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.