Roy's Blog: December 2016

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.


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.

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
The price cutting game is insanity not good marketing
There’s no bad customer; but some are better than others
How to build a customer focused culture for your startup

  • Posted 12.26.16 at 04:27 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

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?

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
The only 5 analytics you need to run your business

  • Posted 12.19.16 at 05:13 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

December 12, 2016

Put your money in the rare customer who loves you back

If you accept the proposition that anyone who is willing to pay you for a good or service is worth paying attention to, then any customer is good your business.


Maybe not.

Some customers produce revenue for you, but the emotional and financial costs you incur to generate it are unreasonable.

Some customers are more of a hindrance than an asset.

These are low or “no value” customers who should command an investment proportionate to their worth.

Many organizations that I have experienced have difficulty scaling the level of investment they apply to the value of the customer. They assume that “a customer is a customer” and therefore apply the same effort to satisfy each one of them.

They treat all of their customers the same way; the highest value customer receives the sale level of service, for example, as the no-value one.

Or, they actually provide the no-value customer premium benefits that high value ones don’t enjoy. My favourite example of this are the promotional incentives offered to lure customers away from their current supplier. “Come to us and receive 3 months free service” or “Switch to our product and a flat screen LED TV will be yours” are commonly used offers when an organization wants to add new customers.

The costs of acquiring a new customer are significant, and are often incurred for a customer who spends virtually nothing with their new supplier or they switch again when a better offer comes along leaving unrecoverable investments in their wake.

Furthermore there is unintended collateral damage from this type of promotion. Existing customers discover the special offer is available, but not to customers who may have been with the organization for many years and demonstrated their loyalty many times over. These disenchanted “loyalists” voice their displeasure to others and often switch to another organization they believe will treat them more fairly.

High performing organizations invest in customers who will provide a decent return on that investment. The higher the value, the greater level attention and resources applied.

And the more favourable treatment given. The highest value customers receive the better levels of service and any new promotional offerings. Check out The Grateful Dead who understood this.

No-value “promiscuous” customers, on the other hand, receive a “no frills” level of service and no special treatment.

Every organization has limitations on the resources they have available for their customers.

You can’t afford to be all things to all people even if they are your customers. It’s just not a responsible thing to do.

No two customers are alike; no two customers create the same economic value for you.

Determine the ones who make your life worthwhile.

Focus on THEM; leave the “bad ones” for someone else to chase.

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
How to build a customer focused culture for your startup
The only 5 analytics you need to run your business
33 leadership principles I didn’t learn at school

  • Posted 12.12.16 at 04:28 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

December 5, 2016

6 powerful ways to ignite your startup with service

Most startups have other priorities when they launch.

Creating interest in their idea, searching for investors and filing any required patents occupy most of the founders’ time at the get-go.

Thinking about creating a customer service culture doesn’t command much attention, if any at all.

It should.

Wrapped around your relevant and compelling idea, building a sustaining enterprise from the beginning must include developing a culture that exists to serve your customers as one of your priorities.

Here’s an approach to begin your service journey without overloading your resources and placing your other critical priorities in jeopardy.

1. Well before you are overwhelmed with drumming up interest for your launch, take a day and develop a service strategy  for your business.

This strategy is intended to not only emphasize the handful of service elements you intend to focus on (to give you a competitive advantage) but also to define the context for the culture you want.

Avoid aspirational declarations in your strategy. “We will exceed customer expectations” or “We intend to provide excellent customer service” are not particularly helpful in understanding precisely how you intend to service your customers differently than your competitors.

2. Use the service strategy as your recruitment template; to define the type of skills, experience and attitude in EVERY person you intend hire; not just service employees.

Everyone in the enterprise from CEO to service clerk - must innately possess the service mentality. If you don’t hire with a serving criteria, a strong service culture will escape you.

3. Establish your own internal language based on the elements of your service strategy. Have everyone “talk the same talk” about service. For example I insisted we use “promises kept” as the phrase we used to describe meeting a commitment made to a customer. A promise is personal and was intended to engender personal accountability to the customer.

4. Take a moment to recognize “service heroes” regardless of whether you have 2 or 3 employees at the startup stage or more. The important thing is to build this recognition “system” early on so it becomes part of “the way you do things around here” - culture.

Bring customers in to have a conversation with the team. It’s extremely important to do this early and to communicate “we walk with customers”.

5. When it is necessary to establish rules and policies to govern how you intend to transact with customers, test your intentions WITH customers. You need to be “easy to do business with” and separate your startup from the herd. Customers will not only give you honest feedback they will be impressed that you asked for their input (because no other organization does).

6. Even before you have a single customer, decide on what needs to be measured (using you service strategy) and set up a simple system to measure how customers PERCEIVE the service they receive from you.

Be The ONLY startup with the foresight to begin crafting a service culture before you open your doors for business.

Waiting is a mistake.

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
The only 5 analytics you need to run your business
33 leadership principles I didn’t learn at school
10 ways to create a unique personal brand

  • Posted 12.5.16 at 05:50 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink