Roy's Blog: Marketing

November 13, 2017

How important is the product really?

Organizations take products too seriously.

They think products convey value and stress features, cool technology and price as the reasons why people should buy.

I think the product - centric strategy is severely flawed.

Products don’t make companies great. In a marketplace where benchmarking and best practices are relied on as the main vehicle of innovation, virtually every company in a given product space offers similar products.

The smartphone sector, for example, has a number of participants whose products, give or take, are essentially the same in terms of functionality and price.

All the same

Market participants claim that they have different features and that their prices are more attractive than others, but essentially they are all the same.

If products are relatively equal across all competitors, why are some companies awesome and others not so much?

It has little to do with products.

Rather it has everything to do with the company; the culture an organization wraps around it’s products and services; the context it provides for customers to engage with them.

These 12 uncomplicated moves enable organizations to provide the WOW! cushion to sell their products.

1. They recruit sensitive and caring people who have an innate desire to help others rather than place all the emphasis on their academic qualifications and related experience.

2. They have “friendly” technology dumbed down to express the value it creates for people rather than emphasizing the coolness of what it does. Technology intimidates some; they get that and try to remove the mystique.

3. They create policies and rules created to make it easy for customers to do business with them, not control the terms of engagement. They never use the words “It’s not our policy.”

4. They offer special promotions and deals first to their existing loyal customers rather than use them as an incentive to attract potential new customers. They look at special deals as a reward for customer loyalty not as a tool to entice new customers away from their current supplier.

Special promotion

5. They make substantial investments in the local communities where they operate, and emphasize their employees and the amount of personal time they give to the volunteering effort.

6. They routinely communicate with customers keeping them abreast of what’s new and available to them. They don’t believe in mass communications; they personalize each message to make it as meaningful and relevant as possible to each recipient.

7. They proactively reach out to their customers with lower cost product and service alternatives which could save them money over what they are currently using. Their priority is to ensure each customer has the most cost effective solution.

8. They have a fun esprit de corps culture where employees are allowed to be casual with customers. Informality puts customer engagement at ease and has them leaning in rather than leaning out.

9. They empower their service personnel to make decisions to resolve customer issues fast without the need to escalate the matter to their supervisor. They trust that their frontline will make balanced decisions that represent the needs of both the customer and the organization.

10. They are willing to provide advice to a customer to seek another organization’s product when they are unable to satisfy the customer’s need.

11. They have people available to take the customers call as an alternative to being managed by call answer technology. Their customer contact strategy is to make it easy for people to engage with them, not to force customers into using a tool of technology.

12. They treat their call centers as “loyalty centers” with the emphasis on taking care of the customer rather than processing their call quickly. Maintaining customer loyalty is the focus, not managing costs.

People don’t buy products.

They buy the instruments of organizations they admire, respect and are comfortable with; whose ideals match their own.

Organizations that want to stimulate product sales should build the right culture and sales will take care of themselves.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.13.17 at 03:59 am by Roy Osing
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September 4, 2017

What happens when you bait people rather than reward them?

Should a special marketing promotion be positioned as bait or as a reward?

I think one of the travesties of today’s marketing is the special promotion designed to bait or attract new customers.

You know how the baiting method goes.

“Sign up to our service today and get 3 months service free”; or “If you switch from your current provider to our service we’ll give you a free TV”.

Marketers today will do almost anything to attract a new customer. For some reason new customer acquisition programs are “sexy”, fun to work on, and consume a substantial chunk of most marketing budgets.

Bait marketing

There are two main issues I have with this bait marketing approach.

First, it’s lazy marketing. The easiest thing to do is to give stuff away with the mistaken belief that if you do, the recipient of the gift will somehow feel obligated to enter your loyalty tent and remain dutiful henceforth.

What a joke.

Despite the studies marketers trot out, people value what they pay for, and if they pay nothing to move from another supplier to you they laugh under their breath and wait for the next juvenile marketer who comes along and makes you a better offer. And when they find one, bye-bye.

Second, bait marketing is not only an insult to the loyal customers who have given themselves to your organization for years, it’s also intellectually dishonest.

Existing customers rarely qualify for the bait deal. The free TV is NEVER offered to the customer who has been loyal for 5 or 10 years!

They have steadfastly paid their bill on time every month. They have put up with the odd price increase and policy change but their loyalty has been resolute.

And they have rarely been offered a deal on anything. They may have been thanked for their loyalty with words or an annual free calendar, but certainly nothing as substantial as the person being baited.

And when they discover that a special promotion is being offered to new customers and ask for the same deal they are told “I’m sorry you don’t qualify for this promotion”.

How do they feel? Second rate? Third rate? Don’t rate?

Reward or retention marketing may not be as sexy as its bait cousin, but special deals should be extended to existing customers FIRST!

Marketers will explain that it’s not done because it costs too much to reward every existing customer. And that it’s not necessary in any event as the chances of an existing customer moving to a competitor are low - after all people are generally reticent to change, right?

It’s nonsense of course. Sure, margins are reduced on the deal that is offered, but loyal buying behaviour is reinforced as is the propensity for loyal customers to refer you to others “with love” - with no bait acquisition costs!

And it may be true that a low percent of loyalists will switch suppliers.

But that’s not the point; rewarding loyalty is just the right thing to do isn’t it?

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.4.17 at 04:48 am by Roy Osing
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May 22, 2017

Marketers: 7 things to stop; 7 things to start

Success in today’s markets requires marketers to step up and leave their traditional tools behind in favor of new approaches made necessary by heightened competition and changing customer demands.


Certain practices need to stop; others need to start.

Stop

STOP!

1. Don’t expect the traditional marketer’s kit bag of same-old methods to produce breakthrough results. They won’t. New times demand new techniques. Leave behind flogging products, trying to compete on product features and believing technical capabilities will make the difference.



2. Lose the obsession with mass markets. There is no such thing as an “average” customer. Every person is different in some way. Discover their differences; market to each of them.
 


3. Resist the temptation to use price as the vehicle to win. It won’t; it’s not a viable long-term strategy. Price moves can and will be copied by competitors. Price competition drives profit margins down and does nothing to build customer loyalty. 



4. Cut the crap – the non-strategic and no-longer-relevant marketing programs. In order to make room for “the new,” purge old practices that have limited value in the long term.
Falling in the crap category are: price promotions (produce no long-term competitive advantage), new customer acquisition programs (encourage churn and anger existing customers who are denied the same offers) and customer appreciation events (mostly satisfy lookyloos who want deals rather than rewarding existing customers).
 


5. Expunge “best in class” from marketing vocabulary. Benchmarking to copy another organization is a catch-up tactic and does nothing to gain strategic advantage.


6. Swing marketing focus from getting better to standing out - to be distinctive and unique from the competition. Make competitive moves that create the “wow power” to catapult the organization out of the herd.

7. Avoid making small incremental changes to products to make them appeal to a broader market. This “round-the-corners” marketing dilutes the crisp value proposition that made it attractive in the first place.
Keep products “edgy” and vibrant.

Start

START!

1. Looking for “step out” opportunities. The marketer’s challenge is to constantly strive to be “the one and only” in the markets served rather than on improving existing products and services.


2. Devote copious amounts of time to answering the question, “Why should I do business with you and not your competitors?” Create the “only statement” to express the organization’s uniqueness: “We are the only ones that ... .”

3. Ask the customer service team for more input on how offers are being accepted by customers, what the “pain points” in operations are, and what the competition is doing. Use customer service as a primary customer and market research source.

4. Create and market experiences for the customers served; loosen the focus on products and services.
Deliver happiness rather than flog product features. A product delivers happiness for a limited time only - a new SUV soon becomes a used car; a memorable experience stays with us forever.
Emotion marketing represents a huge opportunity. 
 


5. Discover the “secrets” and innermost desires of the target customers to unlock their marketing potential. Marketing to what people need (herd behaviour) is no longer sufficient to be noticed in the market and standout from the aggressive competition.

6. Establish customer learning as a core competency in your organization. Be “always on” to learn what customers desire every time they touch the organization, whether it’s a personal contact or a visit to a website.
 


7. Develop packages for high-value customers rather than offer them individual products and services. Learn their broad holistic desires; seamlessly integrate multiple products to yield a broad value proposition that is difficult for competitors to match. 



If marketing is to continue to provide relevant and compelling value to organizations, it must refresh itself, take on a new purpose and let go of traditional methods.

Cheers,
Roy

Sales blogger


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  • Posted 5.22.17 at 06:11 am by Roy Osing
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March 3, 2017

Marketers should appeal to the heart not the mind

We live in a product flogging world.

Products are pushed at us. Technology rains down on us through mass communications.

What businesses supply (as opposed to what we want) is jammed down our throats with the hope that we will bite-and-buy what they offer.

Today more than ever, however, purchase decisions are motivated by what people want and desire, not need.

People buy on the basis of what they yearn for and ache for; to achieve happiness in a world with pressure and stress on their lives.

Product flogging is intrusive and completely out of sync with this reality, and is a recipe to fail.

Happiness is driven by what we experience rather than what we consume in material goods. Fond memories of a family vacation are long-lasting. The new car is fun for a while but soon feels no different than just the one we just traded in.

This is a game-changer for product floggers. Rather than push features, technology and price, the challenge is to create broad-based appeals to the full spectrum of feelings that an individual has.

The marketer’s objective in this sense is to elicit a positive emotional response from the customer, rather than satisfy a consumer need.

“When people were asked to recall their most significant material purchase and their most significant experiential purchase over the past five years, they reported the experiential purchase brought them more joy and enduring satisfaction, and it was clearly ‘money well spent’ compared with the material purchase,” wrote Thomas Gilovich, Professor of Psychology, Cornell University in Determinants of Happiness.

Furthermore, experiences create more happiness than material goods because they are a personal expression of what we desire. They belong to us alone and no one else.

Memo to marketers: forsake your flogging ways and start creating personal experiences for your customers.

Keep Maya Angelou’s words in mind: “... people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The payback is long-term customer loyalty; the better they feel, the longer they stay.

Customer loyalty

These 3 steps will get you started.

1. Establish the EXPERIENCE CREATOR POSITION in marketing to augment in the standard product management role.
These are the experience packagers; the folks that integrate, brand and price the value elements necessary to deliver the complete experience that customers covet.

2. Include FEELINGS as a key element of marketing research. What experience would make someone happy, special and fulfilled? What does the person crave?

3. Measure the EMOTIONAL ELEMENT of your experience packages; “How did it make you feel?” not just “Did it meet your needs?”

The world is full of floggers.

If you want to make a difference and stand-out from the flogging herd, let experiences guide you.

Cheers,
Roy
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  • Posted 3.3.17 at 01:45 pm by Roy Osing
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