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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Think Outside the Box: Help Drive the Next Big Idea

As marketers, we know there are many things that we need to work on to assist our companies with meeting their objectives: traditional marketing, interactive, public relations and business development activities. Marketing injects the customer insight and creative thinking that gives business its edge.  We combine these with analytical data to drive strategy, innovation and profitable/sustainable growth.  With this, it is our job to help our firms keep on-top of the next big idea that resonates with our clients/targets. This can be both from a pure marketing standpoint or helping our leaders with the next area for growth (development of new or enhanced products/services).

Photo from Jannoon028
Tips for brainstorming:  In a series of interviews with highly successful creative people, Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, writes that most innovators don’t begin with brilliant ideas – they discover them through experimentation. Here are lessons learned from some of those top doers:

  • Get Out of the Office – One of the best ways to identify creative insights and develop ideas is to get out into the world, like an anthropologist might. Steve Blank, a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is also a professor at Stanford, routinely challenges students to defy their assumptions by immersing themselves in the world. “No facts exist inside the building,” he says. “Only opinions.”
  • Unleash Your Imagination – Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t set out to revolutionize the way we search for information. Their goal, as collaborators on the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project, was to prioritize online library searches. But their small discoveries led to the famous “PageRank” algorithm. also embraces the experimental discovery approach. “Many efforts turn out to be dead ends,” says founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “But every once in a while, you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue.”
  • Change Your Course – Acclaimed architect Frank Gehry designed conventional buildings like tract housing and shopping malls for much of his career. Inspired by how artists manipulate materials, he performed a series of experiments on his own house in Santa Monica in the late ‘70s. Soon after, he closed his firm and started a new, using his own style and voice. He was 50 years old. This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t broken free from the realm of what he was used to.
  • Take An Experimental Approach – Chris Rock, the Google founders and Jeff Bezos are examples of what University of Chicago economist David Galenson has dubbed “experimental innovators” – those who use iterative, trial-and-error approaches to gradually reach breakthroughs. They don’t try to hit narrow targets on unknown horizons, analyze new ideas too much too soon, or put their hopes into one big bet. They’ve all reached extraordinary success by making a series of “small bets.”

Now with all of this, we have to keep in mind what our business objectives are, where we want to grow our business and always keep on top of demo/psychographics of our customers.  Thinking outside the box, while we may not get to execute there all the time, is how we can help our companies stay competitive and innovative.

Here's to helping our companies anticipate the next idea that resonates with their clients/targets!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Targeting: Don't Forget Generational Impacts

Photo from Sheelamohan
As we know, the key to successful marketing is understanding how we can help achieve a firms business objective.  As marketers, we must identify who we are marketing to and what channels/messages resonates with them.  Part of this analysis takes into consideration how generational differences impact our marketing efforts.

Each generation has their own characteristics and understanding these can be of value in our execution of marketing tactics that lead to an increase in successful outcomes.  Generational marketing involves identifying and understanding how the beliefs, attitudes, emotions, needs, and interests of each generation influence their decisions and behavior. And effective implementation of generational marketing practices is key for targeting member segments of all ages.
  • Traditionalists/Silent Generation (born before 1946) survived the Great Depression, WW2, Korea, Gandhi’s assassination and the rise of labor unions.  They are loyal, desire to leave a legacy, value personal relationships, follow rules and have faith in institutions.  Values of company are important.
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are just beginning to move out of midlife and into the early stages of elderhood. The broad generational personality that Boomers experience orients toward vision, values and spiritual discovery.  They are hard working, competitive and desire to put their own stamp on institutions (are free thinkers).  Image is important and they also put weight in value (not price sensitivity).
  • GenXers (born between 1965 and 1981) are just beginning to move out of young adulthood and into midlife. The broad generational personality that GenXers experience orients toward liberty, survival and honor. They are resourceful, highly adaptive, self-reliant, skeptical of institutions and independent.
  • GenY/Millenials (born between 1982 and 2000) are just beginning to arrive as young adults in the American landscape. The broad generational personality that Millennials experience orients toward community, affluence and technology. They are globally concerned and aware, cyber-literate, collaborative/group oriented, and vocal.
  • Homeland Gen (born after 2000) are just arriving as a new generation. They share the same broad traits with the elders, currently 67-84 years old. This generational personality orients toward pluralism, expertise and due process.  They are tech-native, media-smart, artistically inclined, integrated and pan-cultural.
In order to market effectively to a generation you must find a way to grab their attention in channels that they use and with key messages that hit their core values.  Generational determined lifestyles and social values exercise as much influence on buying and purchasing as more commonly understood demographic factors like income, education, and gender do--perhaps even more.
Marketers that take generational impacts into consideration are more successful in their channel marketing efforts and contributing to more bottom line results.

Read more at:

Monday, October 31, 2011

True Value: Measuring Marketing (Part II)

(Part II of a two-part post)

Photo from jannoon028
As started in my last post, measuring marketing performance has always been a challenge to marketers due to the vast number of mediums to execute against, as well as determining what metrics are meaningful.  Marketers have come a long way; today, marketers have the ability to capture data elements from almost every stage of the buying process from awareness to satisfaction. As a result, we face a flood of data, making the identification of meaningful data overwhelming.

As marketers do better jobs at measuring their efforts, they are using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) more religiously. KPIs are quantifiable measurements, agreed to in advance, that reflect the critical success of a firm, group, practice, product, etc.   KPIs for marketing vary according to specific areas of responsibility, but are essential for valuing effectiveness of initiatives.

What you Can Measure

The question I get a lot is "what can you actually measure?"  You can measure almost all of your efforts - the key is your objective for using a medium and setting KPIs to measure effectiveness of marketing mediums in achieving your objectives.  Below are a few examples of areas that can be measured - just the tip of the iceberg.  I stress, it is important to set objecitves for your efforts, otherwise you will not know what initiatives to execute and what to measure.

  • Website – ensure you develop KPIs for analyzing your success (hits, page vies, time on site, number of downloads, etc.).  These will help determine if your online efforts are yielding results that help you with your objectives.
  • Social media – based on your objectives you can measure your blog subscribers, email subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, YouTube subscribers, SlideShare followers, social bookmarking followers/friends, etc.  If you keep track of your community stats you can analyze increases or decreases and where you need to spend more time.
  •  Advertising – the hard one to measure, especially for B2B - as most advertising is to increase awareness.  To be most effective, ensure you have a call-to-action on advertising to provide easy connections for access to information.  For B2C, the call-to-action is critical (phone number, web address, promotion code, toll-free number, etc.).
  • Direct Mail/Collateral – targeting is key for measurement in this area as it is voluminous - especially for B2C.  Ensure you know what you are measuring so you know if the piece is effective.  A few tracking ideas include, response rate (via use of personalized URLs, campaign page on website, use tracking codes on coupons or reply cards/forms/envelops, use specific toll-free numbers for a campaign, create a specific e-mail address for the campaign, etc.).  
  • Events - remember that there are event metrics as well as post-event metrics. You can measure desired vs. actual attendees, evaluation of attendees, sales that the event helped generate, number of attendees followed-up with, business generated from event, etc.
  • Public Relations - the key is how these are helping reach set objectives of the organization.  Examples of KPIs: Number of articles, subscribers, posts, visits, number of 500 word+ features, cover stories, executive quote inclusions, company and executive profiles, percentage positive/neutral articles, comments in Twitter, number of negative @messages, etc. 
  • Client Satisfaction - companies should set their KPIs for understanding clients' impressions of our product/service.  KPIs can also uncover needs or areas for up-selling/cross-selling business.

Examples of specific KPIs:
  • Account Expansion -   Measures the increase in business from existing clients
  • Acquisition Cost - The cost of a single response to a promotion or total cost divided by total number of responses
  • Customer Churn - The retention to attrition ratio in a given period
  • Lead source – when a deal closes or sales are made, determine where the buyer originally made contact (via event, direct mail, newsletter, etc.). This can help identify channels that work more efficiently than other channels for business acquisition.
  • Market Share - Product or service sales as a percentage of the sales across all competitors
  • New Customers -  Percentage of new customers over existing client base
  • Price Sensitivity - Price flexibility of each product per market segment. How much are people willing to pay for the product in given industry, geography or application based on survey results.
  • Reach - The percentage of potential ad viewers who will be exposed to at least one ad in a given period
  • Sales Per Customer - Number of sales made by a given customer in a given time frame

Marketing is more than an expense to an organization - it is investment that should lead to increased opportunities for revenue generation.  As marketers, it is our job to help demonstrate the effectiveness of our strategic initiatives and execution of tactics.  Here's to planning and analyzing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Other Resources:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

True Value: Measure Your Marketing Effectiveness (Part I)

Photo from Renjith Krishnan
Marketing is not just an expense to an organizationit is an investment.
(Part I of a two-part post)

Over the last 20 years, the range of marketing options and opportunities for marketers has expanded dramatically.  Once there was only a limited choice - print and TV.  Now there is a whole range of media from direct mail to video to new technologies (social media, QR codes, etc.). As marketers, we know that executives are asking us to justify the effectiveness of our efforts - demonstrate the ROO (return on objective) or ROI (return on investment) of how we spend a company’s marketing dollars.  With the proliferation of new marketing mediums to invest in, marketers struggle to understand which options deliver the greatest returns. So, how do marketers approach measurement?
As a marketer, my success with measurement is in defining relevant metrics and measurement criteria to demonstrate the value of my efforts to help advance business objectives.  The metrics must correlate the marketing activities (cause) with the marketing performance, financial results, and customer impact (effect). 

The Foundation

A successful metrics framework is used to understand the correlation of marketing campaigns to defined corporate goals and objectives. For any measurement to be meaningful, you first must define goals and objectives of the business and determine how marketing can build strategies and tactics to help advance the businesses objectives.  Prior to embarking on new marketing initiatives, develop a plan with specific, quantifiable objectives, e.g., achieve $5 million incremental sales, 10,000 inquiries, 10 percent of coupon redemption, receive 15 percent increase in web traffic, sell-in displays at XYZ account, etc.

Second, ensure you have a way to “measure” your efforts.  Develop and utilize a customer database that captures promotional responses, website registrations, advertising and trade show inquiries, etc.. Ideally, the database should integrate with your corporate information systems to report sales transactions, purchase history, new customer gains and losses (acquisition and retention), and other detailed information.  Consider testing your metrics to ensure you can gather the information that will be beneficial to driving business.

Third, to improve the effectiveness of marketing you need to not only improve the measurability of your marketing programs, but also ensure you are measuring the right things. Don’t simply look at how much is spent.  Look at how the activity has helped you reach a goal that leads to bottom line revenue. Remember to figure out how to value a customer and how much to invest in acquiring and maintaining that customer.

Finally, ensure that you are reporting back on the effectiveness of your efforts - in aggregate and at a campaign/initiative level. Includes lessons learned and quantify, as you can, revenue that is connected to the efforts. Remember, it's not always a straight line between marketing and revenue, but measuring your efforts can help determine efficiencies of your efforts to help drive business. Marketers can't always draw a line between content creation and financial return. An investment in words, visuals and online media that drive site visits, Facebook fans, retweets, video views and positive ratings is not reflected on the balance sheet. But, that doesn't mean these activities are without measurable value. Instead, they are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value, and that can drive financial results in the future.

As there is a lot of meat to this topic, I plan to continue my thoughts in Part II (next week) - examples of what can be measured.

Here's to planning and analyzing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Other Resources

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Impressions: More than just Human Interactions

We have all heard this warning: "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression."  In business, a positive first impression is crucial for forging sustainable, long-term partnerships with buyers to keep it thriving. Businesses spend a great deal of time and resources on keeping their existing clients. Consistently, making a strong first impression is essential for gaining new customers and clients.

Photo from renjith krishnan

There are many aspects to marketing, but one of the most important is in being able to quickly capture the attention of potential customers and clients. The field of marketing relies on good first impressions. 

It is one thing to grab the attention of a potential client or customer and another completely to grab their attention for all the wrong reasons. The art of attention seeking, without being overly persistent or irritating, is an important art to learn- really capturing the interest of the consumer.

It is almost important that, after grabbing the attention of your audience, you don’t lose sight of what the product or service that you’re offering really is. This has been a common problem for marketers, and has given rise to the common customer complaint that while they were entertained by an advertisement or a gimmick they were left without a real understanding of what the advertisement was trying to sell.

Keep in mind your marketing first impressions:
  • Brand – Do your key messages convey how your product/service will help your buyers (not just support your firm)?
  • E-mail Marketing – Many firms deal with lackluster open rates of e-mail communications.  Are you subject lines engaging to your target?  The right message at the right time does little to benefit the brand if it is never opened.
  • Website – Is your website easily navigated from a customer’s/buyers point of view? Is it easy for people to contact you if they have questions? Do you have a mobile viewable website for easy of today's technology savvy buyers?  Should you invest in a mobile application to ease the buying process?  What web/technology channels are important to your targets?
  • Social Media - Do you need to utilize social media?  If so, are you posting consistenty?  Are your messages important to your targets?  Do your messages engage your targets or get them interested in a product/service?  As marketers, we need to determine what our strategy is for using social media and ensure that our first impressions are not hurting our overall brand and positioning.
  • Collateral – Firms spent time and money writing, designing, and printing various pieces of collateral to communicate your firms products/services.  Does your collateral grab your viewers’ attention and encourages them to read the information you've worked so hard to put together? Or keep your business card in their files, bookmark your website, consider your proposal, or whatever the goal for the marketing piece may be? Are your "sales" material focused on benefits and ways your product/services help your potential buyers?
  • Phone messages/Receptionist Greetings – Part of making first impressions include voice messages of the firm and how the receptionist answers the phone.  Are these consistent and professional?
  • Store Layout/Displays – Is the design of your store or your display logically attuned to your buyers (not just appeasing to your design preferences)?  For displays, does it grab the attention of your buyer?
  • Product Packaging/Signage –  This is critical for B2C.  Enough said. For B2B, are you bundling services to make the buying process easier for your buyers?
First impressions are important for your employees and your marketing efforts.  Here’s to making positive first impressions with your marketing efforts. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

WHAT'S THE BUZZ? Overused Words Impact Differentiation

As marketers, it is important that we differentiate our companies in the eyes of potential buyers. A way we differentiate is through the words we use to communicate the benefits of the products/services our companies sell.  Choosing words that buyers connect to is essential for top of mind awareness and recall during the buying process.   The words are not only used in print, but also by employees when communicating the companies products/services.

Photo from Idea Go
I recently ran across an article the highlighted words that are overused in the workplace and through it would be good to share some insights as a reminder of the key for differentiation.

When business or industry terms become overused, people stop paying attention to them,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.  “The best communicators use clear and straightforward language that directly illustrates their points.”

The market and workplace is overwrought with clich├ęs, buzzwords and industry jargon, often leading to a “disconnect” between coworkers and buyers. A survey, funded by Accontemps, was conducted by an independent research firm - telephone interviews with 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. Executives were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword?” Their responses included:
  • Leverage: As in, “We intend to leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits.”
  • Reach out: As in, “We consistently reach out to customers impacted by the change....”
  • Viral: As in, “Our video has gone viral.”
  • Game changer: As in, “Transitioning from products to solutions was a game changer for our company.”
  • Disconnect: As in, “There is a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what the product provides.”
  • Value-add: As in, “We have to evaluate the value-add of this activity before we spend more on it.”
  • Circle back: As in, “I’m heading out of the office now, but I will circle back with you later.”
  • Socialize: As in, “We need to socialize this concept with our key stakeholders.”
  • Interface: As in, “My job requires me to interface with all levels of the organization.”
  • Cutting edge: As in, “Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage.”
  • Results:  As in, "Our product is top rated and provides you results that drive change."
  • Innovative:  As in, "Our innovative approach to solving problems leads to faster implementation."
Other words that surfaced included:  Solution, synergy, paradigm, customer centric, accountability management, core competency, alignment and incremental. 

Everyone is guilty of using buzzwords from time to time.  The problem is that these generic terms force buyers to interpret what you mean when you say them.  Choose your words carefully!

Learn more
Here's to differentiation!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Budgets: What do you Spend on Marketing?

Photo from Stuart Miles
 The age-old question is how much your marketing budget should run in comparison to firm budgets or revenues. Should you set them top down?  Bottom up?  In alignment with what your competitors spend?  Should they be a percentage of revenue or profits? As marketers, we know the key to establishing a successful marketing budget is to have an actual plan (in writing) so we can establish specific dollar amounts to spend each month to support our business.  We know that creating an effective marketing program means investing in it on an ongoing basis regardless of how good or bad business is.  

 Go-to-Market Strategies recently published a study that released normative levels for marketing budgets.  According to their research 30% of companies spend between 3-5% of revenue on marketing, with 45% spending over 6% (most of those between 6-10%). They indicated that if a company is launching a new product, or are expecting to launch into a new market or territory, budgets jumped to approximately 20% of revenue.

As marketers, we can take these percentages as a base.  What percentage you use is determined by a number of factors such as, industry (some industries trend higher), how mature is your market (how much education do you have to do), how well known is your company to your targets (are you a new or established business, how much brand awareness do you have to do), and how fast do you intend to grow.   
  • When building your marketing budgets, here are things that I take into consideration:
  • Activities to support the overall brand and the initiatives to support channel activity. These include logos, Web sites, blogs, e-mail campaigns, sales presentations, brochures, ads, etc.
  • Activities to support Business Development.  These include targeting, RFP, events/webinars, proposal efforts, newsletters/e-communications, etc.
  • New developments.  Take into consideration new market expansion, new product/service launches, M&A, downsizing, rebranding, significant announcements, etc.
Note: For those firms that do not have a marketing budget, I recommend that you take a bottom up approach (to gauge what is needed - don't just assign an industry percentage.  Many firms starting out will have smaller budgets as they build their efforts.

Remember to build in some flexibility.  Many marketers include a 1015% contingency in marketing plans because you can never predict 100% what will happen over the coming year(opportunities and challenges). 

Happy Budgeting!

Monday, September 26, 2011

SEM/SEO: Five Tips for Better Results

Marketers know they need to help drive customers to their companies. Today SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is taking a prominent role in marketing plans.  Marketers are seeking to promote their companies’ website to increase visibility for search engine results/SEO (search engine optimization (SEO).  Marketers know that search engines reward pages with the right combination of ranking factors, so specific SEM initiatives are being focused on to compliment the marketing mix. 
graphic from digitalart
SEO is a good tool for marketers in targeting, as it forces them to go through the exercise of mapping out their content and the hierarchy of categories, topics and ideas. It also forces them to pinpoint the focus of content they create for their website  (and helps them avoid creating useless content written to a general audience).

There are many SEO tips.  Here are five that I find to be most useful in getting more immediate results of your efforts:
  1. Use a unique and relevant page title and meta description on every page. The page title is the single most important on-page SEO factor. When search engines crawl a site, the page title is the first thing they see.  Generic titles like "home" or your company name are not strong. The meta description tag won’t help you rank, but it will often appear as the text snippet below your listing, so it should include the relevant keyword(s) and be written so as to encourage searchers to click on your listing (assists with click-through from search engine result pages (SERPs). These short paragraphs are a company’s opportunity to advertise content to searchers and let them know exactly what the given page has with regard to what they’re looking for).
  2. Optimize individual pages with keywords - helps with ranking. Marketers know that differentiation is key.  They also know that users will search for key words to locate what they need.  It is important to weave your keywords into the text on your website.  According to Dedric Polite at the HubSpot blog, to witness the power of an ideally optimized page, look at the Google search.  For example, conduct a Google search on the term "George Washington." Your first result, he notes, will belong to Wikipedia for two key reasons: perfect on-page SEO structure, and the strong off-page SEO of inbound links from respected sources.
  3. Include a site map page. Spiders can’t index pages that can’t be crawled. A site map will help spiders find all the important pages on your site, and help the spider understand your site’s hierarchy. If your site is large, make several site map pages. Keep each one to less than 100 links.
  4. Make SEO-friendly URLs. Use keywords in your URLs, such as Don’t overdo it, though. A file with more than 3 hyphens tends to look like spam and users may be hesitant to click on it.  The more descriptive, the better for spiders.
  5. Ensure Fresh Content on Your Site.  If your site content doesn’t change often, consider adding a blog, as spiders like fresh text. Blog at least once a week with relevant, fresh content to feed the spiders.
As part of an SEM strategy, firms are not only utilizing SEO, but also paid searches (Google Ad words, digital ads with pay per click, etc.).  No matter what your digital strategy, at a minimum, ensure you know what results you are looking for with your SEM/SEO strategy.  This will help ensure your time and dollars are contributing to your revenue goals or visibility objectives.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What was it You Wanted to Sell Me?

As I was rummaging through a file today, I came across one of my favorite marketing philosophies that I learned early in my career.  In a famous ad for McGraw-Hill Magazines (in 1950), a grumpy looking business man sits, hands folded in his lap, squinting at the reader with a defiant expression.  His message is memorable to marketers, as it is a cornerstone for success.  The ad states:

I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now — what was it you wanted to sell me?

Moral: Sales start before your salesman calls - with business publication advertising. 

Translated today - if people do not know your company/product, the "build it and they will come" marketing approach will not generate, how are you using a multi-channel strategy to gain visibility/positioning with your clients/targets?

The Business Marketing Association created a great video that demonstrates how this ad is relevant in today's modern, tech savvy world.  It reinforces the importance of the basics of positioning. Take a few minutes to view - times may change, but the fundamentals of marketing remain.

Here's to branding and messaging!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

How True Professionals Develop Business in a B2B Environment

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s more cost-effective to win additional business from existing clients than it is to cultivate new ones. You already have the relationships and trust, so your marketing investment will be more efficient. While a growing business needs to constantly capture new customers (keep the pipeline full), you should not minimize the profit potential of  your existing customer base. Companies that fail to nurture and retain their customer base ultimately fail. You will also spend twice as much to get new clients as you will in maintaining your existing customer base.You will also be limited in your ability to attract new clients if you can't hold onto and satisfy your existing customers and clients. Think of it this way.  It takes about 20% of your time investment to up-sell or cross-sell for new business with existing clients.  For prospects, your investment could be up to 80%, as you have to build your trust. 

While working at Polsinelli Shughart colleague of mine, Stuart Smith, introduced me the book True Professionalism, written by David Maister, a former Harvard Business School professor. Maister offers these five tips for identifying and capturing the best opportunities in your existing client base.  These are some simple steps to enhancing the client relationship.

First:  Ask Your Clients How To Serve Them Better – What would they like you to do more of, less of? Listen to (and do) what they say.  Don’t accept “You’re OK.”  Keep asking until they tell you how to deserve a “You’re terrific!”

Second:  Demonstrate an Interest in Client Affairs – Meet with them regularly to discuss their business, attend their internal meetings, read their trade magazines and do them small favors. 

Third:  If Your Referrals Aren’t Providing Enough New-Client Business, Go Back to Steps 1 and 2 – If you’re not willing to be enthusiastic, interested, committed and dedicated, your marketing will fail.

Fourth: Design a Package of Activities To Demonstrate Your Value – Once you’ve decided whom you want to serve, design a package to demonstrate – not assert – that you have a special interest in them, that you offer something of value and that you are willing to work to deserve and earn their trust.

Fifth: Forget About Talking About Yourself and Your Firm – Successful marketing has less to do with you and your capabilities than with your abilities to find out what clients want.  The key is listening, not talking.

Maister says true professionals believe passionately in what they do, never compromise their standards and values, care about their clients and the people they work with.  This approach is not only ethical but also conducive to commercial success.

Growth of every organization depends on the strong client base which is usually earned at the expense of time, resources and hard work.  As you focus your marketing efforts with existing clients, you want to make sure your client is fully aware of ALL of the types of service your firm can provide, even if they do not have, or do not think they have a need for many of the practice areas at the current time. Take or make an opportunity to introduce your client to other partners of your firm which might present the client with a better overall “industry” solution.

Here's to building more business with existing clients.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marketing Trend - What’s The Scoop with QR Codes

Photo from UCView
It all started in Japan, 1994.  Quick Response (QR) codes were created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave Inc. for tracking vehicle parts. These two-dimensional bar codes are more useful than standard barcodes as they can store (and digitally present) much more data - thousands of alphanumeric charters of information, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. The code spread as more than just an inventory tool.  When you scan a QR code with your mobile devise, you can save information to that devise (like contact information) or access various portals on the web. Today, QR codes connect people with each other and content in a very efficient way.

Many marketers are including QR codes in their marketing mix.  They are increasing in importance as they provide a direct link between a consumer’s mobile phone and your company’s marketing message (e.g. your contact info, a sales message, a coupon offer, etc.) – more instant access to disseminate information that can lead to increased revenues. 
According to a study by comScore, a leader in measuring digital work, in June of this year, 14 million Americans scanned QR codes on their mobile phones, that’s 6.2 percent of the total mobile users.  For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes, the source and location of these scans, and the resulting information delivered, is crucial in developing and deploying campaigns that successfully utilize QR codes to further brand engagement,” stated Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president.

Studies have shown a younger, affluent audience, but the age range is expanding.  Current trends of use are younger crowds (25-34), but those in the 35-44 age range are gaining momentum.  Trends also show males and those  who make more than $100k are more likely to scan a QR code.  As QR codes are still considered a new technology, there are a considerable number of consumers who are unaware of the QR code technology.  Some education may be needed with your target groups if you are going to use this as part of your marketing mix.
Samples of QR Code Use
Many top brands are using QR codes to reach their customers including, Ford, Audi, Pepsi, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Best Buy and Ralph Lauren. Starbucks has had success with the use of QR codes, enabling users to pay for their purchases via mobile - 3 million Starbucks customers have already tried itQR codes are being used in a variety of marketing mediums:
  • Advertisements/Billboards (linking to service/product information, special offers, call-to-actions)
  • Business Cards (linking to a company’s website, a biography, directions to business)
  • Brochures and other marketing material (linking back to more details on a product/service, special offers)
  • Sides of trucks and trailers (information on company or product)
  • Product tags and packaging (get installation instructions, special promotions, source for replacement parts and service)
  • Convention and event name tags (download contact information to your mobile devise)
  • Restaurant menus (to get more information on the restaurant or food preparation)
  • Event ticket stubs (valuable coupons and special offers from vendors)
  • Point-of-sale receipts (customer feedback)
  • Other creative uses: T-Shirts, on promotional items, in powerpoint presentations, city park benches, on real estate signs, on invoices
 QR Codes as Part of Your Marketing Mix
The future of QR codes is limitless.  Innovative brands can embed videos, websites and more to build out the contact a client has with their brand.  Approximately 22% of Fortune 50 companies are using a QR code to impact consumers. As you evaluate this new trend, determine how and if it fits into your overall strategy (marketing mix, channel marketing initiatives, and appropriate for the demographics of your target consumers). 
The next generation of barcodes will hold even more information – so much that an Internet connection may not even be necessary to access - as the content will be effectively embed in the code. 

For examples of companies using QR codes, visit

For insights into QR codes use in Europe, visit comScore Data Mine.

If you do not have a reader on your Smartphone, visit Jumpscan.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Way to Think About Influencing Buyers

Do you know why your customers are buying from you? There are many factors that can affect this process as a person works through the purchase decision. The number of potential influences on consumer behavior is limitless. However, marketers are well served to understand the KEY influences impacting buying.  By doing so they may be in a position to tailor their marketing efforts to take advantage of these influences in a way that will satisfy the consumer and the marketer (The premise of marketing is identifying the people most likely to buy your produce/service, develop rapport or a close relationship with them and help them achieve their purchase goals).

As you think about these influencers, whether psychological, demographic, personal or social, also think about how impacting a customer’s attitudes and behaviors can assist with your marketing and business development efforts. It’s no secret that emotions are powerful factors that move people into action and cause them to make a purchase. To influence your buyers, you must understand and appeal to them emotionally.
  •      Impacting Attitudes – How do you get customers to prefer your product/services, believe in your cause, trust/respect you, drop an objective they have about your product/services or recommend/endorse you?  Impacting attitudes is about how you communicate and what you communicate (key messages).
  •      Impacting Behavior – How do you get customers to respond, attend an event, call you/accept a call, respond to a promotion/targeting campaign, actively consider your product/service or accept a meeting?  Impacting behaviors is the result of understanding your target.  If you can change a customer’s behavior, you are more apt to convert them to your product/service.
Taking a step back, the only way that understanding influencers matters is if you are properly identifying your targets. Without identifying your targets, you will not be able to accurately position yourself in the market and use influencers to drive marketing efforts. Targeting allows you to understand what venue you need to focus your marketing in that can generate leads that produce customers.  The use of targeting, customer influencers and a multi channel strategy is a successful formula for success in marketing.