Posted tagged ‘marketing’

The Changing Face of Marketing and What It Means to Your Company

September 6, 2009

The message has always been the brand and the brand has always been the message.

Marketing and marketing communications have traditionally been about what is conveyed to the public and to a company’s employees but the changing face of customer service may be altering the way we think of this important role.

As more and more small and mid-size companies shift into creating ways for customers to help themselves – see this article on Southwest Airlines, a not so small company – perhaps it is time to reconsider the role of marketing in the development of new programs and IT solutions.

The thinking here is that the customer experience is the brand, as much and if not more than the message. Large companies have known this for a long time. Small and mid-size companies need to recognize this.

Does their web portal reflect the important messages of the brand? Is the IT system that is being deployed throughout the company an extension of how the company wishes its employees to think of it?

One of my clients asked the other day if it’s time for a ne role, one that he called a “Customer Experience Officer.” In these tough economic times, I’m not so sure I would approach this opportunity by adding a new role.

Here’s what I would do…

(1) Insist that Marketing outline the key principles that all new programs and internal and external software solutions must incorporate. If these solutions did not reflect these tenets, they are not rolled out.

(2) Until these principles are second nature, marketing should be a member of all new programs (and I do mean all – not just software programs) and design teams.

(3) All graphical user interface developers on the IT side should have to learn and discuss how they are incorporating these principles into their solutions.

If you share this belief that people are attracted to your brand and what it represents, is there really any other choice?

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Lesson 6: Draw Attention Using Traditional Approaches Too

April 6, 2009

Suzy’s discussion reaffirmed an initial component that may be critical to an overall solution to our challenge. She had stated at the close of the conversation, that public relations might be an integral element for developing the consumer franchise for these housewares company.

One of the marketing people that I have relied on over the years is Steve Clark. Steves the head of Andover Communications, a PR/Marketing firm specializing in product and service promotion, editorial and creative solutions and event planning, specifically for small businesses. That was important because the prices of the products in this industry necessitates a more limited promotional budget.

Building a presence for clients is something Steve is very comfortable doing. He views his role this way – the goal is to get the customers to ask the store why it doesn’t have a particular product in stock.

The other morning, I was watching the Today show, To my surprise, Matt, Meredith, Al and what seemed like the entire Today Show staff, were all wrapped in the SnuggieTM blanket. That’s the blanket with sleeves. The Today Show team was marveling at how great, warm and comfortable it was. Watching them discuss the product was absolutely fascinating. (By the way, the entire segment was just over two minutes long!)

Talk about using a “hub” for gaining a market presence…

And all I could think of was, some PR firm had really truly earned their fees. They had leveraged an infomercial which uses direct response advertising to create a market for very simple invention and then got several minutes on nationwide priime time television haveing their product promoted across the country.

And incidentally, the Snuggie is not only sold on the web. It’s also available at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Walgreen’s – the very same stores that our housewares companies have their products.

The lesson here is clear.

Being in a technologically driven world does not mean we should discount traditional methods of promotion. It is very possible to create customer demand through the effective use of traditional marketing and push-pull techniques.

Steve shared with me one of his own experiences. About ten years ago, Steve represented a client that created eyewear for those who spend a lot of time in front of the computer. The eyewear was branded and was designed to reduce eye fatigue. Andover was effective in creating patient demand so that prospects felt a need to go to their local optometrist and ask for the product by name.

To further cement its appeal, he arranged for a local television station to interview the company at a trade show where they were demonstrating the product. The presence of TV cameras at a booth added cache and credibility to the company and helped accelerate the results that they achieved.

Consumer attention though requires critical mass and often this solution involves unique packaging, placement and promotion to create two of the elements necessary for a successful buzz — exposure and credibility.

Growing Locally to Grow Your Business

January 11, 2009

For much of the last decade, we’ve heard about the importance of the global economy. The mantra you may have been reading is something like “grow global or you won’t grow at all.”

The Internet has certainly made that approach more viable but there is an equally meaningful perspective that warrants your consideration.

Seth Godin champions this point-of-view. He’s a best-selling author of about a dozen books on marketing or blogging and he is an original thinker. I subscribe to his blog and I do so because his thinking inspires me or it reinforces or extends my own thinking.

You likely will have noticed that my sales related posts are about becoming more related with your own customers. Seminars and referral meetings are really – at its core – about becoming more related to your own relationships. This is because for many small businesses, going global isn’t an option. They need to be effective in their own zip code.

Today’s blog from Godin presented a new twist on the art of becoming related locally. He suggests that you start your own local “newspaper.”

The way he’d go about it is to briefly interview a local business, a local student or a local political activist by phone. Get 20 households to ‘subscribe’ by giving you their email address and asking for a free subscription. You can use direct contact or flyers or speeches to get your list and then release the newspaper via e-mail twice a week. In no time at all, you’d build a mailing list and if you do it well, in not time, it would be the talk of the town.

More important, for you and your business, you will become related on a very local and personal level. You will know about people and the value they contribute to the community. You will become a source for connecting others. Most important, you will be transformed into a valuable resource associated as the source for learning about all of the wonderful things going on in your own backyard and in your community.

And that sounds like a fantastic position for you to be in and a source of strength for any local business.


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