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Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

Why do your customers choose you?

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

Why your customers by from you and not your competitors is a key strategic marketing question that is harder to answer than ever before.The  competitive landscape has changed and commoditisation of products and services has given rise to the focus on customer retention and differentiation based on the “how you provide a service or product”.The shift away from an industrial, upstream model toward a customer-centric one has been under way for some time now. Niraj Dawar argues in his new book Tilt that most companies still look for competitive advantage where it used to be: through activities related to products and new product creation. But today’s advantage comes from interactions of a different sort—those you have with your customers. Companies that recognize and move on this shift win.

Key strategic questions that I earmarked in reading Tilt  by Niraj Dawar are as follows:

1. Why do your customers choose you? Make sure it is not table stakes.

2. What business are you in? What business do your customers think you are in? How have they defined you? The answer you give to this question is predictive of how you see your business strategy

3. How is profitability measured? By customer or by volume?

4. Where do you spend most of your effort and energy? – on the service or product you sell or on understanding your customers and consistently delivering value to them by asking one fundamental question: What else do our customers need?

“Today manufactures can replicate the looks and feel of an innovative product and print it to market for a fraction of the price, in a fraction of the time it use to take. Even Nike and HP manufacture their products in Asia.” Tilt pg 178

5. How can we take what we know about our customers and provide value in different ways:coffee pods

  • How we distribute a product: Nespresso
  • How we store a product: iTunes
  • How a product or service is delivered: Audible, Spotify
  • How a product is consumed: Coles new ready made meals
  • How we dispose of a product or service: eBay

Niraj states the value equasion is VALUE= WHAT+HOW

6. How close are we to our customers and understanding them? If you sell through a channel that is made harder. Nespresso had the Nespresso club to sell direct first which gave them invaluable data on who their customers around who buys their coffee and at what price. They changed the coffee making market by understanding the pain of getting out of bed and getting dressed on a Saturday morning to stand in line and pay $4 for a espresso and risking that they are closed or run out of stock. Kodak didn’t understand their customers and so focused on a need that was surpassed.

Risks Table

7. Do you focus on scale or scope? Niraj makes the comment that it is not how many widgets you sell but how you deliver on the needs your customers have and scope your deliverables around that. What are the costs and risks they face in doing business with you? How can you eliminate these? How do you make it easy for your customers to choose you?

“Businesses rarely pay enough attention to customer costs and risks because these aspects of a transaction tend to be invisible to a sell too.”Tilt g806

This is where strategic service design can uncover those opportunities and create a competitive advantage that is hard to replicate.

Listen to my podcast with Niraj here:

Video on Tilt strategy

Kick start your business 2014

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

Is your business sucking the life out of you? What are your goals for 2014 as a small business owner?

There is something about the comfort of an old t-shirt as p.js or a nice pair of warm socks that keeps you turning back for things of comfort. I guess the same can be said for setting goals for your small business. It is comforting to just go with the flow, rather than set some ambitious goals that make you get out of your comfort zone. But without the end game in mind, your small business becomes a job can have you working 80 hours a week and sucking the life out of you.

As Brian Tracey says in his goal setting sessions, “success is goals.”What do you want out of life? What do you want out of your small business? What will make you happy? Seems simple, but most us seem to do what is easy or do what we have always done even if that means our business runs us, instead of us running our business. We put our heads under the doona and hit the snooze button, rather than take the challenge of changing and do that brisk walk when the alarm button goes off in the morning.

For me, to grow my small business and even keep it afloat it is about knowing what are the important questions to ask? It is being able to make the right decisions on a day by day basis that takes me that ideal company I have in your mind. To do this I have to be able to picture that vision with real clarity. Here are some aids I have found that will help you ask those tough questions and set the stage for a great 2014 and a business you want to run. A year that you will look back at and say, “yeah, 2014 was a great year for me and I am getting closer to that vision I have for my company and my life”.

  • Have a vision for where you want to go. Is your business sucking the life out of you? What is it would you like your life to look like? John Jantsch Goal Setting Video is a must resource. John has a exercise of describing your business as it is 3, 5 years from now and what does it look like? Goal Setting I find it useful to have a personal vision and a company vision.
  • Set some realistic but stretch revenue goalsWe all need money to live. We need our small business to provide for us. What do you want your income to be now and in the next 1, 3, 5 years? I do this every revenue setting exercise  every year. I sit down and write an amount that I need and would like to make. Guess what? I come within 5% of  this figure year on year. Each year I try and stretch the figure and each year I reach it. I guess it is because once I have a target I plan my plan to support it. I do everything in a purposeful way. As a consultant,I find it useful to set, monthly, weekly and daily targets that sharpen my focus. It is a real measurement for me in terms of how I am tracking . http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/ is a great tool for this purpose. I love Freshbooks.com for time, invoice and estimate tracking. (heaps better than MYOB in my book).
  • What do you need to invest in yourself to reach your roles. “Success is something that you attract, by becoming an attractive person.” As Jim Rohn says “work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Personal development is an area all about developing skills that will serve you well in growing your business and making better business decisions. An extra skill I have developed digital marketing have served me well. Podcasting and writing has enabled me to reach you. What do you need to be able to make better decisions this year. How can you be the expert in your industry? Invest in yourself.Grow purposefully
  • Build a great team around. Zig Ziggler says, “if you can help enough people get what they want then you can probably get what you want.” This give to get mentality is already used in content marketing to great affect. We can no longer interrupt, persuade or buy people’s attention. We need to earn, give and educate to receive it.  Building a great team around me is critical to business success. I spend a lot of time on communicating and sharing with my team so we are all on the same vision with clear goals to get there. I also focus on having fun.
  • Get a Coach or Mentor. The biggest growth I got in one single year was when I took on a lifeline.  A Lifeline concept was introduced to me by Keith Ferrazzi when I read his book, Who’s Got Your Back. This is a person that I could banter with, share ideas, and would be accountable to. As a small business it is easy to feel isolated. Networking groups help but there is nothing like having that person who as got your back.  I am lucky in that I found this person just when I was ready and he has shaped my approach to business. He shares the same value set as me and I respect his opinion. However he has a different approach to me and asks me the tough questions and always has my back. I do the same for him. I remember interviewing Linda Hailey another successful small business marketer and she did this with her competitor. They would have lunch and share information, ideas and learn. Who can you ask to mentor you? Most people will say yes.  It is a must for small businesses.
If you are ready to set some goals for your small business and get ready for a great 2014 book in a session with me! Here are some lessons from SmartInsights.

book first session buttonlearn more button

Other resources

Brian Tracy – Goal Setting

Vision Mission Values Template

Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi

Your True North Exercise

 

 

The Future of Marketing

By | Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Marketing Technology, Marketing Tools, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

I was asked the other day to explain the role of a marketing manager. It is a good question because it has changed so much over the past few years. I love this Gartner map that outlines all the areas that a marketer needs to be across today.

Gartner_DigitalMktgMap_1500

Lets look at each section in turn.

Strategy – Understanding market opportunities, cultivating markets and customers, generating demand and awareness.

Marketing Management – Business processes and tools associated with implementing the marketing activities

User experience – the discipline associated with creating customer experiences that meet business objectives.

Analytics – the process of  discovering meaningful patterns in data.

Creative – services and tools that supports the implementation of marketing programs.

Ad Tech – managing advertising through all the channels (web, social, offline, mobile) – targeting, design and bid management, optimising and reporting and automation.

Real Time Data – can now be provided by geotargetting and other technologies to assist us reach prospects on the fly

Search – to help get found and find things on the web.

Social – applications, technologies and environments that build social communities

Mobile – communication, applications and wireless devices (smart phones, tablets, portable computers)

Emerging technologies – new technologies that consumers are adopting, 3D televisions, solar cars, google glasses. Only very early adopters. 5% of the market.

So as I see it the role is enormous. In the coming years I see more experts being created around each area of expertise. The intersection between customer centricity, strategy and technology is my sweetspot. Learn more.

To learn more go to the webinar. or download slides

Here is a good slideset on the future of Marketing

Big data allows us to take create new insights and connections that were not possible even five years ago.

By | Business marketing, Content Marketing, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Marketing Automated Technology | No Comments

All of the information that the human race has created from the start of time till 2003 is 5x a-bytes now every 2 days we are creating 5 X a-bytes. Every day the average person today processes more data in a single day than a person did in 1500’s in an entire lifetime. We now have real time data. Each of us leave a stream of digital information about us with our texts, GPS, phone calls, browser history, FB chats and now this footprint is being use to make better marketing decisions. Crowd sourcing is one example and the gamification of health another.

wazeWe are getting insight that we didn’t have before. The Human Face of Big Data is a new book by Rick Solman and documents this change in this interesting book.

Big data is changing our whole world in every field and every industry will be changed by this insight.

pebble

Internet, Mobile phone, Social Media has changed our world. Technology has embedded itself into our lives. Don’t believe it is revolutionary? What is your TTS (time to screen – mobile, iPad, laptop) minutes, seconds?

The world is changing to re-using assets that are already available. Big data has changed the relationship we have with information. What if we can embed video in books. Point your phone at a book and it plays a video? The Human Face of  Big Data does this. Download the Human Face of Big Data App.

big data

Our planet is developing a nervous system that has software at its centre. This change is disrupting markets and creating new opportunities.How is big data changing your business?

Note to self: We have to seek away for those moments of solitude, a walk in the park without our iPhone, iPod or heart monitor device. Off to play with my son! (no not minecraft!)

Big data is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. Wikipedia

Does your business have an intimacy problem?

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

As the bigger your business becomes, does it become more removed from your customers? Do you talk to your customers?  I don’t mean just a one night stand. Doing the odd tweet, blog post or facebook update. I mean building a relationship, insight and collaborating. Do you see your customers more as data points, in groups? Do you see only facts about your customers, but have little meaning behind those facts? Do you keep your customers at a distance? Are you scared of them. What they might say. (Believe it or not a client said this to me the other day).

Good relationships take trust. We need to be vulnerable and open ourselves up. That is where the good stuff happens. We need to admit we aren’t always right. Sometimes we do stupid stuff.

How do you know what is important to your customers, without an intimate relationship? Have you designed emotion out of your business?

Relationships value:

  • relationships over facts
  • empathy over data
  • intimacy over volume

Do your employees make decisions on facts and analysis? Do instead we partner with customers to help make the best decisions for them. We look to solve individual real problems not the crowd’s.  Involving the people you serve is intuitive but not done because it is hard. Relationships are hard.It is a commitement.

Consumer collaboration is a better way. People who know me, will know I am all about creating customer centric marketing. The reason is simple. There are only so many ways to streamline, become more efficient and compete. Creating a customer centric mindset is the best way to create sustained growth.

This video from communispace is a great illustration of how many businesses have moved away from customer intimacy and the benefits of collaborating instead.

The Consumer Collaboration Manifesto from Communispace on Vimeo.

 Do you have an intimacy problem with your employees too?

It is not just about creating a relationship with your customers but also your employees.

How do you communicate authentically? Terry Pearce from the book Leading Out Loud believes it is a combination of appealing to the mind and heart.

  • Mind looks for evidences
  • The heart looks for passion
  • The mind weighs up facts
  • The heart acts on faith
  • The mind looks for purpose
  • The heart seeks meaning
  • The mind believes
  • The heart trusts

Both are necessary for committed action.

“Motivation”, Pearce says,” is about getting people to do things. Inspiration is about getting people to believe in things.”

 

 

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.

 

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