Roy's Blog: January 2017

January 6, 2017

Does “sameness” threaten the survival of an organization?

BE DiFFERENT or be dead.

The implication is that if you’re NOT DiFFERENT, sooner or later you will be irrelevant and you will “die”.

Sameness kills.

The path to organizational death is predictable.

Sales revenue declines because the value proposition of the organization is limp; it has no distinctive substance.

People stop buying because the company’s offerings are no longer relevant; they no longer serve a compelling need. They lose their “edge” that was the original reason people bought from them and not their competition. Their product portfolio is now common and indistinguishable from that offered by others.

Customers migrate away, looking for more value for their money; to get their specific needs satisfied.

Price cutting is invoked as the salvation, believing that lower prices will increase sales volumes. Footnote: with a limp value proposition, driving prices down also drives revenue down. Most products in the commodity category are price elastic folks!

With revenues going south, management decrees that costs be reduced to preserve operating margins. Across-the-board cost cutting is ordered as a “balanced” approach which means customer serving functions get whacked; fewer frontline people are expected to handle increased volumes of calls (from the price reductions).

Customer service suffers.

Customers look for alternative suppliers. Degenerating service creates an immediate disloyalty response. Customers find it easy to switch suppliers since so many alternatives are in their faces; they are coveted by many other providers.

Revenues spiral downward; margins are squeezed; more costs are sliced from company operations; customers are casualties.

It’s a relentless cycle.

Leadership looks for a short term strategy to reverse the trend; they are forced to abandon a longer term growth view.

The organization looks to acquisitions as a “fast and easy” way to expand their customer base and bolster their revenue line. This process burns valuable time and people resources and is limited by financial capabilities due to shrinking margins and an unhealthy balance sheet.

Acquisition activities shift priorities away from fixing the @home value proposition issues to assessing potential acquisition candidates and determine how to integrate the winner into the buyer’s overall operations and culture.

Revenues continue to decline; confidence erodes.

The cycle becomes entrenched; the organization explores selling off assets to improve financial results.

No investments are made in solving the endemic value proposition issue they face.

It’s not a matter IF they will die; it’s a question of WHEN it will happen - how long can they hang on.

When customers start to leave, they are telling you that you are becoming irrelevant; you don’t have any uniqueness relative to your competitors.

You are the SAME as them.

Fix THAT problem and the revenue line will take care of itself.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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How to create a competitive claim that stands out from your competition
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  • Posted 1.6.17 at 06:15 am by Roy Osing
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January 2, 2017

How to create a competitive claim that stands out

How do you answer the question “Why should I do business with you given the number of other suppliers I have to choose from?”

This is the killer question for all marketers.

In today’s noisy world with every organization shouting out why they should be chosen, the marketer needs to determine how to get their products, services and solutions noticed in the milieu.

They need to claim a competitive position that is unique and one that stands-out in the crowd.

I would give marketing today a less than satisfactory rating in terms of how well they address this challenge.

Copying

The tendency among most marketers is to go on a copying rampage where the priority is on replicating in some way what someone else is doing in terms of products, services, pricing, distribution and brand positioning. Other players are benchmarked on some capability and the copycat strategy unfolds.

Even a fast follower is a copycat; they just do it faster!

Copying doesn’t create uniqueness and differences; it proliferates sameness.

In fact it dilutes any marginal differences among organizations that might exist and renders them all as look-alikes. And it lowers the bar for each competitor to achieve.

In addition, marketers love to use vague helium-filled attributes and superlatives as the way of claiming how they are different. “We provide excellent customer service”; “We exceed customer expectations”; “We offer the best value”; “We provide the best value for money” have been overused to the point where they are meaningless and communicate nothing to the intended target audience. All they do is add to the message clutter.

A credible competitive claim needs to be simple and specific in terms of how an organization is different from the competitive herd. It needs to address a high priority customer need (claiming to be unique on something a customer doesn’t care about isn’t productive) and it needs to be true (failing to consistently deliver will drive a customer elsewhere).

Jerry Garcia, former leader of the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead, nailed it: “You don’t want merely to be the best of the best. You want to be the only ones who do what you do.”

Only one

The ONLY Statement is the practical way to do it. “We are the only ones that….” is the claim that will cut through the clutter and make it clear why you should be chosen among your competitors.

The ONLY rules:

1. The ONLY statement must speak to the experiences and value you create for people not the products or services you want to push.

2. Keep it brief. It’s a sound bite. If it consumes a page it isn’t a viable claim.

3. Talk to the specific customer group you are targeting not the market in general.

4. Test your ONLY statement with customers and employees to ensure it is relevant and true.

5. Consider your only statement a draft. The reality is you won’t get it right the first time, so take your almost-there only statement and start working with it. Refine it as you go. And stay alert for a response by a competitor who may suddenly come awake when they see your move.

Hard work? You bet!

But necessary if you want to be remarkable and if you want to step away from the crowd.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
8 proven ways to build marketing muscle
The price cutting game is insanity not good marketing
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  • Posted 1.2.17 at 05:31 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

December 26, 2016

8 practical ways to be an awesome marketer


There are organizations that are really good at marketing who they are and what value they create.

They have marketing muscle.

There are others, on the other hand, who struggle to get their message across and are not contenders.

Building marketing muscle isn’t just the job of the marketing department; the entire organization must take on the responsibility and work in harmony to deliver it.

Try this muscle building routine.

1. Consistently WOW! your customers. Delivering awesome customer service is fundamental to building muscle; it’s the basic platform you need to build a strong sustaining brand.
If you don’t serve your customers in an exemplary way (or at least have plans to), ignore the rest of this article.

2. Lead with innovation. Be the first ones to do something creative and “out there”. Yes, it’s risky to try something new, but if you try often enough you will have the winners that add dimension to your brand.

3. Surprise your market. Do something that people don’t expect. Muscle builders pulse surprises from time to time, creating buzz and attracting a great deal of attention.
And they don’t surprise just anybody; “delight tactics” are aimed at their loyal customers. Check out Richard Branson to see how it is done.

4. Earn the customer’s business everyday. Don’t feel entitled to it just because you have it. This is all about never taking the customer for granted; assuming that since you already have them, you don’t have to do much to keep them.
This is a fatal mistake! Investing in deepening your relationship with a customer and earning their trust will not only keep them spending with you, it will also motivate them to “spread your word” to others.

Community

5. Integrate yourself in your community. People want to do business with organizations that care about the communities they are in; that give back in some meaningful way.
Muscle is built with a HUGE dose of humanity, and social investing is an effective way of allowing your softer side to be seen. And target community investments to programs aligned with your strategic plan; avoid trying to support every cause out there.

6. Adopt “customer learning” as a core competency. Learn about your customers as a continuous process rather than a periodic task. Customer needs, wants and desires change and it is critical to keep up.
Muscle strength grows proportionately with how knowledgeable you are about who your customer is and what their top priorities are.

7. Have fun! It’s amazing how impactful it is to shed the business formality thing and show an informal playful persona from time to time.
Casual language, humour and making fun of yourself are ways to show your customers “it ain’t all about the bottom line”.

8. Think “personalized”. Shift your thinking from mass production to personalized value creation.
Narrow your focus to create solutions for small groups of customers rather than trying to come up with one size that fits all (which doesn’t work anyway).

Keep in mind that muscle form isn’t developed overnight; it can take years of blood, sweat and tears before the market sees you as a contender.

However, there is no time like the present to get on with it.

Define your muscle building program.

Start executing.

Don’t look back.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
The price cutting game is insanity not good marketing
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  • Posted 12.26.16 at 04:27 am by Roy Osing
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December 19, 2016

The price cutting game is insanity not good marketing

How is the game played?

It can be a reaction to a short term dip in revenue, with the belief that lower prices will attract more business and prop revenues back up.

It can be a vehicle to promote a particular product or service that is running below forecast. The intent is to get the customer’s attention with a slashed price and hope that sufficient sales volume will stimulate sales.

The most common play, however, is a “me too” response to a competitor’s move. The competition drops their prices and the marketing analyst thinks they must match or undercut the competition to prevent customers from leaving.

At the end of the day, those who price cut trust that this strategy will make their business better off, that somehow they will gain a market advantage in the long run.

The benefits of slashing prices are illusory or short term at best. Sales revenue may spike up in the short term but it comes at the expense of lower margins unless costs can be reduced at the same time (which rarely happens).

Price cutting has little strategic value; it never enhances your long term market position.

It contributes nothing to differentiate you.

It doesn’t make you special or unique in the eyes of the customer.

In fact it has the opposite effect. It shouts out your status as a commodity player who is interested in providing little more than low prices. Price floggers are a dime a dozen; you will not likely win this game. You might keep your head above water for a short time but sooner or later you will either hit the margin wall, or some gunslinger will come along and lower their prices again.

And the race to the bottom is on.

Stand-out marketing organizations learn to manage market share and profitability by maintaining prices higher than the competition.

“The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about. “ – Seth Godin

Here are 3 actions you can take to avoid the price trap:

1. Set your priority to manage market share and profitability by focusing your efforts on “high value” customers where profitability is healthy. Let competitors have the low margin segments.

High value

2. Resist the temptation to lower prices across the board in favour of targeting price programs to specific vulnerable market segments. In the face of the competition entering long distance markets at prices 15-20% lower than incumbent telephone companies, flat rate packages (like 100 minutes for $10) were introduced for heavy users at a premium to the competition. It worked.

3. Focus on creating additional value to support higher prices for your products and services. Offering product packages and added customer service features are ways to keep prices higher than the competition.

Stand-out marketing organizations are premium price suppliers and they win.

They are rewarded with fans who love them and spread their word to others because they’re worth it.

Ponder these:
- What’s the conversation in your organization: is it about how to add value or reduce price?
- How frequently do you have special promotions that reduce prices?
- When you talk to your customers, what’s the main message: your low prices or your premium value?
- Do you offer product or service bundles with price discounts for buying more?
- How many initiatives do you regularly have to add value to your offerings and increase price?
- When you compare yourself with your competitors, is it mainly about price?

Price = $0.00 means you offer no value.

Is that really where you want to be?

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
There’s no bad customer; but some are better than others
How to build a customer focused culture for your startup
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  • Posted 12.19.16 at 05:13 am by Roy Osing
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