Month: February 2014

Facebook Wants to Know WhatsApp

facebook-whatsapp-deal-iconsWhat’s a workday without cutting a $20-billion dollar cheque? 

Last week, Facebook purchased mobile messaging company, WhatsApp, for the astronomical sum, even for industry standards, and for 16 times as much as they paid for photo-sharing application, Instagram.

Facebook has a history of scouting out competing apps, so this hefty purchase comes as no real surprise.  But why does this simple messaging service interest Facebook so much? As an application that does not run advertisements on its services, growth, and not profit, has been more of a focus for WhatsApp, according to co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum.

With 450-million users, WhatsApp boasts only about half of the users that Facebook has, however 70% of WhatsApp subscribers are daily active users, which is of great interest to Facebook.

 So what makes WhatsApp worth $20-billion dollars?

  • A younger, loyal user-base
  • Daily engagement by a large percentage of users
  • A message volume of an estimated 7.1 trillion message a year
  • The ability to unite all smartphone devices, iPhone, Android- even Blackberry- through one messaging service

 Instant messaging within personal networks is where the public is engaged the most- connecting instantly with family and friends, sharing photos, videos and web links.  As a marketing expert, I know that you can’t put a price on consumer engagement. It’s truly no surprise Facebook wants to capitalize on a built-in, captive audience.  

Do you think Facebook had strong foresight with this business decision? Do you use WhatsApp? Do you think it’s worth $20-billion dollars? I look forward to your thoughts below. 

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Why is Marketing one of the Least Respected Business Disciplines?

persuasionMany business owners consider marketing to be a necessary evil, you know you need to do it, but you’re not exactly sure why or what you need to do.  Marketing is an indefinable grey area covering the various activities you might do between producing a product, offering a service and selling it.

Although online marketing has helped to improve this, it’s often hard to directly attribute revenue to marketing, it’s always been one of the least-respected business disciplines — poorly measured activities that are deemed “not necessary” and are the first to be cut when times get tough.

I like to think of marketing as all the steps that lead up to the sales conversation — whether it’s market research, branding, pricing and distribution, packaging and promotion, market segmentation or advertising.  All of these disciplines help to bridge the gap between the product/service and the customers who either buy them or ought to.

Simply stated, marketing is everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers.

You might think of marketing this way: If business is all about people and money and the art of persuading one to part from the other, then marketing is all about finding the right people to persuade.

No matter how terrific or unique you company is, people (consumers) don’t just “buy” a product/service.  It is not happenstance that they want to buy YOUR product or service. They “buy” the concept of what that product/service will do for them, or help them do for themselves.  For example people who are overweight don’t join a franchise diet centre to eat pre-packaged micro-meals.  They “buy” the concept of a new, thin, happy and successful self.

People have their own unique perceptions of the world based on their belief system.  The most innovative ideas, the greatest products, or a superior service succeed only when you market within the context of people’s perceptions. Once you understand and accept this premise, you are ready to start marketing your brand to your audience.

I leave you with the immortal words of Aretha Franklin, “All I’m askin’ (oo)
is for a little respect…”

Do you feel you have a good understanding of what role your marketing plays in your company?  Do you feel your marketing should increase your sales or that your marketing should you’re your audience to the sales conversation? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

What Has Sochi Done To The Olympic Brand?

sochi-2014-winter-olympicsHave you considered what hosting the Olympics in a country with human rights issues, security concerns, and financial controversy would do to the well-respected and prestigious Olympic brand? With all the debate surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, we’ve been wondering just that! This video from UK news agency Reuters asks the loaded question, “What will Sochi do to the Olympic brand?”.

There are a few very important points noted in this video by David Hay, CEO of Brand Finance. “Brands always gain or lose by the associations they make,” Hay says, and undoubtedly the Olympic Committee and Russia were aware of the challenges presented to sponsors who attached themselves to these Olympic games. Nevertheless, big sponsors such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s did not change their stance on supporting the winter games. The ending note from Joanna Partridge says it all, “No matter how successful the Sochi games are, the Olympic brand seems stronger than individual hosts.”

Do you feel the Olympic brand has been affected in any way? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Why Your Brand Matters

brand-loyaltyMany businesses feel that “branding” is just a marketing term and that it really does not matter what your brand is as long as you can offer clients what they want.

I find this view ironic, as branding is exactly that: making sure you offer the client what they want. Branding is the step before you make an offer to a client.  It establishes an identity, stirs feelings and makes a connection between those feelings and that identity.  Whether B2B or B2C, your brand resides in the hearts and minds of customers and prospects.

As I’ve mentioned many times in the blog, your brand is much more than a trademark or slogan.

Making customers feel good about your product or service is the key to breaking through the cluttered marketplace of products and messages.

Branding helps customers build loyalty to your company and its offerings.

I have listed below what I feel are the top tips you’ll need to establish a strong brand:

  1. Cut through your own clutter and everyone else’s
  2. Improve the perception of “worth”
  3. Position YOU as the preferred solution to a perceived need
  4. Attract and retain customers to YOU

You might want to enlist the help of a third party, marketing expert to help you get a perspective on your brand’s worth, but if followed, once you know who you are, and what your value is to your customers, so too will they and that is when you can realize your brand’s true worth.

Do you feel branding is a bunch of bunk?  How do you communicate your company’s value to your customers without a brand?  Please share with me your thoughts on branding.  I look forward to igniting an interesting discussion.