Month: June 2014

What’s Your Biggest Pain Point?

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As marketers, we try to assess client’s needs and results to understand what strategy should be followed to help them achieve their goals.  As success can be measured on various levels including ROI, awareness, reach, leads, and conversions, it is critical to clearly define your needs, so a targeted strategy can be developed.  Needs are usually rooted in what I like to call “pain points”. In this weeks blog, I thought I would take the pulse of the industry and ask you what you feel are biggest pain points facing your business.

As a result of this quick survey, I hope to share with you “pain point” trends and some analysis of what these trends might mean for our industry and your business. The results will only be as strong as your participation, so I hope you’ll participate. What is the top “pain point” facing your business?

  • Financial concerns
  • Employee/personnel issues
  • Marketing ROI
  • Marketing strategy
  • Online marketing (emails, web, ads)
  • Mobile application of business
  • No brand awareness
  • Lack of sales
  • Lack of innovation
  • Other – define:

I look forward to reading the results and sharing the trends in next week’s blog.

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Netflix is tuned-in to brand loyalty

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If you’ve heard buzz surrounding the release of the much-anticipated second season of Orange is the New Black, it’s because fans of the popular show could not wait to know what was going to happen next in the series. But you won’t have seen too much advertising traction as other popular shows. This is because it appears that the world of television is changing with the habits and preferences of its viewers, and Netflix, the creator of shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, is listening.

Instead of spending their multi-million dollar budgets on pricey, large-scale adverts, Netflix pours its investment into the creation and production of quality, highly sought-after content, like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. With amazing writing and serious star-power (we’re looking at you, Kevin Spacey), that can’t be found on TV, Netflix subscribers are left wanting more without being bombarded with promotional material they don’t have time for.

Perhaps it is decreasing levels of patience or increased wariness of B2C advertising, but television viewers do not want their viewing experience interrupted by advertising. With the introduction of TV recording systems, many people PVR their favourite episodes and fast forward through the commercials – ads are simply white noise. Netflix understands this pet peeve and brings episodes to its subscribers without advertisements or commercial breaks. A Netflix subscriber doesn’t feel marketed or promoted to, which helps build brand credibility and trust between the company and its customer base.

Are you a TV binge-watcher? Binging defined as watching more than one episode of a show in one sitting. The trend of “marathonning” episodes is becoming more common as today’s viewer demands instant gratification, immediacy and efficiency in their entertainment. Also, due to busy schedules, viewers want to be able to watch their favourite shows on their own schedule, which speaks to the large popularity of PVR. Viewers do not want to wait between episodes, and again, Netflix is listening: Netflix released Orange is the New Black season 2 in bulk – every episode available for subscribers at once, so they could watch at their own pace, without commercial interruption.

It seems as though Netflix is very tuned into their audience – listening to their viewing public and providing quality content that people are willing to pay for. Could all television be going this way soon? Do you subscribe to Netflix? How has it changed television viewing for you? I look forward to your thoughts below.

Teach Your Customers to Fish

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You know that expression “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”? Well, the same is true for marketing: If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.

Think about this principle in your own life, when a customer service person is particularly helpful you remember the experience and it creates, what I call, a positive brand experience, which means, you are more likely to shop there based on your previous experience.

Now more than ever, your company is forced to compete for your customers’ attention, but if you’re useful enough and if you commit to inform rather than promote, customers will reward you with trust and loyalty.

There are several marketing tools that can be used to provide some useful information for free to help you build long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers, including chats, webinars and newsletters, but nothing is more powerful than a professionally written blog.

Although a company blog requires a the largest time commitment, the benefits to your business cannot be denied:

  • Businesses that blog have 55% more web visitors.
  • B2C businesses that blog generate 88% more leads per month.
  • B2B businesses that blog generate 67% more leads per month.

Facts and my own experience all lead me to the same conclusion that businesses should consider providing a blog for their customers.  In order to give it the attention it requires, ensure that your blog:

  1. Is professionally written
  2. Provides useful industry insights that your audience wants to know more about
  3. Maintains frequency (I suggest 1 a week or a minimum of 2 a month)
  4. Is published on the same day and time each week
  5. Engages your audience with tips and questions
  6. Provides visuals
  7. Has relevant and topical subject matter
  8. Avoids shameless self promotion (no selling or references to your products or services)
  9. Is open and honest
  10. Written in first person
  11. Written (or ghost written) by an owner or very least senior executive (not the marketing VP – see point 8
  12. Is correctly tagged and posted
  13. Posted on a company-branded and formatted blog with tracking capabilities (e.g. WordPress or Blogger)

The difference between “helping” and “selling” is just two letters in terms of spelling, but those two letters can make all the difference to the way your audience perceives your brand.

What ways have you positioned your marketing to provide free advice to your customers?  Do you have an online chat, webinars or a blog?  If not, why not?  It’s never too late to give your audience a positive brand experience and leave them asking for more!

Knowing your Competition

This past week, my team completed a large proposal, which required us to conduct some preliminary research about the competitors to our client and how to “fill the gaps” between what is being done and what has not yet been attempted.

I was reminded how valuable it is to understand your competition in order to highlight your unique selling point, and so I decided to pull this week’s blog from the archives on getting to know your competition. As the old expression goes: “Keep your friends close and your enemy even closer”.

As a small or medium business, knowing what your competition is doing will help you to define your competitive edge, determine your marketing strategy and plan for what types of tactics will be successful for you in increasing your sales and long term growth.

Competition research and assessment doesn’t need to be complicated, but it can be tricky and time consuming, so you might want to consult with a marketing expert to help you. If you have the time and resources, here are a few tips I’d like to share with you on what should be included in any good competitive analysis.

Write The Names Of Your Competition

Write out who your direct competitors are that largely mirror the products/services you offer. You cannot strategize and learn about your competitors if you don’t clearly establish who they are. Consider adding companies that may indirectly compete with yours, but offer products/services that address the needs of the same target audience.  Also, include here where your competitor is located, as geography also plays a role in direct competition.

Perform a SWOT Analysis

No competitive analysis would be complete without a SWOT analysis to analyze the Strengths (S), Weaknesses ( W ), Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) of your company and competitors. “Strengths” facilitate business growth, whereas “weaknesses” are factors that hinder business growth including low quality products or services, poor customer service, etc. “Opportunities” and “threats” are external factors that can hamper your business’s performance, including (1) economic forces; (2) social, cultural, demographic and environmental forces; (3) political, governmental and legal forces; (4) technological forces and (5) competitive forces.  Take the time to look at if the company is expanding or cutting back.

Examine Their Materials

What are the company’s marketing activities?How do they market and advertise their businesses? Look at materials like their quarterly and annual reports, press releases, interviews, website, and SM sites. The annual reports will give you an idea as to their annual sales, and possibly their pricing structure. Check out their SM networks, and see who they are talking to, and what they are talking about.  You should be able to determine what their target audience is and what their competitive advantages and disadvantages are compared to your business. All this valuable information will help you form a clear picture about your competitors’ objectives and strategies.

Research The Market

You will have covered some of this in the SWOT analysis, but make sure you’ve looked at the growth potential of the market. Consider whether you have the technical, marketing, or engineering expertise to capitalize on the market’s opportunities to grow your business.  Is the market concentrated or fragmented?

As a result of your businesses competitive analysis, you can identify competition, what their planned strategies are, and how to capitalize on your business’s distinctive competencies to achieve business growth.

If you invest in marketing without performing a competitive analysis, you run the risk of creating marketing tools, and product/service offerings that are way off the mark. This can cost you valuable time and money.

Another great saying comes to mind: Knowledge is power. Knowing what your competition aren’t focused on can be very powerful by helping you develop a strong marketing strategy, and dynamic branding with targeted activities that will increase your sales and ROI.

Do you have any questions about how to conduct a competitive analysis? Have you ever conducted a SWOT analysis for your business? If so, was it helpful? What has your experience been in gaining the competitive edge? Please share your questions and comments below.