichever they may be. If they see different messages from your company portraying the company in altering ways, it is unlikely they will associate you in whichever way you desire and so no brand loyalty will be created to be leveraged later on.