Strategic Marketing

Second Place Is A First-Rate Strategy

With almost 20 years in this business, it’s not that often that I come across a TV commercial that actually gets me excited, but Classico’s pasta sauce competition commercial has done it. It’s not because of the creativity or the out-of-the-box thinking, but because of the strategy! The commercial establishes a pasta sauce competition, the opponents being a group of Italian “Nonnas” and Classico pasta sauce chefs. When the winners are announced, the Italian Nonnas take home the gold, while the Classico group stands cheering. It ends with a voiceover that says:

“Homemade pasta sauce will always win, but with inspiration from the regions of Italy, we’re a close second.”

WOW! I wasn’t expecting that ending! And that is why the commercial is so effective. The commercial has the ad sponsor, Classico, celebrating the fact they didn’t win a pasta sauce competition, and promoting the fact that their brand was, indeed, second place in the pasta sauce game.

Brands usually don’t take this type of risk by admitting defeat, but by doing the unexpected and taking this risk, and creating a strategic approach, it’s a win-win.

Classico hasn’t created a major marketing campaign for over 10 years, so this ad needed to create some serious dialogue. After conducting some market research, Classico found that their consumers frequently make homemade pasta sauce on the weekend and believe that a store-bought pasta sauce will never live up to something made from scratch. They also found that; while their consumers appreciate homemade sauce more, “for those nights when they want to deliver a great meal, but don’t have a lot of time, they want a high quality pasta sauce alternative.”

Knowing this, Classico launched their “Second only to yours” campaign. Admitting their sauce will never beat a delicious homemade sauce appeals to consumers looking for brand honesty, and as I discussed in last week’s blog, honesty is key in a marketing campaign. Classico knows their consumers value high quality sauce, so by informing them that while they are not going to beat their homemade version, they are still a close second, appealing to this busy target market.

In 1962, this strategy was also met with great success when Avis embraced their second-place status as a way to hype the brand’s customer service with the tagline, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” They retired the slogan last year after finally slipping into third place behind Hertz, 50 years after the tag line was created.

As we can see, this risky strategy worked well for both companies. Classico’s ad has now become a viral video, and Avis produced a popular slogan that was used for half a century. However, if everyone started a marketing campaign claiming they were number two, we might be in trouble. These two case studies are great examples of how well-researched marketing strategies can go against the grain and pay off big time.

Print And Digital: Integration For Real Marketing Power

 They said that the phonograph would kill live performances. They said that television would kill radio. And now they’re saying that print is dead. Of course none of this is true. Just as recorded music and live performances coexist, so do television and radio, and digital and print. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Print is here to stay and it’s still a powerful weapon in a marketer’s arsenal.

  • Magazine and newspapers have the highest ROI, at 125%, compared with other ad mediums including TV and digital, which weigh in at 87%. (GfK Panel Services)
  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs. 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable. Post-exposure memory tests validated what the cognitive load test revealed about direct mail’s memory encoding capabilities. (Roger Dooley, Forbes Magazine)
  • 70% of people exposed to direct mail recalled the brand name, as opposed to 44% who were exposed to digital. (Roger Dooley, Forbes Magazine)
  • Print is still a top-of-funnel medium. (American Marketing Association)
  • What continues to make print ads valuable is the (nearly) undivided attention that readers give to magazine and newspaper content, rather than multitasking like they do when consuming digital content. (American Marketing Association)
  • Subjects gave greater interest and memory for physical media. What’s more, print media induced more brain activity that is associated with value and desire. (U.S. Post Office)

With digital media you are depending on a viewer to find your website. Only once they’ve found your website can you deliver your message. With printed brochures, direct mail and print advertising you are putting your message in the viewer’s hand. If flyers didn’t work do you think that the most successful retailers on the planet would invest heavily in them? Print still has the power to entice and lure customers.

As a marketing advisor to many businesses across Canada, I want to reassure you that you do not have to make a choice – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Print and digital complement each other. Integrate the two for real marketing power.

 

Why Your Company Needs to Invest in Marketing

Marketing is not an option; it’s a necessity. And not just for the giants like Coca Cola and Nike. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a company of one, you need to invest in marketing in order to be successful.

What does marketing do?

One of my favourite explanations of what marketing does comes from the often quoted Peter Drucker. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”. Mr. Drucker is right. You can have the best product and/or service in the world but without marketing, it’ll be the world’s best kept secret.

Marketing isn’t just one thing. There are many components to marketing – advertising, promotions, websites, social media, content strategy, SEO, SEM, public relations… – all of which are designed to introduce and promote your products/services to potential customers and as a result, generate sales. Marketing:

  • Builds your brand
  • Reinforces your brand
  • Introduces your products/services
  • Promotes your products/services

What questions should you ask yourself before investing in marketing?

Before you invest in marketing you need know everything about your product/service. I suggest that you ask yourself these seven questions:

  1. What is my product/service?
  2. Is my product/service well priced?
  3. What is my value proposition?
  4. Who are my potential customers?
  5. Who is my competition?
  6. How am I different from my competition?
  7. What are my objectives?

How much should my marketing budget be?

I understand that you may be trying to save money, but marketing is not a DIY project and it’s definitely not one-size-fits-all. I’ve seen all sorts of numbers tossed around, but the truth is that there is no hard and fast rule about how much your marketing budget should be.

Every company has different goals, needs, and objectives and these have to be addressed individually. A good marketing consultant/agency will be able to work with you and help you establish what your budget should be in order to realize your objectives. Here’s a great download to help you in your search.

Do You Have A Blog Strategy?

shutterstock_86238016When quickly scrolling through my emails, I came across an email from a business offering blog writing services.

The email proceeds to detail how they are a large business with a wide range of expertise in blog writing. The company extolled the value they offer and the savings they can provide, at $10 a blog! WOW! I dig a little deeper to find spelling errors, inconsistencies and learn that the company is based in India.

Although it would be fabulous to have blogs written for $10, you do get what you pay for. My thoughts then turned to my clients – what if they received this email? Would they be tempted to hire this company because they are affordable or would they know that a blogger must know a lot more about a company in order to write a valuable blog?

Being a marketing expert, I believe you can still hire an ‘experienced’ blogger but before you do, you’ll need to give them a blogging strategy. A strategy is important because it sets the stage and provides purpose for the blog. Without this, how could a writer know their objective and their audience? Let me share with you some key questions that must be answered through a well-developed blogging strategy:

  • What is the company known for?
  • What’s the brand of the company?
  • What is the tone of the blog?
  • Who is the target audience that will be reading the blog?
  • How long will the blog be?
  • Will there be several contributors?
  • From what perspective is the blog written?
  • Does the blog endorse other brands?
  • Is this blog a working partnership with other writers?
  • Is this a conversational or formal blog?

The answers to all of these questions set the stage for a valuable blog. By following the criteria, you can ensure that the blog is positively reflecting and enhancing your brand. This is your business’ voice, so ensure that the messages will be properly conveyed by those that really know your company.

Have you used a discounted blog writer in the past? Did you feel that there was value for the price? Do you have a strategy for your blogging practices? I look forward to a lively discussion!

What Should I Be Getting From My Marketing Expert?

 No matter what realm – fie-marketingnancial, legal, health or business – we rely on experts to provide us with answers that we otherwise couldn’t come up with on our own.

Marketing is the one thing all business owners know they must invest in to be more successful. In fact, this is why most CEOs hire internal expertise through their marketing staff, externally via a marketing agency, or do a combination of both to ensure they are getting the knowledge, insights, guidance and solutions to help them achieve their marketing and sales goals.

Whether your expert is internal or external or a hybrid, you’ll want to make sure your “experts” are taking care of your marketing to ensure you meet your objectives and goals. I have outlined below a few tasks you’ll want to make sure your experts provide you with:

  • They have created a strategic marketing plan based on your business goals and reaching specific objectives you have outlined for your business (this may include increasing revenues from a target audience, introducing a new service or product, increasing sales by a certain percentage, etc.)
  • The strategy clearly identifies your audience, your brand, messaging, your revenue streams, approaches for implementation, and measurement approaches
  • They have created a detailed marketing plan, with determined messaging, what area your marketing team is going to focus on, what objectives they are hoping to achieve, what marketing mix they are going to use, the number of campaigns, and what the projected ROI will be for each
  • They have created a detailed tactical plan to execute and implement the marketing strategy including clearly identifying individuals, roles, timelines, outcomes, ROI
  • They have outlined documents for each campaign to identify who will monitor results, tweak as necessary, and ensure that your company gets the best results from their marketing efforts
  • They have included you as part of the process (if appropriate) prior to, during and upon completion of every campaign. This could be a quick meeting with your team, a call, or an email.

As a CEO or CMO, your team needs to be able to not only think creatively but analytically. They must be able to not only be creative, but to be able to gain results from that creativity.

This is your business, so make sure you really have the right team at the table to help you achieve your business results and growth. Your relationship with your marketing advisor(s) should leave you always feeling secure in their expertise so that you can focus on running your business. Trust that they only have your best interest in mind and that your success is their success.

The Rise of Digital Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.26.20 PMThe digital world is tied directly to data, and data is everywhere. When it comes to marketing, data informs marketers about audiences, their interests, intentions, and where they choose to interact. I believe that being able to analyze big data, create original content and having a sound digital strategy are three key factors a company should consider while aiming for success in the current digital climate.

Big Data

Because of the rise in available data, digital media has become an incredibly integrated part of consumers’ daily lives, and digital platforms are constantly updating themselves in order to provide the best user experience.

Being able to analyze and report data is a key component to any marketing strategy (at least it should be). Everything will be enhanced by the growth of big data – get ready!

Content

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “content is King”. When content is relevant and interesting, consumers cannot wait to read and share your brand’s content. This includes video content too (Instagram recently introduced a looping feature on their videos!).

Also, blogs are making a comeback because SEO matters now more than ever, and you need content to post on your social media sites – what better content than your own, right?

Digital Strategy

The changing digital landscape means digital marketing is constantly evolving, and marketers, like myself, are forced to learn how to use new software, how to use different platforms (including mobile), how to apply new techniques, and how to manage and optimize marketing efforts.

Location matters more now too. As the Internet grows at an incomprehensible rate, users are looking for more local experiences. We’ve seen the emergence of companies, like Uber and UberX, providing local goods and services at the push of a button. Being able to offer customers a local experience (that’s easily accessible via their smartphone – think convenience) keeps you relevant. This means we should see a rise in the amount of geo-targeted advertising, and social content created.

Content creation, SEO, and social media, shouldn’t be treated as specific departments, but rather as skills that exist inherently within your marketing agency (or internal marketing team).

What does this mean for businesses today?

Before you, or your company, settle on a marketing budget, I recommend you look at the latest trends and technology, and understand which of these your customers use so you can create a plan that leverages all available data. The success of today’s marketing campaigns largely relies on sound marketing strategies that have adopted new digital technologies.

If you’re unsure of where to start or if your marketing strategy is outdated, please contact me at info@creativeworksmarketing.ca to see how I can help your business.

Does your company have a digital strategy in place? What are your biggest challenges with digital marketing? Comment and share your thoughts with me!

Think Strategically for Proven Results

Want proven results from your marketing- who doesn’t? To really reap the benefits of your marketing activities, you’ll need to have both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

Strategic marketing

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan, also sometimes referred to as a tactical plan, comes as a result of having a clearly defined strategy. With your strategy in hand, you can then create a plan that targets your audience with activities that resonate with them. e.g. If you want to target teens, you wouldn’t place an ad in a print publication as this demographic is engaged through online media. The marketing plan outlines the details of the tactics (roads) you will take to attract new business. It is a practical application of your marketing strategy, which includes details of what marketing activities you need to implement (online, website, advertising, videos, radio, etc.) to support the strategy in getting your business where you want it to go.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy is your road map – the holy grail, if you will. It is shaped by your overall business goals and strong market research and includes a definition of your business, a description of your products or services, a profile of your target audiences or clients, and a definition of your company’s role in relation to the competition. The marketing strategy is essentially a document that outlines who you are, why you are unique, and what value you bring to your targeted audience.

As a strategic marketing expert, I can assure you that creating a marketing strategy is essential if you want proven results. I’ve outlined below a few of the preliminary questions you need to consider when engaging a marketing expert/agency or working with your internal team.

  1. What do you think is your unique selling proposition versus the competition?
  2. Why is this unique selling proposition compelling to your audience?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. Have you done any client surveys?
  5. Who are your key competitors?
  6. Have you conducted any market or competitive research?
  7. Is your pricing inline with your competitors or at parity?
  8. What is the ROI for all of your marketing tactics to date?
  9. Is your business trying to lead or follow industry pricing?

If you are serious about your marketing and want proven results, then stop buying and implementing adhoc solutions that are not tied to a strategy.

You Need to be Found: Google Adwords

Google-Magnifying-Glass1

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics. One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found that for many of our small business clients, using Google AdWords is more of a science. Finding the “right” balance of key words, with the words used in the ad, together with the right bid amount takes many, many hours of ad monitoring, key word adjustment, ads revisions, as well as working to increase ad click-through rates and daily budgets.

Google AdWords is generally thought of as an ideal advertising “add-on” for small businesses with limited budgets, but even if you know what you’re doing, depending on your industry and keywords, it can be an expensive venture, and therefore needs to be closely monitored (in fact, hourly monitoring is best!).

Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned about Google Adwords for small business that I’d recommend to any small business considering investing in this advertising program.

  1. Before you create your ad, spend some time reviewing your web analytics to see what terms people are using to find you online at this point. Google Analytics offers this type of information.
  2. In combination with the keyword tool Google Ad Words provides, create a list of targeted keywords (narrow these down to focus on a specific service/product and your targeted audience).
  3. Create two very targeted ads. Always create two ads, so you can see which one is doing better, and simply replace it as the campaign evolves.
  4. Decide on your maximum monthly budget (I suggest being able to spend at least $100 a month).
  5. Direct the ad to link to a specific page on your site. Or, if you have the budget, create a landing page on your site specifically for this ad. For services, this page needs to have the ability to capture lead gen via a form or download. For products, this page needs to have a special offer.
  6. Launch the campaign, and monitor it hourly. Keep a close eye not just on your cost-per-click (CPC), and the Average CPC (how much you are paying on average per click), but also the first page bid estimate (which tells you how much you need to spend to be on the first page).  These three areas will help you to decide which terms you may want to pause, and which ones you might want to increase your bid rate on.
  7. You’ll need to make sure that you have metrics on your website to track the number of people that are actually coming to the linked page via Google.
  8. Run the ad campaign for a month (if funds permit), and generate a report at the end of each week to capture the CPC, which key terms did well, increase in traffic to your site via the ad, how many leads were generated (or products sold), and note if there is a pattern emerging. For example, you might notice that there are lots of clicks on Thursday and Friday mornings, and it tapers off over the weekend, and early in the week.  You can then decide to put more money towards your CPC on Thursday and Fridays.

I have tried to capture the basics to help create and launch your Google AdWord campaign, but it’s worth noting that this tool has a huge number of functions. There are other options to consider, including impression vs. clicks; how to increase your quality score; what is the advantage of display networks vs. search; what are filters and ad extensions; and how should you determine your campaign settings and so much more.

With such a deep online advertising tool with a multitude of variables you can see why, if used correctly, Google AdWords has the potential to increase your ROI. It does, however, require considerable thought, time and effort to make it work for your business.

Have you used Google AdWords in your small business? If so, have you found it helpful? Has it increased your ROI? Do you have any questions about how to set up a Google AdWords campaign? Please share your questions and comments below.

Case Study: Red Bull’s Branding Mission

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If you read my blog often, you likely know that I believe there is no better place to start your marketing than with a well-thought out and constructed strategy – no matter what type, or size, of business you own.

I came across this article, written by Twist Image President Mitch Joel, discussing energy drink company Red Bull’s mission to bring their brand beyond the beverage to truly let consumers in. What is great about this article is that it addresses the fact that not all brands are as big as Red Bull or carry as much of a cool factor, but the framework behind their branding initiative is applicable to everyone.

The first step in Red Bull’s branding initiative? A plan. Red Bull built a branding concept that was meticulously planned to the very last detail. Each decision was made with a purpose. Red Bull was able to watch each decision unfold in accordance with their goals. The importance of developing a strategy is invaluable. In order to achieve success, you need to know the how, what, where, when, and whom of your business. Though it takes time, understanding every choice, desired effect, and possible outcome will help your business build a brand that can hold it’s own among clients and consumers.  A strategy ensures marketing consistency and provides a base point for a company’s staff.

As the article states, ”Red Bull provides an amazing case study because the brand moved beyond traditional advertising, beyond content advertising and beyond social media marketing into a realm where consumers could simply touch the brand (or, at the very least, hear about the brand) on their own terms.” Read more beyond just the strategy that Red Bull created, including leveraging the brand as a media channel, advertising, portfolio diversification, and becoming a renegade.

There is much to be taken away from Red Bull’s strategy development and implementation. Has this opened your eyes to a different side of strategic marketing? Let me know your thoughts after reading about Red Bull’s branding initiative. 

Client Referrals: Don’t Ask… Don’t Get

Many SMB owners describe client referrals as one of the hardest things they have to do. No matter if they receive client emails thanking them for their service and singing their praises, very few see that feedback as marketing opportunities to ask their clients for referrals.

With November drawing to a close this week, I can’t think of a better time to set up face-to-face meetings with your existing clients to wish them well for the holidays, discuss their plans for the new year, and ask them for a referral.

I am not suggesting in any way that we substitute client referrals with other lead generation tools such as social media, landing pages, online marketing, QR code campaigns, etc., but there is no better lead than a “warm” lead or “endorsed” lead from an existing client.

Although many business owners feel comfortable asking their clients for a testimonial, when it comes to referrals they seem to steer clear.  I’m not sure if it’s that they are shy or just afraid of the client reaction, but referrals are not only a fantastic source for lead generation, they are “free” and therefore should be included in every marketing strategy.

Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help you approach your clients and get the business referrals you deserve:

  • Book a face-to-face meeting with your client. People will always be more likely to do something for someone else if the person is standing right in front of them. Although it is acceptable to ask for referrals by email or phone if you’re in a situation where a face-to-face is not possible, you will have greater success when meeting in person.
  • Use the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to set up this face-to-face.
  • Make it a more casual setting – since it is holiday time, a lunch offer would be nice with the idea to thank them for their business and also to connect on plans for the new year.
  • During your holiday lunch or coffee, and after you have discussed their business needs, be as sincere and direct as you can be and say something such as, “I’m really glad that you’re pleased with my work. I’m always looking for referrals and wonder if you know anyone else who might be interested in _______ (what you do).” If they do offer names, take them down and ask the person if they mind if you contact the people directly or if they would prefer to pass your information along to them yourself.
  • Another approach might be to add: “May I leave a few of my business cards with you in case someone comes to mind?” Leaving extra business cards with a person makes it easier for them to pass your name and contact information to someone else.
  • Keep this meeting upbeat and never ask for a referral when presenting your client with their invoice.

It does take some effort and possibly courage to approach your clients for referrals, but the effort promises great rewards.

How have you asked for referrals? Do you have any approaches you would add to this list?