Archive for the ‘Small business Marketing’ Category
I like this presentation, especially slide 26 about “the end of lying.” The pursuit of truth is the better long-term strategy:
All products that you can physically hold in your hand come in packaging to the consumer. That packaging is real estate for benefit messaging, as most of us know.
Consumer Packaged Goods companies (naturally) have know this for years, and many a junior product manager at Clorox, Quaker Oats or Proctor & Gamble took their first responsible steps in building a marketing skill set by designing packages that met all product branding and regulatory disclosure requirements and still left plenty of space for marketing messages. A lot of thought went into what should occupy each square inch of marketing real estate on a cereal box, say, or a cleaning fluid bottle.
Other industries took longer to cotton onto this opportunity, especially the financial services industry. Clearly they are cluing themselves in, however, and the proof was in my mail this week. I received two orders for fresh checks, for two different bank accounts:
Examine the images to the right, and you will see that Bank of the West has done a better job of using their available marketing messaging real estate.
Both made a claim on the front of their packaging:
- Chase: “Your checking account comes with way more than will fit in this box.”
- Bank of the West: “Checking that comes with the features and services that you want.”
Round One to Chase. Their claim is more intriguing, and makes no claim to knowing what I want.
- Chase stops there, however, and does not back up its claim. No other panel of the check box has any messaging on it.
- Bank of the West takes the next step and backs up the claims with six messages under each item in the check folio.
Round Two, and the match, to Bank of the West!
I agree with those who may say that the business account check packaging got more marketing attention than the personal check order, as business accounts tend to be more profitable for banks.
I still think Chase missed a chance to print suggestions for services that could further engage me as a banking client.
To quibble a bit with Bank of the West:
- I cannot find all the service suggestions/messaging until I pull off the packet of checks, and only two of the four service messages will appear right away. Important suggestions about mobile banking and using my account’s debit card are still under check packets I may not use for months.
- Chase’s box (albeit with no messaging printed on the inside or back) did fold into a nice, tidy easy-to-store shape. Bank of the West stuck me with a more awkward folio shape that will require a change in how I store checks!
The advantage still remains with Bank of the West in this packaging competition!
Share any packaging brilliance that you have seen lately. I would love to see images of them!
In marketing, you hone your pitch to fit into 140-character tweets and 100-character keyword ads. These shoe-box-sized spots for product messaging really challenge the copywriter to get to the point.
The same rigor goes for your 30-second, or elevator, pitch. You cannot ramble, you cannot drift off on a tangent. You must deliver one succinct, memorable sound bite that is so compelling that it buys you more time (right then or later) to make your case in more detail.
The only immediate goal of your pitch is to buy yourself time with that audience to have a longer conversation. Your close must also end with a question that hooks the listener:
Have these planned in advance, too. They should all revolve around this basic idea: “What are your pain points in this area?”
Translate that into whatever it needs to sound like for the particular audiences you wish to attract.
I wrote about this in more detail in a Forbes column last week. If you read it, let me know what you think!
A second key success factor in delivering a sterling 30-second pitch is to practice it until you can deliver it without thinking, and then develop the knack for tailoring it on the spot to your audience. Another way to think about your goal is to internalize your pitch so that it wears on you like a second skin, and rolling it out is a natural as breathing.
Third: Speak in plain English. Drain your pitch of buzzwords and cliches. Expunge it of technical terms. If your value proposition cannot be understood by the common man, keep working at it until all of your friends and everyone in your family nods their head in understanding the first time they hear it.
Let me know if this makes sense. Have you put the work in to hone your pitch to perfection? How did you know you had succeeded?
In my previous post, I went on about how bricks-and-mortar merchants need to prepare for a future where customers in their store are shopping their products and prices while standing in the aisle (“showrooming”).
Now here comes evidence from ClickIQ that the businesses that are losing business from showroomers (about 24% of the people who use their phones to compare prices), may be picking up some compensating business from people showrooming in their competitors!
This does not detract from the gain Amazon is getting from the massive spread of smartphones: The study found that about half of the people who chose to complete their purchase online placed the order with Amazon.
Marketingcharts.com actually had a better write-up than ClickIQ’s press release, and they had this nifty graphic, too.
Most Shoppers Buy Where They Stand – Some good news for off-line retailers.
As you can see from the 24% figure above, a solid 76% bought from the store in which they were standing:
“The ClickIQ study does show that most of the in-store shoppers ended up buying at the retailer where they were shopping, (although) only a few used a retailer’s online site,” noted ClickIQ in their press release.
Here is another insight from the study that could better arm the bricks-and-mortar store owners: “Among the 24% of respondents who ended up buying online, a slight majority said they did not pay sales tax, with 65% of those saying that had some influence on their purchase decision.” (my bolding)
This is actionable data: How easy is it to run “pay the sales tax” promotions in-store? They could even be delivered by mobile phone for those who are opted in to your mobile community.
The bottom line here is that all is not lost: If the retailer in which the surfing shopper is standing can engage with them meaningfully, they have a great chance of capturing the business.
What is your shopping behavior in the age of the smartphone? Do you actively browse options when standing in aisles? What price points drive you to invest the time doing so?
New data released this week and posted on marketingcharts.com confirms once again that retailers need to actively work on combating showrooming. As smartphones get ever more ubiquitous, using them to check out product reviews and competitive pricing while standing in a store aisle will become par-for-the-course consumer behavior.
How do you as a small businessperson fight against the online retailers like Amazon, who can price aggressively because they take a pass on brick-and-mortar locations? Here are a few ways to think about the challenge of closing the deal with a showrooming customers standing in your store:
Engage with them: Have sales reps be alert for shoppers working their phones. If the shopper is not typing aggressively (texting) or talking (on the phone), offer to help.
Keep your prices close to online retailers: You have the advantage of being able to satisfy the “get it now” urge. No one buying from your store has to wait days or a week for UPS or FedEx to show up with the goods. Plus, your price does not have to be just as low as online, thanks to the time savings (and perhaps even shipping cost savings.)
Offer deals: Instant savings on purchases made that day, by total or by item. Have a coupon dispenser in aisles where you suspect most showrooming occurs.
Offer deals in exchange for signing up for your digital marketing program: Offer a great deal (again using coupons in the aisle) if they sign on for either e-mail or mobile marketing.
Study aisle behavior: You have security cameras trained on all areas of your store. You can use that record to track in-aisle behavior to get anecdotal evidence for which products areas are showroomed most often. Those aisles become your priority for anti-showrooming initiatives! (Disclaimer: You are not tracking specific people using in-store cameras. Read this for a good pro-and-con summary of collecting marketing data using surveillance cameras. )
Promote your easy and no-questions-asked return policies: Nothing beats making a purchase easier than knowing you can reverse the decision easily, too. Try returning an online purchase to see what your advantage is!
Wailing, rending your garments and bemoaning the impact of technology on your business are not options, or at least are not where you should stop: Get cracking figuring out how to make your store the best place to complete a purchase, even when the person in the aisle has the whole internet at their fingertips.
Shopping in the digital age is a smorgasbord of options. A few years ago, Google created what they call “ZMOT,” which stands for Zero Moment of Truth, to capture the concept that you have multiple chances to connect with a consumer, and cannot predict when among all those interactions the “moment of truth” will occur and the shopper makes a purchase or raises a hand to self-identify her or himself as a lead.
If you click on the logo to the right, you can find the handbook that Google issues to explore their ZMOT concept and how you might apply it to your business.
Understanding evolving shopping behavior was also the focus of recent research by Lenovo that winkled out the different uses of smartphone vs. tablets:
- The study found that research is the primary function of both devices during the purchase process.
- By device, 65 percent researched only on a smartphone while a third (32%) researched and purchased. For tablets, almost half (47%) researched and the same percent both researched and purchased via tablet.
- But looking at the findings by the function of research, about half (49%) used a smartphone while only 20 percent did so on a tablet.
I suspect that the purchase percentages for smartphones are lower because the shopper may be using the device in a store, and go on to purchase the item in question offline (that is, at the cash register!) Read more about the study here.
I also found a nice presentation on buying habits that is focused on home buying, but has application for all businesses hoping to better understand where to put their marketing focus:
I love this description the author adapted from ZMOT’s evangelist of a typical consumer’s approach to shopping in the 21st Century:
Jim Lecinski, Google’s ZMOT expert, writes “at the Zero Moment of Truth, today’s shoppers bounce back and forth at their own speed in a multi-channel marketplace. They switch devices to suit their needs at any given moment. They search; go off to look at reviews, ratings, styles and prices; and then search again. They see ads on TV and in newspapers and online. They walk into local stores to look at products. They talk to friends, over the back fence and on social media. Then it’s back to ZMOT for more information.”
The challenge: Be There for the ZMOT!
The Caveat: Don’t chase every possible customer out there. That’s too many ZMOTs to cover. Craft a mix of marketing channels that you can actively manage well, and put all the other interesting options aside until you fully master the two or three channels which seem most likely to product great leads (B2B and big-ticket B2C) or sales (most B2C). Whether those few channels are Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook or SEM is what you have to sort out by what you already know, what your consumer research tells you, and what you test going forward.
Canadian botanists are in an uproar! Apparently they have spotted an error in the design of the new $20 Canadian bank note.
The leaf image used smacks of “Norway Maple” in the eyes of the botanists, not the sugar maple “that turns nice and red in the Fall” and is represented on the Canadian flag.
The Bank of Canada has responded to the disgruntled botanists by claiming that the maple leaf imaged used is “a stylized blend of different Canadian maple species.”
The Botanists aren’t buying it. They see this as just another step in Canadians getting lazy about keeping their maples straight. And they are especially worked up about an “invasive species” gracing the national currency.
“It’s a species that’s invasive in Eastern Canada and is displacing some of our native species, and it’s probably not an appropriate species to be putting on our native currency,” Sean Blaney, senior botanist of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, told CBC News.
Plus, as Julian Starr, a botany professor at the University of Ottawa, noted to the Toronto Globe and Mail, lately the interloping leaf has been turning up in all kinds of places, including the official logos of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and the FIFA under-20 World Cup of Soccer. The Canadian Television Fund and the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada have also made maple leaf errors, according to botanists.
See for yourself: On the left is a photo of the Norway maple leaf, which botanists say appears on the new polymer bills. On the right is a leaf from the sugar maple, the Canadian species that appears on the national flag. (image: CBC)
The Marketing Lesson
Whether or not your customers are going to spot a difference between images or graphics that you use, specialists will. This goes for value claims you make, too:
- You must be more accurate in what you present to the public than the public would demand.
- You must own your stuff, or clearly declare from whom you borrowed it. (See my image credit above, and my quote attributions.)
- You have to examine what you create closely, and challenge any graphic elements that a designer presents to you as a solution. The designer is tasked with creating compelling visuals, and is not responsible for the accuracy of what he or she presents, although working with one that keeps such niceties in mind is a real bonus. Accuracy is the marketer’s job.
The bank’s protestations aside, I am suspicious that the project team designing the new $20 bill had no clue that the particular maple leaf used was not an appropriate representative of Canada. The designer choose a random image that seemed snappy, sharp and fresh; the Norway maple leaf image the designer chose has a more appealing graphic outline. It is also easier to fit in the circular space allowed it on the new bill. Indeed, the designer may have come up with the “stylized blend” comment as a throwaway part of his or her presentation, to cover up the fact that they didn’t know from what tree the leaf came.
I have seen that happen more than once in presentations in my career. We always called it “thinking fast on our feet” when presented with a question we forgot to consider!
(Apropos of nothing: Why isn’t anyone complaining about that image of the Queen? She looks as sour as the botanists on that $20 bill.)
From my Forbes blog, a short take on the true news behind Facebook’s ballyhooed announcement about their efforts to upgrade their internal search functionality:
The BIG NEWS in online marketing circles this week has beenFacebook‘s introduction of their Graph Search service. It is still in “beta testing, “ which means it is not fully available; they are still refining the underlying code and winkling out the bugs. Down the road, you will want to know more about Facebook Graph Search. Even then, for most businesses my advice may stay the same:
If you want to make Facebook an effective source of business, invest the time to keep your Facebook page active, interesting and well-liked.
Period. You may now tune out all the furor amongst marketing tradesters about the intriguing subplots that may or may not be underlying this Graph Search introduction.
Read more on Forbes.com.
Content marketing has become the foundation of lead generation, as inbound marketing has proven its worth as a lead-generation tool and is grabbing a bigger share of marketing budgets and personnel time.
Not surprisingly, generating good content consistently has become the biggest burden for inbound marketers. To keep it flowing, the temptation inevitably creeps in to “repurpose” content that someone else created that seems relevant to your mission or value proposition. This saves time and energy! And lots of people do it…
Sharing values the creator, and you, if you share properly.
It is OK to borrow stuff, but do it respectfully. This keeps your nose clean, protects your image, and helps out the person who actually did all the work. I use ezinearticles as a publisher on behalf of a client, and their editors have a handy list of cautions that you should review regularly to keep you on the right side of the law:
I use two definitions of “re-purpose” with clients, because the second requires considerable cautionary attention:
- Take an article that you wrote for a newsletter, and also post it on your blog. Convert that article into an e-book for posting on slideshare.com or other sharing services. Or do the reverse of each of these. Moving your own creative content around to hit multiple mediums is completely OK, and highly encouraged. It maximizes the value of each bit of content you create.
- Take content someone else created, and use it as a foundation to create your own content.
The second approach is allowable, and useful, if:
- You attribute the source of the original content, with a link to it.
- You surround their work with your own take on the original content.
- Explain why you found it useful or insightful.
- Add your own thoughts or examples that support your opinion.
- Disagree with aspects of the original content.
In effect, if you are going to “borrow” content from some other source, it has to be a starting point from which you share your own expertise, in your own words. Never pass off another writer’s work as yours if you want inbound marketing to work for you long-term.
Content marketing is a real boon to smaller businesses who cannot hope to compete on budget with larger competitors. It offers a small businessperson a real chance to present his or her own expertise and personality, and connect with prospects in meaningful ways.
Just don’t steal stuff from other people to save time. Dedicate the energy to do it correctly, create your own online presence and personality, and the benefits (leads!) will flow that justify such a big investment of time.