Posts Tagged Development
In my last article, I began a discussion on a “back-to-basics” marketing approach. Making sure that you and your team are really good at the blocking and tackling is far more productive than sitting around and trying to come up with a clever marketing approach. Technology has certainly brought us different ways to communicate messages, but the fundamentals still apply. Technology has also brought more sizzle to marketing messages and has sped up their delivery but it really has not done a lot to make a bad message good.
In the 1990s, there were several copier dealers that thought they could fool the marketplace by advertising “Free Copiers.” They figured that a gimmicky approach would generate leads. Once the call came in, they would at the very last be vendors of consideration, and with a slick salesperson doing some pencil selling and some quick explaining, they might get the deal. Great new marketing strategy? No. In fact, it is one of the oldest and most basic strategies in the history of marketing. Less than a year ago, I received a free Gillette razor in the mail. I liked it, so now I pay $18.50 for an eight-pack of replacement blades.
Many of the Free Copier ads showed up as e-mail blasts or fax blasts, which was thought to be a brilliant use of technology by some. Both mediums are highly targetable and extremely intrusive, which is both good and bad. Telemarketing and direct mail are also highly targetable, but you can refuse a telephone call or throw away and envelope before opening it. You can do the same with e-mails and faxes, but not before glancing at it to confirm it is junk or spam. It is almost like when you were a kid and another kid said, Made you look….”
So why did some office technology dealers find success with this strategy even though the message insulted prospects’ intelligence and the delivery intruded on their space? Because they used the basic marketing principles. They kept the message simple, used the greatest word in advertising – free – to get attention and created the perception that they were the best value in the market without advertising price. The ones I saw also adhered to the basics in delivering the message because they were done with frequency and consistency. Every Monday morning, I would walk in and there would be several fax blast advertising Free Copiers. Same message, same medium, same time. Basic marketing at its best.
Most of my clients do not want to be pioneers and I don’t blame them. Pioneers had a much higher attrition rate crossing the United States than we do today, regardless of the transportation method. “What’s working well for your clients?” or “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel” are statements I hear very often from clients, especially the new ones. A more recent example of the pioneer spirit was the dot-com industry. It also served as an example by reminding us there are no shortcuts.
Those who have used the Internet to enhance existing channels of distribution have a much better chance of success. Those who tried to change channels of distribution failed, except for a few like Amazon.com, and that is only because they were one of the first and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on radio campaigns. A number of the later entries were banking on their Web sites producing advertising revenue, assuming that intrusive pop-ups, banner ads, etc., combined with all the database information collected, would provide instantaneous advertising success. It didn’t happen, because much like e-mail and fax blasts discussed earlier, the ads are not only intrusive, but annoying. Plus users have conditioned themselves to focus and the content and tune out the advertising message.
The Internet will play a huge role in the marketing of your business, but not as an advertising vehicle. Most of my readers have a website, but it is probably something you have been telling yourself you will get around to upgrading (when you have the time and money) before the competition does.
Yellow Pages advertising for office technology dealers has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Yellow Pages was valuable when prospects didn’t know one dealer or manufacturer from another. Now that the industry is more mature, prospects know the players from their advertising, word of mouth or personal experience. They may still look in the copier section but it is only to find your telephone number, not to judge the viability of your company.
The Internet is where prospect now “let their fingers do the walking” to search for information and vendors. It will not be long before they expect to purchase low-ticket items using the technology at their fingertips. You need to spend time figuring out how to get prospects/customers to your site, then make sure they stay there. It is just like inviting them to your office for an in-house demo or to put your best foot forward and give them the impression that you are a first-class operation that has it entire act together.
Yellow Pages salespeople used to tell smaller dealers that a full-page ad was their chance to out do the “big guys” for an entire year. A classy, informative website can achieve the same result. Do not forget a basic marketing principle that less is more. Just because you are paying someone does not mean you have to cram information all over your home page. The beauty of a website is it is almost limitless in providing information. Make it easy to navigate and use your marketing savvy to attract prospects to certain pages.
Good, effective advertising does not require a brain surgeon or rocket scientist, just good old-fashioned execution. Think of your advertising as the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s. Everyone knew the power sweep was coming, but the Packers’ execution was so good they could not be stopped. Don’t worry about your competitors’ advertising. Just concern yourself with your own execution and they cannot stop you.
by Ian Crockett, President of Orange Label Art + Advertising
One pitfall of writing a marketing column is always trying to come up with the next great marketing idea, then attempting to communicate it to your readers. The reason I say it is pitfall is because there really are no great new marketing ideas. But there sure are plenty of great old marketing ideas and there are a number of businesses that take these old ideas and execute them exceptionally. Business speakers talk about adhering to the basics or rallying behind a “Back-to-Basics” theme. I once played sports for a coach who had learned under John Wooden at UCLA. Wooden’s philosophy was always practicing the basics. He would never scout other teams or put in special plays or defenses for a certain opponent. His opponents needed to practice to play against his team, not the other way around. In fact, like Wooden’s teams, we were never allowed to watch other teams play for fear we would pick up bad habits or concentrate on something that was meaningless.
Therefore, this month, we are going to discuss, the basics of advertising. What media should you be using to promote your business and what should the message be? Do you reach as many prospects and customers as possible or do you reach fewer with a higher frequency? What is a responsible budget?
To answer these questions, I am going to work backwards and discuss budget first. Some businesses do not believe advertising is necessary, but I am going to make the assumption that anyone reading a column on marketing believes in advertising. In many industries, a responsible budget is between two and three percent of projected sales. In other words, if you believe you can do $5 millions in total sales next year, you should budget between $100,000 and $150,000 for advertising. Which end of the budget spectrum is correct for your business depends on several factors. How aggressive are your growth plans? If you are currently at $4 millions and want to get to $5 millions, you should be closer to the three percent number. If you are currently at $4.8 millions and want to get to $5 millions nest year, you should be closer to the two percent figure. You should be closer to three percent if your business is in the first five year of existence or if you are in a large market. If your business is mature or you are in a small market with lower advertising costs, you can get away with a smaller percentage of gross annual sales.
The next basic is around the message and I will keep it brief since volumes have been written about “Big Ideas” or “Unique Selling Propositions.” The key here is to be consistent with your message and keep it simple. Also, tie your message into how to make money. If, for example, you are a copier dealer, you probably do not want to advertise copiers. Everyone sells copiers and most have the same bells and whistles. Dealers make money on the service, so you should advertise how your service or service programs differentiate you. Labels are good for communicating differentiation. Plus, they provide the salespeople something tangible to sell.
Your slogan is another way of communicating with prospects and customers. Do not make it too cute unless cute or clever captures the flavor of your company. In most business-to-business interactions, cute is inappropriate. Your slogan, as with your overall message, needs to reflect the personality of the company. If your environment is starched white shirts and businesslike, humor or corn will not work. If you have a raucous, fun environment, do not make the advertising too serious. In either case, make sure it is polished. Polish equates to the professionalism of an organization.
Reach versus frequency is one of the oldest arguments in marketing. Anyone who has read my articles for any length of time or heard me speak is familiar with my three buildings analogy. If you have three buildings, do you want your salespeople visiting every office in all three buildings once or visiting each office in one building three times? In the office technology industry, the correct answer is the latter, since not too many sales are made based on one call. (If I had a team of Girl Scouts selling cookies, I would answer differently since nobody can refuse the greatest sales force ever established.)
Selecting the correct media can be a challenge because everything sounds so good, especially when there is a gifted salesperson attached to it. And the truth is just about any medium will work if given a chance. Once again, the flip side is also true. Nothing will work if you do not give enough time. Following is a brief review of four advertising options and how to make them work effectively.
There are two versions of commercial television these days, with a third potentially on the way. Broadcast television, which includes affiliates (CBS, NBC, ABC), is primarily a reach medium due to cost. The most favorable programming for my readers is new-related and this is the bread and butter for the local stations. Cost in the Top 50 markets in the United States can go over $1,000 per 30-second spot. You are depending on a huge impact from a few spots and that is very difficult. Cable television rates are a lot more affordable and you can generally cherry pick the good cable systems in your marketing area. The downside is there are no ratings, so you buy programming on hunches. Of course, some of those hunches can be pretty good. If you want men 35 to 54 year of age, buy ESPN, CNN or the Golf Channel. If you want women 25 to 49 years of age, buy Lifetime, USA or the Discovery Channel. The potential for television is around point of purchase. Imagine television sets everywhere you go and not just in Blockbusters and 7-Elevens. Vendors are encouraged to purchase time and create demand while the potential customer is right there in the store. Wal-mart is already involved in this medium in an effort to generate more revenue from its suppliers.
Radio has always a favorite of mine because you can communicate a very emotional, value-added story and generate frequency very affordably. Although with the government allowing multiple ownership in markets, advertisers are paying the price with large corporations like Clear Channel and Infinity dictating prices. Soon, they will be dictating programming and news content and we all know where that could lead. (I apologize if I digressed into a political agenda).
Billboards, like television, can create a larger-than-life image. My belief is it is a great secondary medium. If you are already doing other media correctly, billboards can add to your message. But is is tough to communicate an emotional, value added message with a board. but, like I said earlier, any medium will work if given enough time. If you stay with billboards years after years and have a consistent message, you will be successful.
Business journals, trade magazines and newspapers are targeted at an male demographic. The problem is it is tough to generate frequency because business journals are weekly, trade magazines are monthly and newspapers make so much money from car dealers and department stores that it is very costly to have a consistent presence.
This is a very brief overview. In my next article, I will continue this “Looks at the Basics.” I will discuss direct mail, telemarketing, Internet advertising, Yellow Pages and other non-traditional advertising. In the meantime, make sure that your budget is in line with the parameters, have a message that is consistent and separates you from the pack, and do not get too impatient with how you are spending the dollars. As a former president once said, “Stay the course.”
by Ian Crockett, President of Orange Label Art + Advertising
Branding can be fundamentally defined as the constant and consistent use of the components of your image and identity. These components include your corporate colors, graphics, type style and spokespeople. In other words, branding is making sure the logo is always in the same location, the same typeface is always used in printed material, the correct corporate colors are always used and the same spokesperson is in each of your broadcast messages. Brand development, on the other hand, is the uncovering of a distinction about your company and developing communication based on that distinction.
Both branding and brand development are different functions-branding being tactical and brand development more strategic. Each is vital to the long-term, profitable success of any company. However, it is our agency’s observation that companies find it easier to implement branding tactics than to spend the time, energy and effort required for proper brand development. This is unfortunate because without defining what distinguishes your company from your competition, you run the risk of making your company seem generic or just another commodity. Without a point of distinction or difference in your marketing, your message will more than likely be reduced to hardware features and benefits. When this occurs, you are competing with your competitor’s hardware features and benefits, which could lead to reduced margins and lower revenues.
What is needed is a process that will uncover your company’s true distinction-those unique selling points that none of your competitors possess. After that, create a communication designed to accentuate that differentiation. We have found that many times the outcome of this process is either a powerful method of labeling the way a company a company does business or the way it provides service. In other instances, the distinction is embodied in a powerful positioning statement or is found in a character or method of execution that is developed to deliver the marketing message.
As an example, several years ago office equipment dealers began to publicize their customer service policies as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition. Making a distinction was necessary because features on office equipment tended to be very similar. However, within months, a majority of dealers were advertising their “great” service and, just as quickly, all of the messages began to sound the same. As we worked with our office technology clients, we found that the key to their success was to uncover just how their “great” service was different and, more importantly, how this message should be communicated.
During our research, we discovered that some of our clients were willing to guarantee their service performance, in writing. With this information, we helped our clients to develop a “label” or “name” for their performance guarantees. The resulting “The Security Blanket” written guarantees were very effective and helped prospective customers to sense and feel that our dealer client had something they could not get from competitive dealers. “The Security Blanket” allowed our clients to approach prospects and customers in way previously unknown. In fact, one client even went as far as to deliver equipment with a real blanket draped over the machines. After a while, salespeople stopped selling great copiers backed by great service and started selling “The Security Blanket.”
More recently, we have assisted clients with labeling the way they do business. “TeamSourcing” for example, became a very successful label. Its power was in the implication that a customer was getting the resources of an entire team, not just one salesperson. Yet, once again, the key factor is not just the name or label, it is the fact that “TeamSourcing” is unique and creates a perception that the dealer has a unique, differentiating quality that adds values to the prospect.
Acquisition programs are another area where office technology dealers have the opportunity to differentiate their business. Because everyone leases equipment and most dealerships have cost-per-copy or cost-per-image programs, labeling your acquisition programs could set your programs apart and help prospects to perceive them as distinct and unique.
While the preceding were examples of brand development, another approach we have implemented for our office technology dealers have-customer testimonials! Using actual written statements from clients, we have designed a method of creative execution that incorporates the use of unscripted comments from existing customers into the most of the advertising. over time, the marketplace begins to identify our client as the dealership with all the happy and satisfied customers. This approach is very successful, yet requires a complete commitment (time, energy and budget) to consistently implement branding tactics.
Mapping a Course of Action
How can you begin to think about brand development? We use a system called the “Inherent Drama Blueprint” which serves to discover what it is, specifically, that differentiates our clients from their competitors. The trick here is to discern not only what the wants and needs are of prospects and customers (which can best be found through formal market research), but to also ask just what it is specifically that makes a company distinct. This means that our client must take two or three days out of their busy schedule to specifically focus on the company. In addition, our client must involve several key personnel to assist with the process. While this may appear very simplistic, we have found that many office technology dealers are unwilling to go through this process.
The “Inherent Drama Blueprint” has five components that must to be addressed and considered:
- Key marketing strategies.
- Key audience profile.
- The inherent drama of the Company, its products and marketing strategies.
- Creative strategies for positioning, key copy messages, motivational benefits to constituencies, and graphic driving force.
- Creative execution.
The “Inherent Drama Blueprint” is a useful toll to uncovering hidden or previously unconsidered distinctions of any company. If you are unable to effectively address the five points, get outside assistance to facilitate the process. The benefit of this investment in time, energy and budget could be the difference between becoming a leader in your market or just being one of the competitors that always struggles to grow revenue and net profit.
by Wes Phillips, CEO of Orange Label Art + Advertising