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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

How did you start to market your small business? Read the stories

By | small business marketing | No Comments

Laura Lake marketing guru had a great post inviting small businesses to share their stories about how they started their businesses. Thought it was a really good idea.

Here is mine. Why not share your ideas?

How I started my business

Do You Marketing a Product or a Service?:

I market a service – my own small business marketing consultancy.

Explain Your Product or Service:

I work with small businesses to create marketing plans. We take what is in your head add our experience in sales and marketing and ensure we have a practical, actionable plan.

How Did You Start Marketing Your Small Business?

It is really interesting. I left the corporate world after 15 years and decided to start my own marketing consultancy practice. As a marketer you would think I would hit the ground running but I really had to eat my own dog food!

I organically found some people who wanted me to consult for them and then sort to find my own clients.

How Did It Work?

Best strategies were:

1. To mindmap ( what my target offering was going to be and to be as niche as I could be. ie marketing to small business in IT, HR and construction. Mindmap lets you explore all your ideas and puts them on one page so you can really think about them. Whiteboard is another good idea.

2. To do some research and find out how small business currently seek marketing advice and resources or in your area of expertise.

3. Build my marketing plan to actively attract small businesses in my niche. I did this by creating a website and blog. Sharing information. Being a go to person in social media for small business and extending my networking on line and offline.

4. Packaging my services so they could be easily to understand an were customized to the particular target. ie small business start up package, small business CEO etc

5. Created some buzz. Did some PR locally, got my SEO working on my site and blog. Did some auto-email campaigns to my key audience. Created something of value to download off my site to create a mailing list.


If you don’t know what to do next, get some advice. It will save you time and money. It doesn’t have to cost the earth.The web is a fantastic source of information but there is nothing like speaking with someone 1:1 and hearing their tailored solution for you. Keep going. Don’t get disappointed. If you love what you do and you are passionate about it, chances you are good at it. Keep upbeat and keep working on your business not just in it!

Read others stories on how they started marketing their small business.

Your personal brand Vs your company

By | branding | One Comment

I was speaking with a client the other day and he suggested I need to separate  me Dan the person,  from MacInnis Marketing the brand. This statement got me thinking. Is this advisable or even possible when you are a small business delivering a service?

The personality of the brand MacInnis Marketing is all tied up with who I am and my values. My value is intricately tied to that. The very reason clients choose to use me as a consultant is I would argue because of who I am? Obviously this is different if you run a  large company with a number of employees, but in a small business doesn’t the person count more? Isn’t it more relationship based? Do you choose your dentist, accountant, lawyer and doctor because something about their personal brand resonates with you?

Tom Peters from FastCompany says how important it is to nurture your personal brand “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom explains in today’s world of self publishing, of social media, of 1 to many everyone has the chance to stand out as a brand.

Anyone can have a website, twitter account, Facebook page and as Tom explains, any body does, so how do you know which one is worth visiting or following? The answer Tom suggests is branding. The branding is the promise of value you receive so you go back again and again. Professional service firms are all about delivering an intangible service and so to stand out it is the individual that must distinguish him or herself. As Tom explains “if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What if you don’t want to grow beyond yourself as a entrepeneur. What if you are not looking to hire, then what? Laura  Bergell’s wrote a great article on discovering your brand and Laura would suggest the essence is knowing who you really are and how your customers see you.

Here is how my customers say they see me:(worlde)

So I believe your personal brand is all wrapped up in your company when you are a small business and particularly a sole practitioner so here are some ways you can work on your personal brand:

1) Identify the qualities that makes you distinctive from others.
2) Think about the things that can add remarkable,measurable,distinguish and distinctive value in you.
3) Increase your visibility
4) Analyze the feature and benefits you are giving to your customers.
5) Continuously evaluate your self,how you as a brand is doing.
6) Never limit your scope. (Thanks Kuldeep-Kashyap – student)

So I guess thinking about my client’s comment I am really glad that my personality, values and strengths are part of my brand and I hope to evolve and grow by the gift of feedback from my clients. I don’t think can separate myself from my brand and in fact I want to do the opposite and use forums like this to further build my profile and identity with others.

Good food for thought!

Sales readiness – how ready is your sales team?

By | 1, Sales skills | 2 Comments

Search for the Right Partner

Research from the Training Industry has come up with top 5 issues that sales teams face.

Top Five issues

  1. Value propositions that differentiate you from the competition
  2. Translating products and services information into solution stories
  3. Elevating messages to the executive buyer
  4. Assessing and responding to customer needs
  5. Handling objectives

Great audio from the American Marketing Institute and a talk from Corporate Visions  or video on the research.

The basic premise is that marketing and sales need to work together to create the right tools and messaging that will make the best impact.

Here is a link to my slides on creating sales and marketing integration.

Where sales and marketing intersect that’s the new competitive advantage.

By | 1 | 2 Comments

Does this comment ring true for you? Do you just use word of mouth and hope for the best?

“After several years of word-of-mouth (lazy) selling, we recently decided to invest a fixed percentage of revenues to kick-start our sales and marketing program. Believe me – it is easier to build you business around a great sales and marketing program, and keep this in the center of your business plans & business focus.”

Many people forget in small business that it they need to invest in attracting and growing their customer base and they do this with both sales and marketing strategies working together.

How do be a great sales person is a great reference but just as important is to build a marketing plan. Together these elements support one another and can help move the prospect customer down the sales funnel.

Marketing should work through a process with sales of identifying the current sales process and moving to a integrated sales and marketing process.

Brian Carroll summarizes a good process from Jeremy Porter’s Book  Sales and Marketing Integration and how to make it happen.

  1. Collaborate: Work together with a marketing consultant to make your sales team even more effective!
  2. Build the value proposition together – why do our customers really love us and buy from us?
  3. Develop a universal definition of a lead and the lead generation process. Marketing should bring in and warm the lead, sales should close and service it.
  4. Review the sales pipe line regularly together. Be on the same page with the same focus.

Reasons why your customers buy from you.

By | Marketing training, small business marketing | 4 Comments

If you are wondering why you customers DO  buy from you marketing guru Laura Lake has some good ideas which I add my own thoughts to.



  1. They are aware of your product. GET THEIR ATTENTIONConsumers  purchase products they are aware of. Your target customers know about your product . You targeting the right market with your message. Your message  is reaching those that  have an interest in your product. This does not mean you are doing more marketing, but you are suing the right marketing vehicles for your target customers is key.
  2. They understand the benefits of your product. THE VALUE PROPOSITION IS CLEAR
    Consumers don’t buy products solely based on price. Now, this does not mean that they don’t factor in price, they do. Consumers buy based on the benefits your product brings them. You have asked your customers what the benefits of your product are, and you know. This is important. Your marketing is centered on these benefits so your consumers  take an interest in purchasing your product. You know the top  three benefits of your product and  you use those in your marketing message.
  3. They  feel your product has perceived value. WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME
    Consumers will buy products that they perceive as having a value. You  use the benefits of your product to create a perceived value and it is that perceived value that helps in the sales of your product.  You  create that perceived value in your marketing message.
  4. They see how your product meets their needs. HOW DOES THIS  PRODUCT HELP ME
    Consumers know how your product meets their needs. They know if  it make their life easier, save them time, make them feel better? You know what need our product satisfies. You don’t make them guess or come up with the answer on their own tell them, you help educate them on why they need your product.
  5. Your product is  accessible to them.HOW DO I FIND IT?
    Consumers buy what is  available to them. If they hear about your product and it is accessible, they will consider it. Consumers want ease in obtaining and using your product. You make your product accessible to them. It is in different locations.  It’s offered online.

6. Why should I buy from you including any other option I have, including the option of doing nothing? Today people have defaulting to doing nothing. Not a compelling message that drew them in and do something.

7. Better sales people – consistently throughout the sales process in the customer voice communicated why this product or service was important to their business and the value it had to them in resolving their business issues. (Huthwaite)

8. You understand your customers. Why do your best customers buy from you? What stories did you use in the sales process that reasonated with them? Why did they choose to buy from you? The information is in your customer’s head.

Great webinar on value propositions from Steve Rankel

Steve talks about sales friction.  How to create a killer value proposition – it is a crystral clear statement about your product or service that:

1. Solves a problem

2. Delivers some benefit

3. Improves their situation

Delivered in a compelling way that gets you to the next step…

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