Tag Archives: Strategy

Super Bowl Event Marketing

It’s Super Bowl Sunday!!  A time when advertising comes into focus.  This year, however, I’m thinking less about the commercials and more about event marketing around Super Bowl XLIV.

There are opportunities for your business to piggyback on the excitement of a big event.  DirectTV has implemented a well-timed marketing tactic by setting up tables in Sam’s Club and offering a SuperBowl promotion.  This is a great strategy for DirectTV!  Football fans, one of the drivers behind HDTV adoption, often consider upgrading their TV sets before the SuperBowl and DirectTV can sweeten their purchase by offering attractive HD sports packages.

Shopping for new TVs is one side-effect of the SuperBowl, and there are certainly others.  Let’s consider food consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. Hot wings, pizza, chips, dips, and beer are foods that come to my mind.

If you’re a chicken wing supplier, demand leading up to the SuperBowl is bound to rise.  Chicken wing suppliers and distributors can raise their prices and enjoy better margins than other times of the year.  If you run a hotel in Miami, host of Super Bowl XLIV, demand for hotel rooms and other entertainment venues will be high too.  Plan accordingly.

My advice, think about upcoming events in your area and implement aligned event marketing tactics to capitalize on the event’s excitement.

What event marketing tactics have been effective for your business?

Transparency in Your Business

P&G’s recent backlash for shipping a “new and improved” version of Pampers diapers in old packaging is a lesson proving the value in coporate transparency.   Social media has amplified customer’s voice, which can spread rapidly over social networks.  In this case, upset Pamper customers have put P&G’s new brand in jeopardy before it has even officially launched.

It goes without saying that P&G didn’t handle this product introduction very well.  They’ve also struggled to respond to their critics in an effective manner (read: using social media platforms to inform and respond to buyers of Pamper diapers).  However, injecting transparency in your company is not only important for preventing similar failures, but it is also important for establishing an authentic voice in your business.

Achieving transparency is easier said than done.  Organizations need to give their clients insight to their company, products and services without giving up too much competitive intelligence.  Ultimately, transparency breeds an authentic company.  Customers gravitate towards authenticity and your long-term business will benefit by having more connected customers.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and share the type of information that could provide value in their life. Find an authentic voice that connects you (and builds a valued relationship) with your customer.

Differentiating With Customer Service

As more products essentially become commodities, service has become a viable means for increasing revenue and profit margins for companies in these industries. Use a service strategy to your advantage.

Big companies often struggle to develop great relationships with their customers.  Too many levels of authority, employees unauthorized to make decisions, arbitrary policies preventing customer-facing employees from advocating for the customer, and limited access to direct customer feedback often handcuff the big guys from delivering great service and developing good relationships with their customers.

This spells opportunity for agile companies!

One of the reasons I enjoy working with small companies is knowing exactly who stands behind the company and its policies.  This tends to build a more responsive organization and it’s good marketing.  If your a small business, use your size to your advantage.  Develop relationships with your customers and provide the best service possible.  Develop a culture for customer service through training and service programs that empower your employees.

Great customer service can differentiate your business from others and improve your bottom line.  Embrace a culture of customer service and develop relationships with clients that make them want to be your customer for life.

Avoid Enemies of Change

Companies that spot trends early on and get transform their business focus at the right time are in the minority.  Why do some companies have blinders on when accessing trends?  A company’s very success is often what holds them back from seizing opportunities.  The mindset of leaders is crucial to combating this enemy of change.

We tend to be creatures of our past; our experience shapes what we believe and our perception of reality.  In sum, everyone is biased.  Our history and success are strong sources of our bias.  What often sets good leaders apart from leaders who miss opportunities is colored vision.  Good leaders see beyond their bias and spot trends that may be disparate from their past experience.

Automatically assuming something based on bias can handcuff you from changing direction to capitalize on a fruitful opportunity.  To combat bias and gain clarity, I recommend organizations use numbers and metrics to quantify trends and dispel bias that doesn’t mesh with the trends.

Avoid the enemies of change. Put your history and success in your back pocket while assessing your reality.  Use an unbiased view to ensure you can see trends as they really are and find opportunities that you may have missed before.

Dream Big, Narrow Your Focus

I dream big.  I also know that focusing on the key customer-driven components of my business solution and aligning my company’s processes around those elements is the best way to turn my big dreams into a successful business.

In a small business, it’s all too easy to get distracted by potential development opportunities that add breadth to your product or service line.  Don’t fall prey to this lure.  Ensure your success by selling a viable product or service before taking misguided steps that steer your attention away from your company’s mission.

Focus on one specific solution and deliver it better than anyone else.  This will lay the ground work to pursue more intricate business opportunities down the line.  Take a cue from 37Signals build a simple focused product like BaseCamp and parlay that success into other complimentary products that add additional value to your enthusiastic client base.

For entrepreneurs, it’s critical you define and stay focused on what your customer needs are and deliver your solution that is so focused on those needs that your customer’s alternative options become substandard in comparison.

Customer prospecting and marketing research upfront is key to accurately determine whether your solution meets your target market’s needs.  Once these needs are defined and you have your product mission statement, you can focus on developing your core product or service.

For example, let’s say I’m a window washer that’s discovered my customers want eco-friendly washing detergents and fast service. That’s great, but are they actually going to pay money for these proclamations? Be sure your prospect wants, is willing to pay for, and has the ability to purchase your product or solution.

As a window washer, If I find my prospects are more willing to pay for fast service then you better believe every decision I make will be guided by this need for speed, and my marketing efforts will position my services as the speediest window washer in town!

The takeaway from all this is when your starting out, narrow your focus, deliver a solution that meet your paying customers needs and parlay your success into developing complimentary solutions.  Dream big, but stay focused.  Your success awaits!

Enjoy this post?  Subscribe to Scott’s Marketing Blog RSS feed.

Problem Solving With Monet

Our ability to problem solve is often directly correlated with our levels of success. Regardless of what function or role we inhabit, we are constantly bombarded with obstacles that require a measured response.

I prefer to view these problems as opportunities to improve a situation.  As the saying goes, “when life serves you lemons, make lemonade.”

Up close Monet's paints are difficult to make out, but from afar they are a thing of beauty - When analyzing your problem take a step back and to improve your perspective of the problem.

Apply a Monet framework to problem solving. Up close, Monet's paints are difficult to make out; from afar they are a thing of beauty. When analyzing a problem, improve your perspective by taking a step back to understand all of the problem's elements.

To improve your response, approach particularly troublesome problems using a problem-solving framework.  In my framework, I look at the situation like I view Monet paintings – from afar. I assume a third-party perspective that enables me to take a step back and hypothesize all stakeholder points of view.  From this perspective I recommend you:

Define the problem.
What’s causing it? Without knowing what the problem is and what’s causing it, you’ll either be fixing problems that don’t need fixing or not finding the right solution

Understand what you can control.
If you have no control over some aspect of the problem, don’t focus your efforts on solving the problem by trying to change that element.  Think creatively about how you can solve the problem and consider changing directions that circumvent that element entirely.

List you potential solutions.
Come up with potential solutions to fix the cause of your problem or change the landscape entirely.  Improve your creativity by brainstorming ideas with others to develop possible solutions.  Additional perspectives can give you a more complete view of the whole picture.  I also find it helpful to look at other solutions to disparate problems and see if those can be applied to your problem at hand.

Pick the best option and act on it.
Once you settle on the best option for solving the problem you’ve defined, take the steps to carry it out.  You’ll find this process is very rewarding, especially if you start seeing immediate results.  If this solution doesn’t solve your problem. Great! Now you know and you can move back through these steps to see what options you have to approach the problem that exists now.

Move on
Often, I find out problems aren’t as bad as they initially appear.  Problems can be great opportunities to explore new directions in your business.  Hopefully, your problem-solving process will have the results you desire.  Once you decide on a solution to a problem, it is often best to move on and tackle the next problems opportunity that comes your way.  This is particularly true for problems you don’t have any control over.  Don’t waste your time dwelling on what went wrong or why the situation isn’t fair; learn from your missteps and move forward by proactively taking steps to be successful.

Influencer Marketing for B2B Sales

Influence is one of the most powerful psychological drivers in sales and in belt-tightening times like these, influencer marketing is one of the most cost efficient ways to promote your business.  While this type of marketing has often been employed in the B2C space, opportunity abounds in the B2B space.

Influencer marketing, one of a dozen types of word of mouth marketing,  is an especially effective tactic in driving B2B sales.  To better understand what influencer marketing is all about, let’s define the players.

Effective influencer marketing is composed of three components:  the influencer, the follower, the business solution.

  1. Influencer – An influencer would be someone whose ability to motivate, change views, shift over from the status quo through their energy and passion and helpful knowledge over time.
  2. Followers – These people seek out the advice of the said ‘influencer‘ and will often listen and employ the advice to the extent they can implement it.
  3. Business Solution – While not directly linked to influencer marketing, the business solution is the most critical of the three parts of the influence puzzle.  Your solution needs to be relevant, meet the high standards of the influencer that share it with their followers, and be easy t0 understand (read: if an influencer can’t figure out why they or their community of followers should be interested in your product then you can bet they won’t give it the right type of influence to help it grow!).

Whether a follower of a influential person moves to take action on a product or service depends on the level of authority the influencer possesses.  Popular bloggers are very good at promoting their authority by developing thought leadership with their blog posts.

However, not all business influencers are created equally.  Selecting influencers that are best equipped to reach and influence your target audience will be a key component in your influencer marketing strategy.  To get started:

  1. Make a list of bloggers/writers/influencers who appear to reach your market.
  2. Assess their market reach by estimating their number of connections.
  3. Determine their though leadership (Do their followers hold the influencer’s opinion in high esteem?)
  4. Check their followers for the decision makers of your target market (LinkedIn is great for this).
  5. Rank your influencers according to their market reach, thought leadership, and ties to your target audience

Once you have your ranked list, I’d start connecting with a few who aren’t crucial to your influencer marketing success.  Incorporate your learnings from those approaches and craft a winning strategy for reaching out to the higher-ranked influencers who influence potential buyers in your product or services’ sweet spot.

When done right, influencer marketing is an effective and economical way to increase sales for your business.  If you can identify the right influencers, know your target customers (followers), and have a business solution worth talking about then influencer marketing needs to be included in your marketing mix.

Have you employed the power of influence in your marketing strategy?

Why Sharing Your Startup Idea Improves Chances for Success

Do you have a business idea you are keeping close to the vest?

Well,  DON’T DO THAT!!!  SHARE YOUR IDEAS!!!

That’s right, don’t keep your startup ideas under lock and key.  Share them, give them air to breathe and marinate with helpful feedback from colleagues and potential customers so they can coalesce into even better ideas.

Of course there are exceptions to when you should tell the whole world your idea, but time and time again I’ve learned that sharing your idea will improve your chances for success.

Fear Not – Get a Leg up on the Competition

Some ideas are kept close to the vest because of the fear that someone else will steal it.  The thought of this happening is understandable with truly original ideas, but ultimately very few who hear your concept will have the right skill set, resources, or time in their life to transform it into a business.

(Source: Caledon Today)

(Source: Caledon Today)

Fear not, ideas are the easy part.  The execution of your idea is what really matters.  By sharing your idea, you can improve your execution by better identifying the needs of potential customers and learning things you can use to build a first-mover advantage.

Accountability

As you share idea, chances are you’ll be more committed to making it happen.  Not only are you likely to be more accountable to yourself to see your idea through, but you’ll also feel more accountable to those who’ve helped you along the way.

Connections

Not only does sharing your idea give you valuable feedback, but it can also get you in touch with the right people and expertise to catapult your startup idea into reality.  Find a connector, someone who knows the movers and shakers in your idea’s industry and put out a call for help.

The connections you make will arm you with good advice from the right people, people who understand the industry your concept serves.

Reality Check Feedback

Does your idea have legs?  If your friends are supportive and friendly, then they will probably tell you what you want to hear, i.e. “Your idea is GREAT!,” so tread carefully.

Seek out advise from people who won’t butter you and your idea up too much.  Also, listen for what they aren’t saying to ascertain its potential pitfalls.  Identify what your concept lacks and why it won’t work.  Better yet, ask yourself and everyone else these two questions.

What is this idea missing?  Why won’t this concept work?

These simple questions will force people to give your idea a true reality check so you can address any outstanding issues well before you head down the wrong track.  This exercise will do wonders for the strategic development of your concept.

If you get a lot of criticism, don’t get discouraged.  Embrace criticism and address it head on.  Your idea can be molded to solve that obstacle or be adjusted to flourish in another niche that is more appropriate.  See where your idea fails and how to overcome those potential failures and you’ll have yourself an idea that is more valuable than before!

Does Startup Success Await?

Can your idea be carried out?  Sometimes we underestimate what it really takes to take an idea from concept to reality.  However, if the feasibility of an idea can be reasonably established, a plan can be hatched to bring it to fruition.

Take what you learn from your connections and reality check to help you determine whether to proceed.

If you decide to move forward, fear not – the connections you’ve built, the learnings you’ve gathered from your reality check and the aforementioned feasibility feedback will equip you with the information and tools you need to get your startup idea off the ground.  Then comes the hard part, executing your idea into a successful business.

The important thing is to act!  While others have ideas that are dying in isolation, you’ll be on your way to learning what you need to know to succeed.

Have an idea you’ve been keeping to yourself?  Feel free to share it with me and I’ll give give you my initial feedback and help put you in touch with connections that can help your startup succeed.

How Sephora’s Earth Day Marketing on Facebook Can Work for You

This year Sephora ran an awesome promotion that I’d like to share with you.  The campaign turns virtual tote bags into a word of mouth marketing promotion that generates revenue while boosting their brand image at the same time.

sephora_facebookWith the help of Facebook’s Gift Shop, Sephora launched a Facebook campaign that promotes a tote bag giveaway in honor of Earth Day.  Users can send the virtual tote bag to their friends that will give them a code to redeem the real thing through Sephora.com.  The virtual tote bag campaign achieves two great things.  First, this type of promotion is viral. The promotion can spread like wildfire through word of mouth on Facebook and aligned social media outlets.  Second, it makes money.  By offering a limited edition tote bag that is redeemable with a promotional code from the virtual gift, the campaign’s effectiveness is directly measured to every marketer’s delight!

Another benefit with the promotion include the positive brand equity that assoiciates Sephora with a good cause, Earth Day.  Sephora reaches a growing segment of people who seek organic, natural goods.  This segment is keenly aware of Earth Day and supportive of companies that share the values of the Earth Day movement.  With these product lines highlighted, Sephora can reach a new market that I suspect doesn’t generally associate Sephora with natural products.

If Sephora really wanted to push the envelope, I would suggest they provide an additional incentive for becoming a fan of Sephora’s Facebook page so the campaign has a lasting effect of driving traffic to Sephora.com. One good strategy to recruit more fans would be to ask users to post a photo, which requires you to become a fan, in order to get an additional percentage off their purchase or some other additional incentive.  This would allow them to continually promote future campaigns more easily and allow their evangelists to continually evangelize the Sephora brand.

With over 100,000 fans so far, Sephora’s Facebook marketing strategy has been very fruitful.  Retailers could learn a thing or two by monitoring their strategy and emulating the things that work.

Startup Marketing Lessons from Cinderellas of March Madness

final_fourThe first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the most exciting weekends in sports.  The emotion and effort left on the court between teams hopeful of advancing into the Sweet Sixteen is palpable.  However, effort alone can’t get your team into the Sweet Sixteen.  Cinderella teams must play with a winning strategy to reach the Sweet Sixteen.  Entrepreneurs can take notes from a Cinderella’s strategy in their startup marketing efforts to find business success.

Differentiate Your Product

Much like a startup company with a unique strategy that differentiates them from the established companies to find success, the underdogs of the NCAA tournament rely on unique schemes and dynamic, difference-making players that they hope to ride into the Sweet Sixteen.  Differentiate your product from the competition.

Avoid the Gorilla

Victorious underdog teams dictate the pace of the game that works best for their team.  The same can said for successful startups.  Winning startups play “their game” – one that differentiates them from their competition in a landscape they can own.  They avoid beating a “gorilla’s game” in the gorilla’s territory and target a market segment ripe for a better customized solution.  Avoid the gorillas in your industry.

Play Your Game

With your startup business, be sure you are playing your game.  Target your market and differentiate your solution to establish credibility with a unique solution and select customers before challenging the market-leading competition in their territory.  Play your game and taste the sweetness that following through with your strategy will bear!

Is your company differentiating itself from your competition?  Share your story by commenting or send me an e-mail directly.