Theme without the Park

A good friend once told me that to be effective, any marketing message should be written in a way that an intelligent 12 year old can understand.

Spending the majority of my working life in the software world, it’s common for me to witness technologists promoting products in techno geek speak – language which nobody understands but them.

Think about how you market your product or service. Can you summarise it within 20 seconds? Is it clear enough for your young niece or nephew to understand? Do you promote it in a creative manner, or are using the same tired techniques all your competitors are?
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Video Killed The Radio Star

Video is everywhere nowadays – you no longer need a massive budget to shoot an ad and pay for prime-time TV slots. Even if you did, nobody’s really listening – most of us are so busy, we record what we want to watch and then sit down at a time that suits us – fast-forwarding through all the ad-breaks.

In today’s world, you can compete with the big boys simply with a creative idea, hand-held video equipment and the power of YouTube. The Internet allows your idea to spread like wildfire, creating impact to the people that actually do care about your message.
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One Step at a Time

When creating a demand generation campaign, how much do you focus on the next step, rather than the product or service itself?

I see too many e-shots, direct mail pieces, even telemarketing calls that focus on trying to get a yes for the product, rather than a yes to move forward.

My background is B2B software sales. In this market, it’s very rare that you can sell a solution in one hit. It takes time. Time to gain momentum, to earn trust. This is where I see so many making mistakes – trying to sell the full solution in one go – talking about how they can reduce operational cost, increase efficiency. Every bland piece of marketing sounds the same – and guess what, they all get very limited results.

Instead, try selling the next step. A complimentary workshop, a breakfast briefing, a webinar, or better still a select lunch where a real-world client will share experiences of working with your product. Offer something of value first. Make it engaging. Get it right, and no doubt the sale will follow in due course.

Front of House

Nowadays it’s very rare that I will call a hotel to make a reservation – most reputable hotels allow you to take care of everything on-line. The process remains faceless until you turn up and check-in. The service you receive on the front-desk sets the tone for your stay.

In our business, the salesperson was the face of our brand until the sale was made. The IT solutions we sold were complex, and often involved numerous consultants on-site to get the system live. I used to refer to this team as our “Front of House”.

After a sale is made, the next interaction a client has with your organisation is likely to be with your “Front of House”. You can employ the best sales team in the world, but if the follow-up contact is a negative one (inappropriate dress, poor attitude, bad timekeeping) then the whole thing is out of kilter.

All too often, in a business where a customer-driven culture isn’t instilled from the top down – or where freelance staff are used to supplement skills gaps, the customer can witness a radically different level of service from one team to the next. Your business appears inconsistent. Promises are broken.

The best organisations understand where their core business lies and work hard to build a company-wide team which adopt the same level of service, approach and commitment to client care; mission statements aren’t just some stuffy words on a website, they are the company mantra.

People Love an Underdog

It’s a given that businesses are always striving to be number one. To gain the most market share and be seen as top dog. How many times have you lost out to a bigger competitor, or the so-called market leader? What if being the underdog was actually a position you could capitalise on to become bigger?

Back in the early 1960′s, Hertz was the clear winner in the car rental business, with Avis one of the underdogs. Instead of moaning that they are on a downward spiral, Avis made the decision to market the fact that they weren’t the dominant leader. Avis launched an honest, open and believable campaign simply called “we try harder”.
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Wearing Your Badge

For some reason, a random trip to McDonald’s back in 1997 sticks in my mind. I was working in my first job at IBM at the time and had popped out for a quick bite at lunchtime. A group of us had ordered and we were happily chatting away over our burgers and fries. A bunch of lads in their early twenties came into the restaurant. They were talking in real loud voices, their conversation littered with swear words and bad taste jokes. At one point a member of the public asked them to curb their language – only to be greeted with a barrage of abuse. It was at this moment I noticed all of them were wearing IBM security badges.

The number of organisations I see that still view marketing as brochures, case studies or slide decks amazes me. In Jason Fried’s book “Rework” he makes reference to the fact that marketing is everything that you do as a business – This is so true. From the way you answer your phone, to the way you support a customer, to the way your staff behave in public – it’s all a reflection of your brand – it’s marketing.
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