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Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

How to create a competitive advantage?

By | Branding, Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Technology, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

What else can you do to stand out from the crowd?

  1. Collaborate. Whether we like it or not customers are in the box seat. They choose to visit your website, view your ad or open your email and they can click delete, navigate to another page or change the channel in a nano second! As a small business, you are uniquely placed to collaborate with your customers. You can do this using social media tools like Facebook, and forums, blogs and Tweets. Innovations are best when they come from the customers because they are telling you (in many cases) a better way to do something! Invite customers to be a part of your planning. Creating a collaborative culture in your small business with your employees contributing freely can really help too!
  2. Offer Understanding and Insight
    Communicating with your customers could be as simple as a phone call or online survey. If done with sensitivity to their needs and not in an annoying five-page survey it can be something that provides great insight for your small business to change something that was losing you business or create something that will give you a competitive edge.
  3. Share your story
    Stand for something and make it count! So many companies still just don’t get it. People buy from those they know, like and trust. How can they get to know you if all you have on your website is the same old company spiel? Your potential customers are making decisions about whether to contact you every day. Give them the whole story so they can make a decision based on what and who you really are. Freshbooks is a good example of this. Remember, you don’t have to try to make your story inspiring, it just has to be real! Read Tell to Win by Peter Guber which tells the importance of storytelling in business.
  4. Make Work Fun and Easy
    How likable are you anyway? The journey, the process and the prospect of working together has to be enjoyable for you and the client. Marketing is not a one-off activity, but an integral part of the business model. Inject some whiteboards, smarties and have a sense of humour! All services have an opportunity to create a customer experience that is enjoyable.
  5. Be Customer Centric
    Step into your customer’s shoes every day. One of the most fundamental changes you can make is to step through the customer touch points in your business and consciously think about them. This awareness of how they feel at each stage in your process makes you change how you do things. Small businesses are best placed to be customer centric but it does take a mind shift. Look at your website, storefront, business card, flyers, staff and services from your customer’s view point. Now should you change something? The answer is always yes.
  6. Fail quickly but create an idea-based culture
    No one will ever get fired for trying something new. If you can create a culture where you and your team are prepared to try ideas and experiment you are likely to hit a few jackpots!
  7. Love your Employees. Would you want to work for you? Employees are the soul of your small business; this is because your customers can feel instantly if they have walked into a positive or negative environment. If your employees are happy you are half way to creating a great brand. Something as simple as bean bags in the coffee-room, a punching bag (good one Pete), and some nice flowers planted in the garden outside your office, can make a world of difference. You have to take responsibility for setting the tone and then allow your employees to add their own flavour to it.

These seven principles are simple yet very effective and can set you apart from other businesses. How can you take these strategies and improve your competitive advantage today? Love to know.

 

“Your Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”

By | Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing | No Comments

Jeff Bezos once famously said that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not
in the room. Today we have platforms that allow us to listen to what people of saying and these are really a gift. Social networks, blogs, You Tube, Review sites like WOMO all give us access to understanding and responding to customer questions, answers, experiences. It can help validate a decision. Crowd scoring tools can help us as well like customer monitor, sodahead ,1000heads and Buzzagent. Then there is Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and updates.

BUSINESSES SPEND BILLIONS AND OBSESS OVER FIGURING OUT WHAT THEIR CUSTOMERS THINK–BUT THEY SHOULDN’T. HERE’S WHY YOU CAN NO LONGER MAKE EXCUSES FOR A LACK OF USEFUL FEEDBACK” Fast company.

Collaborative marketing

We can see who are influencers of our brand and connect with them. We can learn about how to improve. We can create and steer future experiences with the benefit of this insight.

So what is the take away. You should be listening to what your customers and  employees and take action to improve your marketing. The information is out there if you use it. We spend annually $33 billion on customer research but today we don’t need to do that. It is at our fingertips with the digital touch points. Listening to your customers isn’t hard. We can test and make different decisions quickly. Stop programs, change your website within an hour or email campaigns. We can test and fail quickly and spend our dollars more effectively.

Mashable give us some good feedback suggestions. What happens if your brand perception isn’t what you thought it should be. What if your customers have a different understanding? What next?

Strategic Service Design is a great start

 

Customer-Centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40%

By | Branding, Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Customer-Centricity-Chart-300x300Lead gen is no longer downloading an “e-book” according to Good Technology. Today’s buyer wants to take a self-directed journey that they control. According to Brian Solis new book  The Future of Business, we don’t only want to take the journey, we want to connect and share it and discuss it like we always have, but now are using new  tools and immediate digital forms of Brian Soliscommunication to do this which makes this communication transparent and amplified.

MarketingSherpa recently published a case study about B2B mobile solutions company Good Technology.

Good Technology returned to the heart of its content marketing strategy – the customers – and learned more about buyers’ journeys through the sales funnel. During this process, the company discovered it had lost touch with its customers.

Just taking the time to listen to, and understand, your customer can pay dividends in marketing results. Good Technology already had an annual customer advisory council, but decided to take understanding its customers to the next level.

Julie Gibbs, vice president of marketing and communications at Good Technology, said “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important, but nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis … building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view. We, as vendors, wanted to really look at how we are approaching our communications and marketing, including after-market communications, with our customers to improve them and make them more relevant.”

Process

By utilizing a third-party for the more extensive research into its customers’ buying life-cycle, Good Technology was able to gain an unbiased look into how its customers interact with the company and its marketing campaigns. Using a third-party ensured every organization understood the customers’ point of view and created stronger alignment across departments.

Conducted Interviews

The interviews of Good Technology customers used for the primary research included more than 30 global Fortune 100 companies, as well as a number of SMB customers. According to Zhivago, “Whatever you think your customer believes to be important is likely wrong.”

  • Interviewees were asked about the trigger event — what internally caused them to want to find a new solution, or evaluate a new technology
  • Focused on discovering what experience the customer wanted to have with the vendor, and what marketing assets those customers were using in their buying process

A major problem with marketing today is that many of us resort to guessing about our customers’ likes, dislikes and needs. This is a problem. We need to take advantage of the tools at our disposal, such as social media, SEO, and blogs, to learn about the customer.

Analysis

Analysis included reviewing detailed feedback from Good Technology customers and mapping the buyer’s journey, including customer experiences and interactions.

From there, the material was put together in presentation form for what Gibbs described as an “internal road show” to tell the story.

She added that having a third-party as part of the internal presentations was valuable.

Good Technology’s customers were receptive to the interview process, and the company found that the interviews created a sense of relationship, partnership and goodwill.

“It wasn’t someone at the company telling the story and potentially creating friction, it was a third-party,” Gibbs stated. “That’s really important for internal credibility. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘So-and-so is really unhappy with your product, or services, or support.’ You want to be able to show the data and quotes from your customers.”

The customer feedback analysis uncovered two interesting facts for a B2B marketer with very large enterprise clients.

  • First, even very high-level executives frequently used freemail (such as Gmail and Yahoo!) email accounts when conducting research and interacting with marketing activities and assets. They did this explicitly to avoid talking to Sales before they were ready.
  • Second, while these prospects were interacting with industry and vendor websites, they also heavily took advantage of Gartner, the technology research firm, throughout the buying cycle to determine what vendors to consider.

In light of this learning, Gibbs said Good Technology increased the focus on its relationship with Gartner.

Gap

With the customer interviews analyzed and presented throughout the company, Marketing next performed a gap analysis of its marketing programs and assets.

This analysis was pretty straightforward. Gibbs said the marketing team took a sheet listing the information and assets Good Technology customers were looking for at each stage of the buying cycle, and then listed all of its current marketing resources.

Comparing the two lists, the team gave each marketing resource a rating of red, yellow or green.

She said, “Where does what you are currently doing stand, and where does it fall short? You will often find you have some strengths that you are not looking at the right way and that you tend to focus on the weaknesses.”Four Moments of Truth

Take Action

“Then we asked, ‘How can we change our marketing approach and assets?'” Gibbs said. “What can we do quickly? What’s going to take a little bit longer, and what do we have to build for longer term?”

She said the first step was to eliminate efforts that had no impact on Good Technology’s business. In this case, Marketing stopped producing e-books.

  • The customer interviews found the problem was not the content of the e-books; it was simply calling them “e-books.”
  • Gibbs explained that using the marketing lingo/jargon term did not resonate or have credibility with Good Technology’s B2B audience.

“The asset may have great content the customer is not going to use simply because you are calling it something that they don’t trust,” said Gibbs.

Marketing found its customers trusted white papers, so the e-books were rewritten, reformatted and reproduced as white papers.

She offered more examples of different time-frame activities:

  • Short term — Stop doing things that didn’t have impact; begin using customer-centric terminology
  • Long term — Rebuild the marketing resource infrastructure to more closely match what Good Technology customers need

Gibbs said the final stage was to measure the impact of these changes.

 Continue the process through the entire customer experience

This effort was undertaken with the intent of better understanding the customer to help refine and improve marketing efforts. Internally, customer service and support also became very engaged with the results of the initial customer interviews, and wanted to extend the insight into the post-purchase process.The result of this interest was replicating the process on the post-purchase experience of Good Technology’s customers.

The company is currently in the process of “gluing” these learnings together to create an end-to-end customer experience map, so the company can provide a consistent customer experience over the entire lifetime of the relationship.

Results

Gibbs said the results of just the short-term changes brought on by this effort are impressive:

  • Across-the-board 30% increase in the return on marketing
  • 130%, and more, improvement in lead quality response to certain marketing assets
  • 40% increase in conversion from Marketing-qualified to Sales-accepted leads

She added that pipeline velocity was another key metric, and that lead quality was more important to Marketing than lead quantity.

“If you have big customers, you need to have a face-to-face relationship” said Gibbs, explaining what she learned from this campaign.

Gibbs added, “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important. But nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis. If you don’t have those conversations — and build, really work on building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view — you are not going to be successful marketing and selling for the future.

When the company overhauled its collateral and took other steps, such as revamping its post-sales process, it recognized significant improvements in lead generation. Lead quality increased 130 percent and qualified leads that were accepted by sales jumped 40 percent. Overall, the company realized a 30 percent increase in return on marketing.

In today’s world where innovation can be copied, and differentiation is hard to create,  the new advantage for companies is the customer experience.

Ready to make your business customer centric? Learn how.

First steps:

Here are some of the things B2B marketers can do to make the sales and marketing process more customer-centric:

New book: The Future of Business by Brian Solis. A must read.

“But perhaps the real questions to ask are, have you articulated your brand promise and have
you defined the experience you want customers to embrace, feel and endure. And, how does
this experience trigger shared experiences to serve as a benchmark for which to measure
against? Not only can you measure the value of shared experiences but you should also
measure the integrity of the experiences you hoped to deliver.” The Future of Business

 

Learn more about creating ultimate customer experiences at Strategic Service Design.

Customer Experience is the best marketing you can do!

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy | No Comments

SSDStrategic Service Design. This methodology has been used to create innovative products and services for sometime but no one has taken this approach to create customer experiences that ensure that your customers feel your empathy, care and support. It is the touch points and memorable moments that you create that can propel your business in this new era of social media and customer led tribes. Customers are in control of our brands and are controlling the conversation more than ever before. We simply have to get better at listening and adapting our experiences to remain competitive.

Here is a slide deck that gives you some great reasons to start looking at how you provide a “Wow” customer experience. I can’t say it better.

What’s your sentence?

By | Branding, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy | No Comments

You know how sometimes the universe keeps sending you the same message? Like if you are interested in buying a new red  car all you see is red cars or if you want to be pregnant, all you see is pregnant women. Well, I must be focused on purpose and passion of a small business owner. In the past three weeks I have learnt a few important lessons I wanted to share.

what is your sentence?

1. Stand for something or you will mean nothing?

Are you doing too many things? Dan Pink states there are two questions that are important to ask.

  • What is my sentence? (use this to navigate your life)
  • Was I better today than I was yesterday? (use this to motivate you)

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

 

2. Show it don’t say it. This was highlighted by a friend Pete the other week and I guess it applies to much of designing your purpose as an organisation. Lip service really is just that. People can feel your purpose if you live it every day. I will give you an example. Previous boyfriends would always drop the line about 12 months in mark ” I love you”. I guess to me it lost a bit of meaning because the words only mean something if they showed, lived it. My husband on the other hand was slower to reveal this sentence but he showed me very early on in our relationship that he loved me. Throwing small pebbles up at my window, tap dancing outside, being patient beyond belief and caring and investing in my and now our dreams. How do you show your purpose for your business? If it is about fun, how do you demonstrate it day-to-day.

The Good Life Project is an example of people getting sure about their purpose. I have added their Creed here as I thought it was inspiring.GLP
Like this? Learn to build a better life at Good Life Project.
GoodLifeProjectCreed

3. Live your dream through your customers eyes.

This is the part I have to play. My purpose. To ensure that your purpose, your point of difference is felt, lived and shown to your customers every day. Today your customers are part of the conversation. They often are well researched and have narrowed down solutions to solve their problems. How do you ensure you are on that list? I believe it is about the three steps above.

1. Stand for Something and invest in this purpose everyday with out dilution.

2. Show it, live it so you earn the space and your value is clear.

 

Resources: 

Mindset Audit 

Vision Mission and Values Template. This helps you identify what your vision is for your business and how you are going to achieve it with your value set.

Values sheet  what values are important to your company. People choose you for the how as much as the what.

Our Marketing Library

Wholefoods interview with John Mackey on Capitalism’s Model Code

 

Ready to get going? Book a consultation.

 

Multi-devices have enabled us to be the curators of our lives

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Marketing Automated Technology, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Technology, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing | No Comments

We are a nation of multi-screeners. Most of our time is spent in front of a screen. 77% of us view TV with a device in our other hand. Google’s latest research uncovers our cross-platform behaviour as we use multi devices often at the same time to achieve our goals. With technology advances in online devices, we can now choose how, when, what and who to engage with 24 x7. We are the curators of our lives.

Key findings of Google’s Research includes:

Two types of screening behaviour:

  • Sequential screening where we move from one device to another to complete a single goal
  • Simultaneous screening where we use multiple devices at the same time
  • Google has found that nine out of ten people use multiple screens sequentially and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for sequential activity.
  • 80% of searchers happen on smart phones as a spur of the moment
  • We spend on average over 4 hours in front of screens a day to communicate, Browsing the internet – 81%
    Social networking – 72%
    Online shopping – 67%
    Research/Search – 63%
    Managing Finances – 46%
    Planning a trip – 43%
  • The time spent on screen devices per day is broken down as follows:
  1. TV – 43 minutes
  2. PC/Laptop – 39
  3. Tablet – 30
  4. Smartphone – 17
 What does this mean for marketers?
Is our attention span getting shorter? Google’s research suggests that multiple screens make us feel more efficient. So we are multi-tasking and multi-screening! I know my attention is at least fragmented between all the devices I have. If I see something on TV and want to probe deeper, I go on my iPad. Even my seven-year old plays with his Super heroes or reads his comics and then Google games, download Apps and connects with other gamers online, all at the same time.
We are on-line more than ever before and because it is easy and available part of me does feel like I have the control to choose what I want to consume, perhaps for the first time.I know I am not alone in this feeling. Most of my peers now choose when and what to watch on their iPad not TV. Conversations revolve around the latest App someone has found for recipes or to help our children read online. We are seeking out our own unique interests and communities to enrich our lives, learn and just have fun. Our behaviour has changed markedly even over the last 18 months.

We are so connected and able to be responsive and “always on” or impulsive. This has huge implications for marketers as we aim to understand the environment that our customers live in. We need to understand this new multi-screen and multi-tasking behaviour to design the best experience for our customers. With around 10% of media interactions non-screen based, if you are not online and connected you are invisible. It is easy to predict with this changing landscape that new opportunities will and have be created for all sorts of businesses. As customers decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore,  it is more important than ever to understand your customers behaviour as part of your marketing strategy. This attention and empathy to customers creates opportunities from the  from the the smallest business which now can gain visibility by reaching a new audience.
The key for truly great marketing is to know your customers and this means their likely behaviour. Understanding this ever connected landscape is step 1. Step 2 is building a strategy to navigate through it to ensure you are in the right place, at the right time with the right resources.
 Google now has a great info graphic describing our new behaviour.

 

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